Feisal Ahmad
Since 2002
Works in New York, New York United States of America

Feisal Ahmad is the content coordinator for Rhizome. He has an M.A. in Communications Theory, focusing on propaganda and electronic mail, and enjoys the company of the good folk at the RZA.
Discussions (46) Opportunities (3) Events (0) Jobs (0)

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FW: interview with mouchette (Peter Luining)

On Mar 25, 2004, at 9:34 AM, Peter Luining <email@ctrlaltdel.org> wrote:

Interview with Mouchette

Of course everybody knows Mouchette or better everybody thinks (s)he
knows Mouchette. Here's an interview with Mouchette that I made for the
P2P show that momentarily is held at the Postartum galery in L.A. It
tries to uncover what's behind Mouchette and focusses amongst others on
issues as "the life of a virtual character", copyrights and art

Peter Luining: - Mouchette has been for quite a while on the net. How
did you find out about the Internet and are there any specific reason
why you started with "Mouchette"?

Mouchette: Internet arrived very early in Holland and it was like a
democratic revolution. For the first time in the history of information,
a medium was created where every receiver could become a sender. There
was a sort of euphoria, a utopia of the information age was suddenly
made true. Everything you saw on the web was something you could make
yourself and put out there for everyone to see. I didn't have much
technical background but web technology was very simple at that time, so
if I could do a web page, a child could do it too. I was very amused by
the phenomenon of the personal homepage, which I immediately experienced
as a popular "genre" in that medium. I am the kind of person who thinks
that art is never where you expect it, and that art is only in the eye
of the beholder: a true descendant of Marcel Duchamp.

PL: - By now everybody knows that there are links to Mouchette and the
movie by Robert Bresson--you were even in a legal fight with the heirs
of the director. Could you tell something more about links and inspiration?

Mouchette: I knew I wanted to make a young girl's character. There were
others I liked. It could have been Alice (by Lewis Carroll) or Zazie
(from "Zazie dans le Metro" by Raymond Queneau) but they were too well
known (Zazie in France) and their lineage was already claimed so much. I
liked the dark aspects of the character of Mouchette. She was not cute,
pink and pretty, although I must say I didn't know the film very well at
that time, I'd only seen it once. I was very impressed by the art of
Robert Bresson. His film making was so pure and minimal, with essential
facts like a Greek tragedy. His actors didn't "play" or "pretend", they
embodied the character by their physical presence only and plainly spoke
out the text, he always chose non-professional (amateur) actors. The
work I created in reference to the film (the Film Quiz) is a homage. Too
bad Bresson's widow didn't see it like that! She didn't like the spirit
of it, a certain cold humour. The dispute ultimately worked out in my
favour: I had to remove the work from my site, but through the
solidarity of the net.art community it got hosted by more than 50
different sites.

PL: - You give shape to a character on the Internet. A lot of art on the
net is about playing with identity, especially in the early days. We
nowadays see a tendency in art that is called identity art in the true
sense, meaning searching for where do I stand, who am I, going back to
your roots, through self. Do you think Mouchette still fits in this last
category or do you think she is a product of a certain period?

Mouchette: For me, identity is something that exists between the "I" and
the "you", it's not just a personal investigation. Mouchette is
constructed by her public. When they love her, when they insult her,
they make her who she is. And I design everything like this: words as
questions, identity as an empty space where people project their desire.
That is why it is still growing since the beginning, and that is why I
never get bored with it because I'm not just looking at my own
(artificial) navel; and evolve with the public, with the development of
the internet itself. I'm just another drop of water on the Internet
ocean, changing with it.

PL - Mouchette's website seems to be visited by a lot of people that
aren't aware of its art background. Do you think this, crossing over
different audiences, is a typical thing of net art?

Mouchette: No. I think most net.artists want to throw their CV and
artist's statement at your face before you see their work. Their work
can usually be understood by a child of 10 (which is a good thing) but
they want to force it into the art context that way. I think net.art is
a form of public art, art for the public space, it should be accessible
for any kind of public, at any level. Let the curators and the art
institutions see Mouchette as art if they can, but if they can't, it's
only their problem. I'm not going to exhibit my artistic pedigree and
references to make my work fit into their frame of mind. They are the
ones who should change their frame of mind and understand what the
Internet public already sees very clearly. So if there is some crossing
over to be done, it's on the side of the art institutions, who should
find a new place between the net.artists and the public.

PL: Interesting. The point that you make about the "institutional"
art world sounds very similar to ideas of a lot of early "net artists"
that saw/see themselves not as artists (Michael Samyn, Heath Bunting,
Graham Harwood) but tried/try to get this different "frame of mind"
through too. What's your stance/view on this?

Mouchette: It's nice to know that on Internet you can propose your work
outside of ANY art context and that surfers who stumble on it by chance
will have some fun, some pleasure, some first-hand emotion without
having to relate to any known work of art or to any critical theory.
Yet, if your work can still function on that level and offer analytical
content to those who have an artistic or intellectual background, if
your work can be approached on several levels at the same time, then you
know you have the right frame of mind. Yes, that's the best of both
worlds, an ideal position. I know it doesn't always work like this, so
if I choose to ignore one type of public, it's the artistic public. When
they're smart enough they get the intellectual content by themselves,
without having it explained. And I know this analytical approach is
going to come out in my work one way or another because it's present
inside of me.

PL: Something related to this is that I know Mouchette won some art
prizes on festivals you had to apply for. If you do enter this for
competitions, do you just send your url or are you going for the full
form? What I mean with this is: does Mouchette adapt on this level to
get her "frame of mind" through?

Mouchette: In the very beginning I didn't connect to the art world at
all, but the art world connected to me at some point. Takuji Kogo (Candy
Factory, Tokyo) was the first one to pick it up as art in 1997, he made
collaborative exhibitions in his gallery, he introduced my work to
Rhizome. Net art people had no difficulty in seeing it as the creation
of a grown up and developed artist although nobody told them. They
spread it, commented it, linked it. So it was easy for me to enter my
work in net.art competitions. Besides, most of them didn't request any
artistic references, you only had to send your URL. When I have to give
more details, I never break the rule of the anonymity of the author and
never disclose my gender. I'm still within my rules in this interview. I
like it when my work participates in the art world and I would make the
effort to bring it to them if I can stay within my rules. I want to add
here that this "mystery of the author" serves no personal purpose, only
an artistic purpose. But it makes it all the more difficult to connect
to the world of art as much as I would want to.

PL: And linked to the question above: do you see yourself as an artist
or net artist?

Mouchette: From the beginning I always saw myself as an artist, not a
net.artist or a something-artist, just an artist. For me net.art is not
separated from the rest of the arts. It should be brought to the public
by museums and other art institutions.

PL: Above you say that net art should be seen as a form of public
art, art for public space, yet to bring it in the white cube is something
different. Explain.

Mouchette: Art in the public space should be enjoyed by the passing
people without any reference to the art context, that's what I meant. It
can be integrated in the street context to such a point that it's not
even seen as art, but still experienced as something meaningful, or
useful, or disturbing etc... When envisioned through the art context,
the standpoint is different and what makes it an artwork is a particular
mixture of the work itself and the public participation to the work.
That's why I don't see a contradiction between general public and art
public: it's just a different standpoint for the same work.

mouchette: http://www.mouchette.org
p2p: http://www.postartum.org/p2p/


FW: page space

From: Andrew Choate <braxlove@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 08:33:19 -0800 (PST)
To: feisal ahmad <feisal@rhizome.org>
Subject: Fwd: page space

--- Andrew Choate <braxlove@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 08:49:58 -0800 (PST)
> From: Andrew Choate <braxlove@yahoo.com>
> Subject: page space
> To: list@rhizome.org
> Under the auspices of the Superbunker Machine
> Poetics Research Unit, the Los Angeles area recently
> played host to page_space, and event comprised of
> several readings, two exhibits, and the launching of
> 10 web experiments exploring the places where texts
> (can) live. The selected artists for the web-based
> works were invited to create new spaces for text;
> these frames were then given to another writer to
> compose within, thereby reversing the traditional
> dynamic of designers and programmers working within,
> and only to complement, the pre-existing aesthetics
> of
> someone else's finished work. The exhibits and
> readings gathered several artists intent on
> abolishing
> the assumptions to primacy that words typed on paper
> exert over our culture; these page_space
> collaborators
> constructed vehicles and environments to adequately
> transmit conditions of contemporary writing to an
> audience.
> "Clippings," a web-page designed by Jason Nelson
> with
> text by Pedro Valdeolmillos, allows the reader to
> navigate and recognize multiple layers of text
> simultaneously. You can zoom in and out of each
> layer
> as desired. You can slide photographs, paragraphs,
> and other visual elements from the dominant layer
> according to each moment's intrigue. The large
> quantity of negative space surrounding each block of
> text (or other storytelling device) encourages the
> reader to keep moving, hand on the mouse fast, and
> absorb the piece's flashes of wandering thoughts
> with
> traveling eyes. Many of the texts are brief enough
> -
> "He said love. Did you notice?" - to be absorbed
> while
> still moving through the space; the brevity and
> fragmentation of the information offered
> subconsciously influences how you maneuver (within)
> the story, as the reading literally takes you
> places.
> As the memories and details of the piece accumulate
> in
> your brain, the reading, the writing and the actual
> experience described within the story inextricably
> mesh. In a medium so typically focused on the
> sophistication of the technology involved in its
> creation, the text itself can easily appear
> secondary
> or even irrelevant to the functioning of a hypertext
> piece. "Clippings" successfully avoids this pitfall,
> and instead affirms the potential profundities to be
> found when the same level of care is applied not
> only
> to the generation of text or page individually, but
> when it is equally as devoted to the coalescence of
> text and page as a singular significant creature.
> Another web piece, "Dibagan," uses the space of the
> page to provoke associations based on single words.
> geniwate's text - words like "terror," "death,"
> "television," "now," "is," "consuming," "blood," -
> rises vertically on bars from the bottom of Brian
> Kim
> Stefans' page; the height each word reaches depends
> on
> how long the mouse rests on each bar. An audio loop
> describing the violent aftereffects of a Kurdish
> troop
> advance on the town of Dibigan begins once the page
> is
> entered; this information is delivered amidst
> ambiguous shuffling and unintelligible shouting in
> the
> background, as if it were the recording of a
> reporter
> in the line of fire. Sometimes the words get stuck
> rising into the screen or pile up in indecipherable
> jumbles, making our only ammunition for sense in
> this
> space a haphazard variable. An ominous,
> frighteningly
> accurate portrayal of life during wartime.
> Free from the constraints of the web, the exhibit
> at
> Machine Gallery featured an arcade-sized video game,
> a
> sculpture, an interactive video, a computer game,
> and
> access to all the collaborative web experiments.
> The
> sculpture by Alexandra Grant, based on a text by
> Michael Joyce, features yards of bent coat-hanger
> wire
> suspended from the ceiling, roughly shaping a six
> foot
> egg. Each line of wire twists to form words, many
> of
> which are written backwards, compromising quick
> decipherability. The combination of its slow
> rotation
> with the large empty spaces outlined by the wires
> provides an instant physical representation of the
> writing process: blank spaces, constant movement,
> and
> the dual emergence of transparent and inscrutable
> language. Spending time with it hanging and
> spinning
> in the air, I felt an attraction towards inhabiting
> the writerly space it advertises, letting words
> appear
> and disappear through my eyes and in my mind. The
> appeal was not simply cerebral, as I saw more than
> one
> child literally attempt to get inside it.
> Sara Roberts' untitled game, also at Machine
> Gallery,
> presented the exterior of an arcade game in
> conjunction with a car's gearshift - here acting as
> a
> makeshift joystick - along with one pedal to brake
> and
> another to accelerate. As you shift into any gear,
> individual words appear onscreen at a rate
> determined
> by your pressure on each pedal. You can control the
> tempo, but the language feels like it's out of
> control: social observations, office jargon gossip,
> and interior monologues speed across the screen into
> your consciousness. The faster the words appear,
> the
> more they feel like they spring from your head and
> not
> your field of vision. 2nd gear: "I feel warm."
> Pause.
> 1st gear: "Water. On. My. Back." 3rd gear: "No,
> don'tturnoffthewateryetI'mnotdoneshaving." This
> piece
> finally revealed the linguistic faculty to be a
> motor
> that no amount of mechanical mastery completely
> regulates.
> While actualizing ambitious visions of abodes for
> future writings, page_space also established a
> value
> for social events when considering technology's
> place
> in textual production - promoting the experience of
> digital, internet and media-based art in public.
> The
> readings and exhibits demonstrated
> non-computer-based
> methods for imagining page spaces, deepening the
> resonance of the project's aim: to open spaces for
> text and writing that do not strictly depend on
> either
> historical or contemporary tropes of design - like
> the
> book or the web-page, respectively. The danger of
> investing so heavily into the design of the writing
> space was that the texts - what the words said -
> could
> appear superfluous in comparison. But the
> importance
> of seeing and doing things with words not only
> activated and communicated alinguistic or
> pre-linguistic stories, it reactivated the
> significance of reading as an action that takes
> place
> beyond the (misleadingly) black and white space of
> print publication.
> All of the web pieces are available through the
> Superbunker page at
> www.superbunker.com/machinepoetics/page_space
> Links to Jim Andrews' "Arteroids," which was part of
> the exhibit at Machine Gallery, as well as Deena
> Larsen and geniwate's most recent collaboration,
> "The
> Princess Murderer" (portions of which were read at
> UCLA and CalArts as part of the event) can also be
> found through this page.
> The exhibit at Machine Gallery (1200-D N. Alvarado
> St.
> in Los Angeles) ends on March 14th.
> __________________________________
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Hi all,

Although Rhizome.org encourages thoughtful criticism, your content may
not include any material that defames any person, invades or infringes
their rights of privacy or publicity. Within this thread, we are getting perilously close to violating these boundaries. Please do keep in mind the policies that we have regarding flaming. While you may not respect someone else on the list, we ask that you at least respect the parameters of the list itself. Please e-mail me if you have any further questions at feisal@rhizome.org. Best regards,

= Feisal


[Digiplay] Women in Games conference in UK

From: "Rasheeqa Ahmad" <rasheeqa@broadway.org.uk>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2004 13:13:46 -0000
To: <rasheeqa@broadway.org.uk>
Subject: FW: [Digiplay] Women in Games conference in UK

-----Original Message-----
From: Aleks Krotoski [mailto:akrotoski@yahoo.com]
Sent: 02 March 2004 09:37
To: digiplay@topica.com
Subject: [Digiplay] Women in Games conference in UK

Hi there,

Sorry for the cross-posting, but this is great news.

A Women in Games Conference is being held at the
University of Portsmouth, UK on 10th and 11th June.
Click on the link and the release below, and tell all
your UK and European-based friends to come along (as
well as anyone else with access to a plane ticket)!
This is a first-of-a-kind event and is not to be


Beyond the Sims and Barbie Magic Hair Styler!

At last: a conference for women who work in the games
industry! Still in a minority, there is a great need
for women to work in the games industry. A recent poll
by the Entertainment Software Association found that
more women were playing games than teenage boys (26%
women 18+, 21% boys 6 to 17).

On the 10th and 11th June 2004 the Department of
Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth
is holding a Women in Games Conference.

The conference is billed as 'Two days of empowerment
for women working in the games industry' and offers
important continuing professional development. This is
believed to be the first conference of its kind
anywhere in the world.

The full roster of speakers is not finalised yet, but
already Sheri Graner-Ray from Sony Online
Entertainment in Texas, the author of 'Gender
Inclusive Game Design', Helen Kennedy from the Play
Research Group at the University of the West of
England and Aleksandra Krotoski, presenter of Thumb
Bandits and Bits on Channel 4, who is researching into
games for her PhD at the University of Surrey, have
agreed to talk at the conference. Karl Jeffery, the
CEO of Climax, Europe's biggest independent game
developer, is giving an opening address and Tara
Solesbury from Wired Sussex is talking about her Game
Girl initiative, aimed at attracting girls to the
games industry.

There are both lectures and breakout sessions to give
attendees the opportunity to analyse the role of women
in the games industry and discuss the future of games
that appeal to female gamers. The event also promises
to be a great place for networking with a 'networking
meal' at a local restaurant on the Thursday night.

The Women in Games Conference is a unique opportunity
for reflecting on games and the games industry from a
feminine perspective.

For more information talk to Mark Eyles
(mark.eyles@port.ac.uk) or visit www.womeningames.com