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. 



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DISCUSSION

Rhizome Today


Hi Tom, Thanks for the feedback about Rhizome Today (http://www.rhizome.org/today) - just copying part of it here since it's attached to a now-deleted post:

"I think you should leave these posts up on the blog, rather than have a monthly self-edited highlights post. Is the concern that these daily posts will overwhelm more slowly published regular content?"

It's not so much out of any "concern." It's more that the knowledge that the posts will be (semi-)deleted is quite freeing; it changes the writing process in ways that feel productive. Maybe it's also freeing for readers, in that it doesn't have to feel like another thing on the pile that you have to get through.

Your point about chat is also well taken. Rhizome Today is genuinely an experiment, and how this goes may inform some more lasting changes to the site (or not). We're working on experimenting with how we might make chat more visible too.

DISCUSSION

Rhizome Today


Hey Charles! It will be interesting to see if this comment will stay on your profile after the post disappears, and if the link to it will work, and if some kind of vortex will open.

DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


Hi Tom,

I feel really good about the event. I'm not really ready to write about it, but I feel like I have to say something...

You used the word "ironic," which means saying one thing while meaning another. But Kev often said one thing while *also* meaning the opposite, which is something different. You call it confusion, I call it an interest in paradox.

I wrote of the spiritual dimension of Kev's work that "Taoism is as much an aspect of contemporary culture as it an ancient philosophy, translated and refracted as it is through the Transcendentalists and the 60s counterculture and numerous scholars. Thus, Kev, who has always played the role of the quintessential American, does so even in his seemingly un-American disavowal of the consumer internet." In other words, a "mishmash" sounds about right.

DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


In summary, I think it's OK for Kev to think about Taoism and the internet, even though I'm not interested in that in particular. But I am interested in his gesture of radical semi-refusal and its limits, and where he will go next.

DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


I'm not particularly interested in the spiritual aspect of digital art, hence our recent emphasis on infrastructure and labor and materialism, mundane afrofuturism and internet realism...

It strikes me as patently ridiculous to disallow the possibility of "spiritualized computer art." Sure, that's a premise that has been used in lots of dubious ways, and maybe you don't buy Kev's version of it, which is fine. But that doesn't make the premise itself categorically doubtful. No aspect of our lives can really be considered outside of the digital, spirituality included.

I am interested in Kev's ideas, because he has spent the last five years thinking deeply about the internet while attempting to stake a position outside of this. I think others are interested in his thoughts on this, and his reasons for finding this untenable.

Tbh I have no real idea what Kev is going to do tonight, which is scary, but I certainly don't think that Rhizome should only stage events the outcome of which is known in advance.