Here's an interesting new publication:
Sweet Dreams : Contemporary Art and Complicity
by Johanna Drucker
University Of Chicago Press (July 15, 2005)
[...] Calling for a revamping of the academic critical vocabulary used to discuss art into one more befitting current creative practices, Drucker argues that contemporary art is fully engaged with material culture--yet still struggling to escape the oppositional legacy of the early twentieth-century avant-garde.
Drucker shows that artists today are aware of working within the ideologies of mainstream culture and have replaced avant-garde defiance with eager complicity. Finding their materials at flea markets or exploring celebrity culture, contemporary artists have created a vibrantly participatory movement that exudes enthusiasm and affirmation--all while critics continue to cling to an outmoded vocabulary of opposition and radical negativity that defined modernism's avant-garde. At the cutting edge of new media research, Drucker surveys a wide range of exciting contemporary artists, demonstrating their clear departure from the past and petitioning viewers and critics to shift their terms and sensibilities as well. Sweet Dreams is a testament to the creative processes and self-conscious heterogeneity of art today as well as a revolutionary effort to solicit collaboration that will encourage the production of imaginative thought and contribute to contemporary life.
via Artnet, 9/9/05:
by Walter Robinson [excerpt]
Communism, fascism - does capitalism have a place in this pantheon of art and ideology? Not really, though Johanna Drucker’s Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity (University of Chicago Press, 2005, $40) promises to focus on the ways that contemporary art (from the 1990s till now) has surrendered to the temptations of sugary mass-market culture.
Pinups by Vanessa Beecroft and Lisa Yuskavage, heaps of consumer goods by Jason Rhoades and Jessica Stockholder, assorted engagements with media, technology, spectacle, identity ...
I *was* pretty splenetic about Data Diaries - a few things came together on that but the gist of my position was that it was a one liner - essentially fairly disposable conceptualism with some almost optional visuals and sounds ( and way too many of them, in that I felt then that they were there just to *illustrate the point*) that came with the "idea". Furthermore Alex Galloway in his intro piece made a big point, indeed a virtue, ( and of course it was entirely unfair of me to take this out on the work itself) of that fact that it stemmed from a clever but essentially very quick hack.
I would want to say that I find the one liner culture in general a depressing thing & that I see lots of work that gives me no reason to feel any more charitable to it than I did then. The artistic one liner currently comes, as you know, almost inevitably with some sort of explicatory statement, usually by the artist her/himself although in this case the honours were done by Alex Galloway. In general, its something I'm pretty uncomfortable with since the pairing of one liner and usually theory laden explanation is often at kindest banale.
Nevertheless I was wrong about Data Diaries ...
C5 Landscape Database API 1.0.3 release
An Open Source GIS API for Digital Elevation Model processing and
(c) C5 corporation 2002-2005, under the GNU Lesser Public License
As exhibited (1.0.3b) in Fair Assembly: Making Things Public, online project at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (The Center for Art and Media Technology), Karlsruhe, Germany, Curator: Steve Deitz. http://makingthingspublic.zkm.de/fa/intro.do?lan=en
- DEM packages
- RDBMS packages for DEM data
- Support for processing DEM data dynamically
- Analytic table support for landscape searching
- Simple GUI (demtool) for viewing DEMs
- Support for data export and management
Overview of C5 Landscape Database API 1.0.3
The C5 Landscape Database API 1.0.3 began as a Digital Elevation Model browser and data export tool, (DEM Tool), written in java. Now a part of the C5 Landscape Database API packages, the C5 DEM Tool is still useful for browsing a collection DEM files via a simple graphical user interface. But since the original release of the Dem Tool utility and related classes in 2002, the library of related Java classes have grown and were significantly reorganized. The mission of the API also drifted as C5 theorized the relationships between landscape data and art practice and began implementing software mediated performances in the landscape, all of which led us to theorize more, rewrite the software, and perform yet more experiments in the landscape. Now merged with the capabilities of a number of C5 Perl modules (which were retired after being ported to java this year), the software has evolved into a robust platform for data mediated practice in the landscape, through much experimentation and performance during the course of developing the C5 Landscape Initiative Projects.
Inspired by primitive life, Public Anemone is a robotic creature with an organic appearance and natural quality of movement. By day, Public Anemone is awake and interacts with the waterfall, pond, and other aspects of its surroundings. It interacts with the audience by orienting to their movements using a stereo machine vision system. But if you get too close, it recoils like a rattlesnake.
The anemone starts each day's cycle with a high confidence level and a desire to complete various tasks (such as watering the nearby plants, drinking from the pond, or bathing in the waterfall). It chooses to either continue its tasks or interact with a participant based on their behavior and how much progress it has made with its tasks. If a participant wins the robot's attention, it will respond by orienting toward that person and following their movement.
If a participant gets too close or makes a threatening movement, the anemone may become frightened and recoil from the crowd until it regains its confidence. See Movie (.mov file, 5770 KB). Because the robot makes decisions based on its internal drives and audience interaction, each day is different from the next but follows a coherent theme.
Public Anemone is a collaboration between the Robotic Life and Synthetic Characters research groups at the Media Lab as well as MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab.
Sorry if this is a repeat, I didn't see it posted here earlier. I'm in a panel discussion tonight at SVA, details below ...
Friday, April 28th 2006, 7pm
School of Visual Arts. 209 East 23rd Street,
(between 2nd & 3rd Ave.)
Artists Talk on Art is pleased to present 'Post Post Modern,
Today is officially my last day at Rhizome, so I wanted to send out a
quick note and officially bid farewell. Actually, this isn't so much
a farewell, since I'll still be around, just as another member. The
only difference, really, will be that you will all have to put up
with my miscellaneous ramblings, without the benefit of me actually
writing code for you. ("Oh, great", I can hear some of you thinking.)
Patrick May has been in the office since February, and the transition
has gone better than I could've hoped. He'll be in touch with y'all
soon, but let me just say that he's hit the ground running and
already has a batch of fresh new ideas to improve the user experience
Patrick, Lauren, and Marisa make a phenomenal team, and it's going to
be a kick to stand back and watch where they take Rhizome in the
future. I'm happy to be moving on, but I have to admit I will miss
working with and for the other folks on staff.
I will also miss working with the Rhizome community, many of whom
I've had the privilege of getting to know well over the last three-
and-a-half years. I've enjoyed having so many people to learn from as
the field has continued to grow. And although some of our discussion
about Rhizome policy has been, mm, how you say, contentious, I always
kept in mind that it is mostly driven by the desire to see Rhizome,
and the entire field of new media arts, succeed. Without its
opinionated users, Rhizome wouldn't be what it is today, so thanks to
all of you.
As for my plans in the near future: Still unfixed, and right this
minute I suppose I like it that way. I'm actually going to be
vacationing a bit next month, with old friends to visit in Barcelona,
a friend's wedding in Minneapolis, and then quality time with my
family in Washington State. After that, who's to say? I'll be sure to
keep y'all posted, in between posting here about hallucinogenics and
XML and everything in between.
Thanks, everyone. And keep in touch,
ex-Director of Technology
Last November, I notified the Rhizome community that I would soon be
stepping down as Rhizome's Director of Technology. Today, I'm very
happy to announce that our next Director of Technology will be Patrick
Patrick comes to Rhizome with an exceptional background in both
technology and in the arts. His previous position at the publishing
company Source Media gives him extensive experience with developing and
maintaining large, content-driven sites with limited resources, and
this experience will come in handy at a highly dynamic,
community-oriented website like Rhizome. He is also active in the free
software and Ruby communities: He is the creator of the Ruby-Web
library, and has presented at the International Ruby Conference.
Patrick is also the cofounder and Director of Programming at the
Williamsburg-based artists' collective Open Ground, helping to guide
the consensus-based curatorial process that furnished Grand Street with
four years' worth of always surprising group shows. He is an artist
himself, and his creative practice incorporates a software library he
created that automatically publishes consecutive iterations of images
to an artists' blog; he discussed this tool at Rhizome's second
"Blogging and the Arts" panel discussion.
Being Rhizome's Director of Technology, of course, requires more than
just a knowledge of programming, and more than a familiarity with new
media arts. Rhizome has always been an undersized organization with
oversized ambitions, and we continue to explore ways to deepen the
nascent connections between art and technology. Patrick's resume hits a
lot of the right topics, but what's most important is that he's able to
think of the big picture--not just in terms of artworks and lines of
code, but also in terms of organizations and communities. I'm confident
that he will make the perfect partner for Lauren and Marisa as the
three of them lead Rhizome in the future. We've accomplished a lot in
the last year, and I'm excited to see what changes will come in the
We are expecting the transition process to work like this: Patrick will
come in on February 2nd, and he and I will work side-by-side throughout
February as I train him in. My last day will be March 3rd, but even
after then I'll still be available to Patrick & the organization in
I'm quite happy to leave this job in Patrick's capable hands. I hope
you all welcome him as kindly as you welcomed me.
Director of Technology
+ + +
> I have long been appalled by the way that theorists supposedly steeped
> psychoanalytic readings could misdefine schizophrenia and then
> consistently glamorize this very serious, very misdefined condition as
> some sexy alternative to 'reality.' There is a long list of scholars
> who've become quite famous in the course of building and upholding this
> Now I'm all for creativity, metaphor, and wordplay, but I feel that
> any of
> us with a ligitimate interest in these discourses or in contributing to
> any kind of meaningful conversation have a personal responsibility not
> entrench this kind of grossly irresponsible scholarship.
Good thing Rhizome doesn't try to have an official stance on psychiatry
I'm not familiar with D&G's writings on psychiatry, but it's quite
possible to be critical of mainline psychiatry without necessarily
glamorizing the condition of schizophrenia. A lot of the good
"anti-psychiatry" theory moves to put such conditions out of the
individual context, and into the social context, which was part of
psychiatry's brief in the beginning but has been slowly leached out of
the practice as it became more closely lashed to modern technocratic
I agree with much of what Eric wrote here:
> In Mircea Eliade's research, the role of the schizophrenic is enabled
> by some tribes and excluded by others. In complex social networks,
> which we are a part of, the schizophrenic is excluded and sent to the
> As well capitalism has no room, or need for the schizophrenic. They
> don't contribute to the nations wealth in an open market system.
> Witness the homeless today and the Bedlams of the past. Providing a
> social space doesn't cure the chemical imbalances, but it can give
> them a nurturing environment and a sense of belonging.
> It isn't a cure, but it does provide needed dignity.
Though I'd go a little further and say that ultimately it may not be
correct to describe schizophrenia as a condition requiring a "cure" ...
You could also remove the normative aspect from psychiatry altogether
and simply that schizophrenia is a condition, a statistical outlier,
but not necessarily more or less healthy, just different.
I don't want to trivialize or glamorize the problems faced by those
with mental illnesses. In fact, my dad works in the industry, so I grew
up with all sorts of terrible stories about mental illnesses.
But if you're not normal, and that makes it difficult to live in
society, who's to blame for that, exactly? Homosexuality was only
removed from the DSM within the last 50 years. If you grew up gay in a
Christian fundamentalist household in a homophobic small town, and
revealing your desires to anybody might get you condemned or beaten or
killed, and then you grow up with serious intimacy issues, whose fault
Or, to take a much more harrowing example from the cutting edge of
psychiatric pathology: Some psychiatrists are beginning to look into
what is currently called Body Integrity Identity Disorder, which is the
overwhelming desire of a person to voluntarily amputate a very specific
part of their body. These patients (who are almost always men) feel
that a certain part of their body (almost always below the waist)
simply doesn't belong to them, and that they would be more whole
without it. Like pre-op transsexuals, they often dress the part, for
example by tying their leg back and wearing loose fitting pants that
are clipped up where the missing part would be.
And, although research on this is extremely preliminary, at this point
it would appear that the only known treatment is actually amputation.
Some of these patients are able to pursue this in a proper medical
setting, but as you might imagine some are forced to do it themselves,
using whatever tools you might imagine a person might use if they were
forced to self-amputate without the benefit of a medical staff, an
operating theatre, or anesthesia.
The New York Underground had a pretty amazing documentary on the
subject (I think two years ago), and a few of the interviewees were
people who had taken this step. They all looked astoundingly happy.
Their condition was cured. They were just without one leg or foot or
Now, this is pretty horrifying stuff, and it's clearly not normal in
the statistical sense, but why is it unhealthy? We know, for example,
that plenty of people who lose their limbs in accidents are capable of
living rich, fulfilling lives. So why can't the same be true for
somebody who loses his limb on purpose? And what should society's
response be to this? Should we make it easier for people to get, to
twist a Christian fundamentalist phrase, "amputation-on-demand"? Or
should we force them to pursue years of experimental treatments--shock
therapies, medication, aversion therapy, etc., etc.--in lieu of just
getting an amputation, which is on its own a very established, safe
Anyway, back to schizophrenia ... It's quite possible that the world is
going to become increasingly hostile to its schizophrenics, largely as
a result of the spread of global capitalism. Cities are worse for
schizophrenics than the countryside, so a future in which more than
half the world's population is urban doesn't bode well for them. The
complex web of invisible power relations--whether technical, financial,
social, or legal--required to get along in the 21st century probably
don't do any good for the schizophrenic's propensity for paranoia.
Maybe the trade-offs are worth it, maybe they're not. I personally
can't claim to be pure in this respect, anyway: I live in a big city
and I work with the internet and I even find the Economist to be
interesting reading. But maybe it's a shame that we're implicitly
deciding that from now on, society has no place for the schizophrenic.
And maybe it's a copout to say that it's because of biology that they
don't fit in, when it's just as much because of culture.
Or maybe the decision isn't so final. Maybe the fragmentation of
culture that comes with the spread of information technology actually
works against the idea of reality as consensus--and thus in favor of
the schizophrenic. Any world that has a place for furries and centaur
porn and Everquest economies and transgenderism and people who dress up
like Uruk-Hai on the weekends might actually have a place for
schizophrenics, right? Who's to say.
Director of Technology
+ + +
Each writer will receive a $200 stipend for participation. Participating in this artwork will require a light, but ongoing commitment: perhaps an hour a week, from March to June.
No particular experience, or publications, are necessary. However, you should be mildly comfortable with technology, enough to use a website like MySpace or a blog host like Blogspot. It would also be okay if you had a friend who could help you with the technical stuff. Basically, the project involves a little tech setup, and I don’t want to have to do a lot of tech support for other people.
If that doesn’t sound too maddeningly vague, please let me know if you’re interested by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d appreciate a few writing samples, and if you have any experience with improvisational anything (stand-up comedy, music, even live-action role-playing), it’d be useful to know about that, too. Also, please feel free to ask any other questions. Thanks!