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


World of Goo


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Designed in the 18th century, the Parc de Bruxelles, located in the center of Brussels, allegedly contains a hidden symbol in its layout, visible only from the air: a Masonic compass, signified by a circle atop a triangle. For GEO GOO (Info Park), currently on view at iMAL with elements online, Internet art trailblazers JODI have created a series of their own arcane symbols by employing 21st century geographic technology, leveraging Google Maps' innate functions in the service of graphic expression. Manipulating a variety of default icons, some of JODI's animations use maps of the Parc de Bruxelles itself: one places a crowd of tiny green explorers on the Parc, hiking the Masonic compass; another iteration generates new symbols on the Parc's layout each time it loads -- including euros, yen, houses, touristy cameras and red crosses -- obliquely evoking semi-random political significance when layered atop the center of the EU. Other examples utilize global maps, pushing the limits of Google's service to create jittering compositions, while some avoid the land altogether to enable exercises in a more pure abstraction. GEO GOO harkens back to a 2007 work by JODI, GEO GEO, in which they traced words and whole sentences onto the maps of various cities (chosen for having lent their names to fonts). Both projects continue the Dutch-Belgian duo's intricate and obsessive drive to derange the Internet from inside out, taking advantage of innate quirks and loopholes in available systems in the service of a punked-out creative jujitsu. - Ed Halter

Image: JODI, GEO GOO (Info Park), 2008

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Ken You Dig It


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In the recent work of Ken Jacobs, showcased this month in an exhibit on tank.tv curated by Mark Webber, the beginning and end of the 20th century ingest one another in a technological uroboros. A central name in American experimental film since the century's middle, Jacobs has now virtually abandoned shooting and editing celluloid in favor of digital production. In works like Capitalism: Child Labor (2006) and New York Ghetto Fishmarket 1903 (2006), Jacobs mines images from near 1900, taking delight in twisting and strobing them using digital editing, creating new works that revive the visual novelty of pre-cinematic optical toys and explore the hidden three-dimensionality of their source materials. The effects mimic similar patterns that Jacobs has executed live for years in his Nervous System performances, using altered projection devices of his own making; some of these epic events he has recreated in fixed form, including Ontic Antics Starring Laurel and Hardy (2005) and Two Wrenching Departures (2006). For tank.tv's exhibit, Jacobs has wisely excerpted ten minutes or less from these and other longer works, which in their originals can run into triple-digit minutes. It's a wisely pragmatic decision to offer only samples online rather than the whole shebang, given the challenged attention span available to the typical internet surfer, but this does mean that the grandly symphonic nature of Jacobs's work is barely conveyed; users are granted but a taste. Jacobs's sampler is rounded out with a selection of early film work, which range from downtown Beatnik romps featuring Jack Smith to the canonical structural film Tom, Tom the Piper's Son (1969-71), a rigorous investigation of Edison's composition, to his exquisite exercise in "found cinema," Perfect Film (1985), which reprints enigmatic lost local TV news fragments from the day ...

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The Shape of Things to Come



Video: Superstruct: the Final Threat

"We are living in interesting times," science fiction author Charles Stross observed on his blog last week. "In fact, they're so interesting that it is not currently possible to write near-future SF." The makers of Superstruct, a new project created by the Institute for the Future, would disagree. The IFTF has launched what they're calling "the world's first massively multiplayer forecasting game;" in it, players are asked to imagine themselves ten years from now, then flesh out the details of that near-future world through posts to a wiki, discussion forums, Facebook, Superstruct's own site, and elsewhere. But players won't be creating this collective vision of tomorrow from scratch: the game provides a core set of hot-button issues that need to be addressed in 2019 -- couched as reports from the Global Extinction Awareness System -- which include a growing pandemic, the immanent collapse of the world's food supplies, power struggles over energy sources, and the "diaspora of diasporas" of displaced masses. Using a speculative fiction to ask thousands of users to cobble together potentially useful solutions to very real problems, Superstruct can be seen as an online variant of alternative reality gaming, juiced up with elements of crowdsourcing, prediction markets and the collaborative authorship of expanded universes. The very premise of this new mutation in science fiction writing says a great deal about what we think about our own life now in these interesting times: the future is not so much a brave new world to be explored, but a complex problem to be solved. - Ed Halter

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Worlds of Wonder


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The Tokyo Game Show, Japan's massive video game expo, traditionally serves as a major convention for the commercial gaming industry, but this year launches a sidebar delicately named Sense of Wonder Night, which embraces work created from the international indie gaming world. Inspired by the Experimental Gameplay Sessions, which began at the Game Developers' Conference six years ago, Sense of Wonder Night focuses on innovative games that, in the words of the organizers, evoke "a feeling that something will change in their world and make them gasp at the moment they lay eyes on the games or hear the game concepts." For those who can't be in Japan on October 10th for the presentation, many of the finalists' games can be downloaded or have trailers posted online. Among them are Depict, by Jesús Cuauhtémoc Moreno Ramos, which promises to be a shape-recognition game played with phone cameras; Daniel Benmergui's Moon Stories, a love story with multiple narrative outcomes and an ingenious Polaroid-snapshot gameplay structure; an optical-illusion 3D shooter called The Unfinished Swan by Ian Dallas; and Mark Essen's druggy hypercolor trip Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist. Opening stateside concurrent with Sense of Wonder Night is the Bellevue, Washington edition of IndieCade, which will include a preview of fl0wer, the new title from the makers of indie success story fl0w, and an exhibit of thirteen indie games including Eddo Stern's sensory-deprivation experiment Darkgame, Jason Rohrer's gently allegorical Gravitation, and Faith Denham's Block H, which takes on the history of political conflict in Northern Ireland. Both positioned on the overlap of art and industry, these two showcases are testament to the wide variety of endeavors that currently fall under the "indie" label, which includes everything from browser-based games to politically-minded gallery installations to (possibly) next year ...

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The Debates In Depth


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Curated by artists Caspar Stracke and Gabriela Monroy, Brooklyn's video_dumbo, a festival of the electronic moving image in all its various forms, debuts its 2008 edition tonight-- right up against another event that will be filling video and computer screens worldwide, the first US presidential candidate debates. Meeting that programming challenge, Stracke and Monroy have organized Hack the Debate in 3D!. Thanks to some help from sponsors Current and Twitter, the event will include an ongoing Twitterized comments feed integrated into three-dimensional projection of the live debate -- and, as the curators remind us in their program notes, "ironically, this stereoscopic system is based on the colors RED and BLUE." The rest of video_dumbo's enticing lineup includes the premiere of in complete world by Shelly Silver and two full days of new work by an intergenerational array of media artists, including Phyllis Baldino, Mike Hoolboom, Scott Pagano, Torsten Z. Burns and Darrin Martin, eteam, John Michael Boling and Javier Morales, Nicolas Provost, Sharon Hayes, PFFR and scads more. With the recent fading-away of the New York Video Festival and other like-minded Manhattan events, video_dumbo seems to carry on the necessary tradition of the smartly-organized theatrical festival. - Ed Halter

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