Christopher Fahey
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn United States of America

Christopher Fahey has been making computer games and graphics since childhood, and he continues to experiment with new ideas in computer art and design. He is the creative force behind the online laboratories and Christopher is a founding partner of Behavior, a New York-based interaction design firm, where he serves as the Information Architecture practice lead. He has led many interactive productions as an art director, game designer, interface designer, and information architect. Christopher graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art in 1993 with a focus on interactive sculptures and installations, and has worked in the new media business ever since.
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> > Take the 'concept' away and the poverty of the thing
> > immediately becomes apparent - if the artist simply
> > constructed the images we see we might say, OK that's
> > vaguely interesting and attractive in a kind of
> > wallpaper way for about 2 seconds but 11 hours
> > ...please!
> first that argument never wins. there's nothing wrong with having to
> know a few things to appreciate an artwork. you've been trained from
> birth to look at media in different ways and there is no reason why
> shouldn't learn something that takes 15 seconds to read to appreciate
> another level of this work.

I'm coming into this one late, but...

I take a middle ground on this one. I agree with twhid that
seeking/having a little background knowledge is a perfectly normal part
of seeing and digging an artwork. Also, I think that the artwork is the
*site* as a whole: the text, the backgrounds, the hand-drawn balloons
(which I love too!), the videos, etc. It's not like the "artist's
statement" was published elsewhere or not at all, and it's not like you
need one of curt's decoder rings for this one. In many ways it's a
document of a performance (thus the term "diaries", although to me the
diary is of his creation of the site and the videos).

And I love cory's overall asthetic. And the honesty of the work. I loved
watching the data diaries videos. I watched it for many many minutes,
which is a lot longer than I last with a lot of more intellectually and
conceptually rich artwork.

But.. as someone who has mucked around with a hex editor and who has
seen a lot of work where the bytes of one file format (text, sound,
images, binary executables) are converted to another to produce weird
and sometimes interesting results, there is an element of "seen this
before" in the experience.

Furthermore, as a data-presentation and information design junkie, I
find it a wee bit disappointing that the beautiful patterns produced by
the conversion don't provide a whole lot of extra insight into the
source material. I have a problem with a lot of data-visualization
artwork where the result doesn't really provide any insight into the
data. As Michael points out, the data is meaningless to the viewer.
There is no way of telling if these are nice emails or mean emails, if
the images are maps, naked people, corporate logos, or flowcharts. There
is no insight because there is no legible 'content'.

I sort of expect that when data is taken from it's original format and
converted to a new format that the result provides some new insight into
the data, in much the same way that in painting
appropriated/recontextualized imagery should provide new insight into
the source material. My problem with data-visualization artwork is that
conversions of digitally-encoded data usually results in one thing:
gibberish. I'll backtrack a little bit here to say that as a digital
data junkie, I actually *can* tell a *little* bit about the data from
the seemingly random noise going by, but not much (this might be an
image, this might be sound, this might be text, etc).

In Cory's case, I think he is less concerned with the nature or content
of the source material itself than he is with the phenomenon of how
digital data is so *different* from human-readable data. And, like I
said, he's a bit of a performer in his honest presentation of the work
as autobiographical, chronicling his own journey into data junkiehood.

Anyone other data junkies notice that the quicktime movie downloads
superfast because it is simple, easily-compressed data?


[christopher eli fahey]


Re: ArtBase 2002: pick your faves

Ivan Pope wrote:
> After all, 415 artworks submitted,
> more than one a day. That must represent a huge investment of
> effort by a community of artists, technicians, researchers, teachers,
> students and the general public.

And by Rhizome's own staff and volunteers!

> But there is no context. There is no critical discourse

There is some. First, there is the (daily?) NetArtNews. This is great -
I require my students to subscribe to it. Okay, it's not very 'critical'
I guess.

The Rhizome front page (in the Art+Text column) features a whole bunch
of blog-like entries about Artbase items, news, events, etc. These are
contributed by Rhizome authors who put a lot of work into them.

> and almost no online discussion.

True, it is hard to call what goes on on RAW a "discussion". But as they
say in vaudeville: these are the jokes, folks.

> Works are added to Rhizome, but there are no tools to analyse what is
> No way to take the pulse of production. There is not even a way to
> the store of works. You can't search by genre or keyword.

Well, using my ArtBase piece (ada1852) you can (sorta) do both :). But I
see your point - I seem to remember a keyword or genre search on Rhizome
once, but maybe I'm mixed up.

> There is no linkage between works and discussion.

That's very true. I like the way lots of blog and community sites let
you comment on entries and view all the other users' comments. Many
sites, like Slashdot, allow certain comments to become more important
than others (for example, if the author is a frequent poster or one that
other posters rate highly). This would be an excellent feature addition
to the Rhizome community. Rhizome would become a great forum for people
who really do want to talk about specific works of online artwork.

Imagine the NetArtNews entries and Art+Text entries, not to mention RAW
community commentary, actually associated with ArtBase artworks. First,
visitors to ArtBase works could get an idea of what people are saying
about their work. Artworks that were discussed a lot, or reviewed
(positively or negatively, doesn't matter) by highly-rated reviewers,
would stick out from the bunch quite clearly. Etc.

Your comments in general point to a lot of possibilities that Rhizome
should look into, and I agree that the fee service ought to enable such


[christopher eli fahey]


Re: R.Ryman for beginners

> From: manik
> Sent: Monday, December 23, 2002 1:11 PM
> To:
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: R.Ryman for beginners
> etc.

It ain't Robert Ryman without the hanging hardware. Ryman is all about
the brackets, the cantilever, the apparatus. :)


[christopher eli fahey]


Re: Rhizome Raw Religions of the World Survey 2002

> I like the word agnostic with the definition...
> a.One who believes that it is impossible to know whether
> there is a God (or Spiritual Center).

If something is impossible to know, then why bother even thinking about
it? It's not logical to contemplate something about which it is
impossible to reach any conclusions. It's a waste of everyone's time.

There's a fine line, here: some agnostics think that it is impossible to
know, but that "faith" and "belief" are attributes not subject to the
laws of logic. Hence you will find faithful agnostics. Other agnostics
believe that because it is impossible to know then all discussions of
the supernatural should be considered pure fantasy, fiction. This is the
position of Bertrand Russell, who points out that this position is
nearly indistinguishable from atheism, which is usually defined as "the
denial of god".

However, Betrand Russell famously contradicted himself when he also
noted that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of anything
(especially a supernatural force that is defined as defying rational
explanation). I agree with this, so I will not attempt to do so. To me.
a rational definition of "atheism" as an ideology is not a "denial of
god", which would fly in the face of one of the basic tenets of science,
but rather a "denial of the rationality of all discussions of the

Atheism, however, can also be seen as a political movement with a
concrete social agenda: the removal of the supernatural from government
and from the public sphere in general. As such, the "denial of god"
description is actually quite accurate because it deals with practical
particulars rather than philosophical abstractions. In American
politics, for example, an atheist cannot simply take an abstract
position that "supernatural forces are not appropriate for discussion in
the political arena". He or she must get specific and say things like
"There is no Judeo-Christian God.", "Jesus was not the son of God.",
"There are no Ten Commandments from God.", "There is no heaven or hell"

The application of this kind of political atheism hopes to have a direct
impact on the irrationality within American (and most other countries')
criminal law, public education, civil rights, etc. Socially, this
movement seeks an end to suffering caused by religious prejudice and
religious wars, as well as ending a litany of social injustices like the
oppression of women or the ostracism of homosexuals. With these kinds of
agendas, a simple denial of the existence of God, illogical as that may
be, is the most strident and sometimes the most potent argument one can


[christopher eli fahey]


Re: RE: Manufacturing Dissent

> Imagine media coverage of a guy in a suit and tie and
> good haircut getting arrested, as opposed to a picture
> of a shaggy haired guy with lots of beads- and that is
> always who you see getting arrested.

Heh, if there were 99 arrests of protesters in suits and one of a
topless college student with a nail through her nose, you can be sure
the latter would be the one they show on the news.

That said, I think your idea of asking protest participants to dress up
a bit is a great idea. Your argument that "lives are at stake" should
trump any punk rock ethos that says that "The Man cannot dictate how I
look!". A protest is not an uprising or a party - it is a public
relations exercise, even a propaganda operation.

I also agree with t.whid's asessment of the speakers at such rallies.
Not sure what to do about that, since most mainstream political speakers
seem to have already knucked under. In an election season, the only
people brave enough to oppose the war are those with nothing to lose
-i.e., the lifer leftists tilting their pet windmills.


[christopher eli fahey]