Rhizome is dedicated to art and ideas that create richer and more critical technology cultures. With this program, we continue our examination of influential, technological objects from interdisciplinary points of view, in the context of artistic research practice.
Since the release of the iPhone 5s in fall 2013, we’ve noticed the proliferation of advanced video effects on Instagram. Power-users are employing the baked-in slo-mo feature on the new phone's iSight, as well as first- and third-party post-production apps—such as iMovie, Video FX live, InstaCollage, Camstar, Iyan 3D, ArtStudio Lite, and GiantSquare, on iOS and Android devices—to create an entirely new species of image on the popular social network.
The Rhizome backend, and others like it across the web, act as sanctuaries of a sort for a dying language: the halting, intermittently sensical, koanic lingua franca of the multinational spammer and their programmed counterpart, the spambot. Today, spammers face enemies on multiple fronts: Facebook-API'd commenting apparatuses, Google algorithms, Hotmail junk-mail filters, and Twitter culls of orange-backed eggs. It has been driven to the margins, visible only to those who seek it out (or happen to be a webmaster, like yours truly). What will be lost when it's pushed out of cyberspace altogether?
Seven on Seven at the Barbican Centre (credit: Susanna Sanroman)
On October 27, 2013, Rhizome presented the first international edition of its flagship Seven on Seven program in London at Barbican Centre. Seven pairings of artists and technologists came together for two days in a collaborative sprint to create an app, an artwork, an argument, whatever they could imagine. The result: a web-based forum for anonymous geolocated conversation, an app that randomly selects one email from your Gmail Sent Mail folder and sends that to another user of the app, a set of icons that demarcate intended levels of privacy, and one leading artist's confession that he would like to become a cyborg.
artistsspace.org, as it was
Today, storied NYC arts nonprofit Artists Space relaunched their website. Overall, it's a playful refinement, yet one that loses the old artistsspace.org's most defining feature: its oversized royal purple triangle cursor, derived from the institution's longstanding "A"-oriented visual identity. (A breezy and engaging history of which, given by Rob Giampietro in 2011, can be found here.) In fact, against the site's sparse backdrop, the cursor was, more or less, the design.
Created by Studio Manuel Raeder, Artists Space's deceased cursor was hulking, distracting, so wonderfully weird. It was an input object that always left you wondering whether you'd clicked, and where. On an internet that values user comfort and control above all, the cursor asserted difference and disobedience—what we look for in art, in general.