nathaniel stern
Since the beginning
Works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin United States of America

Nathaniel Stern is an artist and writer, Fulbright grantee and professor, interventionist and public citizen. He has produced and collaborated on projects ranging from ecological, participatory and online interventions, interactive, immersive and mixed reality environments, to prints, sculptures, videos, performances and hybrid forms. His book, Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance, is due for release in mid-2013, and his ongoing work in industry has helped launch dozens of new businesses, products and ideas. Stern has been featured in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Guardian UK, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Washington Post, Daily News, BBC’s Today show, Wired, Time, Forbes, Fast Company, Scientific American, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Leonardo Journal of Art, Science and Technology, Rhizome, Furtherfield, Turbulence, and more. According to Chicago’s widely popular Bad at Sports art podcast, Stern has “the most varied and strange bio of maybe anyone ever on the show,” and South Africa’s Live Out Loud magazine calls him a “prolific scholar” as well as artist, whose work is “quite possibly some of the most relevant around.” Dubbed one of the Milwaukee’s “avant-garde” (Journal Sentinel), Stern has been called ”an interesting and prolific fixture” ( behind many “multimedia experiments” (, “accessible and abstract simultaneously” (Art and Electronic Media web site), someone “with starry, starry eyes” ( who “makes an obscene amount of work in an obscene amount of ways” (Bad at Sports). According to Caleb A. Scharf at Scientific American, Stern’s art is “tremendous fun” but also “fascinating” in how it is “investigating the possibilities of human interaction and art.”

New Media, New Modes: On "Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media"

Humorous and surprising, smart and provocative, Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media (MIT Press, 2010) jumps from opposing viewpoints to opposing personalities, from one arts trajectory to another. The entire book is a dialectic exercise: none of its problems or theories are solved or concluded, but are rather complicated through revelations around their origins, arguments and appropriations. Overall, the book adopts the collaborative style and hyperlinked approach of the media and practice it purports to rethink. In other words, it is not just the content of the book that asks us to rethink curating, but the reading itself; by the end, we are forced to digest and internalize the consistently problematized behaviors of the “media formerly known as new.”

Screening Screens

Kate Mondloch’s first book, Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art (University of Minnesota Press), is a welcome study of the cathode ray tubes, liquid crystal and plasma displays, and film, video and data projections that “pervade contemporary life” (xi). The author reminds us that screens are not just “illusionist windows” into other spaces or worlds, but also “physical, material entities [that] beckon, provoke, separate, and seduce” (xii). Most importantly, however, Mondloch’s approach is that of an art historian. She does not merely use art as a case study for media theory, but rather makes the contributions of artists her central focus in this, the first in-depth study of the space between bodies and screens in contemporary art.

Action, Reaction, and Phenomenon

In his book, Parables for the Virtual, Brian Massumi calls for "movement, sensation, and qualities of experience" to be put back into our understandings of embodiment. He says that contemporary society comprehends bodies, and by extension the world, almost exclusively through linguistic and visual apprehension. They are defined by their images, their symbols, what they look like and how we write and talk about them. Massumi wants to instead "engage with continuity," to encourage a processual and active approach to embodied experience. In essence, Massumi proposes that our theories "feel" again. "Act/React", curator George Fifield's "dream exhibition" that opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum last week, picks up on these phenomenologist principles. He and his selected artists invite viewer-participants to physically explore their embodied and continuous relationships to each other, the screen, space, biology, art history and perhaps more.

Fifield is quick to point out that all the works on show are unhindered by traditional interface objects such as the mouse and keyboard. Most of them instead employ computer vision technologies, more commonly known as interactive video. Here, the combined use of digital video cameras and custom computer software allows each artwork to "see," and respond to, bodies, colors and/or motion in the space of the museum. The few works not using cameras in this fashion employ similar technologies towards the same end. While this homogeneity means that the works might at first seem too similar in their interactions, their one-to-one responsiveness, and their lack of other new media-specific explorations -- such as networked art or dynamic appropriation and re-mixing systems -- it also accomplishes something most museum-based "state of the digital art" shows don't. It uses just one avenue of interest by contemporary media artists in order to dig much deeper into what their practice means, and why it's important. "Act/React" encourages an extremely varied and nuanced investigation of our embodied experiences in our own surroundings. As the curator himself notes in the Museum's press release, "If in the last century the crisis of representation was resolved by new ways of seeing, then in the twenty-first century the challenge is for artists to suggest new ways of experiencing...This is contemporary art about contemporary existence." This exhibition, in other words, implores us to look at action and reaction, at our embodied relationships, as critical experience. It is a contemporary investigation of phenomenology.

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ArtThrob feature

For anyone interested, Ralph Borland wrote a very generous overview
of my current work, and most of my arts career thus far, on ArtThrob
this month.

"ArtThrob is South Africa's leading contemporary visual arts
publication, reporting on the national arts scene and the involvement
of South African artists in the international art world." Cape Town-
based artist and writer Sue Williamson founded the site in 1997.




more Compressionism

New images, video and text (including Manifesto-like "rules" for
Compressionist works) are up at

I think the most exciting bit is probably the new video, with some
great footage of "action Jackson" and my Compression methods - he's a
custom-made, battery-operated and fully portable appendage for 360-
degree Compressionist scans.

Compressionism is a digital performance and analog archive. In the
current studies, I compress bodies, spaces and objects by traversing
their surfaces with an image scanner, along varying 3-dimensional
paths - I literally glide, run, hover and swoop across windows,
trees, or lilies while the scanner head is in motion. The resulting
digital images, which are transfigured down to the size of a small
piece of paper, are then re-stretched to their original size,
sometimes cropped or colorized. The final prints ask us to 'look
again' at the relations between subjects, objects, actions and

related: Check out the Boing Boing post @
2006/01/19/turning_scanners_int.html about Mike Golembewski's
scanner photography. Basically, he's turned his scanner into a (very)
large format pinhole camera- beautiful stuff!



SAartsEmerging launch and party!

SAartsEmerging launches today with a feature on Pretoria-born and
bred Donna Kukama. In celebration, we've planned a cash bar
hootenanny for emerging artists and art appreciators, alike:

9 February, 2006
Berlin Bar in Johannesburg, South Africa
7th street, Melville (across and down from Xai Xai)
18:30ish til whenev
Features a site-specific installation by our own Bronwyn Lace! is dedicated to featuring emerging South African
artists, curators and arts personalities who are not generally, or
have not yet been, written about - but who should be. SAartsEmerging
lacks any pretense of objectivity, and preference is not only given
to Gauteng locals and friends, but also to early-career non-stars
working conceptually, and across disciplines. We're always looking
for writers who want to feature burgeoning artists... More
information on us or contributing? Visit the site!

SAartsEmerging features a new producer every third Friday of the
month. 17 February will see our next feature, Bronwyn Lace, a
Johannesburg-based, installation artist, just before her YAP solo
show in Durban.

Hope to see you at the party!
Simon Gush, Bronwyn Lace & Nathaniel Stern


at interval (1977 / 2006)

new video art online.

at interval (1977 / 2006)
11.7MB, 13m22s

For 'at interval', I captured the entirety of Woody Allen's 'Annie
Hall,' then removed all spoken dialogue from the film. Time is slowed
down, through emphasis on breathing, silence, mistakes, facial
expressions and music between the text, and paradoxically sped up,
through an immense shortening of the film - from one hour and thirty
minutes, to just over thirteen. 'at interval' compresses the movie by
removing Allen's characters' lapses in judgment, and instead plays
with time to accent similar impossibilities within language.

'at interval' was specifically created for for the 't-minus 2006
festival,' an exhibition and DVD produced by Joshua Goldberg and
Chris Jordan, New York City. It's likely to be the first in a small
series of "lapses," which play with time and language by compressing
popular films into a different space of relation.



odys for your iPod @ odys,org

video art on your pod!

the odys series was always intended for intimate viewings; even when
it premiered at the Johannesburg Art Museum as an installation, I had
six separate screens, each with headphones. Viewers were encouraged
to re-visit and jump over juxtaposed media, and create a shifting

Now you can get very personal, and re-visit all you like