Francis Hwang
Since 2003
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Francis Hwang is an artist, writer, and software engineer. He was Rhizome's Director of Technology from 2003 to 2006.

Jack Pierson vs Barneys

I'm actually not sure who bloggy and Tyler Green are taking sides with in the Jack Pierson vs Barneys dustup. Barneys supposedly "forged," for its window displays, its own set of Pierson's "trademark" sculptures made out of found sign letters. Pierson is mad, and his gallery Cheim & Read wrote a pedantic letter to the clothier that stops short of asserting an actual intellectual property right but nevertheless accuses the retailer of a "fraudulent situation."

But given that those kinds of sculptures are commonplace--you see them in craft fairs, regional art shows, and T.G.I. Friday's-calibre restaurants--that's a bit like Duchamp writing an indignant letter to a urinal manufacturer. As long as the accusations of "fraud" are flying around, why doesn't Pierson have his gallery write an outraged screed to the stock photography company selling this royalty free image:


Or maybe sling a fraud allegation at painter Leslie Brack while he's at it?

Leslie Brack


MTAA at the big dance…

Update on Collaborative March Madness

Concept Trucking / Leisurearts just wrote to say -

“MTAA has made the final four as a number 11 seed! Your success was modeled/is hitched on George Mason University’s in the NCAA tourney. I will be posting an updated bracket soon! Guess you better start rooting for the Patriots to win it all.”

twhid adds:
I have had zero (or, more likely, negative) interest in this so-called March madness… until now! Go George Mason!

(more update)
The chart is updated. Check it out…


Counter-Surveillance Headdress


Become a Target of Heightened Surveillance

The purpose of the Counter-Surveillance Headdress, by Gloria Sed, is to empower the wearer by allowing him/her to claim a moment of privacy in the Big Brother world.

The design of the headdress borrows from Islamic and Hindu fashion to comment on the racial profiling of Arab and Arab-looking citizens that occurred post-9/11. The design of the headdress is thus a contradiction: while its goal is to hide the wearer, it makes the wearer a target of heightened surveillance.

The laser tikka (forehead ornament) is attached to a hooded vest and reflective shawl. The laser is activated by pressing a button on the left shoulder of the vest. When pointed directly into a camera lens, the laser creates a burst of light masking the wearer


Future of Television Conference


Satellite provider EchoStar has launched a mosaic video application (showcase) that will enable viewers to watch six TV thumbnailed video channels and access an interactive menu concurrently, reports CED Magazine.

Powered by OpenTV set-top software, the mosaic and interactive elements, offered on channel 100, follow some earlier work with the technology by EchoStar. In 2004, the DBS service provider offered mosaics to support the Summer Olympics and for coverage of the Presidential elections.

A mosaic thumbnail, once selected by a customer, will be transitioned to full-screen video.

Cable also has some grand plans for mosaic video applications. The Comcast Media Center and GuideWorks, the Comcast/Gemstar-TV Guide joint venture, are developing "video-rich navigation" enhancements for interactive program guides.

Cable has a technological advantage over satellite because signals can be sent two ways. Without a two-way path, satellite operators can offer simultaneous viewing of channels or provide VOD via cable PVR boxes. Programming can be downloaded and stored for later retrieval. That's what DVB-H does, too.

How long until WiFi, WiMax or DVB-H deliver multi-media for Playstation Portables? You decide.

Related DailyWireless stories include; IP-TV Networking, Bricklin Installs FiOS, The Verizon/Yahoo DSL Deal: $14.95, SBC Picks IP-TV Settops, The Free Triple Play, VDSL-2 Ratified, IPTV: Is It Soup Yet?, IP-TV Settops, Legislators: Don't Mess With SBC, DirecTV + WiMax?, Duopoly Laws, Mobile TV Expands, Video Search and Big Media Mobilizes.


University of Georgia's Peabody Archive selects SAMMA for videotape migration project

Media Matters' automated system to preserve and digitize priceless collection

The University of Georgia’s Peabody Archives has signed with Media Matters to use their System for the Automated Migration of Media Archives, or SAMMA, to migrate over 2,000 recordings submitted by local television stations around the United States for consideration in the annual Peabody Awards competition between 1973 and 1990. The project, funded by the National Park Service’s “Save America’s Treasures


Discussions (176) Opportunities (7) Events (2) Jobs (0)

Re: Words on the Rhizome Artbase


Actually, Alena turns down more ArtBase submissions than she accepts.

Personally, I don't think it's a problem if there's a lot in the ArtBase; I
think of its function as more curatorial than editorial. And, hey, disk
drives are cheap, relatively speaking. I do think that the site doesn't do
enough to help Rhizomers filter through them. (Another aspect of the Rhizome
functionality not scaling with the increased community volume.) There are a
lot of different functions we could implement to make it easier to surf
through the ArtBase; by this I'm speaking of more modest concepts than the
far-reaching alt.interface tools.

If people want to throw out suggestions for filtering tools, now is a good
time to do so. Bonus points will be awarded for schemes that can be
implemented in days and weeks, as opposed to months and years.

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology

+ + +


Rhizome's future discussed more...

Ivan Pope wrote:

> But there is no context. There is no critical discourse and almost no
> online discussion.

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

> Rhizome claims a community, but you can only click randomly on names to
> see who turns up. You can't spin off specific discussions. You can't
> form sub groups with specific interests.

Tough, but fair. A lot has happened at Rhizome in the past 12 months.
We did a major site redesign, we came out with our first set of
commissions, membership went way up, the funding climate went way down.
Major transition period. Rhizome's still standing, but right now it's a
bit wobbly from the effort.

All these new members are a mixed blessing. We doubled our membership in
2002, and growth is good, but really fast growth also has a way of
highlighting strains in a community's designs. Some parts have held up,
but some parts haven't scaled well at all. Today, has more
than 22,000 members: Does it do everything that it could to unleash the
critical and artistic energy of its individual members? No. We've
accomplished a lot, but there's still lots of room for improvement.

Some specifics:

+ Art & text are meant to be two sides of the same coin, but as Ivan
points out, they can feel very separate at times. We've already made
modest steps towards having the two relate to each other; for example,
new artworks now show up on the front page, and on the Rhizome Raw
mailing list. A better search engine and interface will help a lot, as
will linking related texts and art works (we used to do this through the
Xref feature, but that got lost in the redesign).

+ The interface for text discussions is atomized and clumsy. It's too
difficult to participate in the discussions through the web site, so
I'm hoping to rewrite much of that interface in the next six months.
I've got my totally awesome Design/Production intern, Emily, working on
new designs for this, and together we should be able to come up with
something much more elegant and useful.

+ Rhizome should be more Rhizomatic. Now that we are requiring our
members to support us financially, we need to give members an even
greater stake in our operations. Examples include turning the ArtBase
selection process over to SuperUsers, involving members in the process
of selecting commissions through online voting, and making the Rhizome
code available as open source software.

+ There are parts of this site that are being vastly underutilized
because not everybody understands how they work. That's a shame, and
hopefully we'll be able to fix that soon -- not by ornamenting, but by
reducing and distilling.

So that's my agenda for the future, in very broad strokes. Rhizome
offers a valuable community experience right now, but I'm hoping to
unlock more of its potential in the future. I hope people are going to
stick around to see what comes next.

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology


ArtBase 2002: pick your faves

Hi everybody --

I hope you all had a pleasant / glamorous / reflective / drama-filled New
Year's Eve.

Last year there were 415 entries added to the ArtBase. I've listed them
below for your perusal. Ambitious critic/curator-types might use this list
as a starting point for a "Top Ten" list. Or you could take this as an
opportunity to see what exactly those other chatty people on Rhizome do when
they're not trying to impress you with their wit and verve on Rhizome Raw.
Enjoy ...

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology

+ + +

!C! by Reynald Drouhin (
"Brick" Drawings by Jim Johnson (
"RhythmEngine" by hidenori watanave (
"The irrepairable damage of self-realisation communicated to another" by
( the photographic-diary project ) by Jimmy Owenns
*-scope by sgp (
/*wIPhOME0701v1.2*/ by Christian Oyarzun
4 short interactive pieces about vegetables and sound by Krister Olsson
60X1.CAM(tm) Ultimate Interactive Webcam Surveillance System For Homeland
Security by Kenneth Hung (
60X1.COM by Kenneth Hung (
<__lo-y. > by <__lo-y. > (
>neXtOper@1.01 for cell.phones by Sergio Maltagliati
a book with explanatory notes : L by sung-yoon jung
A Less Crowded Place by Ed Holroyd (
a.ofu by shira (
a.r.m.y. by r e f o r m (
Abstract by xavier cahen (
abstracting the internet by paul tulipana
Absurd Org. by A . (
ACRT System by d planet (
ada1852 by Christopher Fahey (
Adam Killer by brody condon (
addiction by maya kalogera (
affectiveCinema by jan torpus (
After Vermeer by Michael Szpakowski ( by David Clark (
Alpha Beta Disco: Godard Remix by DropBox
Alphabet Synthesis Machine by Golan Levin
altar by paul tulipana (
alundale, fiancee of the web by rodriguez laurent alundale voduno
American Views: Stories of the Landscape by Russet Lederman
AMPHORA / NUDE STUDY by Tamas Waliczky (
Ansichtskarte/Pseudo-perspective study by Tamas Waliczky
anti.likesilver by Adriano Santi (
antibiotico by Ricardo Rendon (
ap0202 by 1010 1010 (
Apartment by Marek Walczak (
Apartment by Jacqueline Steck (
archive: moving image gallery by <computerfinearts collection>
art from text by Roberto Echen (
ART-DEATH by Tamara Lai (
ARTificial ART by Kurt Baumann (
asmp v1.0 by paul tulipana (
atari-noise by arc .- -. --. . .-.. (
Ateliers d'emotions - Cathbleue by catherine ramus
Audiovisual Environment Suite by Golan Levin
Aural Masturbation by Marientina Gotsis
auto dungeon by rodriguez laurent alundale voduno
autom@tedVisualMusiC by Sergio Maltagliati
Avatar Project by Marotta & Russo (
b0timati0n by Amy Alexander (
Bailalo by Juan Manuel Patino (
bananamilk by Sangbum Kim (
Bar Code Clock by Scott Blake (
barnyard algorithm by Rick Mullarky (
BERTEPOLIS by fabrizio coniglio (
beyaz sayfa by bulent bas (
BigPictureSmallWorld by Medard Gabel (
binney project by Sean kerr (
BIOevents by monica jacobo (
bits & pieces by Peter Traub (
Blank Project Design by arsinoi (
Blessed by Lalo Diez (
brooklyn01 by martin meyer ( by Markus Kleine-Vehn (
Carnivore Is Sorry by Mark Daggett (
CAUTION by emilie pitoiset (
chained displacements by horit herman peled
Chatroom Plays by Vincent Makowski (
CHILDREN'S GAME by Tamas Waliczky (
Chinese Dragon by h.d.mabuse *re:combo*
Circumvent by honeylab (
collateral assets by deb king (
colorbot by owen plotkin (
Colors Combinator Freeware Tool by dlsan
community mapping by Nikola Tosic (
Compositions in Orange by Max Amagliani
Conceptual Objects by Tinlun Chan (
Confrontation Line - History of conflict / Conflict of history by shirley
shor (
Conner Times Ten by Matt Roberts (
context breeder by John Klima (
copy of ghost dance by Michael Szpakowski
cosmiclocksmith v2.3 by Brian Kearns (
CRASH RUN by Kiran Subbaiah (
Creation of Value / Wertschopfung by Frieder Rusmann
critter sketch by frosty (
crossroads by oriol espinal (
crossroads by oriol espinal (
Cult of the Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist] - Shoot the Bird by joseph
mcelroy (
daedaleum --- 12 isles by julien demeuzois
daedaleum 2 --- fantasmagoria by julien demeuzois
daedaleum 3 --- phenakistiscope by julien demeuzois
daedaleum 4 --- camera zootropica by julien demeuzois
Daily Headline Deaths by Ricardo Miranda Zuniga
dataCloud by Gonzalo Garcia-Perate (
deadbicycle by gerald (
delinquent by Jean-Paul Tremblay (
delter by Victor Liu (
Desert grows by Raul Berrueco Ballesteros
Destroy Evil by katie bush (
Dialtones (A Telesymphony) by Golan Levin
digital images from corrupt files by huong ngo
dis-house-jointed by Marcy Palmer (
distillates by byron (
distributedhuman by z (
Document 9-1-1 by tobias van Veen (
Don't go for the root, Follow the canal by shirley shor
Drag by Gearoid Dolan (
Drawing by numbers by Roberto Echen (
E3 by Robert Seidel (
Eccentric Science by Kathryn Hughes (
Echoes by Michael Sellam (
Educational Sticker by Nikola Tosic (
encounter by Beverley Hood (
erational by e rational (
Esoth Eric by calin man (
EUROPA - ON THE FLY by Wolf Kahlen (
Eurostar: Fast Easy Secure by Vikram Kansara
( by Don Ritter (
exapes by florin tudor (
Experimental Life Project version 1.0 by domiziana giordano
face by philip wood (
Face Value by Nino Rodriguez (
Fake Flatness by Patryk Rebisz (
Family Portrait by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne
Fantastic Prayers by Stephen Vitiello, Constance DeJong, and Tony Oursl
fascinum by Christophe Bruno (
fields by Christophe Bruno (
filmscape by nicolas clauss ( by Francis Hwang (
fish histories by paul catanese (
Five Elsewhere by nicolas clauss (
flangerlounge by axe flangerZ (
Flesh Machine by Critical Art Ensemble
Floccus by Golan Levin (
Fly Me to the Moon by alun ward (
Flytrap by Karen Ingram (
Four Flashes of Life by Lars Wikstrom (
Fractal Consciousness by zarinmedia (
FRICTION FREE: for the new economy by stacy hardy
friendlyghosts by Garrett Phelan (
from my house/to yours: the journeyweb by Gandha Key
FWalk 1.0 by Chris Davey (
Gl=vulaa, "Hii-=perlexicoaorpara=][strophism" by David Golumbia
Golden Boy by Bill Cahalan (
GOODWORLD by Lew Baldwin (
gramatologi+tal by vera bighetti (
Grandfather Gets a House by ef (
green mujahideen by Mladen Zagorac (
Grids by Eduardo Navas ( by Gro (
growth 1.0b by John Slepian (
haircut by Justin Simoni (
Hans - a true story by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne
Happycentro+Sintetik by Gaia (
Headache & various musical temptations for International Computers *Error*.
by jimpunk (
helix by shane (
hello world by vicky isley (
here nor there by annie (
Hey!,Ufunk'nwithmyDNA? by Reginald Brooks
Hippie Brain Explosion by Lowell Robinson
Histoire d'une representation / History of a representation by armand behar
hit me by nicolas boulard (
hive by John Geraci (
Home Like No Place by jillian mcdonald (
Home-Maker by Jeanie Finlay ( by bennett(troy); (
Humanos by Lilia Perez Romero (
Hybrid Architecture Research by Saskia Vandersee
I forget... by Anna Galkina (
i love jemma gura by maximiliano paccagnella
import/export by hannah kops (
In Between by Tamara Lai (
In Between by SooYeun Ahn (
Inhabited Text by Susan Collins (
Instance City by Riccardo Zanardelli (
Intercontinental Spontaneous Jam Session by Pall Thayer
internet & autofiction by stephanie boisset
Iota Horogolii by Wendy Murray (
IP-III by annja (
Irish_Eyes by Ryan McGuinness (
Is watching by xavier cahen (
Ivy League by jillian mcdonald (
Joseph Rossi Graphic First Aid by francesco contin
justfornow by Monica Ross (
k'muni by chia-hsiao sinz shih (
karaoke at the gene pool by jillian mcdonald
kasimir by e rational (
keeping up appearances by Mendi+Keith Obadike
KID KOMA - mind labyrint by dlsan (
Kill the Messenger by Karen Ingram (
kodisein by Thorsten Kohnhorst (
La Fabrica by Marisa Gonzalez (
La langue se charge by Michael Sellam (
Last Image of Space by Gregory Chatonsky
LE JOU (the game) by shirley shor (
Learning to Love You More by Miranda July
Les dormeurs, the sleepers by nicolas clauss
levels9 by xavier cahen (
Life by Christophe Bruno (
light from the machine by Jessica Loseby


test to raw 4

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology

+ + +


Live Query and the fallacy of relevance

I think the artistic claim to relevance is largely a red herring. Tim wrote that
"it used to be that it was the artist's job to capture the 'collective
consciousness' either through intuition, genius, or dumb-luck", but I could not
disagree with this statement more.

I don't know who it was that first put forth a belief like this, but I can
understand its appeal. It's comforting to see the artist as the canary in the
coal mine. It makes it easy to justify your usefulness to society. When your
uncle asks you over Thanksgiving dinner what you've been doing with your life,
you can say "I've been limning the cultural tendencies of an increasingly
networked culture. Please pass the mashed potatoes."

But such a view of art tends to drastically oversimplify the process, and the
interaction between artist and audience. Yes, sometimes artists spark some
cultural flashpoint. I'm reading Greil Marcus' "Invisible Republic" right now,
and the accounts of the turmoil that Bob Dylan stirred up by going electric are
both fascinating and inspiring. But do you suppose artists do relevant work
because they're trying to? Or just because of dumb luck? Sometimes it seems to
me like a million monkeys at a million typewriters: With so many artists around
the world pounding on the keys, _something_ timely is bound to happen.

Luck is more important than we give it credit for, and I don't mean luck in the
way that the Dadaists or generative art folks mean. I mean that if you decide to
spend hours chasing your own little obsession -- whether that's folds of cloth
or the flight of bumblebees or the sound of a 56k modem -- the odds are quite
slim that somebody else will see it and be deeply touched by it. But what other
choice do you have? Obsessing about the question, and worrying about how to
increase the relevance of your work, doesn't usually make the work itself
better. All it does is take away from the time you have to make art before you die.

So I guess I don't see Google's Live Query as great art, and certainly not as
much of a threat. Maybe people searched more for "Jessica Simpson" this month
than "Britney Spears" -- so what? Why should I care? Why should I let such
anxious, trifling factoids into my heart?

I can think of two things that net art can do that Live Query cannot. First, as
Curt wrote, it can communicate highly personal, idiosyncratic, narrative
experience. Companies are basically uninterested in this sort of work because it
doesn't scale well: Compare box office grosses for each new superhero movie to
grosses to the newest Almodovar, for example, and it's easy to see why there are
so many more superhero movies out there.

But the second function is more specific to the community at hand. There are
technological corners that corporations will not explore, because the
return-on-investment (ROI, in business-speak) is small or non-existent. The
Institute for Applied Autonomy, for example, makes impressive tech in the name
of political agitation. Curt has already pointed out W. Bradford Paley's
TextArc, which is gorgeous, but also probably commercially useless. I can even
say that from my own experience -- not that I'm claiming to be as good a
programmer as the IAA or Paley -- that I've programmed works that to my
knowledge have never been done before by anybody else, because there was no
money in it.

So why did I do them? Mostly because I had an itch to scratch. I believe that
the creative process is a process of discovery; you work upon your medium but
you also listen to what it tells you as you go along. The idea is not enough for
me. For me to work on something there has to be an element of mystery in the
idea, questions that can only be answered by forgetting the concept and crafting
the object. I don't worry too much about whether somebody else will find it
telling. I just want to explore.

Sometimes, though, the work you do for yourself is interesting to somebody else.
I was checking the logs for my last work -- a work, BTW, that's very similar to
a project that Microsoft almost did years ago and then backed away from because
everyone was freaked about its privacy implications -- and found it referred to
from some guy's blog. It was a personal, low-traffic blog that nothing to do
with net art, but somehow this guy had found my work, and he was as excited
about it as I was. Something about it spoke to him, the way it spoke to me. I
posted a few notes on his blog about what was on my mind at the time, and
somewhere in our conversation there was a spark of recognition and commonality.

This is probably sentimental or banal, but this is most of the reason I do any
creative work -- ultimately, it's all about people, connecting in the random
happenstance ways that people connect on this earth. Now I can wonder at the
possibility that this blogger will go on to write some code that incorporates,
in some small way, the ideas I was exploring in my work. This is not a story
about an entire culture; it's only two people. He's not the zeitgeist, and
neither am I. We're just two modest individuals, excited about the same idea and
sharing that excitement for one brief instant.


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