joy garnett
Since the beginning
Works in United States of America

Joy Garnett is a painter based in New York. She appropriates news images from the Internet and re-invents them as paintings. Her subject is the apocalyptic-sublime landscape, as well as the digital image itself as cultural artifact in an increasingly technologized world. Her image research has resulted in online documentation projects, most notably The Bomb Project.

Notable past exhibitions include her recent solo shows at Winkleman Gallery, New York and at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC; group exhibitions organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, P.S.1/MoMA Contemporary Art Center, Artists Space, White Columns (New York), Kettle's Yard, Cambridge (UK), and De Witte Zaal, Ghent (Belgium). She shows with aeroplastics contemporary, Brussels, Belgium.

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NIGHT VISION panel discussion

Wed Jul 17, 2002 00:00 - Wed Jul 10, 2002

Please join us at White Columns
Wednesday July 17, 2002

for a panel discussion held in conjunction with the travelling exhibition
"Night Vision"

with artists:

Jordan Crandall
Alex Galloway
Tim Griffin (editor, Art Forum; NV catalogue essayist)
Bill Jones
John Klima

moderated by Joy Garnett

320 West 13th Street (entrance on Horatio St.)
212 924-4212



jaron lanier: minority report report

an interesting article about imaging technological utopia and/or angst by
Jaron Lanier, in 21C Magazine:

A Minority within the Minority
By Jaron Lanier

A while back I was asked to help Steven Spielberg brainstorm a science
fiction movie he intended to make based on the Philip K. Dick short story
"Minority Report". A team of "futurists" would imagine what the world
might be like in fifty years, and I would be one of the two
scientist/technologists on the team. The other team members included an
anthropologist (Steve Barnett), a city planning expert (Joel Garreau), and
so on.

Various past and present demos I've worked on were given design makeovers
and portrayed in the film, such as the advertisements that automatically
incorporate passers-by, the interface gloves (which are already considered
out-of-date in 2002!), and so on. I also seem to have influenced the
script, by suggesting the idea that criminals might gouge out eyeballs to
fool iris-scan identity-matching machines (though in fact such machines
can already tell if an eye is alive or not).

I did NOT come up with the transportation system, by the way- that was
mostly influenced by Neil Gershenfeld of the Media Lab, who was the other
science/tech person.

The movie seems to me to have turned out really well, and it also seems to
be well-liked by critics and my friends who have seen it. I wonder if I'm
biased. I feel myself to be part of the Internet Age, which at its best is
a period of participatory culture, so I probably find this movie easier to
appreciate because I participated in making it. I usually find "big"
movies terribly distant and alienating because they are produced so far
away from me and relegate me to such an extreme position as a consumer.

What I'd like to comment on here is the nature of optimistic imagination
in science fiction. Spielberg was intent on finding a positive message and
a happy or at least happy-ish ending, which on the face of it was not a
viable idea. Philip K Dick was not a happy ending sort of guy.

The Dick-to-Spielberg bridge in the last reel ended up working more
successfully than I had imagined it could. The script seems to me to make
a classic existential point. Here, approximately, is the message I think
the movie ends up expressing: "Belief in free will makes itself so, but
also makes so a certain level of uncertainty, danger, and chaos, which is
a worthwhile and noble price to pay." There's also an assertion that
American civic traditions, like the Miranda rights, will take on even
greater significance as technology moves forward, defining a sense of
personhood beyond the reach of technologists.

I say "ends up expressing" because big movies are made collectively, even
in a case like this where there's an extremely powerful director in
control. So the meaning of movies can't be fully premeditated. A movie
isn't a person.

I remember one afternoon when an almost tangible transition occurred in
the room. Before that moment the movie's identity had seemed elusive and
convoluted, twitching between Dickian ennui and paranoia and Spielbergian
fascination and idealism. The early visualizations of Minority Report's
world even looked like classic 1950s science fiction illustration, the
very sort of idealized future that Dick was reacting against.

After a sudden, curious, and magical moment, the movie's identity somehow
coalesced, and even though it was still early in the process, it was clear
that the project would gel as a whole. Suddenly everyone was seeing the
same imaginary world.

This was a thrilling experience for me, but one that was tempered by some

Let me get a personal one out of the way first. It's annoying to fall
through the cracks of the Hollywood ontology and not get a screen credit,
even though we experts have been prominently acknowledged in the film's
publicity. Caterers are part of the Hollywood machine, so they get screen
credits, but "futurists" are not. Oh well.

A more important disappointment for me was that I think there's an
essential kind of optimism that ought to be portrayed in science fiction,
but it seems to be beyond our imagination at present. Instead of making
existential points by pitting people against technology, why not portray
people using technology beautifully and creatively?

I presented all sorts of ideas for what information technology might look
like in fifty years, but the least noble of these were the only ones that

Nowhere in Minority Report do we see people interacting with each other
creatively using technology, nor do we see people inventing wonderful
virtual things for each other. We see no children inventing their own
technological culture, as is already commonly happening today. Philip K.
Dick didn't live long enough to see that, and I want to believe that if he
had he would have been forced to write a different kind of science

The characters of Minority Report are uniformly either consumers (who are
used by the advertisements, the animated cereal box, etc.) or elite
controllers (the precrime officers who get to use a zippy interface.)
Three-dimensional displays are used for recorded images, but not for live

The optimism I longed to see at the end of Minority Report was not only an
assertion of what it is to be human, but also a synthesis in which those
empowered humans would then use technology well. I would have loved to
have seen Tom Cruise's character use that fancy glove-based interface to
make a warm and charming virtual greeting for his pregnant wife, instead
of posing with her with no technology in sight.

This is the happy ending that Hollywood seems incapable of portraying.

Here are some of the reasons this might be true:

One is that movie people as a whole have trouble understanding the joys of
interactive media. It's just a different culture. A distopian movie about
virtual worlds, like The Matrix, can make its way through Hollywood and be
distributed, but a utopian movie about an interactive future seemingly
cannot. Movie people are subliminally terrified by interactivity. It
spells not only a loss of creative control, which movie people would miss
more than you can imagine, but also a loss of business model. Napster
lurks implicitly inside every shared virtual world that's under the
control of its users. The world that seems utopian to me is distopian to

To be fair, there's another problem. The utopia I dream of is a world we
are in the process of inventing. I don't yet know how to describe it
myself. I find this exhilarating. Could Les Paul have imagined the Beatles
when he made the first multitracked music? Could early digital sound
experimenters like Max Mathews have imagined Hip Hop? I hope to be
massively surprised some day by cultural invention inspired by virtual
worlds and fancy interfaces. I can hardly expect movie people to fully
imagine this stuff today.

And yet, I still feel we all ought to try. Even a partial result would be

The fact that the task is hard masks the fact that it's also taboo.



Re: re: that day

more on the distance/mediation thing:

To be fair, I think it was *easier* in some ways for those of us who
actually experienced it to deal with it. it was unreal enough as it was --
my friends who happened to be out of town at the time needed to get back
in, to see to feel to hear what was going on without the mediation. those
of us who were right downtown watching had more to deal with sooner, more
horror if you will, but we had the gift of our own senses, our
insufficient physical and psychological "mediation" or self-protective
devices. we didn't have to make that leap from mediated horror to register
the reality -- it sounds crazy, but i've felt grateful that I had my own
experience of it without CNN et al. I can hang onto that to compare things
to. and though memory has its own distortions and is in itself a form of
mediation, at least it's mine to a degree and not a product of the
networks. it actually makes a difference.

I think there are people who have more capacity for empathy than others,
and many of them--happily--are artists and employ that capacity in their
work. it seemed to me that Eryk's piece and the way he couched it
displayed that particular capacity. whatever flaws it might have, the
piece has a quiet reverence and dignity. It doesn't pretend to own


On Tue, 9 Jul 2002, Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

> Hello Lew,
> I understand completely that my reactions to that day will be different
> from those in New York City, compared to those outside of it. For me, it
> was not a loud bang, it was not anyone I might have known, aside from
> you- literally- but I think we had heard from you by the time I was
> awake. The sad truth is, I don't remember anything from that day aside
> from sleeping on the floor of a house we were moving out of that day,
> and my dog coming in and licking my face, and my mother in the doorwar
> saying that "The country is under siege," and thinking of this girl who
> I love more than anything and feeling like I had to get her and get
> somewhere safe. By the time I turned the news on the event had taken
> place four hours previously.
> I stared in awe. I remember getting online to check on people I knew in
> New York, and talking to a friend over AIM who only has a computer, no
> television, no radio, and telling them what had happened, and she signed
> off to go somewhere that had a TV.
> I had NPR and CNN and the Internet all at the same time, I had live
> reports coming in through email. I think I left the house but I can't
> remember what I might have done.
> But the entire event played out on television. Everyone I communicated
> with was mediated by the internet or by the telephones. And the next
> day, I went to work, and there were 126 television sets and they all
> eventually turned from the horrible circuit city in-store video loop to
> the news footage. That day I think there was an arrest at the Boston
> Copley Square Hotel- and I don't know who they arrested. But then I saw
> my friends neighborhood on television.
> And the loops kept coming. And it was not a real experience as much as I
> had felt horror and as much as I felt like I needed to change my life,
> the actual event was somewhere else, somewhere I had been to for a total
> of 84 hours, maybe, in my lifetime. I had never seen the World Trade
> Center in person. But at the same time I couldn't sleep with the lights
> out anymore and I fell asleep and woke up to NPR because I needed to
> hear people talking for comfort.
> And I mean I was in a state of hysteria. I don't want to make it sound
> like I wasn't affected by it just because I could not connect the images
> to reality. I was on this sort of hyperawareness kick that I think would
> make some people want to get locked up. A kid with downs syndrome came
> into the store one day with a small american flag and my reaction was
> that I wanted to break something. I pulled over my car on the road on
> the verge of tears because I had seen "God Bless America" painted on
> someones windshield, and meanwhile I wanted to drive my car into some of
> these people who were singing "Proud to be an American/ Where at least I
> know I'm Free" on a megaphone outside the liquor store that was across
> the street from where I was. I mean I don't want to be sensational or
> whatever, but this is honestly what happened to me, is I felt like I was
> going crazy, like all the rules that dictated how life was supposed to
> be lived had changed, and I mean, they had. It's back to normal now-
> it's back to the television sets for everyone, I guess- but. I don't know.
> And I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't want to say I know what it was
> like to be in NYC for it, because that is precisely what I am not
> saying. I think there was a way that we outside of New York City
> experienced that event. And I can understand not wanting to watch my
> piece as a result of that. The first time I tried to construct it I got
> nausea, literal nausea. Because it felt so reductive. And only when I
> got through that, when I felt like it was making sense to do it, could I
> just look at it and feel okay about it. I am still in between on it, but
> I think it made me ask questions when I made it, it brought me closer to
> having the event be real to me, instead of a televised event of horrific
> proportions that made me just stop everything and evaluate what I was
> doing with myself. But thats why I decided to show it. I never expected
> this sort of response, I mean when I posted it I really actually asked
> if this was too big for what I was doing, and no one really answered me,
> and now all of a sudden it is bigger, and so it's out of my hands, and
> is a little more comprehensible to me, that this piece I guess is
> something that resonates in a multitude of ways. And I think, for this
> hour of the night anyway, that that is okay.
> And I think that is all I am going to say about this piece, now.
> Cheers,
> -e.
> + your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll
> ->
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> -> give:
> +
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Newsgrist: 2002 SUMMER ISSUE [see you in September]

where spin is art
{bi-weekly news digest}
SUMMER ISSUE: Vol. 3, no. 13 (July 1, 2002)
Previous Issue:
- *Splash* Peter Halley: Contamination
- *Quote/s* Realism is a moving target...
- *Url/s* flag burning?; Eryk Salvaggio's anatomy of hope
- *Virtual Light* Digital Varanasi at the Asia Society
- *Anchors Away* The end of Art in the Anchorage
- *The World's a Stage* Schjeldahl on Global festivalism
- *Disc Grist* New Release: Modern Mantra
- *Book Grist* Contamination; Free as in Freedom
- *Classified* Room to rent in quiet house

Contamination borrows from tabloids, fashion, and porn to make
an aggressive assault on the limits of the art book monograph. A
collaborative production organized by artist Peter Halley with
photographs by Terry Richardson and text by Tim Griffin...(also
scroll down to *Book Grist*)

see splash page:

Our displaced anxiety must partly entail a fear of being tricked
(mistaking a tracing for a freehand drawing) and, more particularly,
a fear of technology: a concern that what makes us human is being
sacrificed to the brilliance and reliability of the machine. New
digital technology, with its nearly limitless capacity to blur fiction
and fact, has only enhanced the fear. But all this misses the point.
Realism is a moving target. Skill is more than manual dexterity.
Tools are tools, whether they are brushes or lenses. What artists
make of them is the issue. The beauty part of art remains its
capacity to accommodate different ways of seeing.

Does a Painter With a Camera Cheat?
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, NYTimes, June 16, 2002

flag burning?
by Eryk Salvaggio

September 11th, 2001.
"This piece consists of motion footage of United Airlines Flight 175
striking the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Like most of
the world, I watched the reports on television screens, which
played the loops constantly for the next week. There is an idea that
these loops of the disaster served to instantly desensitize ourselves
from the images, and to see the tapes as abstract symbols. When I
started seeing images of people leaping from the towers in
magazines and newspapers, it left me feeling like we had missed
the real essence of what had happened, that these lives had become
images, tape loops, and symbols. It is this concept- that people are
symbols- that drives terrorists to act; not against people but at
"symbols of oppression." The aim of this piece is a very simple and
straight forward one: It is to connect those images of 9/11/01 to the
actual lives that were lost, and so you will see that the images
themselves have been changed so that they consist of the names of
the people who were slaughtered on that day. I want to warn people
that this is not intended to be a piece of work that you look at on a
website and then move on; this is as close as I could create, with
my limited abilities, to an online memorial, and I think the people
who were killed deserve to have this piece looked at with con-
templation as opposed to blind clicking. As such, the speed of the
loop is under the server's control. Please just watch, and think, and
try to remember what these images are, they are the documentation
of the slaughter of actual human beings." (ES, June 2002)
*Virtual Light*

Viewing an Ancient City With Futuristic Glasses

NYTimes, June 21, 2002

"Banaras: The Luminous City," an exhibition at the Asia Society
and Museum, is nominally about the ancient Indian center of
learning and spiritual enlightenment, now called Varanasi (or
sometimes Benares). But practically, it serves as a test case for
using new interactive technologies to enhance the museum

In theory, using computers and video projections for virtual nav-
igation through the material and immaterial dimensions of
something as complicated as a great city makes sense: it would
seem to be an ideal way to discover connections among art, archi-
tecture, mythologies, religious practices and social customs. The
question is: Does the technology become an intrusive distraction
from the object being studied? At the Asia Society, unfortunately
but instructively, it most often does.

The exhibition is divided into two parts. The first section presents
a small and unremarkable selection of black-and-white photo-
graphs, ranging from cityscapes shot in 1865 by Samuel Bourne to
recent examples of high-quality travel photography by Linda
Connor, Rosalind Solomon and Graciela Iturbide.

More interestingly problematic is the second part, called "The
Crossing: Living, Dying and Transformation in Banaras." It was
produced by the Palo Alto Research Center, a Xerox Corporation
research division, under the direction of Ranjit Makkuni, a
specialist in the development of computer interface design.

The first impression you have upon entering the gallery is of a
bewildering cacophony. In every direction, you see wall-size
photographs and reproductions of paintings, text panels, flickering
video screens and video projections. There are all kinds of sounds:
music, voices and electronic pings and boings. Far from the kind
of contemplative peace of a traditional gallery or library, you are
assaulted by a barrage of sensory stimuli. Yet nowhere are there
any actual artworks or artifacts from Varanasi.

Resisting the urge to run away, you take a closer look at the
various approaches to dispensing content. These include a rickshaw
with a video monitor attached, showing the view of someone riding
through the streets of the city; move the handlebars and you get a
different view. Nearby is a tilting table that has part of an antique
map projected on its surface; if you push down on a side of the
table, the map slides in that direction, affording overviews of
different parts of the street plan.

Built into a wall is a video monitor broadcasting interviews with
experts on spiritual traditions; it is surrounded by mirrors to create
a kaleidoscopic effect. Then there is a bicycle wheel, computerized
to play variations on traditional Indian musical forms depending
on which spokes the viewer touches; this might be interesting if
you could distinguish the sounds it produces from all the back-
ground noise.

There are several instances of what are essentially channel
changers disguised as traditional objects, like a vase; push the
buttons and a different video projection appears to instruct you
about one or another aspect of the city's culture. And a movable
monitor mounted on a post allows you to scan the cityscape and
learn nuggets of information about certain points of interest, as
words crawl across the bottom of the screen. There is more, but
you get the idea.

There are many technical problems with all this. In addition to the
difficulty of screening out background clutter while trying to focus
on one display, the visual and auditory quality of individual
presentations is too poor to hold your attention. What you find
yourself doing is playing with the various devices long enough to
see how they work (in some cases, failing to discover even that
much), and then moving on to the next station. If you do succeed
in concentrating on one thing, you find that what it offers is pretty
elementary about what you could learn from an online encyclo-
pedia or an ordinary television travelogue.

None of this should suggest that interactive technology can't be
applied effectively in certain museum situations. Futurists will say
that the field is still in its infancy and deserves the benefit of the
doubt. In that sense, the value of this exhibition is in showing what
to avoid.

What is most disturbing, however, is the implication that actual
artworks and artifacts might reasonably be dispensed with. Nothing,
after all, is more specifically informative about a culture than an
object produced by that culture. One of the great skills of a cultivated

citizen of the world is the ability not only to see and identify objects

from different civilizations, but to interpret them as well. Books, film

and newer forms of media can help, but there is no substitute for the
real thing. If real objects become unnecessary, then so do museums.
*Anchors Away*

On Edge
by C. Carr
National Security Ends a 20-Year Arts program
Life During Wartime
The Village Voice Week of June 19 - 25, 2002

Every summer since 1983, the Anchorage beneath the Brooklyn
Bridge has opened up to art projects as unique as the space itself.
But not this year. There will be no 20th season. Art in the
Anchorage has ended for reasons of national security.

Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Cocola said he
couldn't elaborate on these concerns. However, according to news
reports, captured Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah named the
Brooklyn Bridge as a possible target. A couple of weeks ago,
police closed the bridge for an hour after someone spotted a back-
pack lying on it. The Anchorage frames the piers that support the
bridge, and no one knows if it will ever open again as an exhibition
space. "That's something we'd have to cede to law enforcement,"
says Cocola.

Creative Time, an organization whose mission is to bring art into
public spaces, ran the Anchorage program and now hopes to move
this summer's show a few blocks away into the heart of DUMBO.
So this is only the loss of a venue. But what a venue--probably the
city's most unusual and spectacular space for art. Just walking in
could produce a hushed moment.

The 50-foot-tall vaulted ceilings, stone floors, windowless brick
and overhead traffic hum gave the ambience a tilt toward the
introspective and mysterious. The Anchorage could seem all gothic
gloom or cool cave. It changed, depending on the art: a cathedral, a
dungeon, a fort. John Roebling, the bridge's engineer, imagined the
Anchorage turning into a two-story commercial arcade or maybe
the vault for the national treasury. But its real life uses were
prosaic. By the time the Borough of Brooklyn invited Creative
Time to put some art there, in conjunction with the bridge's
centennial in 1983, the space had been storing tires for 40 years.

By now, hundreds of artists have either exhibited or performed at
the Anchorage. Occasionally the setting would overwhelm the art,
but certain pieces came to full flower there as they could nowhere
else. For example, in 1988, Station House Opera used over 2000
concrete blocks and three tiers of scaffolding to continuously build
and take apart rooms, stairs, towers, chairs, tables, and beds that
filled their allotted chamber nearly to the roof. In 1993, Elizabeth
Streb suspended dancers from the ceiling and had them walk down
a wall directly above the audience, creating the sensation--for this
spectator, at least--that the dancers were on the floor and I was on
the wall. In a subsequent performance on the Joyce's proscenium
stage, the derring-do remained but not the unusual sensation of
spectator vertigo.

Over the past six years, programming moved away from perform-
ance to focus on the electronic, the digital, the architectural, and in
1999, the least expected of all: fashion. (One designer took a
garment from each of his last 18 collections and covered them with
bacteria, mold, and yeast. They rotted beautifully.) Creative Time's
executive director, Anne Pasternak, says she's tried to "identify
emergent or under-recognized creative practices and give them
visibility through the Anchorage." She also added an eclectic mix
of cutting-edge music each summer, from Southeast Asian
breakbeat to Detroit techno to a Glenn Branca symphony.

Last summer's exhibit, "Massless Medium: Explorations in
Sensory Immersion," featured sculptures that transmitted images to
visitors' PalmPilots; recliners where spectators lay beneath strobe
light patterns and quickly lost depth perception; and a sound-and-
video installation about the bridge itself that changed subtly
according to visitors' movements.

This summer's exhibit (opening August 14) is titled, ironically
enough, "Consuming Places." It's a look at "factors that are
radically changing our understanding of space and forms of social
organization," as the curatorial statement puts it. "Consuming
Places" was scheduled to open in the Anchorage the middle of last

Back in 1983, DUMBO was as bleak as a desert island, with the
Anchorage its little arts oasis. Today, there's a burgeoning scene
along the waterfront between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges
that began to reach critical mass when St. Ann's Warehouse open-
ed on Water Street, joining GAle GAtes at the end of the block,
with Smack Mellon Gallery in between. Creative Time hopes it
can now move "Consuming Places" to that same stretch of Water
Street, but across the road, to the side that looks deserted.

Real estate developer David Walentas donated a turn-of-the-
century horse stable at the corner of Water and Main, but most of
what Creative Time hopes to use in DUMBO is controlled by the
state Parks Department: two warehouses built just after the Civil

The old tobacco warehouse is just a roofless shell of a building,
two stories high. Here architects Lise Anne Couture and Hani
Rashid proposed to create a physical representation of a virtual
landscape. But last week, the Parks Department informed Creative
Time that they will not let artists use the warehouse's interior.
"What's possible will be architectural interventions with light and
perhaps sound," reported Creative Time's deputy director, Carol
Stakenas, who said she was happy nevertheless that they could
"fully activate the block."

On Water Street itself, Greyworld will install two custom-built
telescopes that will somehow allow spectators to hear virtually
placed messages when they peer through the scopes at specific
parts of the cityscape. Bill Fontana will bring the Anchorage to
Water Street by projecting the sounds of Brooklyn Bridge traffic
through eight parabolic speakers. Marjetica Potre will also be
working outside with solar power, giving excess power back to the
grid of the city. And 212BOX will work in the old stable, creating
a glassbox that expands a billboard into a livable space.

Says Pasternak: "While we were obviously extremely disappointed
to lose the Anchorage--and we hope it's temporary--we've turned
this around not only to re-commit to this neighborhood, but also to
do what we do best." That would be "activating neglected urban
space, trying to bring to it the possibility of cultural invigoration."

Creative Time certainly has a history of such "activating." For
years, they programmed Art on the Beach, on the landfill that
became Battery Park City. In 1993, their 42nd Street Art Project
turned the entire block between Seventh and Eighth avenues over
to artists, in that transitional moment between porn kings and Lion
Kings. If some see them as agents of gentrification, I think they
show up when gentrification is inexorable, already a done deal.

Because it works in public space, Creative Time ends up facing
such implacabilities all the time. They have to be flexible. So they
did not argue with the need to leave the only regular venue they
have ever had. Art events are sometimes anarchic and un-
controllable--the opposite of secure. The worry is that we may all
be headed in a direction where we can't afford the kind of
serendipity so necessary to cutting-edge art making.
*The World's a Stage*

European extravaganzas.
The New Yorker, Issue of 2002-07-01 Posted 2002-06-24

Amid the hundreds of works in Documenta 11, an event that
trumpets the artistic entropy and civic pep of today's inter-
national art institutions, I kept returning to a marvellous video
installation--a digital short story, essentially--by the Finnish
artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila. "The House" is about a pleasant young
woman going quietly mad one nightless Baltic summer at an
old seaside cottage in a forest. She tells of the difficulty she's
having in maintaining boundaries between her interior life and
objective reality. Whatever she sees or hears outside the windows
--her garden, her car, a passing ship--invades and commandeers
her consciousness. Ahtila's stately, glorious color camera work, on
three enveloping screens, affects a viewer with something of the
woman's mounting confusion. A cow that appears on her television
set ambles through a room. At one point, she finds herself levitat-
ing and must grasp a porch pillar to pull herself down to earth. She
sews blackout curtains for the windows, but their effect is to
amplify the din of actual and remembered sounds in her head--
including a train announcer's droned "Albany-Rensselaer," which
registers as a laconic crack of doom. The monologue rises to lucid
commentary on the contemporary world--"Outside, a new order
arose"--as a place where time and space, and cause and effect, are
confounded. One subtitle provided me with a nutshell review of
Documenta 11: "Things that occur no longer shed light on the

Knowing about art's past is, if anything, a liability when it comes
to exploring this edition of a mega-show that every five years takes
over the poky German city of Kassel with a putatively definitive
statement about how art stands in the world. The hell of it, for those
of us disheartened by the exhibition, is that its organizer, Okwui
Enwezor, is onto something: a drastically expanded field of players
and points of view in which the global spread of multiculturalism
is taken for granted. The forty-five countries represented by the
show's hundred and sixteen artists include Croatia, Cuba,
Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Lebanon, Moldavia, Singapore, Vietnam,
and several African nations. Many of the artists have biographies
that resemble Enwezor's. Thirty-eight years old, he is a Nigerian
from a privileged background who, after moving to New York at
the age of nineteen, studied political science, wrote poetry,
launched a magazine of Africa-related art, and honed his skills as
a diplomatic Mercury in the international art world. His previous
shows include "The Short Century," a survey of African cultures
after 1945, which, when it appeared at P.S. 1, earlier this year, I
found richly informative, though aesthetically numbing. Enwezor's
principal constituency is a far-flung network of cultural officials
and sinecured intellectuals. He recently remarked to a Times
reporter, "I can't really explain why, instead of preparing the next
Documenta, I'm not working at the U.N." But he proves a gifted

Documenta 11 brings to robust maturity a style of exhibition--I call
it festivalism--that has long been developing on the planetary
circuit of more than fifty biennials and triennials, including the
recent Whitney Biennial. Mixing entertainment and soft-core
politics, festivalism makes an aesthetic of crowd control. It favors
works that don't demand contemplation but invite, in passing,
consumption of interesting--just not too interesting--spectacles.

Fans of museological craft and audiovisual know-how will have a
good time in Kassel. In the show's four buildings, elegantly
proportioned spaces and restrained gray-and-white dcor frame
installations of two sorts: the first, educational and propagandistic,
is often the product of artist collectives; the second, busy and
strange, is by the obsessive-compulsive, shamanistic mascots of
institutional regimes, who are passionate about numbers,
mechanical gizmos, earthy materials, and whatnot. Enwezor
flanks promenades of installations and innumerable photographs
with darkened rooms, equipped for the prolonged enjoyment of
videos and films. Given the show's anti-contemplative and anti-
individualistic aims, painting and sculpture are scarce.

Documenta 11 declares, in effect, that art is too powerful a force in
the world to abide the hedonism of aesthetes and the punctilious-
ness of art scholars. Although there are whiffs of such influential
figures as Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman, few of the artists
seem concerned with building on precedents. In the new world-
wide salon, derivativeness is a virtue, indicating fealty to approved
conventions. In this all too congenial context, such veteran
eccentric contrarians as Hanne Darboven, Louise Bourgeois, and
Leon Golub come off as tame and fussy. Even the multiculturalist
standbys--Lorna Simpson, Stan Douglas, Shirin Neshat, Mona
Hatoum--seem to be trying too hard. As at the Whitney, the sharp-
est work often migrates from non-art professions: photojournal-
ism, documentary film, architecture, and design, computer this and
computer that. Aesthetically starved but overflowing with informa-
tion, the show feels at once energetic and joyless.

Unlike the Whitney Biennial, Documenta 11 does not oppress with
wall texts. There is little straining for sensation. Perhaps in
deference to non-Western cultures, sexuality is virtually absent, as
are feminist issues. Anything leftish is cautiously muted when it's
not harmlessly daft. Eco-delirium prowls Kassel in the form of
sleek carts dispensing ice on a stickwater as a "disappearing
element." (While I was there, the carts' fresh-faced attendants took
cover during frequent spates of rain.) The polemical exception is a
huge, collaborative multimedia piece documenting the present
sufferings of Palestinians, which is no less tendentious for avoiding
overt militancy.

Several of the show's dozen or so documentary films and videos--
such as Amar Kanwar's stunning exploration of the Pakistani-
Indian military frontier in Kashmir--are skillful, alluring, and
notably uncomplaining. On one level, the proliferation of them
makes sense. Why should an emerging country's young artists
submit to a rigorous initiation in traditional mediums when tech-
nology offers so many more efficient options? The always witty
Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco comments obliquely on the
challenge of fitting time-honored tools to new uses with a big
work entitled "Cazuelas (Beginnings)." It displays his first efforts
with wheel-thrown clay, in which lively formal ideas are blunted
by the artist's rudimentary skills. Orozco seems to be saying,
"Give me time, O.K.?" The work's bristling joke, which also
invokes the anti-stereotype of a Mexican who is lousy at pottery,
makes the point that in today's convulsive world everyone must
learn new things. I was obliged to include myself: a New York art
critic who left Kassel feeling uncomfortably marginalized.

>From Kassel, I traveled to Basel to attend the mother of all art
fairs and to see an enormous exhibition, spread over three
museums, entitled "Painting on the Move." The annual Basel
Art Fair, which brings together virtually all the world's best
dealers, neatly reversed Documenta's ratio of artistic slackness
and worldly engagement. Today's institutional and commercial
art worlds are separate solar systems. If the former has lost its
memory, the latter seems close to losing its mind. Visitors to the
fair are greeted with a colossal hall of installations and videos--
festivalism for the fun of it. Coming upon it after the grinding
asceticism of Documenta, I was at first elated by the blasts of color
and pizzazz. But I soon found much of it as obnoxiously overeager
as a slobbering pooch. It was sophisticated but pointless. Then I
came upon a great sculpture by Richard Serra: two steel plates, one
set flush with the floor and the other laid on the floor beside it. I
felt a peculiar shock. The work had qualities disciplined ambition,
measured audacity that only a mastery of tradition makes possible.
Suddenly, Serra no longer seemed contemporary. Lofty, lifelong
concentration of his sort has no place in our new order of universal

This bleak epiphany followed me upstairs into the effulgence of
the fair's two hundred and sixty-eight dealer stations, where
business was frantic. I was told that a collector had grumped,
apropos of Documenta, "Not much of a shopping trip." In Basel,
open wallets had called forth wonderful objects, from Cezanne
drawings to the concerted efforts of contemporary artists to make
intelligent, lovely things that people can take home. Today's
contemporary art market is the lushest since that of the late
nineteen-eighties. I felt as though I were in a gigantic duty-free
shop at the airport of Xanadu.

I hoped that "Painting on the Move" would scout a middle ground
between intellectual edginess and the pleasures of form, but, after
beginning with a grand catechism of the modern masters, from
Monet to Gerhard Richter, the show succumbed to the conceptual-
ism of current institutional fashion. The youngest artists, who
showed under the rubric "After Reality," seemed to take their cues
from everyone's favorite compromise painter of the moment, the
Belgian artist Luc Tuymans, who occupies an uneasy limbo
between the forthright certainties of the past and the sneaky ironies
of the present. Of all the paintings I looked at in Basel, the most
contemporary in feeling was in the Kunstmuseum's permanent
collection-a sixteenth-century life-sized painting by Hans
Holbein the Younger, entitled "Body of the Dead Christ in the
Tomb." Clinically grisly but seraphic in its concentration, it had
found the perfect equilibrium between inner and objective realities.
*Disc Grist* Modern Mantra

Subliminal Kid Productions is pleased to announce the release of
"Modern Mantra", a dj mix taken from the archives of Instinct
Records/Shadow Records.

Shadow Records is an imprint of Instinct Records, one of
America's premiere electronic music labels. Mixed by New York's
hyperactive Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid (Paul D. Miller),
"Modern Mantra" contains original material from the likes of
Moby, Dj Krush from Japan, Aesop Rock, Russel Mills featuring
Bill Laswell and Sussan Deyhim, Brazil's Amon Tobin (who
appears on this mix under the pseudonym "Cujo"), Dj Cam of
France, Dj Goo a.k.a. the Gooster of Switzerland, Terre Thaemlitz
remixed by Sub Dub, Prototype 909, and many other avant garde
hip-hop and electronic music artists from around the world.

"Modern Mantra" takes the listener into the realms of electronic
music from the viewpoint of a record label that has been a primary
mover in the electronic music scene for most of the last decade.
Dj Spooky takes music into a realm of sound as art, and art
as sound.

Dj Spooky will also be performing at Documenta 11 with Joan
Jonas in August, and the Ecosystem v 2.0 festival in Brazil
sponsored by Greenpeace. More info on these events and Dj
Spooky's tour dates and various projects can be found at:

Sound Clips of the "Modern Mantra" mix, and reviews from
MTV News, Rolling Stone, Remix Magazine, etc. can be found at:
*Book Grist*
2) Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free
Peter Halley: Contamination
text by Tim Griffin
Alberico Cetti Serbelloni Editore; 2002
30 x 30 cm; 108 pages
75 illus. (cloth)
bilingual, Italian - English edition
available from Gabrius Editions:

Should the role of criticism today belong to critic, artist or
entrepreneur? Where does criticism end and art begin? Contamina-
tion borrows from tabloids, fashion, and porn to make an
aggressive assault on the limits of the art book monograph. As a
collaborative production organized by artist Peter Halley-one of
the pivotal figures of postwar American art-it continues directly
in the vein of cultural criticism that he first pursued in the 1980s
and 1990s, when he was inspired by the examples of Michel
Foucault and Robert Smithson to bridge the divide between artist
and essayist. Images arising out of Halley's artistic practice
(ranging from his landmark prison canvases to late-night goings-
on at his magazine, Index) tie together essays by critic and poet
Tim Griffin on the overlapping fields of technology, fashion,
design, architecture and art. The titles of the essays are: She Comes
in Colors: up with plastic; Drink at the Hilton Tokyo: why suicide
fashion is in; Behind the Curve: new design reruns; The Shining:
some reflections on contemporary architecture; Every Age has its
Artist: recreation drug use is back.

Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software
By Sam Williams
O'Reilly, 227 pp., $22.95
Order from Powell's Books:

Book Review: Happy Hacking, by Julian Dibbell
The Village Voice - Week of June 26 - July 2, 2002

A long time ago, in a reality far, far away, a certain legendary
hippie freedom fighter lobbed a cunning little think bomb at the
publishing industry of his day. The bomb was a book, a best selling
how-to manual for the author's fellow revolutionaries, loaded with
practical tips on copping dope, constructing Molotov cocktails,
incapacitating riot police, defrauding record-of-the-month clubs,
and otherwise hastening the downfall of the Pig Empire. Incend-
iary stuff for sure, and no doubt the 30-plus publishing houses that
rejected the manuscript (before the author finally published it
himself) did so well-advised by their own freaked-out legal
departments. But probably nothing advocated in the pages of the
book rattled publishers as much as the advice framed, famously, in
its title. In an era when the book business could still barely admit it
was a business--let alone contemplate the overthrow of its 300-
year-old business model--Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book dared
it to do both.

Three decades later, Sam Williams's Free as in Freedom--a long-
overdue (if somewhat undercooked) profile of legendary hacker-
freedom fighter Richard Stallman, creator of the nonproprietary
GNU operating system and founder of the burgeoning free-soft-
ware movement--poses roughly the same challenge, and in much
the same way. The differences, however, are both striking and

In place of Hoffman's tongue-in-cheeky title, for instance, this
book offers a rather more substantial invention of Stallman's: the
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1, seven pages of
dead serious legalese appended to the text and granting general
permission to more or less steal the bejesus out of it--i.e., to "copy
and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially
or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright
notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the
Document are reproduced in all copies." And while 30 years ago
such terms would have been an even harder sell than Hoffman's
manuscript was, Williams seems to have had little trouble
convincing O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., a well-established
computer books publisher, not only to release Free as in Freedom
under the GNU license but also to provide a free online version
of the text as well.

How the world's political economy came to accommodate such a
book is, in a loose sense, just what the book is about. More
precisely, its subject is Stallman, a virtuoso computer programmer
who in 1983 set himself the selfless task of building an entire
Unix-like operating system (the name GNU stands, with typical
hacker wit, for "GNU's Not Unix") and dedicating it to the public
domain. Soon thereafter he invented the radically nonproprietary
form of copyright license (sometimes called a "copyleft")
under which GNU was to be released. And the rest is
technological history. Half-finished for years, GNU was
effectively completed in the early '90s, when Finnish hacker
Linus Torvalds picked up the ball and created the GNU-
compatible, copylefted Linux operating system. Beloved of
hackers (who like its open-hooded tinkerability and general
libertarian vibe) and of major tech companies like IBM and
Sun (who like the economics of having thousands of hackers
working round the clock, for free, to improve their software),
GNU/Linux has spread fast enough to become a credible threat
to the Microsoft hegemony.

Scruffy of beard and long of hair, brilliantly obsessive, unnervingly
intense, and given to such charming, geekish eccentricities as
eating his split ends in public and ending every conversation with
an earnest "Happy hacking," Stallman is a character, and the book
tries fitfully to be the character study he deserves. Much is made of
the "crushing loneliness" of Stallman's classic nerd-boy youth and
of the likelihood that he suffers from the high-functioning form of
autism known as Asperger syndrome (or more trendily as the "geek
syndrome"). More than anything else, Williams suggests, it was
his acute difficulty finding connection with other human beings
that made Stallman a crusader against intellectual property. The
almost edenically collaborative world of MIT programmers was
the first and only real community Stallman knew, and when he
woke up to the essentially anti-collaborative nature of the
commercial copyrights that were beginning to invade that world
in the early '80s, he got to work like a man whose home is on fire.

Or so the story goes, and though in Williams's telling it bogs
down far too frequently in technical details, it's not a bad one.
Compelling or not, though, one man's psychodrama does not a
political-economic sea change make. Stallman's crusade matters, in
the end, not because his passion has made it matter but because the
history of intellectual property has at last reached a crisis of
epochal proportions. Just as the printing press begat the age of
copyright, so now the computer portends a new tectonic shift in
the relationship between ideas and markets--but exactly what kind
of shift? Will we get the anarchic free-for-all dreamed of in the
philosophies of Napster and its irrepressible progeny? Will we
get the corporate police state portended by draconian copyright
legislation aimed at capturing for media robber barons the vast
new realms of profit in digital distribution?

Or will we get what Stallman has made his life's mission to give
us: a well-tended intellectual commons amid the increasingly
fenced-in realms of intellectual property? Only time and the
complex, fast-moving politics of technology will tell, and therein
lies the real drama of Stallman's story.

Unfortunately, as with Stallman's personal life, Williams only
fitfully succeeds at getting the drama across. If you're looking for a
better understanding of the political stakes involved in the free-
software debate, for a clearer sense of how its outcome will
transform not only technology but culture in the broadest sense of
the word, you're better off looking elsewhere (Lawrence Lessig's
lucid and penetrating The Future of Ideas would be a good place to
start). In one key respect, though, Free as in Freedom conveys
uniquely what Stallman's fight has been all about. By copylefting
his book, Williams offers a concrete glimpse of how literary
creativity might work in a world where everyone took at its word
the proposition even Abbie Hoffman only took half seriously. Free
as in Freedom may disappoint, but since anyone can steal this
book, rewrite it to his or her taste, then post it back to the Internet,

sooner or later someone may do just that. The author as we've
known him for the last several centuries dies his final death,
reborn as a perpetual collaborator. And while this may not satisfy
the average freedom fighter's idea of utopia, to this reviewer it
feels like the next best thing to heaven: a world in which there are
no bad books, only rough drafts.

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