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


Collecting Contemporary Art Means Collecting Digital Art


Petra Cortright. RGB,D-LAY, 2011. Webcam video file. Edition of 5. 1 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. 

Last night, Rhizome was the beneficiary of the Paddles On! auction at Phillips auction house. Curated by Lindsay Howard and co-organized by Phillips and Tumblr, the auction brought together works under the banner of "digital art." While the sale of artworks that engage with digital technology is nothing new, there was something remarkable about the scene last night. Magda Sawon tweeted that it was "like parents forgot to lock the house & the kidz had a great party!" (She also added, "One day it may be their house or they burn it," but that's just typical gallerist-auction house repartee, we're sure.) Every lot was sold, and perfectly-coiffed bidders competed not only over digital prints, sculptures, and Petra Cortright's digital painting, but also over Jamie Zigelbaum's interactive installation and Rafaël Rozendaal's website. Rhizome was the grateful beneficiary of this frenzied activity; we received 20% of the proceeds, with the other 80% going to the artists, and when the last gavel fell, nearly $18,000 had been raised on our behalf, which will help us continue to expand our efforts to commission, contextualize, and conserve technologically-engaged artwork.


The Silk Road


 

Image from the exhibition Concealed Carry, 2012 at Oliver Francis Gallery

Described as a black market eBay, the Silk Road was a website where anything—and we do mean anything—could be purchased with bitcoin and other tools allowing anonymous transactions. Products on offer on the site included drugs, weapons, fake IDs, and hacking services. This underground economy was accessed via the encrypted Tor network, which routes data through circuitous, encrypted routes to make users' activities difficult to trace.

As of Wednesday, the Silk Road is no more, and its founder Ross William Ulbricht (previously known as Dread Pirate Roberts) has been arrested, which will have an effect on an ongoing series of works by artist Brad Troemel. For the 2011 exhibition The Social Life of Things at Showroom MAMA in Rotterdam, Brad Troemel (with Ben Schumacher, Artie Vierkant and Jon Vingiano) acquired a number of services and objects from the marketplace that were presented in an installation. The installation included such objects as a fake ID that has Troemel's real details and picture on it (juxtaposed with his real driver's licence), bump keys for lock-picking, and seeds to grow plants that can be processed into psychedelic drugs. These objects were intended to be further used by visitors, continuing to circulate in the world after their movement through the Silk Road market network:

 


The Week Ahead: Cross-Strait Edition


Ming Wong, Making Chinatown (II & III) (2012). On view as part of "Cross-Strait Relations" at Parsons.

A roundup of opportunities and goings-on from Rhizome's community.

Online

Right now: Reading Club proposes a text and an interpretive arena to 4 readers. These readers write together their reading of a text inside the text itself. 

Bubblebyte currently has two ongoing website takeovers (projects in which they introduce artworks into existing institutional websites). Through October 20, every few days, one moving image artwork from 16 international artists will be added to Art Licks Weekend website, slowly revealing a larger collaborative collage. Through November 10, Nuovo Nuovo Vecchio introduces work by 8 of the artists in this year's Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition into the website of Spike Island Gallery in the UK.


The Impossible Music of Black MIDI


The machine on which Conlon Nancarrow created his player piano rolls. Photo by Carol Law, 1977. Collection: C Amirkhanian.

In 1947, the composer Conlon Nancarrow—frustrated with human pianists and their limited ability to play his rhythmically complex music—purchased a device which allowed him to punch holes in player piano rolls. This technology allowed him to create incredibly complex musical compositions, unplayable by human hands, which later came to be widely recognized by electronic musicians as an important precursor to their work.

A similar interest in seemingly impossible music can be found today in a group of musicians who use MIDI files (which store musical notes and timings, not unlike player piano rolls) to create compositions that feature staggering numbers of notes. They're calling this kind of music "black MIDI," which basically means that when you look at the music in the form of standard notation, it looks like almost solid black:

 

Blackers take these MIDI files and run them through software such as Synesthesia, which is kind of an educational version of Guitar Hero for the piano, and bills itself as "piano for everyone." It's kind of brilliant to imagine a novice piano player looking for some online tutorials and stumbling across, say, this video of the song Bad Apple, which reportedly includes 8.49 million separate notes. 


Red Burns, 1925-2013


We were deeply saddened to learn this weekend of the passing of Red Burns. On Saturday, NYU's ITP department announced her passing with a statement. "After living several full lives, one of which we were a part of at ITP, she died peacefully at home surrounded by her children. Red lives on strongly in the thousands of lives that she redirected at ITP." 

We offer our deepest condolences to those in our community who were close to Burns. 



Discussions (81) Opportunities (1) Events (1) Jobs (0)
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.

DISCUSSION

Rhizome Today: A critic, with opinions about postinternet art


The internet does have a short memory, and we are always struggling against this. But I find the constantly enforcement of indebtedness equally destructive to the idea of the internet as a "vital and contested site for artistic practice." Not only does this obscure the specificity of emerging practices, it also locks the older generation in a time capsule. People like Harwood/YoHa, Olia, Ubermorgen and JODI have all made really exciting work over the last six years that isn't just a rehash of their early careers. I think discussions of the fallacies of digital dualism and web objectivity, the idea of the internet as practice and not medium, questions of digital materialism and labor, and ideas of posthuman, networked cultural production--these ideas may have been present in net art and its precursors, but they have been elaborated in recent years in ways that may be in conversation with the past, but should be appreciated for their specificity, not written off with a world weary sense of deja vu.