FREE KEVIN at Art in General

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Hackers Trailer

Next week, on October 14th at 6pm, Laurel Ptak of photography blog iheartphotograph will host FREE KEVIN at Art in General. The screening will present films depicting hackers and computer culture from the past 30 years, all sourced from Pirate Bay member pirateturk. For the AIG event, Ptak will show WarGames (1983) and Hackers (1995) from pirateturk's 15.4 GB collection, and the screening will also be an informal ripping party, so attendees are encouraged to bring their USB sticks and laptops to lift material for later viewing. Named for Kevin Mitnick, a hacker arrested in 1995 by the U.S. Government for computer fraud, FREE KEVIN examines the representation of hackers in popular culture and its relation to concerns about security, intellectual property, and technology. A roving, evolving project at its core, FREE KEVIN is realized as a website as well, with a smattering of clips from the films in the collection, and the organizers invite other, parallel FREE KEVIN screenings around the globe. (To arrange a screening in your town, email screening [at] freekevin [dot] info.)

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Required Reading

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In a recent speech titled “Remarks on Internet Freedom,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Internet was now an integral part of US foreign policy. “Some countries,” Clinton said, making a thinly veiled reference to China, “have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” while the US stands for “a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” Although the technology of networked computers has its origins in military research, all this cold war-style rhetoric over Internet access would have come as a big surprise to anyone using the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. That Internet was very different: a place for meek computer science professors, adventurous home coders, and moms and pops who just wanted to say “Welcome to My Homepage.” It was not a place in which two superpowers did battle. What to make of this transformation?

-- FROM "SEARCH HISTORY" BY CORY ARCANGEL, IN ARTFORUM SEPTEMBER 2010

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Required Reading

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Ive's designs for the iPod and the iPhone are network culture's icons, much as the Model T Ford or the Boeing 707 were icons of their time. Just as the earlier machines produced mobility, so do ours: mobile, networked technology allows most members of developed societies to compress space in a way reserved until recently for the media, government, and élite. In so doing opened it opens up a new phenomenological space.

Mobile technologies allow us to disconnect from the world around us so that we may instead connect with individuals at a distance or, alternatively, with software agents residing either in our mobile devices or in the networked cloud (as data speeds rise, the difference between local and remote applications and data is becoming unclear). Although sometimes this disconnect with our surroundings is a matter of lament, more frequently it is a deliberate choice, a way to fill something we lack in space that surrounds us. If sometimes we use such technologies to augment immediate space-looking up the address of a destination on a map, calling a friend to triangulate a meeting place while in route-more often we employ them to distance ourselves-reading and writing e-mail, updating a social media site, immersing ourselves in a soundtrack of our own choosing with portable music players.

Introduced in October 2001, the iPod was a runaway success worldwide. That it succeeded even though it was released just a month after the 9/11 attacks to a generally depressed consumer mood and a dismal economy points to its significance. By allowing individuals to paint the world with an emotional soundscape, it allows them to subject it to their control, making it familiar through the recognizable sounds it reproduces. Technology, it seems, could overcome alienation.

Just as financialization is a mutation in ...

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Videos from Art History of Games Symposium

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From video game writer and critic Ian Bogost's blog come two videos from last Spring's Art History of Games conference at Georgia Tech. Bogost co-organized this interdisciplinary symposium that explored games as an art form. In the first clip, Frank Lantz champions the unique aesthetics of games and their defiance of other artistic categories in his talk "Doorknobs and Butterflies: Games After Art." In the second, Brenda Brathwaite discusses her use of game mechanics in elaborating tragedy and her newest work One Falls for Each of Us. All of the talks from the event are now currently online.



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Interview with Zach Blas

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Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and politics. His work includes video, sculpture, installation, and design, among other things. He is also a PhD Student in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and writes extensively on the question of art, activism, and sexuality. Zach and I discussed the question of a queer technology and just what queer theory might contribute to the fields of art and technology.

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Required Reading

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YoHa (Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji), Coal Fired Computers, 2010.
(Installation view at Discovery Museum, Newcastle, courtesy the artists. Photograph: Louise Hepworth)

This interview follows on from a project called “Coal Fired Computers (300,000,000 Computers - 318,000 Black Lungs)” carried out in Newcastle in spring 2010 for the AV Festival. The project, by Graham Harwood, Matsuko Yokokoji with Jean Denmars involved a means of producing a physical diagram between components in production as they undergo transformations across different kinds of time, politics, matter, knowledge, and vitality. The project found a way of working with such things that was particularly powerful. The interview begins with a discussion of CFC but also moves off into databases and a certain understanding of their material force. One thing we don’t cover in the interview is the detail of the Coal Fired Computers project’s work with miner activists, including the inspirational Dave Douglass. (See information on his memoirs here ). More of this can be found in a booklet about the project here, including links to all the groups involved. The interview was carried out by email in May and June 2010.

-- EXCERPT FROM "PITS TO BITS, INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM HARWOOD" BY MATTHEW FULLER

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FANTASY VISION MEDITATION (IN COLOR) (2008) - Ivan Lozano

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[Balloon, mirrors, glitter, chain, television, Dimensions Variable ]

Fantasy Vision Meditation (In Color), a room-sized sculptural video installation, is the first "episode" in a series investigating the parallel historical narratives of disco, gay liberation movements and AIDS. Lozano creates a phantasmagoric elegy for the fallen soldiers in the hidden cultural wars of the 70s and 80s by transforming two sources generally dismissed as vapid and disposable. "I Need Somebody To Love Tonight" by disco singer Sylvester James (a victim of AIDS) and producer Patrick Cowley (who succumbed to AIDS less than three months after the disease was codified) and A Night At Halsted's by queer porn auteur Fred Halsted (who overdosed on sleeping pills after the death of his lover from AIDS) helped in defining the culture of the era. Lozano imbues his materials with pathos by a careful and labor-intensive digital exegesis of the unconscious spiritual elements hidden in the originals.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE ARTIST'S SITE

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In Search of Reality at the Berlin Biennial

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This disjunct between reality and its illusory other, the world of privileged consumerism, was at the heart of the 6th Berlin Biennial. In the exhibition catalog, curator Kathrin Rhomberg wrote that there is a growing "gap between the world we talk about and the world as it really is." In an effort to close this gap, the Biennial wrestled with contemporary issues and realities far beyond the gallery walls - an all-too-rare impulse in the hermetic field of visual art.

Unfortunately, this Biennial may well have convinced many of its visitors that artists should stick to the studio; too many of the works lacked any nuance in their portrayal of external realities. There was a highly unpleasant video of a horse being knocked off its feet, subtly titled Problems with Relationship. There was Bernard Bazile's inept installation of shouty protest videos from Paris. There was Sebastian Stumpf running into private garages just as the doors closed behind him, Indiana Jones-style.

Yet there were also moments of brilliance along the way. At its best, the Biennial yielded keen insights into the conditions of contemporary capitalism and the relationship between the personal and the political. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.

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Knitoscope Testimonies (2006) - Cat Mazza

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Knitoscope Testimonies is the first web based video using "Knitoscope" software, a program that translates digital video into a knitted animation. Knitoscope is a moving image offshoot of microRevolt's freeware knitPro. Knitoscope imports streaming video, lowers the resolution, and then generates a stitch that correspondes with the pixels color. The title "Knitoscope" is based on Edison's early animation technology the kinetoscope, which was a "coin operated peep show machine…watched through a magnifying lens". The "Testimonies" in this piece are from various professionals who work against sweatshop labor.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM EXHIBITION SITE

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Interview with Nicoline van Harskamp

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Nicoline van Harskamp, Any Other Business (Stage) (Photograph by Willem Sluyterman van Loo)

On June 18th at 7pm, artist Nicoline van Harskamp will present for the first time in the U.S. her performance work Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech at the New Museum, an event part of Rhizome’s New Silent Series. Her practice investigates the political implications of language and speech, and her pieces often take the form of performance. Van Harskamp took some time to answer a few questions regarding her upcoming Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech.

What of your other projects and/or research may have laid the groundwork for Expressive Power Series Part 1?

The performance takes as its basis the script for Any Other Business, a 6-hour performance that I made last year, set in a conference center in Amsterdam. I wanted to bring out the central thesis of that work, to summarize it down to an hour in a way. So, for Expressive Power Series Part 1, I took four of its most contradictory and most outspoken characters and planted them in a seminar room of an art center. During the 6-hour Any Other Business piece, the characters never get to speak to each other, but are merely juxtaposed. In the new piece, I wanted them to confront each other directly. And when writing their new lines, they started to say things they didn’t say before.

Things that I learned or heard since last year; things that I am working on for new pieces; things that I was thinking about a long time ago and that suddenly seemed relevant again. They ended up summarizing my own thinking at the moment, in a way representing the voices in my ...

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