Sometimes our complex relationship to computing can be conveyed in something as simple as a jiggling jelly mold. Artist Rafael Rozendaal seems to have an innate understanding of this, and puts it to work in Rhizome's 2008 commission 'Jello Time'. In keeping with his specific style of Internet Art, this brightly colored animation reproduces the motion of jello through a series of cause and effect relations. By directing the user's movements, Rozendaal demands a different kind of interactivity than other examples of net art. Elementary mouse clicks allow you to break glass (Broken Self, 2007), cause bleeding (Fatal to the Flesh, 2004), open infinite doors (Big Long Now, 2006) or 'pull my finger' (Mister Nice Hands, 2001). It is easy to see why Rozenddal is a member of the so-called Neen movement, a loosely affiliated group of artists who, according to their manifesto , are interested in how machines "...simulate the simulation we call Nature." Accordingly, 'Jello Time' is impressive in its simulation of the jiggle of everyone's (secretly) favorite desert. - Caitlin Jones
You've probably come across it doing media art research on the web, as entries from the site Media Art Net/Medien Kunst Net seem to have (and justifiably so) extremely high page rankings. The project, conceived by Dieter Daniels (now of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research ) and Rudolf Frieling (now Curator of Media Art at SFMOMA), is a curated collection of original scholarship, reprints, photos, videos and other links that has been available on the web since 2003. The easy to navigate structure allows you to search specifically by artist, author, exhibition, art work or more loosely on themes and theoretical constructs such as 'Aesthetics of the Digital,' 'Cyborg Bodies' or 'Generative Tools.' Each document is available in both English and German, is extensively cross referenced and footnoted, and contains enough links (both within and outside the site proper) to remind us of why people were originally so captivated by the potential of 'hypertext' writing years ago. The site provides numerous texts by notable scholars, including an excellent essay entitled 'Social Technologies: Deconstruction, subversion and the utopia of democratic communication' by Inke Arns (now curator at Hartware Medien Kunst Verein in Dortmund). This smart, clear, and very dense text provides a rich sense of the history of social activism and media art. Additionally, the links imbedded within the text allows one to follow their own trajectory through the works of Guy Debord, Bertolt Brecht or Valle Export (to name only a very few). As this is only one of many illuminating and relevant essays on the site, Media Art Net is truly invaluable resource for the field. - Caitlin Jones
Image: Knowbotic Research, IO_dencies, 1997
"Television delivers people to an advertiser." So begins Richard Serra's infamous 1973 video of scrolling text and cheery Musak, "Television Delivers People." A denouncement of commercial television as an insidious and propagandistic tool of the state, the title and theme of Serra's famous tape areborrowed and expanded upon in an exhibition opening this week at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In an age when the video installation has primacy over the single-channel image, this group show reflects on early video's relationship to television and how that association has developed since the seventies. Artists include Alex Bag, Keren Cytter , Kalup Linzy , Ryan Trecartin , Michael Smith, Dara Birnbaum, Joan Braderman, of course Richard Serra, all of whom extend Serra's original critique through appropriation, and deconstruction of narrative and genre. While Serra's condemnation of the medium frames the exhibition in somewhat negative terms, the artists chosen by curator Gary Carrion-Murayari provide a more nuanced reflection on the mutable role and potential of television (and the internet) in contemporary culture. - Caitlin Jones
Image: Richard Serra, Television Delivers People, 1973.
A few times each week, I drag my laptop down to Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn to join hordes of other writers who are itching to get out of the house and looking for inspiration from the outside world. Rows of us sit on our laptops, seemingly immersed in our own worlds, though keenly aware that we aren't. It's precisely this environment that Vancouver-based artist Jack Stockholm targets with 'Eavesdropping.' One of Rhizome's 2008 commissions, 'Eavesdropping' capitalizes on our desire to be part of a group, even when we ostensibly want to be alone. By setting up what is essentially a local network, Stockholm will create an audio platform that harnesses computer noises for musical purposes. Anyone can become a composer/ conductor by uploading a 'score' to a localized 'Eavesdropping' network and inviting others to join. The resulting composition will transform what once may have seemed like ambient sound in the coffee shop into a rich musical performance. One of an increasing number of artists engaged with data sonification, Stockholm's interests are evident in earlier works, such as MIDIfier' which elevates mundane data to music by transcribing text from the web into MIDI compositions. Data and network visualization have been major themes in new media for many years; it's refreshing to have our aural impulses and behaviors get their due. Eavesdropping will be finished, along with the rest of the Rhizome Commissions, in early 2008. More information will be available on rhizome.org. - Caitlin Jones
Located within Dubai's sci-fi sounding 'Internet City' (an area that is billed as a 'tax free zone') is the Dubai Digital Arts Center (DUDAC). Built by the government to promote the arts within this city's hyper-commercial environment, DUDAC has the potential to be a hub for media arts in the Middle East. For the past month, DUDAC has been host to a retrospective of N3krozoft Ltd , a multi-disciplinary "delocalized collective research project" who use technology as medium, as product, and as part of an event-based practice. Their preoccupation with surveillance and geopolitics makes Dubai an intriguing locale for their performance-based work. Part performance, and part spy movie, their performance BLACKBOX:GVA incorporates both stock and real-time footage of the city to tell the story of 'John Doe' a military technician who can intercept psychic communication. N3krozoft Ltd will also perform KASPAROV 9000 a new work based on the mous Kasparov v. Deep Blue chess match (with accompaniment from the Dubai Chamber Orchestra who will adapt of the infamous Tetris game score). With the proposed Saadiyat Cultural District in the United Arab Emirates' other major center, Abu Dhabi (with is slated to include both Louvre and Guggenheim Museum outputs), as well as Art Dubai (another art fair) it seems as though the government is looking beyond