Required Reading

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Dan Hill, of the architecture blog City of Sound, posted a nice synopsis of a long discussion between himself and architect and engineer Carlo Ratti today. Ratti is the director of the MIT SENSEable City Lab, which researches the impact of sensors and hand-held electronics on architecture and urban planning. In the article, Ratti talks about their work as well as his vision of a "responsive city."

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On Tour

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Image: Sign for Mama internet center

This month I’m traveling through southeastern Europe from Venice to Athens, where I’m looking at art and blogging. Part two of the travelogue is about Zagreb, Croatia. Part one is here.

Zagreb’s center has more street names than streets; the names change every few blocks so meters can be allotted to every worthy Croatian hero. And many names differ from the ones streets bore twenty years ago, since a different history needed to be inscribed in Zagreb’s map after Yugoslavia dissolved and Croatia became independent. “The Renaming Machine,” an exhibition currently on view at Zagreb’s Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic, addresses the obsession with names. Sanja Ivekovic’s contribution is inspired by Zagreb’s Street of the Unknown Heroine—a name that is both unsettling and appropriate when virtually all other streets are named for men—which takes the form of a poster with maps, e-mails, and other supporting documents describing the artist’s attempt to give the same name to a street in Utrecht during her retrospective at Van Abbemuseum.

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Image: Installation at Touch Me festival in Zagreb, December 2008

Just as street names reflect political values, so do the uses of buildings on them. After arriving in Zagreb and settling in the Angelina Jolie room at The Movie Hotel, I met with Tomislav Medak, director of Mama, an organization that was founded in 1999 as a center for internet activists and artists, but in recent years has shifted its attention to urban development, specifically the use of former industrial sites that abound in Zagreb (as they do in many other large, formerly socialist cities). Mama lobbies the municipal government to reserve abandoned factories for public use—whether cultural activities or low-cost housing—rather than handing them to private investors ...

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Report From FutureSonic 2009

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Focusing on a wide array of themes such as the context of a rapidly changing planet, our evolving human / natural ecosystem, the growing global strain on natural resources, and the advancement of artistic methods on potential of technological infrastructures, the 10th edition of the FutureSonic festival spanning 14 years integrated a wide and impressive array of international speakers, workshops, exhibitions, and performances. Scattered around the bustling city of Manchester in the United Kingdom, the festival took into account both its local strengths and its global outreach to encourage debate and showcase a wide arrange of artistic projects that examined just how far we have come in these debates and how far we have to go to make sense of the evolving technological apparatus that surrounds us.

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Christian Jankowski Talk Wednesday at the New School

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Image: Christian Jankowski, Living Sculptures, Dali Woman, 2006-07 (Bronze, 86.61 x 35.43 x 31.5 inches (Photo: Seong Kwon, courtesy of Public Art Fund)

This coming Wednesday at The New School, German artist Christian Jankowski will give a talk on his career and work at 6:30pm in the Tishman Auditorium. (Students get in for free, so be sure to bring your student IDs!) Jankowski works in a variety of media, including video, installation, photography, performance, and sculpture, often engaging aspects of his personal life as his subject matter. In 1997, for a piece called Let's get physical/digital, Jankowski and his girlfriend Una, he in Stockholm and she in Milan, set up a chat room on the web where they met daily. These instant-message exchanges were then translated into German and Swedish, and given to seven pairs of actors, who played out the two roles in a series of vignettes that were videotaped, subtitled in English, and broadcast on the Web. Exhibiting the playful humor more typical of Jankowski’s pieces is Telemistica (1999), created for the 1999 Venice Biennale and now on view in the exhibition Broadcast at Pratt Manhattan Gallery. For this piece, the artist phoned Italian psychics on their live television shows and asked them questions about his artwork, such as how it would fare at the Biennale. Jankowski's stilted and awkward conversations with psychics in his non-native Italian jokingly mock artistic inspiration and success. Jankowski’s work is also currently on view at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, where a trio of life-sized, bronze figures, titled Living Sculptures: Caesar, Dali Woman, El Che are positioned just outside the Park’s entrance. The figures are modeled after three professional street performers the artist observed in Barcelona presenting themselves as ...

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Media Studies

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This is the first installment of a monthly column by Rhizome's Contributing Editor Marisa Olson. "Media Studies" will explore timely issues within the broader field of technology. Each post will pay specific attention to the relationship between these subjects and artistic practice. For this column, Marisa provides a reading list on the topic of "Experimental Geography". In recent years, access to geographical tools and data collection has expanded rapidly, allowing many artists to rethink their relationship to the earth and geographical study. This column provides a summation of publications relevant to these developments.

Please join us tomorrow for a panel, organized by Marisa, on "Experimental Geography". Beginning at 3pm in the New Museum's theater, Creative Time curator Nato Thompson, who curated an exhibition of the same title for Independent Curators International, will lead a discussion with artists Lize Mogel and Damon Rich. - Ceci Moss

The following is an initial list of readings that might be of interest to anyone researching experimental geography. It includes key theoretical texts on the nature of space, texts on locative media, and works on radical cartography. Many of them cross over into game theory, cyberfeminism, relations between real and virtual spaces, surveillance, tactical media, psychogeography, situationism, sound art, networked cultures, site-specific installation art, and other related sub-themes. It's tempting to sort these into temporal or topical categories, but to do so might be to inappropriately compartmentalize an ongoing discourse that moves in new directions every day.

This is only a starting point. Please feel free to add texts in the comments. Links to related syllabi would also be a great resource!

Janet Abrams and Peter Hall (eds), Else/Where: Mapping -- New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, Univ Minnesota Design Institute, 2006

Saul Albert, "Locative Literacy," Mute, July 12, 2004

Marc Augé, Non-Places ...

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Reminder

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Join us Saturday March 21st at 3pm for this month's New Silent Series event:

Experimental Geography Panel Discussion: An Aesthetic Investigation of Space
Saturday, March 21st, 3pm at
the New Museum, New York, NY
Buy Tickets

Creative Time curator Nato Thompson will lead a discussion on Experimental Geography with Lize Mogel and Damon Rich, two artists who participated in his exhibition (for Independent Curators International) and book (Melville House) of the same name.

The discussion will focus on the creative use of landscape hacking, cartography, locative media, and radical urbanism as a means of engaging with the politics of contested spaces. In presenting work from the show and book, the panelists will explore the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, and the juncture where the two realms collide.

The panel is organized and hosted by Rhizome Contributing Editor and Columnist, Marisa Olson.

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Underglow (2005) - Susan Collins

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One of 4 works commissioned by the Corporation of London as part of a new ‘Light Up Queen Street’ annual programme of winter commissions. Underglow illuminated a number of separate gullies (drains) in the vicinity of Guildhall Yard, King Street and Queen Street and were visible from dusk to dawn from November 2005 until February 2006.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S WEBSITE

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Influential Activism

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Survival Research Laboratories, Amsterdam, 2008 (Photo by Boris VanHoytema)

The word "influencer" is most often used by marketing strategists to refer to cool people to whom other consumers turn to for fashion and food advice. But the organizers of The Influencers, an annual "culture jamming and guerrilla communication fest" brandish this word like a weapon in the fight against the corporatization of culture. On February 5-7, the artist groups d-i-n-a and Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) will present their fifth festival "dedicated to exploring unconventional weapons of mass communication." Their approach grows out of a classical perspective on détournement but is updated by an understanding of networked infrastructures and new forms of mobility and social organizing that effect protest strategies in digital culture. In addition to talks, workshops, and impromptu interventions, the festival's events will revolve around eight commissioned works by Survival Research Laboratories, Ztohoven, BLU, Improv Everywhere, Julius von Bismarck, Wu Ming, Swoon, and Wolfgang Staehle. This is an eclectic group, to say the least, whose work ranges from graffiti to pyrotechnics to comedic group performances to poetic video installations. The group's diversity serves to illustrate the wide reach of commercialism's impact and the wide range of people interested in fighting back in support of the liberties that become threatened by corporate encroachment onto public space and public speech. One goal of the festival will be to map out how these alternative voices can infiltrate the hardlined frontier between public and private, so these artists were thus selected for "their taste for risk, the impulse that moves the authors of these projects to build dangerous machines, act politically incorrectly, use anachronous technology, or simply to defy common sense." It sounds both fun and challenging, but if you can't make it ...

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The Visual Reader, Graffiti Art and Digital Culture in the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Issue 6

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TEXTING AND GRAFFITTI: Understanding the Reader in Contemporary Art" by Karla Diaz


This article, from the latest issue of Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, looks at how digital culture has influenced the most recent generation of graffiti writers, who grew up fully enmeshed in the abbreviated language of text messaging and online communication. Arguing that this gives rise to a "visual reader" who balances and decodes meaning from a digital, street, and contemporary art context, this new generation contributes a sharper sensibility while also pulling in methods and strategies from older graffiti practices. Diaz discusses how younger graffiti artists make work with the intent to document and transmit images of it online, which not only extends viewership to a larger, non-localized audience, but also shapes the contours, in terms of the type of shorthand used, of their output itself.

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OOZing: A Public Workshop with Natalie Jeremijenko

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Set up by artist Natalie Jerimijenko, the Ooz project is a non-traditional rest area for animals that stands in contrast to the nearby Bronx Zoo. Notably free of cages, Ooz is a place where, according to the artist, animals remain "by choice" and is designed to encourage new kinds of human/animal interaction. On Thursday evening, Jerimijenko will tackle a different but related topic: how urban dwellers can engage with a whole new set of species she claims will soon be living in close proximity. Jeremijenko lists coyote, luna moths, rhinoceros, beetles, raccoons and wild turkey as among the new arrivals that will force humans to rethink biodiversity and the kind of environmental services that are needed. The workshop will take place at the Van Alen Institute in New York City and the organizers request that attendees RSVP to torvsp[AT]vanalen.org by the end of today.

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