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.
We’ve been spotting them more and more in the wild, at galleries, house parties, restaurants, parks, various Bloomberg protectorates. Puffs of white and circular neon flickers; brushed aluminum spires or hyper-real stage props. We are, of course, speaking of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers, from branded and capitalized (NJOYs and Blus) to bespoke and forum-fussed. What are these disagreeable objects? Are they all use or artifice, nicotine delivery à la Rube Goldberg or Richard Prince simulacra?
In February, Rhizome will present a one-day symposium in New York dedicated to vaping technologies, reading the e-cigarette socially, politically, aesthetically, economically, against its outmoded grain, as it were. On the topic, we're noobs, so we’re casting a wide net for histories, essays, artworks, workshops, and polymorphous contributions to shape this inquiry to be held online and off. Be in touch...
Deadline for Proposals: November 12, to zachary[dot]kaplan[at]rhizome.org