Michael Connor
Since 2002
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America


Notes on a definition of Net Art based on what I remember from a borrowed copy of Nettitudes


 

WWWWWWWWWW.JODI.ORG (1995)

Lately, I've been feeling a sense of inhibition relating to Josephine Bosma's book Nettitudes, which I've had checked out from the library for the past six months. I started getting emails a few weeks ago that the book had to be returned, each one charting a steadily increasing overdue fine. (Update: the book is now being billed as lost.) The idea of returning the book became a source of anxiety, because even though I could make a copy or buy another one, I've become attached to it. Also, I don't quite remember where I put it.

This is relevant to my job because the Prix Net Art announcement, which went up earlier this week, had to of course include a definition of net art. And as with last year, this definition was something Chronus and TASML curator and Prix instigator and co-organizer Zhang Ga and I discussed intently. As Zhang has argued from the beginning, one signficant motivation for this prize was to publicly discuss and debate the definition of net art.


The One Hour Photo Lab as Exhibition Venue


One summer during college, I worked in a one-hour photo lab in a mall near my hometown. A big part of the job involved squinting at 35mm negatives and assessing the necessary color balance and exposure. I've always been bad at colors, and when a shift got slow I would make lots and lots of reprints and compare the results, trying to hone my eye. "You generate a lot of waste prints," my boss said one day. "Yes," my 19-year old self agreed placidly, without a thought for the store's bottom line, "that's true."

This week, I went to a CVS near my house to pick up an envelope of photo prints. The occasion was David Horvitz's project "An Impossible Distance," a "distributed exhibition" of works by 24 artists. To receive the "exhibition," you simply send an email to the organizers with your name and whereabouts, and they order the prints for you online, for delivery to a local photo Walgreens or CVS. When I went to CVS to collect my prints seven hours after the allotted time, they weren't ready; the cashier rang me up and started printing them. "It'll just be a few minutes," she said, and turned to the next customer, while a robot performed my old job.


Why is Deep Dream turning the world into a doggy monster hellscape?


Raphaël Bastide, Handmade Deep Dream (2015). If this were a real Deep Dream image these would be dogs probably.

Participants in social media will by now be well aware of the artistic renaissance that has been underway since the release of Google's Deep Dream visualization tool last week. Antony Antonellis' A-Ha Deep Dream captures well the experience of encountering these unsettling images on the internet:

Antony Antonellis, A-ha Deep Dream (2015).

By way of recap: Deep Dream uses a machine vision system typically used to classify images that is tweaked so that it over-analyzes images until it sees objects that aren't "really there." The project was developed by researchers at Google who were interested in the question, how do machines see? Thanks to Deep Dream, we now know that machines see things through a kind of fractal prism that puts doggy faces everywhere. 

It seems strange that Google researchers would even need to ask this question, but that's the nature of image classification systems, which generally "learn" through a process of trial and error. As the researchers described it,

we train networks by simply showing them many examples of what we want them to learn, hoping they extract the essence of the matter at hand (e.g., a fork needs a handle and 2-4 tines), and learn to ignore what doesn't matter (a fork can be any shape, size, color or orientation). But how do you check that the network has correctly learned the right features? It can help to visualize the network's representation of a fork.



Caitlyn Jenner and the Facebook Real Name Policy


 

Protesters in Menlo Park yesterday. (Photo by Gareth Gooch).

Yesterday, Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to an eager public via a magazine cover, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page. The Twitter account gained a million followers faster than the previous record-holder, Barack Obama, and the Facebook page garnered hundreds of thousands of likes in its first day. Coming a week after the news that IMG had signed Hari Nef (onetime host of Ed Fornieles's NY NY HP HP for Rhizome), the news heralded a new level of public visibility and acceptance for transgender people.


The irony of Caitlyn Jenner's Facebook popularity is that the social media site has such an unsupportive official stance toward name changes in general. The policy not only forbids creating profiles under stage names or personas or alter egos, it forbids profiles under any name that can't be backed up by a legal document, such as identification or a piece of mail. (The rules are different for Pages, such as Jenner's). Facebook is like the right-wing uncle who deliberately misgenders you, on principle. 



Discussions (92) Opportunities (1) Events (1) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

Should we be capitalizing Internet?


The Rhizome style guide calls for the word "internet" to be written in lower case, but I have been continuing my normal practice of capitalizing it, maverick that I am.

To not capitalize it is more post-internet and cool. It suggests that the internet is not monolithic, but is many things; it suggests that it is an institution (like cinema or television) rather than a technical infrastructure. Heather is convinced that we should continue to not capitalize it.

I feel like capitalizing Internet is more techie and old-school, because in the 1980s there were other proposed "internets" that didn't really take off. So the Internet we use is a proper noun, referring to one possible network of many.

More context: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalization_of_%22Internet%22

Thoughts...?

DISCUSSION

Internet Real Estate, Art and Power: The cases of Artsy and .art


Hi Tom, I did read all of those posts while this article was in process, thank you for sharing them here. I think Orit added something new to the discussion through her bringing together of these two examples as indicative of a growing awareness of the underlying political structures behind the URL,

The article does indeed say "whoa, wait a minute." For example:
"But it also presents the organization with the opportunity to wield a kind of centralized power that seems incongruous not only with the egalitarian politics advanced through e-flux’s editorial, but also with the concept of the Internet as a shared resource."

Also: dotorg for life baby. I am, like you, skeptical that the GTLDs will change the face of the internet, but I don't think the article advances the ICANN party line. The point of Orit's Zola flourish was to suggest that there is serious money involved, a point I think you'd agree with.

Finally, the question of a gatekeeper vs curator is quite a tricky one. While I wanted to support Orit in asking critical questions about e-flux' stewardship of the .art domain, I am happy this didn't turn into a straightforward argument on behalf of deviantart's bid, which raises its own kind of issues.

A few years ago I wrote a text 'A Manual for the Twenty-First Century Gatekeeper' ... I admit that I was guilty of imprecisely defining my terms, but I would also argue that this follows common usage; the word 'curate' is now often used to refer to the act of selecting content.

One idea that came out of my research was that democracy tends not to be the most interesting process for the selection of artwork. The reason for this is that the selection or inclusion of an artwork typically tells an audience more about the selector than it does about the work. Selections made by large groups cannot be said to be more or less valid than those made by individuals or small groups, and they lack any sense of personal risk, of a passionate commitment made by an advocate on behalf of the work.

While I share your worry about the centralization of online art power in e-flux's hands, I also admire and enjoy their curatorial voice, and I'm not quite ready to throw my support behind deviantart...

In your post on the topic, your contrast between "web-based art culture" and the "gallery-based power structure" does elide some of these complexities. Granted, it was a short blog post, and I don't mean to nit-pick. But I'm glad that Orit chose not to offer up an easy resolution, because I don't think one exists.

DISCUSSION

EVENT

Definition I: Low-Res (Palazzo Peckham)


Dates:
Thu May 30, 2013 16:00 - Thu May 30, 2013

Location:
Venice, Italy

Rhizome's Michael Connor moderates a conversation with Hito Steyerl and Oliver Laric at Palazzo Peckham.

(The last bridge on the left at the end of the Garibaldi (the road between the Arsenale and Giardini!)


DISCUSSION

Jack Goldstein, GIF Artist?


Sounds like a great event..