ed halter
Since 2002
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America


All About the Benjamin



Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima made a hundred dollars the hard way: with a staff of 10,000 people distributed across the globe. Or maybe the easy way, depending on how you look at it. In 2007, they posted a mysterious assignment on Amazon's Mechanical Turk--a crowdsourcing business site that lets companies offer piecemeal jobs for tiny bits of cash--asking potential employees to reproduce a greenish abstraction using a customized drawing tool; each sketcher received one cent in return for their work. Unknown to this invisible workforce, each image was 1/10,000 of a picture of a $100 bill; upon completion, the whole emerged from a mosaic of its hand-drawn parts. Continuing the numerical theme, life-sized digital prints of the work are now available at their site Ten Thousand Cents for $100 a pop, with proceeds going to One Laptop per Child (a charity originally based on the goal of the "$100 Laptop"). This isn't Koblin's first foray into collaborative artmaking with Mechanical Turk: in 2006, he similarly produced The Sheep Market, a collection of 10,000 individual black-and-white drawings, each one commissioned for two cents a piece with the simple instruction to "draw a sheep facing left." Maybe that request was prescient, given that Ten Thousand Cents made unwitting activists out of an anonymous flock of online workers. - Ed Halter

Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima, Ten Thousand Cents, 2008

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Call Me!



Touting the theme of "Impakt yourspace," the latest edition of Utrecht's Impakt Festival takes on the impact of Web 2.0 through its typically tightly-organized set of panels and curated programs of film, video, new media and performance. The central event, "Hybrid Playground," presents variations by Dutch artists on the melding of social networks and physical spaces. Here, attendees will experience KKEP's ParaPlay project, a democratic iTunes happening, and Bliin, which enables mobile phone users to post media to shared geographic maps; NetNiet.org's Gifted, a real-time phone-enabled social judgment system; and Alchemyst's open-source Roomware, which detects phone users and links their identity to networked personal profiles. Other internet-aware events include tech-inflected animations by painter Federico Solmi and "Self-Confession vs. Exploitation" a program of film and video diaries ranging from Joyce Wieland's 8mm work of the 1960s to modern-day web-based autobiographies. In perhaps the most self-referential move of all, Impakt will convene a panel on "The Future of Festivals" with organizers from Migrating Forms, Submarineand tank.tv, exploring what the role of live media events should be in the light of our increasingly online social world. - Ed Halter

Image Credit: NetNiet.org, Gifted, 2008

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The Club Who Was Thursday



Bearing a deceptively straightforward name, The Thursday Club at Goldsmiths College, University of London plays host to a wide range of technologist-artists for its recently-announced Summer Season; in upcoming weeks, the Club's guests will explore such diverse topics as narrative interactivity, biofeedback, coded textiles and "strategic walking." On April 17, Rachel Beth Egenhoefer presents works in progress from her ongoing art-melds of knitting and coding, including a knit zoetrope and knitting with the Wii. Writers Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph talk about their "networked book" Flight Paths on April 24; a novel to be based partially on strange-but-true occurrences of immigrant airline stowaways tragically plummeting to earth, Flight Paths is currently crowdsourcing research and ideas in its online forum. May 8th brings two artists who use medical technologies to esthetic ends: Camille Baker, whose MINDTouch combines biofeedback and mobile phones to create live performances, and Marilene Oliver, who creates artworks with MRI and CT scanning data. Future clubbers include E:vent organizers Colm Lally and Verina Gfader, artist/writer Richard Colson, and "live coders" Alex McLean and Dave Griffiths. - Ed Halter

Image Credit: Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, Detail of Knit Zoetrope (Work in Progress)

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Brush-off



ArtFagCity's Paddy Johnson couldn't have picked a more damning category in which to place British painter Dan Proops--"BoingBoing artist"-- glossing that mega-blog's indiscriminate penchant for tiki-bar kitsch, airbrushed girlies and steampunked everything as merely "art pabulum for readers who can clearly handle more." To be sure, Proops's work does seem unduly suited to geek-pandering, offering quick-glance commentary on medias new and old through easy-to-get juxtapositions: Proops's oil paintings depict familiar art-historical subjects with random parts pixilated (as if censored) or "desktop" images of iconic images, complete with trashcans and folders at their margins. To be fair, one must withhold ultimate judgment until seeing the work in physical form, but even online reproductions suggest that Proops' paintings, evidently bereft of any compelling composition or technique to offset their facile gimmicks, suffer from the dull ache of YBA hangover. If you can't travel to London to see them in Proops's upcoming show Sam's Desktop III, then be sure to catch them sometime in the future, when they will be displayed in the spacious living rooms of Hawaiian-shirted IT dudes with more money than taste. - Ed Halter

Image: Dan Proops, Caravaggio, Censored, 2007

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The Rematerialization of Art



Marx and Engels claimed that capitalism's "constant revolutionizing of production" ultimately means "all that is solid melts into air." The contemporary art market, however, describes an opposite process: innovations such as the flat-screen monitor, the digital print, and the editioned DVD, have helped transform immaterial forms like video and net.art into a new generation of physical, sellable objects. Underscoring the gallery-friendly moment, "Holy Fire: Art of the Digital Age" at Bruxelles's iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology presents a show of works already for sale on the art market. While it's not surprising to find a younger crew who came of age within the current market (Eddo Stern, Cory Arcangel, Paul Slocum), more significant are the first-generation net.art names who have ditched their former outsider status and joined the commercial club: note the inclusion of Jodi, Vuk Cosic, Alexei Shulgin, and Olia Lialina, as well as later, politically pointed artists like 0100101110101101.ORG and Joan Leandre. (As corollary, observe that old media have been effected as well as new: a similar if less totalizing movement towards object-production has taken hold within the formerly market-excluded world of experimental filmmaking.) Holy Fire curators Yves Bernard and Domenico Quaranta say that to speak of new media art "doesn't really make sense today," since "all contemporary art is, someway, new media art" and many artists prefer to state their concern as "just art." With a panel moderated by Patrick Lichty of anti-corporate hoaxsters The Yes Men, the debate on that claim is guaranteed to be lively. - Ed Halter

Image: Alexei Shulgin and Aristarkh Chernyshev, Commercial Protest, 2007

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