By now, many Rhizome readers are familiar with the ordeal endured by Steve Kurtz, a member of the tactical media collective Critical Art Ensemble dubiously charged with "mail fraud" (when bioterrorism allegations didn't stick) following the sudden death of his wife. More details on the case, which resonated in ripples throughout the art world and raised many important questions about free speech rights, can be found on the CAE Defense Fund website. Now CAE and their frequent collaborators, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, are teaming-up in an exhibition at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, in Kurtz's city of residence, Buffalo, NY. The show, entitled "Seized," revolves around the materials taken by the FBI in their occupation and search of Kurtz's home. The negative spaces left behind by these absent books, art works, and other seemingly innocuous objects are filled by the garbage the FBI left behind. The show will also include the works in which CAE was engaged at the time, and which came under Homeland scrutiny. These include Free Range Grain, Molecular Invasion, and GenTerra, all of which explore the systems of scientific research as models for discussing the impact of biotechnology on our food, our bodies, and ironically, our security. The exhibition will be open June 7-July 13 and, like the negative spaces filled by government garbage in the exhibited documentation, the show offers an opportunity to fill the hole punched by this unfortunate series of events with critical conversation. - Marisa Olson
In a special panel hosted by Eyebeam, artist Steve Kurtz will speak openly tonight about his experience in federal court and the claims of bioterrorism filed against him. This is his first public appearance since his case was dismissed. He will be joined in discussion by science writer Carl Zimmer, bioethicist George Annas and author Eugene Thacker. The talk is free, open to the public, and it begins at 7pm. This event is co-organized by the 2008 World Science Festival and the Berkeley Center for New Media.
For the next New Silent Series program at the New Museum, Blank Spots on a Map: State Secrecy and the Limits of the Visible, geographer and artist Trevor Paglen will explore the network of hidden budgets, state secrets, covert military bases, and disappeared people that military and intelligence insiders call the "black world." Over the course of his talk, Paglen will lead the discussion from "non-existent" Air Force and CIA installations in the Nevada desert to secret prisons in Afghanistan and to a collection of even more obscure "black sites" startlingly close to home. Using hundreds of images he has produced and collected over the course of his work, Paglen shows how the black world's internal contradictions give rise to a peculiar visual, aesthetic, and epistemological grammar with which to think about the contemporary moment.
Friday May 9th, 7:30 PM
the New Museum, New York, NY
$8 general public, $6 Members (Rhizome and New Museum)
Artist Bjorn Magnhildoen in Norwayweb creates a "carpet" made of numbers derived from Norwegian tax payer information. Accessing roughly 4 million databases via "web scraping", the "carpet" is immediately triggered upon each visit to the web site, forcing the visitor to become a participant in the collection and redistribution of "private" information. Magnhildoen comments, "While the police earlier put goal-oriented tasks to suspected individuals and groups, now the whole population will be surveilled."
Marc Garrett of Furtherfield wrote a fascinating review of the work last month where he discusses the piece within the context of widespread digital surveillance.