19:30 (stacks), 2011 - Aleksandra Domanovic
You’ve been blogging for VVORK with Oliver Laric, Christoph Priglinger, and Georg Schnitzer since 2006. How has working with this small collective affected your own practice over the years?
I was just finishing my design studies and was invited to post on VVORK. I wasn't the only one, there was a couple more who got the user password but posted only a few times. I got really into it, posting all the time, eventually the guys had to give me the admin password. I did not make art before VVORK, now I see it as part of my own artistic practice.
In 2009 you created Biennale (Dictum Ac Factum). The page on your site includes anachronistic images, videos, and lyrics from throughout the 20th century and mixes them with images and video from the 2009 Somali pirate attacks among other contemporary moments. What was your conceptualization behind the work and how, in your mind, do you link the varied sources, images, and stories together?
All of these materials relate to the video--a 3d visualization of "Dogville" from Lars von Trier's film--which is the only component of the work that I produced. It was meant to be a piece by itself but I did not think it was good enough. Sometimes the making-of is much more interesting than the work itself or the piece makes only sense in the context of it's creation. As I was researching about the film, I found out that the inspiration for the script was a song called "Pirate Jenny" performed by Nina Simone, which Trier had accidentally heard. The song was written in 1928 for Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera. It's about a wash-girl who is ignored and abused by society. One day, pirates ...
SMSlingshot, Christian Zöllner, Patrick Tobias Fischer, Thilo Hoffmann, and Sebastian Piatza of VR/Urban (2009) - Photo by VR/Urban
Talk to Me: Design and Communication between People and Objects is an ambitious exhibition at MoMA curated by Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Paola Antonelli. Focused on new modes of communication and interactivity, the exhibition captures over 194 works from an international group of aritsts and designers. The space is divided into five themes and includes work ranging from Jason Rohrer's minimalist game Passage (2008) to Sputniko!'s role-reversing Menstruation Machine-Takashki's Take (2010). After touring Talk to Me on a rainy weekday with Paola, we met in her office to discuss the importance of collaboration, QR tags, and speculate about the future.
Jason Huff: You have curated numerous shows on the frontier of design and its intersection with technology among other fields. Design and the Elastic Mind, from 2008, stands out because of it’s timing within the latest rush of social technology and interaction that has arguably become the norm over the past few years. What makes Talk to Me distinct in this lineage of exhibitions?
Paola Antonelli: In Design and the Elastic Mind, the communication between people was just one of the facets as it was about design and science in general. Therefore, there was a really big presence of synthetic biology, for instance, or nanotechnology, nanophysics, robotics. There were a lot of different topics involved. Thinking back, pieces like Google Earth, Google Moon and Google Mars from Design and the Elastic Mind would have fit in [Talk to Me]. So could have the One Laptop per Child project.
But it really was about designers working with scientists and scientists working with designers. At that time, the conclusion was that designers and scientists worked very well together because they both had ambitions to occupy a different position in society and in culture. Designers want to be taken more seriously; they are tired of being considered “prettifiers” that go straight to the House and Home section of the New York Times, and scientists want to be considered less lofty, less abstract, disengaged, and disinterested in human beings....
Collapse of PAL 2010-2011, Rosa Menkman
Through your academic research you’ve developed an intimate understanding and typology of the glitch. You even refer to glitches as a “wonderful interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse, towards the ruins of destroyed meaning.” Do you think that the rarity of glitches gives them a greater significance amidst the endless improvements and sleekness of new technologies? Are there any issues around the production and the exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?
Naturally, working with and researching glitches, a concept that etymologically refers to an unstable moment(um) makes me reflect on related issues on a regular basis. In glitch art, where the glitch has been lifted from its technological or informational basis into a social context), the glitch often breaks the expectations of the user, the viewer or maker and as such, infuses a specific momentum with a different or new meaning.
Glitch art is often something to reflect on, a momentum that depends on informational input, technology, time, context and the actors (audience) role or perspective. I like to ask questions like: what are the materials of a particular work of digital glitch art? And from which perspectives should I describe it (from the makers point of view, an art historical or technological point of view or a viewers perspective). What is the (technological) process or referenced process behind the glitch? Problems of conservation and preservation I think are equally interesting - although in certain cases a negative answer (glitches don't need to be preserved) can be sufficient. I think the answer to these questions depends on the particular work of art; there is not one unequivocal answer.
I don't think glitches are rare; every medium has its glitches, its fingerprints ...
Many of your pieces are concerned with race and identity and confront those issues through technology. In your 2001 piece "Blackness for Sale" you were asked to remove the auction from eBay because of its inappropriateness. Thinking about growth of identity and social networks on the internet over the last decade, do you feel that it is important for artists to continue to make political work that engages the internet and other new media?
While our early sound art works like Sexmachines, Automatic, or the Uli Suite were not about race/identity, certainly many of the early Internet works were. We would say that race itself is a technology, and so making work that looks at how issues of race or identity play out online is a way to highlight this fact. The Internet is by nature a contested space, so any work that engages with this terrain is of course political. Many of the questions we started asking in the late 90s around narrative structures, technology, and identity seem to remain relevant today, although the ways in which we engage with the networks seem significantly different. When we made “Blackness for Sale” and other "net.art" over a decade ago, many people saw the web as a place to try on masks and to play with other identities. Today, through social networking sites, people are flooding the web with personal info and living with what might be best described as a bloated databody. So we do find that social interactions on the web create a territory for which commentary is as necessary and as fruitful today as it has ever been.
Your collaborative projects frequently mine narratives and characters from history and transform them using sound, performance, and new technologies...
"Get Lost! (Breuckelen)", site-specific intervention, photographic documentation, variable, 2009-ongoing
In your project Daniel Bejar/Destroyer (The Googlegänger) you re-stage pictures of yourself mimicking the the poses of Destroyer’s lead singer who shares your name and a similar likeness. Now your images appear confusingly side by side with those of the famous singer in some of the top Google Image Search results. In describing the project as a “search image intervention” can you say something more about the project’s concept?
Well, the concept took some time to solidify after intercepting the initial fan mails, but it evolved out of ideas where I saw Google’s Image Search or even the web as a space that Daniel Bejar and I would share for the rest of our lives. There was also the idea that as an artist working in visual culture you would ideally like images of your works to appear somewhere near the top of search results, and with images of the other Daniel Bejar dominating the search results I saw this as a contested space.
This led to the idea of somehow trying to intervene in the search results, so I guess it was technically born out of an effort to alter search results, but conceptually for me the piece really questions the idea of the original and the copy, and if these questions could be applied to one’s identity, personal history, or even a biological name, inside the context of the internet.
A lot of my work is inspired by Walter Benjamin, in particular his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduciton” and his ideas of the mechanically reproducible image, so I wanted to apply some of these ideas towards the internet, new media and identity and try to blur or weaken the aura of images and identity through the multiplicity of bootleg images.
Additionally I saw Google’s Image Search as an archive, and as long as the images are “live” living in the network of Google’s servers they would be in the archive, and I liked the idea of producing a new search result and corrupting the archive and history ever so slightly.
Get Lost! (NYC) is another piece where you’re playfully changing images to affect the perception of a place. The New York City subway maps, signage, and route change notifications that you install subversively ask people to rethink the history of the city by disrupting everyday informational objects. What inspires you to reveal histories and re-frame the everyday?
I love history and the idea of time travel so I think I’m naturally drawn to origins and histories. I once read a quote about history that stated “history is written by the winners”, this quote really got under my skin and is one thing that inspires me to question and critique histories, in the hopes of revealing alternate realities or possibilities. In “Get Lost!” I saw a similar situation, where there was a history that was buried underneath the contemporary user-friendly maps and signage of the MTA that could be restored.
I wanted to utilize the historical residue of the city to create a rupture inside of the subway system, in turn restoring a history and place that was no more due to the acts of war and colonization...
Hi Tom, and all
First off, the purpose of Required Reading is to point to compelling articles relevant to new media. We're not always endorsing them 100%, but also often sharing them with Rhiz readers for the purpose of discussion. (Its a column Rhizome has been running for 2 years.) I thought Davis' article was worth inclusion because its an attempt at defining the field, and its a proposition: The first five sections draw lines between what Davis describes as social media art and other forms of new media. But in his final section, he closes his analysis with some self-criticism: "It’s not a frame to think within. It’s a box that needs to be escaped."
With that in mind, Salas makes a good point about it including traditional definitions of art, and the absence of participatory art, including contemporary practitioners like Miranda July and Harold Fletcher. In my opinion, I appreciate a non media art critic calling for a deeper and broader research of social media artwork - but I agree, to some extent, that an attempt to form definitions at a point of emergence can prove to be problematic, and boxes art in inappropriate ways.
Thanks for writing.
Again, a great initial resource is the Rhizome list of New Media Programs. We have programs listed and linked in the States and Abroad. I think there is a good school in the south of France. If I find the link I'll post here.
Definitely check the New Media program list with Rhizome first. I'm in the MFA program at RISD right now and can say that it offers a lot of flexibility and resources to students. As a note, we're in the middle of an international search for a new department head which should end at the end of this academic year. Feel free to email me if you have any extra questions. The programs website is here: http://dm.risd.edu
You can also cruise this mega list of national new media programs:
It's not exclusively MFA but it's a good starting point for broader research on schools.
I know SVA just started an Interdisciplinary MFA program that might be worth checking out:
I've had a few friends who have gone to ITP too that had a good experience. The RISD program is geared more toward Fine Art and you can take courses at Brown - ITP is more technically focused. At least that's my understanding.