First Look: David Kravitz & Frances Stark

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Opening the Kimono by David Kravitz and Frances Stark is now on view as part of First Look, the New Museum's ongoing series of digital projects, which will now be co-curated and co-presented by Rhizome. Click here to view work.

David Kravitz and Frances Stark, Opening the Kimono (2014). iMessage conversation.

In a recorded iMessage chat, David Kravitz and Frances Stark satirize Silicon Valley culture and sext about creative labor.

When artist Frances Stark and Snapchat developer David Kravitz discussed the idea of having sex on stage during a public presentation at the New Museum last spring, it wasn't entirely surprising. 

This proposal came as part of Rhizome's Seven on Seven Conference, which pairs artists and technologists for a one-day collaboration with the prompt to "make something" and then present it to the public the following day. During their presentation, neither of their bodies was on view on stage (Kravitz came up alone for the Q&A). Instead, they appeared onscreen via a live iMessage conversation.

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Artist Profile: Genevieve Belleveau

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

Genevieve Belleveau on the hood of the mobile monastery, St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery, New Orleans, 2014. Photo: Miss Megan Trosclair.

I've always found your practice really interesting and sort of futuristic in how it seems to concern itself with the faith science of "connection" as and where we find it. With your internet broadcasted reality show-performance-rituals, it was like you were tying together the rituals of spirituality with the exalted new [visual] language of technology. In this way I always felt like you were kind of an ecstatic, but now it looks like you're becoming an ascetic…?

My foray into asceticism was sparked by peak ecstatic experiences: I’ve always tended to vacillate between extremes of solitude and sociability in my life/art, and one inevitably informs the other. I've now re-emerged from that deeply ascetic period during which I lived in my Mobile Monastery RV under a bridge in New Orleans. At that time I was curious about a personal ecstasy that I felt existed beyond the compulsive internet use and rave/club kid culture I had become entrenched in back in NYC. I was reading Thomas Merton and wanted to know more about his ideas of solitude and silence, so I logged off Facebook and Instagram and took a pause to reflect on how that felt for me. I was primarily alone for two months, sitting still in a cold, powerless RV all day, but I let myself use Twitter as a platform to share through language alone. I've always been a comfortably hermetic person by nature, only recently learning how to function in a social sphere in a way that feels truly authentic to me. This period of silence was really important as I was able to remember and reflect upon deeply personal experiences that I had never given myself the space and time to carefully examine. It was a bit like a crowd funded arts residency or sabbatical: an interesting alternative model for artists seeking to clear a sacred space for creation.

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Trolling Anal (Or, recent performance in LA)

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Thursday, 2:30 am, four drinks deep, at the old Night Gallery Space, some schmoe is coming around the crowd with a lockbox and deck of cards, telling us to hand over our cell phones. "None of this can be recorded, you guys." I get a pat down, give up nothing, phone tucked safely in my coat. Most get snagged with a grunt or a whine. The process is endless. My traveling companion is on his third cigarette. (If there is one redeeming quality of this VIP-themed performance series / curatorial-themed party called Top 40 that has smeared across my last few weeks, it's that you can smoke inside.)

We're recovering or repressing. We just watched Vishwam Velandy leave a series of messages for women he claimed to have slept with, informing them, between "uhhs.." and chuckles, that he had seen a doctor and they'd better too, because he'd just been diagnosed with HIV. Then, after endless minutes, I'm getting squashed with elbows and shoulders, alternately averting my eyes and craning for a view of the floor in front of the DJ booth, where, with frat party fanfare, Eugene Kotlyarenko's girlfriend is inserting a zucchini into his ass, and a curious, deeply unpleasant combination of boredom and offense is flowering in my insides like Giardia.

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Continuous Partial Listening: Holly Herndon in Conversation

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After completing her informal education in Berlin's underground club scene, artist and musician Holly Herndon relocated to the Bay Area to pursue an MFA at Mills College's esteemed music program. Now continuing her studies in computer-based music at Stanford, Herndon has an inquisitive approach to technology, finding common threads among often-divided disciplines and communities: electronic music, academia, the tech sector, and contemporary art. As a result, her work is not easily categorized, whether she's composing music for brass ensembles or working on robotic sculptures with artist Conrad Shawcross, touring festivals in Europe or making dance music with heavily processed recordings of the human voice. This week, she released a 12" entitled Chorus on RVNG Intl

Ceci Moss: Your new 12" Chorus comes out this week. The title track recalls the experience of continuous partial attention in online browsing, using audio samples derived from your own daily browsing. Chorus begins chaotically, taking form with the addition of percussion. Could you discuss the ideas behind this composition? Also, what did you use to sample your browsing history, and how did you technically create the track?

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This Thursday, A Fresh Start

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This Thursday, the Rhizome community will come together in the New Museum Sky Room to re-imagine its future. A future less bound by the nitpicking criticism of the past, the hand-wringing, the self-doubt. This is our promise to you: a profound sense of human connection, an art that can bridge the cultural gaps in an interconnected world, an app for every social problem, a better wave, a more sustainable and democratic glass of champagne. Are you brave enough to come with us on this journey?

Tickets begin at $50 and are on sale here. Follow us on Instagram for continuing updates. 

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Heroes and Villains: Nate Hill in New York

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Nate Hill, from the series Trophy Scarves (2013).

To the extent that people know his name, Nate Hill is a controversial figure in the internet art world. He gets into bizarre, seemingly one-sided fights with art blogs, sends fake computer viruses to his press contact list, or generally puts people off by relentlessly focusing his web projects on "white women"—the most recent example being Trophy Scarves (2013), a photo series in which Hill, who is biracial, poses wearing a tuxedo while nude white women are slung across his shoulders as if they were recently slain wild animals. Like many, I found myself turned off by some of these projects, but, nonetheless, wanted to know more: the satire was clearly there and he was prolific. I also liked how committed he was to being an artist and how thoroughly he followed his artistic voice, no matter where it took him. In a growing series of conversations with Hill, what impressed me was how consistently every project revolves around the idea of a performative "character" and how committed he is to the idea that his artistic voice is channeled through these different characters. I quickly learned that the majority of these characters aren't even internet-based, but performed in public, on the streets and subway cars of New York. Be it online or in New York City, though, these works share a common motivation to be catalysts for disruption, to interrupt Hill's daily passage through networks of various kinds. While I can't justify everything Hill does, after speaking with him regularly and engrossing myself in the work, I am convinced that he is, in a strange way, a significant artist, as well as an interesting if unacknowledged heir to David Hammons and Andy Kaufman, whose projects Hill cherishes. Because he so frequently invokes the idea of character, I thought that to write about Hill necessitated describing him as a character in a fictional style—a mode of prose that I've been experimenting with recently. What follows is an impressionistic story following a few hours in the life of Nate Hill.  It precedes two upcoming projects: a live reenactment of Trophy Scarves and "Lights: Nate Hill and Ann Hirsch," a performance event I am curating at Interstate Projects on November 2nd.

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Dear Jeff Bezos

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Self-proclaimed “interface artist” Johannes P Osterhoff begins a new performance work, titled “Dear Jeff Bezos."

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The Unconscious Performance of Identity: A Review of Johannes P. Osterhoff’s “Google”

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As part of this year’s Transmediale festival in Berlin, media artist Johannes P. Osterhoff organized an online collaborative performance of search engine queries, simply titled, “Google.” For one week, Osterhof convinced myself and 36 other participants to add a unique search method to our default web browsers so that everything we “googled”—from the personal to the mundane—became instantly visible online at google-performance.org.

The performers, who are mostly artists or technologists or both, recorded 1,322 searches over seven days. Search queries were displayed chronologically with their sequence number, date and time, participant name, and search tool used. The text of the search and participant name were also hyperlinked, so searches can be explored by keyword or participant.

Many queries reflect content from the Transmediale conference. Others reveal users engaging in play, submitting insider messages or odd one-liners. Most searches are about business as usual, as evidenced by the high number of phrases referencing programming or technology. Reading through them, by time or participant or keyword, gives the impression of a conscious stream of thought. They are a random series of words and phrases that make irrational leaps from noun to verb to sentence, only occasionally creating a complete thought when a participant repeats parts of phrases in their quest for the intended outcome.

The queries are often poetic, like these from my own stream:

xmas

 release serial ports

release serial ports arduino

chariot sidecar

pull down resistor

Others are strangely suggestive, like this snippit from Osterhof’s searches:

mspro

jennie garth

chrome french download

extrem wohlgeformet google suchanfragen mit poetischer kraft

ed2000

Sometimes they are coincidental, like these which share the common keyword, “python:”

python copy file os

Monty Python New Movie

python random coin flip

python do while

The project (see also its manifesto) made ...

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You'll (N)ever Watch Alone

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Still from Art21 Telethon, May 2012

There's performance: immediate, rehearsed and present; then there's television: distant, canned, and broadcast. One offspring of their coupling is the telethon. 'Telethon' became a recognized portmanteau of 'television' and 'marathon' with Jerry Lewis' aid in the 1950s. His telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association ran and ran: there'd be a song, a celebrity, a mail carrier, a joke, banter and filler. The marathon viewing sessions kept attention on the cause at hand by providing various entertainment in service of one goal: to raise awareness and funds for the organization. The camera was always on: in order to look away, the viewer had to hit the clicker to change the view (or turn off the box). Inside, the telethon continued.

Recently, Art21 held their own artist-led telethon. Hosted by Ronnie Bass, who had explored the format in 2007 in order to raise funds for his Performa TV piece, the event came to be after the NEA cut funding to the PBS art documentary program. Artists replaced entertainers to create some nine hours of durational broadcast performance streaming from Algus Greenspon Gallery to the Art21 site. It was telethon to its core, making up what it lacked in big-production finesse with performative sincerity, intimacy, and palpable camaraderie.

The telethon as a fundraiser makes less viable sense today: crowd-funding options are less time-consuming and presentation-intensive. What remains is its value as a style: the telethon as an experience that fills time with performance, and an endurance event in service of an objective.

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What Price Love?

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photo: Melissa Gira Grant

“I wanted us to be so naked with each other,” Acker/Laure writes to Bataille, “that the violence of my passion was amputating me for you.” But “as soon as you saw that I got pleasure from yielding to you, you turned away from me… You stated that you were denying me because you needed to be private. But what’s real to you isn’t real to me. I’m not you. Precisely: my truth is that for me your presence in my life is absence.” 

- Steven Shaviro, quoting Kathy Acker as Laure as if writing a love letter to Georges Bataille


 

I carry every love letter I wrote to B in a Gmail label on my phone. They aren't all love letters; they pitch and shift through six months of taking a conversation that began in public, across two blogs, into a more protected space. 

For the last two months, I've been publishing these letters to readers who bought a subscription. I have four months left to send these letters, in which the reader receives my half of the correspondence, time-shifted one year after I wrote and sent them to B.

It's called What Price Love? and so far, in sum, love is priced at about a thousand dollars.

 

"...for me your presence in my life is absence."

 

I think about how I have made a living exposing sex, including my own, for the last 14 years. How nearly anything we are supposed to do for love but instead accept money for can be defamed – by someone uncomfortable with that exchange and our decision to enter into it – as "prostitution." Is selling a love letter prostitution? Is telling you to buy it somehow worse? I want you to read them but ...

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