#softcontrolabstracts 2012-ongoing @softmobility @karialtmann
In recent years, a central challenge for Rhizome as an internet-based organization has been adjusting to the C A S C A D E (to expand on a phrase coined by Gawker Deputy Editor Max Read), the torrent of feeds that more or less constitute the contemporary (though rapidly changing) internet. Most of our traffic comes to Rhizome via these feeds—Facebook and Twitter, of course, and the new ones that are angel-invested into reality every day. Still, we don't jump onto every rapidly popularizing forum; we have one of our own to cultivate.
All of this is all to say that we never had a compelling reason to start an Instagram account, or, let's say, a compelling way in which to use the platform. But this changed last fall, when artist Ed Fornieles suggested that he launch and operate an account on our behalf as a way of layering up the "character" of Rhizome for his LARPesque gala, New York New York Happy Happy. In the weeks leading up to the event, his posts staged a descent into moneyed debauchery (champagne, neoclassical painting, Macklemore) and creepy biotechnologies (cloning, intense photos of eyes). It was an oddly charged experience for us at IRL Rhizome, at times agonistic: one image was taken down for infringing Insta’s Terms of Service (it was a guy’s bethonged butt with the text "Believe in the Booty") and we asked Ed to take one or two down for broaching our (flexible to a point!) sense of institutional responsibility.
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.