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


May Waver, 'Embedded Lullabies' (2015)


Last fall, Gabriella Hileman, Violet Forest, and May Waver issued this statement, the cybertwee manifesto, in defense of internet saccharine:

Gabriella Hileman, Violet Forest, and May Waver, the cybertwee manifesto (2015).

Waver's new work Embedded Lullabies, released yesterday as the latest in an impressive series of net art commissions by experimental online publishing startup NewHive, embodies the principles of sentimentality and sweetness celebrated in this text. The project consists of home video footage of her bedding in various lights, overlaid against lo-res digital backdrops and accompanied by home recordings of the artist singing mournful love songs.

The piece reminds me a lot of something you might have seen back in the day on a Joanie4Jackie tape, updated for the present-day web. Joanie4Jackie was a kind of home video chain letter/zine initiated by Miranda July in 1996; a selection of the tapes are included in the touring exhibition "Alien She," opening on Sunday at the Orange County Museum of Art


After VVORK: How (and why) we archived a contemporary art blog


Screenshot of VVork post from April 2006, as archived by Rhizome.

Today, Rhizome unveils a new archive of the contemporary art blog VVork (2006-2012), in which we demonstrate a novel solution to the problem of conserving websites with embedded videos.

VVork makes a useful test case for our digital conservation efforts because it presents one relatively narrow but difficult set of problems to solve. That is, when videos are embedded in a website, they are generally hosted on a third-party platform (on YouTube, for example); this means they may be deleted or taken down, sometimes for "inappropriate" content. But saving these videos into an archive creates problems for most scraping tools, especially when a video is used in many different contexts, as when the same video appears on multiple tag pages. The way these platforms select and serve the video files makes it difficult to have all embeds of the same video point to a single archival copy.

To address these issues, Rhizome's Digital Conservator Dragan Espenschied used Colloq, a tool for creating contextual archives that was developed by Rhizome in partnership with Ilya Kreymer in 2014. (The service builds on Kremer's pywb tools; you can read up on the technical details of of capturing the web video here.) Colloq offers a robust solution for this long-standing issue; with VVork as a test case, we have created a stable archive of the site including nearly all embedded video.


Bodies on the Line


"You can have the party. Give us the power!"

Andrea Fraser had already been onstage in front of a packed house at the New Orleans Museum of Art's auditorium for more than half an hour. Dressed in a black suit, she was delivering a monologue based on the transcript of an epic 1991 city council meeting. In that meeting, an ordinance was discussed that would ban discrimination in any of the social clubs that apply for parade permits in New Orleans. The discussion opened up into a marathon airing of thoughts and grievances on racism, heritage, and the role of the carnival in a city defined, in many ways, by its Mardi Gras.


First Look: Amalia Ulman—Excellences & Perfections


Amalia Ulman's social media performance Excellences & Perfections is presented as part of First Look, the ongoing series of digital projects co-curated and copresented by Rhizome and the New Museum. For this presentation, Rhizome's new social media archiving tool was used to capture the Instagram portion of the performance. View that capture here.

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, 2014 (detail). Performance: Instagram. Courtesy the artist.

On April 19, 2014, Amalia Ulman uploaded an image to her Instagram account of the words "Part I" in black serifed lettering on a white background. The caption read, cryptically, "Excellences & Perfections." It received twenty-eight likes.

For the next several months, she conducted a scripted online performance via her Instagram and Facebook profiles. As part of this project, titled Excellences & Perfections, Ulman underwent an extreme, semi-fictionalized makeover. 

She pretended to have a breast augmentation, posting images of herself in a hospital gown and with a bandaged chest, using a padded bra and Photoshop to manipulate her image. Other elements of the makeover were not feigned; she followed the Zao Dha Diet strictly, for example, and went to pole-dancing lessons often.


First Look: David Kravitz & Frances Stark


Opening the Kimono by David Kravitz and Frances Stark is now on view as part of First Look, the New Museum's ongoing series of digital projects, which will now be co-curated and co-presented by Rhizome. Click here to view work.

David Kravitz and Frances Stark, Opening the Kimono (2014). iMessage conversation.

In a recorded iMessage chat, David Kravitz and Frances Stark satirize Silicon Valley culture and sext about creative labor.

When artist Frances Stark and Snapchat developer David Kravitz discussed the idea of having sex on stage during a public presentation at the New Museum last spring, it wasn't entirely surprising. 

This proposal came as part of Rhizome's Seven on Seven Conference, which pairs artists and technologists for a one-day collaboration with the prompt to "make something" and then present it to the public the following day. During their presentation, neither of their bodies was on view on stage (Kravitz came up alone for the Q&A). Instead, they appeared onscreen via a live iMessage conversation.



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DISCUSSION

Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups


Not really - but I'm using the term public utility in the usual sense of a body that provides something like water or gas to the public, but may be privately or publicly owned. (A NYC example: Con Ed).

If we're talking about publicly owned utilities, then yes, that is something different. I am really interested in the idea of software as publicly owned utility--this is something that was discussed at our recent event with Airbnb Pavilion.

It would be great to see more sharing "economy platforms" run as public utilities, since those often have a very direct economic impact on a city. My sense is that Facebook would be kind of a poor use case for public ownership - but it is interesting to think of as a public utility in the sense of a private company that provides public infrastructure & service and therefore has some level of public accountability.

DISCUSSION

Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups


The other consideration I raised was whether the profile was being used for publicity purposes. The larger point there is that not all contexts are created equal, and so violating their integrity can be more or less justifiable.

Again, not commenting on the specific situation but rather the general case: there is a difference between communication that takes place via a profile that is only shared with close friends and the communication that takes place via a profile that is shared with journalists and used for publicity purposes. In the latter case, the contextual integrity violation could be much easier to justify even if the public interest case is relatively weak.

DISCUSSION

Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups


It is a mistake to rely too much on what is technically public or private to guide decision-making about whether to respect the contextual integrity of any communication. Hilary Clinton's emails as Secretary of State are technically private, but have no legitimate claim to remaining so. Many Facebook users might accidentally set posts to "public," without intending for them to be shared widely. And even users on the very public Twitter have felt violated, and perhaps rightfully so, when their posts were shared onto other platforms.

Another term I like, since public and private get quite fuzzy, is "contextual integrity," as articulated by Nissenbaum. The idea there is that communication is often intended for a specific context, and when it remains only in that context, then it has integrity. When it is moved to a different context, that integrity has been violated.

A blog posting a screenshot of an artist's Facebook post would certainly be a violation of the artist's contextual integrity--but that doesn't mean it's always indefensible. There might be a strong public interest argument to share the post, and blogs have a responsibility to their publics which might outweigh this consideration. If an artist uses social media as part of the publicity surrounding a work, that might even be crucial for understanding the work, then that also could make it more OK to share.

These questions are very important for our current dynamic web archiving efforts...very tricky stuff.

DISCUSSION

Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups


Your examples of the "missing" sense of the term public are all spaces. A more apt analogy for Facebook would be a public utility. Public utilities can be privately owned or publicly owned, they are not necessarily characterized by "mutual ownership" - only by public oversight. And such oversight is only likely to emerge through the organization of users themselves, very possibly with the platform itself as an organizing tool.

DISCUSSION

Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups


Thank you for doing such a good job illustrating the impoverishment of commenting culture outside of Facebook! You really captured the patronizing tone of a commenting demographic that feels its relevance waning in the age of social media. What were your inspirations for this pastiche?