In lieu of a "Best of" we've decided to pull together projects, events and developments within the field of art and technology that we felt were noteworthy. Like all year-end reviews, it would be impossible for this list to be entirely exhaustive, however we do hope that it is, at the very least, indicative of some of the most compelling directions and ideas in circulation over the past 12 months. Rhizome staff John Michael Boling and Ceci Moss assembled this list, with input from Caitlin Jones.
I (Ceci) viewed this screening at Deitch, but the same program was also organized at the Mattress Factory as part of the exhibition PREDRIVE: After Technology. While curated by Murata independently of the PREDRIVE show, the program serendipitously hits on some of the same themes. It featured new work by Yoshi Sodeoka, Ben Jones, Devin Flynn, Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker, Eric Fensler, Ara Peterson and Dave Fischer, Melissa Brown and Siebren Versteeg, Billy Grant and Takeshi Murata. The videos were followed by live performances by Nate Boyce and Robert Beatty. Murata also screened a number of films on 16mm by experimental animator Adam Beckett, whose work has had little public exposure.
See "From Bell Labs to Best Buy: Takeshi Murata and Jacob Ciocci in Conversation with PREDRIVE: After Technology Curator Melissa Ragona" on Rhizome
Morales brings together a diverse selection of bootleg art videos, vintage commercials, and other video oddities all culled from his extensive VHS and Laserdisc collection. After watching his uploaded videos, be sure to check out his YouTube favorites on each account.
In a recent essay for ...
One of the hallmarks of the current era of net art is the exhibitory display of one's consumption. While a lot of early net art was self-reflexively directed at the traits of networked environments, newer work seems to be largely about running around and exploring those environments, then generating responses. The output of the pseudonymous artists behind Triptych.tv (Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Mr. Tamale) forms a bridge between these two eras. It incubated in the hour of the first boom's waning and waxed ahead of the current surf blog curve. As a result, Triptych.tv (which, readers are forewarned, could very much hijack its predecessor Screenfull.net's motto, "We Crash Your Browser With Content") marries the best qualities of these two eras. The site simultaneously evades initial detection as a blog while exploiting (in the true hacker sense of the word) all of the default structural conditions that make blogs such a performative space. The artists post heavily and skillfully manipulated videos, sound clips, images, and animations, to the order of optical poptitude; and while their individual posts stand on their own, the degree to which they harmonize with each other could finally--after so many decades--stand to illustrate the truly exquisite nature of the exquisite corpse. This is net art decadence at its richest. Now if the site sounds familiar to you, we'll admit to having covered it before, but the group's current summer marathon inspired us to remind you of its presence. This, afterall, is another trait of current net art blogs. There are no one-hit-wonders, and despite the ".tv" in the site's URL, there are no reruns here. To truly take in this collaborative artwork's beauty, one needs to resign themselves to the compulsion to repeat. - Marisa Olson
Replacing the white cube with an off-white browser frame, Harm van den Dorpel's Club Internet provides an ingenious, minimally-invasive strategy for the online presentation of a gallery-style group show. Eschewing the thumbnail and commentary of surfing clubs and art blogs, van den Dorpel offers instead a thin toolbar top-border that allows the reader to cycle through full pages by the 24 artists assembled for Club Internet's inaugural show, "First Selection," running until June 14. The exhibit itself has a zeitgeisty greatest-hits quality; some of the work on display by the likes of Paul Slocum, Guthrie Lonergan, Jodi and Oliver Laric will be already familiar to Rhizome readers. But the selection serves as an excellent showcase for Club Internet's full-screen format, as many of the works require the entire browser frame, and in some cases, their native domain name displayed for full effect, and none go deeper than a single page each. The disorientingly distended jpegs of Constant Dullart's blown up balloon and blown up explosion, or the similarly large-scale, low-res flash animation of Damon Zucconi's Form Over Communication (Do not go gentle into that good night), for example, would be difficult to translate to a bite-sized blog post--likewise Michael Guidetti's glorious full-page text-and-image jumbles. Similarly, works like Thomas Traum's walking and neon, Petra Cortright's . . ..~ <[-/=^=-]>~.. . ., and van den Dorpel's own Sleepwalker I live up to their quasi-cinematic potential when allowed to flourish in full frame. -- Ed Halter
Image is an excerpt from Harm Van Den Dorpel's Sleepwalker I, 2007.
In these days of artist surfblogs and folksonomic curating, there's a discernible pattern to the emergence of a net artist. Like a musician strategically leaking her new album to the interweb, net artists drop their new wares on del.icio.us, then sit back to watch the URL's bookmark history grow. (For an example of artists using del.icio.us as a creative platform, check out the tag cloud on veteran net artists JODI's account.) This week it was an illustrator named Math Wrath who caught social bookmarkers' hungry eyes. The artist's site feels like the web presence of The Little Prince, if said prince fell into Rainbo Brite's candy-coated astral world. Operating under a strictly pseudonymous handle, like many in the contemporary surf set, Math Wrath offers a fresh glance at familiar themes and forms ranging from video games to comic books. While Mountains offers an eternally-scrolling horizontal landscape that will feel familiar in shape to anyone experienced in playing auto racing games, the reversal of the traditional Left/Right scrolling direction relieves the viewer of the driver's role, instead making them more like the giddy, if bewildered, child passenger in the back of a station wagon. The work's juxtaposition of razor-sharp, sparkly diamond-dust stalagmites against a glowy sky merges two vocabularies that don't often find a horizon point. This uncanniness is perhaps more obvious in TayZonday in YouTube Limbo, in which a graphically low-level portrait of the Chocolate Rain phenom is adorned with a swirly geometric blindfold. The effect of this co-mingling of bitmaps, sprites, and blingee gifs feels akin to an orchestra dividing into factions, to play in different time signatures, yet somehow staying in tune. The artist is clearly familiar with contemporary memes, as evidenced by pieces like ...
Imagine an art collective whose practice--on the surface--revolves largely around inside jokes, self-congratulation, and the unabashed display of consumption. Throw in a fine balance between fearless experimentation with form and a general disregard for traditional aesthetics. Sounds like international biennale material, right? In fact, it's "Double Happiness," the net art collective who today celebrate their first anniversary of online rabble-rousing under the moniker of this popular Chinese calligraph. When the group was invited, via email, to ruminate on this auspicious occasion, "Dub Hap" co-founder Borna Sammak replied, "I've noticed that those outside the art community seem much quicker to 'get it' than art people." Then again, he also boasted, "I pride myself in having the worst website on the internet." Indeed, the group's site--also managed by artists Eric Laska, Evan Roth, Jeff Sisson, and Bennett Williamson--is chock-a-block with the fruits of inordinately long websurfing sessions: frayed gif mashups, hilarious if sometimes unnerving audio loops, shameless resizes calling for inconsistent page widths, ekphrastic word/image paradoxes, and very often beautiful collages of similar images (graffiti tags, gummi bears, umbrella hats... Google Image Searches are their friend) that not only signify through combination and quantity but overwhelm the viewer with a sheer cascade of visual awesomeness. In many ways, the blog recalls the motto of OG net artists Jimpunk and Abe Linkoln's classic site, Screenfull.net, "We crash your browser with content." Double Happiness has the fresh spirit of a sketchbook alit--a sort of exquisite corpse in which no age or end is predeterminate of today's chaotic link-dump. Ultimately, if Double Happiness revolves around an inside joke, then the joke is shared by all of us. As Williamson reasons, "I enjoy using the internet as a medium for dubhap because online we already view so many disparate ...
If virtual commerce were ever in need of a critical makeover, we might look no further than Kevin Bewersdorf and Paul Slocum to offer some solutions. As key instigators of a new type of objecthood, Bewersdorf and Slocum's individual and collective practices treat the internet as a launching pad for self-expression, where a motley crowd of Google searches and "spirit surfing" can be reinvested with the "ephemeral-imperfect" qualities of everyday items, courtesy of Walgreens.com Photo Center and other online manufacturers. What ensues are amusing products - pillowcases emblazoned with search result images of "Titanic" and "Woodstock"; mouse pads covered with pictures of "Pain" - made all the more bewildering by their stringent adherence to the terms of gallery exhibition: pristine white pedestals et. al. Bewersdorf and Slocum's reapportionment thus extends beyond the realm of clever shopping and into that of conceptual art, offering methods of traversing the routes of internet-based consumption towards highlighting a dominant commercial paradigm, yet ultimately sequestering its products in the realm of aesthetic display, within which their uncanny qualities may be brought into sharp relief. "Spirit Surfers," opening this weekend at VertexList, promises to find the artists delving deeper into this inquiry, and also marks the debut of their brand new web-based surfing club of the same name. - Tyler Coburn
Image: "Maximum Sorrow Throw Blanket #2", Kevin Bewersdorf, 2008
Artist Paul Klee once described drawing as "taking a line for a walk," though he could have just as easily been referring to ASDF's A Wikipedia Reader (2008). Assuming two forms - a limited-edition printed book and open-edition .PDF - this project stems from ASDF co-organizer David Horvitz's invitation to a handful of predominantly Los Angeles-based artists to play a "small game" with Wikipedia's navigational structure. The advent of digital information systems, Horvitz argues in the project's introduction, has made heretofore standard methods of categorization "almost irrelevant." Indeed, a virtual user's mode of accessing information relies upon the contingencies of a given search, a vastly less hierarchical mode of navigation that broadens the associative potential of a topic, instead of whittling it down. Horvitz invited eleven collaborators, such as Uta Barth, Laurel Nakadate, and Emilie Halpern, to choose topics reflective of their artistic interests and document their paths through related links. What ensues are relatively straightforward yet frequently lyrical journeys into the web�s collective memory hub, as Barth travels from "Dusk" to "Dawn" and, eventually, reaches "Polar Night"; Halpern grazes "FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" and "Fibonacci" in a search that originated with "Esperanto"; and Horvitz, in a rather appropriate summation of the project's enterprise, encounters "Dérive" and "Flâneur" on a stroll that began with "Boredom" and ends with "Balloon Mail." Given the amount of time we spend in the virtual sphere, it's fitting that ASDF would deploy the methods of Situationists and psychogeographers to generate a permanent archive of a specific moment, topography and state of knowledge that, by the nature of Wikipedia, will continue to change and evolve. - Tyler Coburn
Pornography was one of the internet's earliest forms of content and has arguably propelled the development of online imaging and video formats. Consistently the net's most financially viable material, the heavy presence of online porn has also contributed to the social formation of desire. Despite the growth of Porn Studies as an academic field of inquiry, creative and intellectual studies of digital porn are scarce. Digitalia: Intimacy in the Hyperreal is a group exhibition curated by Evan J. Garza at Houston's Deborah Colton Gallery to address this gap. Artists Charles Cohen (pictured), Graham Guerra, Tracey Emin, Daniel Handal, Sean Johnson, Steven Miller, Ray Ogar, Alexander Reyna, and Robert Yarber present work drawing on the broad spectrum of online sites of desire, moving beyond the hardcore to also consider internet dating services, social networking sites, and even instant messaging applications in order to articulate the role of these technologies in constructing intimacy, and the shape that these shared connections might take. Underlying the show's organizational logic is an interest in questions of reality as they relate to the supposed intangibility of the electronic currents and pixels that comprise the source material at hand. But just as theorists have demonstrated the corporeal aspects of fantasy, the work selected for Digitalia ultimately points to an important sense of materiality in relation to web surfing, image downloading, and other aspects of situational voyeurism. If intimacy is about the space between people, Digitalia carves out a markedly poignant space for considering the libidinal realities of digital culture. The show is open January 12-March 1, 2008. - Marisa Olson