Since 2001 Rhizome has, as a major part of its programming, awarded commissions for the creation of internet-based artworks. The 2008 commissions were recently announced and the North Carolina-based artist Lee Walton was one of the deserving recipients. Walton's work humorously reframes day-to-day, somewhat banal activities as pieces of conceptual and performance art, often necessitating the participation of unwitting collaborators. In 2005 at Art in General, as part of his Experiential Project, he reversed the viewer's gaze back out to the street to decipher who was and who wasn't a part of his public 'happening,' and in my favorite of Walton's works, The Competitionist, the artist competes with innocent joggers on an outdoor track, culminating in a dramatic photo finish. This conveyance of the simple act as performance, as well as his athletic focus on endurance and duration, allude to 1960s and 70s precedents without being at all derivative. For his upcoming Rhizome commission, 'Remote Instructions,' Walton will solicit participation via the web 'and orchestrate a series of video performances that will take place in real cities, neighborhoods, villages, and towns around the world,' indicating that these participants will be fully aware of their performative potential.
Since 2001, media artist Doron Golan has been doing what no museum or institution has yet managed. He has amassed a significant collection of net art works by major artists in the field, archived at Computer Fine Arts. Furthering his prescient stewardship of the medium is a commitment to exhibition and a collaboration with Cornell University Library's Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art to preserve the work in an off-line form. The current exhibition, NETworks at the Haifa Museum of Art, in Israel, includes a small selection of works from Golan's collection which, in the words of curator Christiane Paul (who wrote for the catalog), includes projects which explore 'the fundamental qualities of net art.' But perhaps what's most impressive about Computer Fine Arts is that it represents a model for collecting and ownership entirely different from that of the hedge fund managers who are driving the current art market. In the Computer Fine Arts model, the artist retains full rights to the piece but Golan has a copy on his server and the rights to exhibit the works when and where he wants. This model reflects an understanding of the realities of digital and distributed art works and further underlines the importance of Golan's contribution to the field, not only as an artist, but also as a patron.
Walking into Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is like walking into a larger than life fine art 'cabinet of curiosities.' Commissioned in 1902 by patron of the arts extraordinaire Isabella Stewart Gardner, the museum contains her extensive and eclectic personal holdings. Gardiner's sublime jumble of art works juxtaposes decorative arts and illuminated manuscripts from across the ages with canvases by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, and John Singer Sargent, Greek and Roman antiquities, and Asian statuary--reflecting a particular upper class Victorian sensibility. On display in the museum for the next three months, Cliff Evans's new five-channel video installation Empyrean utilizes a similar juxtaposition of disparate visual elements to reflect a contemporary American sensibility. With the internet as his source, Evans animates both militaristic and commercial images to create dramatic moving photomontages that illicit reverence, fear, and humor. Placed within the context of the Museum, his 'digital polyptych' appears like a religious altarpiece, perfectly at home among Gardiner's diverse and evocative collection.
With Brody Condon's second solo show, titled Three Modifications, opening at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York City this week, l thought I'd take the opportunity to do a little Rhizome-based background research. Condon, an early practitioner in the 'game art' genre, gained much recognition through his work with the collective c-level and his often cited piece 'Adam Killer.' Subverting expectations of the first person shooter game 'Half Life,' Condon inserted and then killed (over and over) an avatar of his friend Adam--to gruesome yet beautifully kaleidoscopic effect. 'Adam Killer' is an important example of this type of game hack and also happens to be part of Rhizome's ArtBase (and the subject of numerous discussion threads on Rhizome, including a great interview with Jonah Brucker-Cohen). For the new work in Three Modifications, Condon exploits his game engine tinkering to more aesthetic ends. Formally comparing the visual similarities between the realistic yet highly stylized look of contemporary 3-D video games with those of 15th Century Flemish painting, Condon raises issues of representation, iconography, and multi-dimensionality. And as always, through his use of the game engine and his "self playing" games, he frustrates our desire for interaction, forcing us instead to participate through meditation, as opposed to physical action.
Peter Plagens started it in this month's Art in America, then Kriston Capps from Grammar.Police picked it up and passed it on to Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City (and Jen Bekman, Jeffry Cudlin, Global Warming Your Cold Heart, Hungry Hyaena, Modern Kicks, and Arthur Whitman), who then passed it on to me (as well as artist Martin Bromirski of http://www.anaba.blogspot.comAnaba, editor of ArtCal Zine Bosko Blagojevic, MTAA, James Wagner and Barry Hoggard of bloggy). 'It' is a series of questions posed to a few art bloggers on the differences between art writing in blog form and other forms of art journalism. And while not all the questions are relevant to Rhizome's blog practice, in the interest of keeping it going, I thought I'd take a stab at answering at least a few of them.
What's the purpose of your blog?
In contrast to some of the other blogs that have responded to these questions, Rhizome, is at its very base, a non-profit organization. Which, in this case, means it has institutional support, members, and staff, all of whom give the organization and--by extension--this blog a strong sense of purpose. Namely, to highlight exhibitions, activities, and artists either directly or in some cases peripherally involved in the field of media art, and to be a sort of 'community amplifier' for both pioneering internet artists and emerging media artists that comprise the Rhizome community. Aside from this, I personally think what most sets Rhizome's blog apart from other contemporary art blogs is that it is located within its own history as an active and international platform for art and debate. It has a built-in audience that has for years both presented and critiqued work in the same platform. So, in ...