Jacob Gaboury
Since 2007
Works in United States of America

BIO
Jacob Gaboury is a writer and curator living in New York City. He is currently an adjunct faculty member and doctoral candidate in the department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University where he studies the history of art and technology, queer theory, and media archaeology. His dissertation project is titled "Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics, 1965-1979" and it investigates the early history of computer graphics and the role they play in the move toward new forms of simulation and object orientation. In the past he has worked for the Museum of the Moving Image, the Department of Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at NYU, The Seattle Art Museum, and several IT companies in New York and Seattle.

General Web Content




Technology is expensive so we try and take care of it; but sometimes things break. Most technology is no longer made to be repaired, as it is cheaper to replace it entirely. This is particularly true of display technology, as once a screen is cracked or broken there is little one can do to fix the damage. Many users desperately seek help online, making videos of their broken television sets or computer monitors in the hopes of a solution. Others give in to the inevitable and take the opportunity to unleash their anger on the broken technology.























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Aesthetics of Breakdown


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The normative logic of digital technologies and consumer electronics is that they "just work." The fields of human computer interaction and usability studies are intended to make technology functional for even the most lay of users. This can be seen clearly in the way in which new technologies are advertised and in the shift away from machines intended to be "tinkered" with toward black box technologies that maximize interface. The most recent campaign for Apple's new iPad states that "it's magical," and that "you already know how to use it," and Microsoft goes so far as to imply that Windows 7 was designed by everyday users to be "easier." Nonetheless, for most users dysfunction and breakdown are a large part of their everyday experience of technology.

In Broken Sets (eBay), Penelope Umbrico has collected a virtual archive of technological failure in images of broken LCD TV sets being sold on eBay for spare parts. Each image bears a unique pattern formed by cracks and other anomalies that fracture the images they display into a pixelization that resembles landscapes or test patterns. Many of the pieces, displayed as photo prints, vaguely resemble "digital interference" works by Sean Dack or Borna Sammak's HD video collage, but taken as a whole they suggest a larger aesthetics of breakdown that is as much a critique of our idealized vision of these technologies as functionally useful objects as it is beautiful.

As Is, a collection of Penelope Umbrico's work, is running at LMAKprojects until June 20th.

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Discussions (6) Opportunities (0) Events (0) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

A Queer History of Computing


Thank you for your comment! The five I have chosen were selected because they can be directly linked to one another through either a personal or professional connection, though this means the history is largely white, male, and cisgendered. But as I mention in the footnotes and as Dimonic mentioned above, there is so much beyond that history, and my hope is that the project expands beyond these limitations.

I am very concerned with problematizing the class and gender dynamics of this history in particular, especially since I am using the term "queer" here in a slippery way, applying it to a group of men who may better fit its historically pejorative definition more than its contemporary transgressive one. I'd love to chat more online and in person. I'll contact you through twitter and perhaps we can get a coffee.

DISCUSSION

A Queer History of Computing


The five I plan to feature are all in some direct way connected to Turing, though there is always the possibility of expanding the project beyond that scope, and Sophie Wilson is a fantastic suggestion. It's also a largely British history, as I mention in the footnotes above, and there is worthwhile work to be done in an American context as well.

DISCUSSION

Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney


I totally agree with what you say about the role of critique, and I honestly don't see any personal criticism in your comments, so no worries there. In fact it is probably true that this piece was never really a "review" of the show. I will say that it was most definitely a critique, and for me personally I find critique much more useful than review, which tends toward a short series of deeply personal opinions about the work of others. The critique could definitely have been more negative, or touched on pieces in the show that I did not like or that did not seem fit for inclusion, of which there were several. But what seemed more interesting for me was the way the show reflected on the very question of success and failure in technologically mediated art, particularly in a context as institutionalized and monied as the Whitney, and even more particularly through an artist that is so devisive and so often described in terms of his failure to achieve the status of "real" art.

Honestly I just found it more interesting to talk about what the show might mean instead of whether or not it was good. People are going to see the show regardless, and I'd rather they read a piece that puts the show in a context they hadn't thought of then go in with the idea that the show is good or bad because they read it on a website. Is it the responsibility of a site like Rhizome to publish reviews that take a clear stance on the quality or validity of shows such as this? Maybe. But honestly I find that kind of work dull, particularly when it devolves into snark and shade that does more to boost the ego of the reviewer than it does to inform its readers. In fact I would argue that it is precisely those kinds of reviews that are uncritical, or at least, critically shallow.

DISCUSSION

Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney


If it helps any, I actually came into the show with a ton of reservations and after having an extended conversation with our editor about how I would probably totally pan the show and I hoped that was OK. I would not consider myself one of the people who sees Cory as an outstanding representation of new media art, particularly in 2011.

Part of the reason I reviewed the show as I did is that I was not particularly interested in the pieces as artworks - and how they might fit into a longer art historical tradition - but more what they might be saying about art, technology, and culture. Whether or not the pieces are good is entirely beside the point for me. And, not to contradict Brian, but what the artist's intentions were when creating that piece, or whether or not he did it for the reasons I gave in my review, is also not personally of interest. And while I said in the first paragraph of my review that even though the show was "about" failure the show itself was not a failure, that does not mean that many of the pieces were not critical or intellectual failures, particularly in their failure to provoke any consideration from the viewer beyond "I see what you did there."

But when I went to the show having to actually consider the pieces beyond their immediate punchline and forced myself away from the kind of knee-jerk eat-our-own criticism that is so easy with so much of this kind of work - and so prevalent in this community - I found something that I thought was worth writing about, and that (hopefully) wasn't the same kind of critique that everyone has given Cory for years. For me the review wasn't about if the show was good or bad, it was about what it meant both for the new media art community and within the broader context of art, technology, and culture.

DISCUSSION

It’s Only Humanist


It's interesting that so few artists have used the kind of default 3D models that are widely used in the industry and available in all 3D modeling software (Utah Teapot, Stanford Dragon, Stanford Bunny, Suzanne). Ceci did a series of posts several months ago and we could only find like two or three.

So while this may be a question of defaults it doesn't seem to be reflecting on technologically specific defaults, just culturally specific defaults and readily available forms.