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

Caitlyn Jenner and the Facebook Real Name Policy


Yes, I have considered it. However, I'm very excited about our work in dynamic web/social media preservation, and I think this demands that we remain invested in a logistically separate publishing platform, even at the cost of some audiences. The Awl has had really good coverage on this issue recently: http://www.theawl.com/slug/the-content-wars

DISCUSSION

OPPORTUNITY

Birth Rites Collection Bi-annual Award


Deadline:
Sat Feb 07, 2015 23:59

Location:
London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Submissions for our Birth Rites Collection Bi-annual Award are now open!

Artwork can be submitted in any medium.
DEADLINE 7th February 2015.
Entry fee £10

The winner will receive a residency at the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths University, London plus a stipend and winning work to be included in the Birth Rites Collection, The University of Salford. Shortlisted artists will have thier work screened digitally at Media CityUK in the Egg Suite in March 2015.

The Birth Rites Collection is the first and only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth. The collection currently comprises of photography, sculpture, painting, wallpaper, drawing, new media, documentary and experimental film. It is housed between the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians in London and Salford University Midwifery Department.

Judges: Helen Knowles BRC Curator & Althea Greenan, Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths University, London.
For more info:

http://birthritescollection.org.uk/#/media-city-bi-annual-award/4587224707


DISCUSSION

Bodies on the Line


I fully agree about etiquette w/r/t social media being needed! I think in this case it's particularly complex because no one seems really clear on the object boundary - i.e., whether the social media response should be considered "part of the work."

It's hard not to read "monitoring social media channels" without an Orwellian spin.

Of course, that is exactly what we did by archiving Amalia Ulman's Instagram feed, although everything captured on it is "public" in the sense that anyone can see it, without logging in. In that case, we made the specific decision not to capture her Facebook feed, which has a greater expectation of privacy attached to it. Such archives undermine the contextual integrity of social media, and the balance between this and various arguments for the public value created by non-profit digital archives requires further analysis.

DISCUSSION

Bodies on the Line


I'm dismayed by your suggestion that Ryder is currently being subject to harassment tactics. As we and you and others have pointed out, Ryder is far from the only one of us whose practice has ethically unsound aspects at times, and to continue to demonize him is too easy, and unproductive. To harass him is certainly unconscionable. As Heather said above, we all feel sorry for the distress that we caused Ryder.

I'm also a bit dismayed by your attack on closed Facebook discussions. To argue that every viewpoint, however unpopular, must be expressed in full public view is in effect to advocate for censorship.

Also, two factual corrections.

First, saying that we planned to "monitor" social media is a distortion. We are working on archiving social media, but we're working through the ethical implications of this; I anticipate that this will take the form of working with communities and users and putting tools in their hands rather than "monitoring" them.

Second, you say on your blog that this "started" on private Facebook groups. Maybe, but from my perspective the conversation about 'Art Whore' get going on Ryder's own Facebook thread, not on a private group. (That's the thread that would have been most useful for Rhizome to archive I guess, if the tools had been ready at that time, and if it met our still-evolving ethical guidelines to do so.)

Ryder deleted that thread, and many of the extant criticisms of his project were gone by the time I began writing my article.