The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.
Edward Shenk on The Jogging, 2014
ZK: Let's start with your Theorist works, widely known for their circulation on The Jogging, and, from there, their secondary, unintended circulation on actual far-right and conspiracy theory-oriented Facebook and Tumblr channels. These image macros take up typical conspiracy theory grist (i.e. Chemtrails, Obama, Osama, etc.) but confound conventional interpretation via intermix of language and image. The circulation has been widely commented on; once picked up by a fringe Facebook group, the photos erode these groups' message-making ability. Their composition not as much. As someone long interested in conspiracy theories, their verisimilitude is what first interested me. So, I wanted to get into your methods—how are these composed and what are your research touchstones?
EMS: I became fascinated by these image macros in the summer of 2013 when I'd see the occasional one pop up in my Facebook news feed. Besides content I was also hooked by just the sheer number of them. The people who would post and share them would do so ad nauseam, and it was never just one conspiracy. I began following the same FB pages as they were and saving the jpegs to a folder on my PC that now contains over a thousand macros.
Image of äda 'web page produced for the exhibition "Screen," 1996.
In 1996, curator, critic, and educator Joshua Decter colorfully defined "media cultures" as "a euphemism for how we reproduce ourselves, as a society, into a spectacular—i.e., ocular and aural—organism whose viscera has become technology itself."
Throughout his career, Decter has paid special attention to media cultures and their relationship with the public sphere, developing a curatorial practice that has long been distinguished by its openness to adjacent new media and net art practices. Beyond spectacle, his use of websites, apps, and other technological apparatuses sheds fresh light on artists and artworks generally considered to be decidedly analog.
I invited Decter to walk me through three curatorial projects, all ambitious group shows, that exemplify his career in digital and AFK spaces. In each, the artwork is mediated—either by conceit, didactic, or display—so as to variously diffuse and emphasize the image, addressing the nature of art and its publics under the condition of networked technologies.
General admission tickets to the 5th Anniversary edition of Rhizome's Seven on Seven program, returning to the New Museum on May 3, are sold out. Missed your chance to buy tickets? Live somewhere other than New York City? Worry not—you can still join this celebration of art and tech. Details after the break.
A telethon. All day. All night. We are doing this. Will you donate to support?
11am-11am EST, March 19-20. 24 hours. Wow. That's a lot of hours. But we are going to fill those hours with some of the internet's best, on view via the front page of rhizome.org.
After the break, we've included a schedule to get you pumped. If you're in NYC tomorrow, stop by Lu Magnus, our host at 55 Hester. If you're anywhere else, join the hangout for some screen time. And, for real, D O N A T E.
Artist's rendering: Michael Connor on March 19
First things first: we're behind on our targets with two weeks to go in this campaign — donate today to catch us up?
Now, on to something more exciting. As you may have gathered from our campaign website, on March 19th, we will host a 24-hour telethon to close this fundraising drive. Broadcasting on the web from locations around the globe, net art superstars will shine.
Presenters include: Jeremy Bailey, Ann Hirsch, Jonas Lund, Tom Moody, Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, and, of course, the whole Rhizome staff (not least Michael's baby, who needs to eat, so donate). Surprise guests! Deep listens! Theory and criticism! Sketches and video!
Over the next two weeks, we'll tease more about the program, including specific live-event rewards for giving. But be certain, any campaign gift will be celebrated via public recognition of your generosity.
So... you know...