Putting the capital in decapitation

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Goldin+Senneby, Headless, 2007- (Photo: John Barlow)

As a lead-up to the Headless Conference, co-organizer Ginny Kollak shares her essay “Putting the capital in decapitation” which is excerpted from the brochure accompanying the exhibition “The Office for Parafictional Research Presents Headless: Work by Goldin+Senneby” on view through March 21 at CCS Bard. The Headless Conference is a mini-symposium for this exhibition.

Goldin+Senneby is the identity-resistant “framework for collaboration” established by Stockholm-based artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby in 2004. An interest in capitalist logic and networked culture guides their investigative practice, which explores juridical, financial, and spatial infrastructures through performance and role-playing, invented (and often virtual) realities, writing and publishing, and public interventions.

Headless (2007-) is the artists’ ongoing analysis of the shadowy realm of offshore finance. The subject represents a nearly perfect encapsulation of Goldin+Senneby’s many preoccupations, but perhaps its most relevant feature is its provocative and strategic use of masking, secrecy, and withdrawal. The system is evasive by definition: its procedures allow a company’s assets to be protected from taxation or other bureaucratic regulation, and the identities of its owners and their true business practices can be concealed. In spatial terms, examining an offshore company can be thought of as encountering a space that shifts readily from an impenetrable barrier to an empty void—like a hologram, it appears and disappears according to the perspective from which it is viewed. From a moral standpoint, offshore’s slippery visage is just as apt to inspire bored yawns as righteous indignation: one man’s exploitation is another’s tedious paperwork. Still, like most unknown territories, offshore triggers mainly sinister readings. A more anthropomorphic understanding might conceive the offshore company as something monstrous—a decentralized, elusive body that moves without any visible means of control—a ...

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webzen (2009) - Carlos Katastrofsky

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A Koan: “All things can be traced back to the One, to what, however, can the One be traced back?” - “Untitled Document” is written on top of the browser window. No name, no content, no design: a webpage as simple as it can be. Still the work webzen (2009) demands outmost concentration. Clicking from one page to the next, the neverending quest for links is leading further, the skimming through pieces of information and the scanning of texts and pictures is interrupted - which is irritating. webzen is an attempt to abandon representational thinking, to understand life as utterly art of absent-mindedness and to experience the reality beyond duality and logic and beyond space and time. webzen has only one assignment: the single-serving site wants to overcome itself by means of meditating on the basic formulas of sourcecode: ‹html›, ‹head›, ‹title›, ‹body›, system, spirit, concept, body. But overcoming would only have been possible if the site would have never existed. - another Koan: “All things can be traced back to the code, to what, however, can the code be traced back?”

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Logo.Hallucination (2006) - Christophe Bruno

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Pattern recognition is a field in full expansion. It constitutes a key technology in the domains of safety, of the management of the rights, of marketing… « Logo.Hallucination » proposes to use technologies of recognition of images in order to detect subliminal forms of logos or emblems, hidden (generally involuntarily) in the visual environment or in the whole of the images of the Internet. The found images will be accessible in a weblog, proposing a comparison between the original on the one hand and, on the other hand, the brand and its logo.

« Logo.Hallucination » lies thus within the scope of Web 2.0 insofar as the raw data (images) are mashed up with additional visual information (the hallucination of the brand) and that their juxtaposition takes part of new economic stakes, pointed here in an ironic way.

Logo.Hallucination continuously monitors the images circulating on the Internet looking for hidden logos.

-- EXCERPT FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Interview with Jason Sigal of the Free Music Archive

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This week I interviewed Jason Sigal, Managing Director of the Free Music Archive, a brand new initiative developed by the acclaimed independent freeform New York-based FM and streaming radio station WFMU. Launched last month, the Free Music Archive is a curated archive of high quality legal audio downloads. The FMA pairs WFMU’s longstanding reputation and expertise with a model inspired by Creative Commons and the open source software movement, and presents a useful solution to copyright and regulation quandaries now facing the distribution of music online. - Ceci Moss

What conversations inspired the Free Music Archive?

The idea came from our Station Manager Ken Freedman and Assistant Station Manager Liz Berg, so you'd need to talk to them personally about the run up to the project. But this is the basic idea:

Radio is not enough. WFMU is at the forefront of using new technology to fulfill our mission, but outdated copyright law and the looming possibility of unfairly high royalties make it difficult to provide audio on-demand, to podcast, to archive, even to stream online. A lot of webcasters closed down as a result, because they would be paying more to webcast than to broadcast over FM/AM or what we would call 'terrestrial' radio. We want to support the artists we play. But SoundExchange (the performing rights organization who claims to collect royalties on behalf of all the world's recordings, not just those registered with the RIAA) has a gargantuan list of Unpaid Artists that they can't seem to track down. Glancing through it now...Kraftwerk's on here, the Afghan Whigs, X-Ray Spex, Ted Nugent...SoundExchange has a very difficult task at hand, and it's a valiant one, but if they can't find these artists, they're NEVER gonna be able to ...

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Good Copy Bad Copy (2007) - Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen, Henrik Moltke

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a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture

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The Pirate Google Sets Sail

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It should come as no surprise that many of the artists and new media practitioners regularly featured on this site rely on illegal file sharing for the content and tools used to make their work. Last week the four operators of the major torrent tracking site, The Pirate Bay, were brought up on criminal charges by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), representing a group of intellectual copyright holders, and were sentenced by the Swedish court to a year in prison and a $3.5 million fine after a much publicized trial. In the wake of these trials, a mysterious cyber activist and defender of internet neutrality launched The Pirate Google, a website that limits Google searches to the previously indexed torrent files. It's an act that throws more smoke in the face of the politically and economically biased charges, as Google's indexing system has long allowed access to knowingly copyrighted material, while Google-owned YouTube hosts it directly.

In an email, the creator of the site told us that while Google has attempted to block inbound searches from The Pirate Google, he or she did not feel it would be possible for the IFPI or the corporate giant to take legal action, as they don't advertise and don't profit from the site. Its purpose is simply to raise issues of complicity and complexity in hosting and defining illegal materials. In this sense, the site is as much collaborative art piece as technological utility, as it seeks to undermine the advancement of institutional leaders, be it established museum, gallery, or artist, in favor of the disenfranchised. And who doesn’t love a good Damn The Man collaboration now and then? Masked defender, we salute you.

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SelfControl (2009) - Steve Lambert

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Is email a distraction? SelfControl is an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time. For example, you could block access to your email, facebook, and twitter for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the web. Once started, it can not be undone by the application or by restarting the computer - you must wait for the timer to run out.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Solitude (2009) - Bailey Salisbury

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RGB Forever (16, 777, 222) (2009) - Parker Ito

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youtube as subject II (2008) - Constant Dullaart

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LAUNCH

More work by Constant Dullaart

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