Joanne McNeil
Works in Brooklyn United States of America

BIO
writer (Los Angeles Times, Wired UK, Frieze, etc) // former editor of rhizome.org

The Never Forgotten House


This essay will also appear in the next issue of Pool. 

Image of Williamsburg Waterfront by C-Monster, April 30, 2006.

Several weeks ago, I was leaving a party in Park Slope. As I waited to cross the street, I recognized two places across the way and realized I had eaten meals at both. I had brunch with a friend in the cafe at the corner last year. I met another friend for dinner two years earlier at the Thai restaurant at the address next. I remembered two separate phone calls with each friend explaining how to get there from the 7th Ave station. The second call, and the second walk from the stop didn't remind me of the first. It took a third visit to that intersection, and from that vantage point —across the street —to discover the venues were neighbors. Two pleasant but very different conversations came back to me at once.

I had a decade’s worth of weekends in New York City before I finally made the move last year. Chinatown buses from Washington, DC and Boston; cheap flights out of Chicago Midway that left Friday evening and arrived before work on Monday. Sometimes I visited as often as twice a month, for special events or a guy or no reason. With the insouciance of an out-of-towner, I never bothered to follow how a taxi gets from one point to another or which direction the subway train was headed when we got to the stop. Now that the city is my home, I'm constantly uncovering another fragmentary long forgotten memory.

I will never know if some of the places I remember from these early New York trips have been torn down or exist on streets I haven't walked by again yet. I refuse to ...

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Weekend Clicking


“Secret Society,” installation view, CAPC, Bordeaux

  • Escape the Map, a Google Streetview interactive short sci-fi film made by Mercedes-Benz (via Kill Screen)
  • The phone hacking scandal exposed the failures of traditional institutions to maintain boundaries, distinctions and thresholds against the spectrallike entity of contemporary corporate media. - Sam Jacob in Domus on "The Architecture of Corporate Media"
  • N+1 editor Keith Gessen was arrested yesterday morning during the protest. The Awl lists other reporters who have been arrested during Occupy Wall Street.
  • “I think that speed is part of the innovation process. If ideas aren’t built on with a sense of urgency, time can pass you by.” Fast Company talks with DARPA director Regina Dugan...

 


Short Documentary on Internet Infrastructure


Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors is a short documentary explaining internet infrastructure, focusing on the art deco building 60 Hudson Street in Tribeca, which is now one of the most concentrated carrier hotels in the world. The internet has an "ironically very limited geography in terms of big strategic concentrations," explains Stephen Graham, professor of cities and society, Newcastle University, in the short film. "The big affluent high tech information rich regions" is where the infrastructure is densely located. And 60 Hudson Street was especially ideal as a hub, given that the building was already designed to accomidate cables as it was first fitted for pneumatics tubes, then telegraph cables and telephone lines. 

In an interview with The Atlantic's Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, director Ben Mendelsohn explains, "The issue of how this infrastructure is hidden fascinates me. Andrew Blum has a book coming out in May about physical Internet infrastructure, which I'm very excited for. He was giving a lecture and handing out postcards of "data monuments" in New York City, and I asked him: if these are monuments, what do they reveal about the culture that built them? Their message is really one of ambivalence. Service providers need to let potential clients know where they are, but they generally decline to make their presence widely known beyond that marketing purpose. Andrew did say that he envisions "brewery tour" style visits or class field trips to Internet buildings in the future, and I think that would be great, but the industry is not there yet."

 

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Community Campaign: Focus on Rhizome Editorial


Your contribution to Rhizome means continued high level discussion of art and technology provided daily on the Rhizome blog and news site. We hope you'll make a contribution today to help us meet our $25,000 goal.

As editor of Rhizome, I am fortunate to work with a gifted team of writers asking and answering tough questions about the role of technology in art and society. Rhizome writers are looking for the history and context. Our editorial team offers daily original reporting and critical writing on art and digital culture. Writers report on events like the Venice Biennale and ISEA in Instanbul. We provide in depth interviews with artists, curators, and technologists like Paul ChanPaola Antonelli, James Bridle, Martine Syms, and Nicholas Felton. Once a week we feature an essay or interview from the blog on our mailing list Rhizome News.

Rhizome News recent highlights:

Melissa Gira Grant wrote about the aesthetics of camgirls in the 90s in her essay She Was a Camera. "As an early online community, camgirls learned to both live on and produce the web together. We were our own audience. If there were people who were not camgirls watching – actual voyeurs – we could pretend not to notice them. While they watched, we taught each other CSS, compared different models of webcams, and complained about web hosts. It would be sexist to call it an endless slumber party at which presumably male viewers sat on the periphery. It was more a boot camp in How To Make the Web where you could show up sometimes in your pajamas."

Artist Jon Rafman contributed an original essay on the arcade Chinatown Fair when we debuted his short film Codes of Honor. "I spent the better part of 2009 in that dingy, dim-lit arcade at the end ...

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Architectural Uncanny Valley


screengrab from Kane and Lynch 2 via Steam Postcards

Steam Postcards is a tumblr documenting the melancholy landscapes of video games. The role of architecture is important in gameplay. A level designer is considering the way that a surface responds to weather conditions, the depiction of shadows and textures, and other factors that contribute to a realistic looking structure. Sometimes a game will pose its own uncanny valley hypothesis, when something about the gravity in the virtual world does not match up with human experience. But as still images these buildings look like "postcards" from the future. The uncanniness is the dream world depicted, not any failure in representation.

screengrab fromLost Plant 2, Red Orchestra 2, Mirror's Edge, and Brink via Steam Postcards

 

 

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