My Life Without Technoviking: An Interview with Matthias Fritsch

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Matthias Fritsch is an independent artist from Berlin, most well known for his work Kneecam No 1—the live video that brought Technoviking to the internet. Over a decade after he uploaded the clip that went viral, Fritsch now is enduring a long legal battle with Technoviking himself, who sued for the reproduction, proliferation, and unwarranted use of his likeness. In response to the process, Fritsch is making The Story of Technoviking, a crowd-funded documentary that aims to shed light on the legal issues surrounding viral images. Below, Fritsch talks about what it’s like do battle in court with a viking, the ownership of images in the internet age, and hopes for his current project.

My Life Without Technoviking—since the trial began, Fritsch is no longer allowed to use images of the plaintiff's face.

DQ: Matthias, I'm of course curious about the video that originated it all. What was, for you, Kneecam No 1 (2000) before it became an internet meme? Why did you upload it to YouTube? Were you expecting such a viral reaction? What did you think when it happened?

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Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Privacy Exposed To Radiant Light

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"...what is art? Privacy exposed to radiant light."

— Mu Xin, Chinese Landscape Painter

Undef, User 632 (2013). Animated GIF documentation of real-time visualization of data collected from passersby.

A collection of items from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive and around the Web around the theme of privacy and surveillance. The projects listed below are tied to these themes in different ways: some take positions or raise questions on the new technological environments, some offer solutions for a world in which "just like the animals, we need to start adapting new ways to conceal ourselves from the autocratic predators" [source], while others collect and re-purpose ambient data in creative ways.

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Laura Poitras Among 2012 MacArthur Fellows

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Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras is among the 2012 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" award winners, announced yesterday. Her 9/11 Trilogy was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial film program. My Country, My Country (2006), followed a Sunni Arab doctor running for office in Baghdad. The second film, The Oath (2010) is set in Yemen and Guantanamo. Select footage from her upcoming film on domestic surveillance, which profiles William Binney "a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data" is available to watch on the New York Times' site.

Worth watching her appearance on Democracy Now, discussing how "how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States."


As Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this year:
Poitras is now forced to take extreme steps — ones that hamper her ability to do her work — to ensure that she can engage in her journalism and produce her films without the U.S. Government intruding into everything she is doing. She now avoids traveling with any electronic devices. She uses alternative methods to deliver the most sensitive parts of her work — raw film and interview notes — to secure locations. She spends substantial time and resources protecting her computers with encryption and password defenses. Especially when she is in the U.S., she avoids talking on the phone about her work, particularly to sources. And she simply will not edit her films at her home out of fear — obviously well-grounded — that government agents will attempt to search and seize the raw footage.

That’s the climate of fear created by the U.S. Government for an incredibly accomplished journalist and filmmaker who has never been accused, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Indeed, documents obtained ...

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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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Quinn Norton - Privacy, Ephemerality, and Self

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Journalist Quinn Norton explores ideas relating to privacy, secrecy, and self in an age where nothing is ever forgotten.

 

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You, the World and I (2010) - Jon Rafman

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When Orpheus’ beloved Eurydice dies, he cajoles his way into the underworld with his musical charms and his lyre. Wanting her but not her shade, he cannot forbear looking back to physically see her and so loses her forever. In this modern day Orphean tale, an anonymous narrator also desperately searches for a lost love. Rather than the charms of the lyre, contemporary technological tools, Google Street View and Google Earth, beckon as the pathway for our narrator to regain memories and recapture traces of his lost love. In the film, they are as captivating and enthralling as charming as any lyre in retrieving the other: at first they might seem an open retort to critics of new technology who bemoan the lack of the tangible presence of the other in our interactions on the Internet.

Our narrator remembers that once, with her back turned while facing the Adriatic Sea, a Google Street View car drove by and took a picture of his beloved, who detested being photographed, without her realizing it. Our narrator cherishes this photograph and the entire relationship becomes encapsulated in the screen capture replacing all other experiences and memories. Soon it is not enough. Our narrator cannot imagine that, in a world where everything is recorded, that someone could completely disappear. In daily systematic searches for photographs of the nameless other, Google Street View and Google Earth allow him to move seamlessly through vast detailed three-dimensional space. This extraordinary geographical and social exploration is favored by Google satellite images, user-created 3D renderings of Stonehenge and Machu Picchu and Street View panoramas of favorite vacation spots. As an undifferentiated series of cultural, historical and contemporary symbols float together or follow one another in rapid succession, in a world where Dutch anthropologists discover pre-Socratic fragments on Turkish islands ...

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Status Symbols

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Joseph Del Pesco is over caffeinated. from lee Walton on Vimeo.


Beth O'Brien is dancing to her alarm clock. from lee Walton on Vimeo.

Lee Walton's use of Facebook in his most recent video series continues his habit of publicly displaying what we often think of as private moments. The artist calls himself an "experientialist" and his performances, videos, and participatory projects often merge situationism and instruction-art to convey or slightly tweak the experience of everyday life. He's created elaborate instruction sets that determine the marks made in his seemingly abstract drawings representing activity on a sports field or at a major street intersection, and, on some occasions, the lists of instructions themselves have stood in for these drawings. Walton's commitment to playing by the rules in his art have borne humorous results in projects like his season-long online free throw competition with Shaquille O'Neill, or his compilation video of strangers on the streets of New York following his instructions to lift ever-dwindling payphone receivers off their hooks. The artist's Red Ball project helped pioneer net-based performance projects that rely on distributed decision-making networks--of which MTAA's Automatic for the People is a more recent example. But now Walton is taking his friends' Facebook status messages as instructions and acting them out in short videos posted to his Vimeo account and (of course) his Facebook profile. It seems safe to say that none of the subject lines were originally intended as instructions, but seeing Walton act-out statements such as Joseph Del Pesco is over caffeinated, Marcie McAfee Carrier is doing late night Yoga and is so happy and peaceful!!!, Beth O'Brien is dancing to her alarm clock, or Andy Diaz Hope is wielding a knife calls attention to the public/private line often ...

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Removal Studies (2008) - Michael Kontopolos

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From the artist's statement:

"Removal Studies" are a series of videos made using time-lapse photography. These videos are sleep studies that observe the reaction of the unconscious body to the negative stimulus of removing the covers. The covers are removed by a machine that attaches to the bed and tugs a slight amount off in increments throughout the night. By studying the sleeping body, my aim was to capture something very honest and very animal about human beings. I was interested in this gesture of removal -- and subsequently, exposure -- and how it could function as a larger metaphor.



More work by Michael Kontopoulos

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Rhizome 2009 Commissions: Announced!

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Image: Angelos Plessas, Still from 'ElectricityComesFromAnother Planet.com' Proposal

We are pleased to announce the international group of artists who will receive grants through the Rhizome Commissions Program, this year.


Their projects will culminate in a variety of forms, from performance, to sound, to interactive websites and installation, to works that manifest across multiple disciplines. Each one pushes forward the field of contemporary art engaged with technology. All works will be completed by Summer 2009 or earlier, with information available on Rhizome.


The next call for commissions will take place in January 2009. Commissioned artists receive a grant and are invited to present their work at Rhizome's affiliate, the New Museum of Contemporary Art.


Marfa Webring, Jona Bechtolt, Claire Evans, Aaron "Flint" Jamison
In Marfa Webring, the artists Claire Evans, Jona Bechtolt and Aaron "Flint" Jamison will attempt to alter the Google search results for the town of Marfa, TX by creating a Webring and, then, (with the cooperation of the town's permanent residents) investigating the results of this action on the daily life of the town.


Case, Brody Condon
Brody Condon will re-create William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer at a red barn theatre in rural Missouri with a local, former political activist in the role of the protagonist.


Untitled (Plate Tectonics), Andy Graydon
Andy Graydon explores sound as a building material. The project begins with field recordings taken at New York City arts institutions and manifests as phonograph records and a website where visitors are encouraged to add their own ambient recordings of installation and performance spaces.


Versionhood, Kristin Lucas
The artist Kristin Lucas recently changed her legal name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas and, thus, in her words, created "the most current version of Kristin Sue Lucas." In Versionhood, Lucas will consult ...

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Free at Last... Sort Of.

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Critical Art Ensemble co-founder Dr. Steven Kurtz has been cleared of all charges in what is widely acknowledged as a bogus mail fraud case, and the federal government has said that they do not plan to appeal the judge's decree that the case was without merit. The CAE is a tactical media group whose highly-acclaimed, internationally-exhibited art and activist academic writings have been explicitly critical of threats to civil liberty, such as those posed in the case against Kurtz and his colleague, Professor Robert Ferrell. Dr. Ferrell and Dr. Kurtz were accused for an activity common in the field of scientific research: mailing each other materials in the spirit of collaboration and information-sharing. The U.S. government originally charged Kurtz with bioterrorism, after local officials discovered biological artwork in his home while responding to an emergency call regarding the tragic death of his wife. When this tack failed, they tried to save face by prosecuting both Kurtz and Ferrell for mail fraud. The allegation was that this use of the mail violated the terms of sale of the innocuous bacteria exchanged between the two parties. Under the Patriot Act, being found guilty of this crime could carry a sentence of up to twenty years in prison, rather than the five that used to threaten gangsters, petty criminals, and the long list of activists the government has previously tried to silence. At a MoMA screening of Lynn Hershman's film Strange Culture, which centered on Kurtz's case, the artist said that he was fairly certain that this was the first instance in which an individual was charged with fraud without another party actually claiming to have been defrauded. Others have previously likened the case to an act of making a federal case out of [allegedly] breaking the warranty on ...

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