Marisa Olson
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Marisa Olson is an artist, writer, and media theorist. Her interdisciplinary work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate(s) Modern + Liverpool, the Nam June Paik Art Center, British Film Institute, Sundance Film Festival, PERFORMA Biennial; commissioned and collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122; and reviewed in Artforum, Art21, the NY Times, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere.

Olson has served as Editor & Curator at Rhizome, the inaugural curator at Zero1, and Associate Director at SF Camerawork. She's contributed to many major journals & books and this year Cocom Press published Arte Postinternet, a Spanish translation of her texts on Postinternet Art, a movement she framed in 2006. In 2015 LINK Editions will publish a retrospective anthology of over a decade of her writings on contemporary art which have helped establish a vocabulary for the criticism of new media. Meanwhile, she has also curated programs at the Guggenheim, New Museum, SFMOMA, White Columns, Artists Space, and Bitforms Gallery. She has served on Advisory Boards for Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ISEA, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, Creative Capital, the Getty Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Olson studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, and Rhetoric & Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She has recently been a visiting artist at Yale, SAIC, Oberlin, and VCU; a Visiting Critic at Brown; and Visiting Faculty at Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and Ox-Bow. She previously taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' new media graduate program (ITP) and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase's School of Film & Media Studies. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence at Eyebeam & is currently Visiting Critic at RISD.

booomerrranganggboobooomerranrang: Nancy Holt's networked video

Nancy Holt, Boomerang (1974), still from video.

In her time on this planet, Nancy Holt came to be known as a great American Land Artist, and certainly her brilliant installations, like Utah's Sun Tunnels and collaborations with her partner Robert Smithson and their peers, are profoundly significant, but it was her work in film & video that has had the greatest personal impact on me.

I somehow didn't see Boomerang, her 1974 video performance usually credited to her collaborator Richard Serra, until I was a Ph.D. student in Linda Williams's Phenomenology of Film seminar at UC Berkeley's Rhetoric program, but the time delay was more than made up for by the work's formative resonance. In the video, made during Serra's residency at a Texas television station, a young Holt is seen sitting in an anchor's chair before a staid blue background. Despite brief station ID graphic overlays and one minute of silence in the midst of the ten-minute piece (announced as audio trouble and reminding viewers of the work's live TV origin), the work is in many ways sound-centric.

Sound and Image in Electronic Harmony

Image: Semiconductor: Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt, 200 Nanowebbers, 2005

On Saturday, April 11th, New York's School of Visual Arts will co-present the 2009 Visual Music Marathon with the New York Digital Salon and Northeastern University. Promising genre-bending work from fifteen countries, the lineup crams 120 works by new media artists and digital composers into 12 hours. If it's true, as is often said, that MTV killed the attention spans of Generations X and Y, this six-minute-per-piece average ought to suit most festivalgoers' minds, and the resultant shuffling on and off stage will surely be a spectacle in its own rite. In all seriousness, this annual event is a highlight of New York's already thriving electronic music scene and promises many a treat for your eyes and ears. The illustrious organizers behind the marathon know their visual music history and want to remind readers that, "The roots of the genre date back more than two hundred years to the ocular harpsichords and color-music scales of the 18th century," and "the current art form came to fruition following the emergence of film and video in the 20th century." The remarkable ten dozen artists participating in this one-day event will bring us work incorporating such diverse materials as hand-processed film, algorithmically-generated video, visual interpretations of music, and some good old fashioned music-music. From luminaries like Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter, and Steina Vasulka to emerging artists Joe Tekippe and Chiaki Watanabe, the program will be another star on the map that claims NYC as fertile territory for sonic exploration. - Marisa Olson




The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens, Greece, has committed itself to curating a number of recent exhibitions of internet art. Their current show, "Tag Ties and Affective Spies," features contributions from both net vets and emerging surfers, including Christophe Bruno, Gregory Chatonsky, Paolo Cirio, JODI, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, Les Liens Invisibles, Personal Cinema and The Erasers, Ramsay Stirling, and Wayne Clements. The online exhibition takes an antagonistic approach to Web 2.0, citing a constant balance "between order and chaos, democracy and adhocracy." Curator Daphne Dragona raises the question of whether the social web is a preexisting platform on which people connect, or whether it is indeed constructed in the act of uploading, tagging, and disclosing previously private information about ourselves on sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. Dragona asks whether we are truly connecting and interacting, or merely broadcasting. While her curatorial statement doesn't address the issue directly, the show's title hints at the level of self-surveillance in play on these sites. Accordingly, many of the selected works take a critical, if not DIY, approach to the internet. The collective Les Liens Invisibles tends to create works that make an ironic mash-up of the often divergent mantras of tactical media, culture jamming, surrealism, and situationism. In their Subvertr, they encourage Flickr users to "subverTag" their posted images, creating an intentional disassociation between an image's content and its interpretion, with the aim of "breaking the strict rules of significance that characterize the mainstream collective imaginary..." JODI's work, winning information (2008) exploits the limited stylistic parameters of the social bookmarking site. Using ASCII and Unicode page titles to form visual marks, a cryptic tag vocabulary, and a recursive taxonomy, their fun-to-follow site critiques the broader content of the web ...


Reappearance of the Undead


In 1997, internet art hall-of-famer Olia Lialina made a "net drama" called Agatha Appears that was written for Netscape 3 and 4 in HTML 3.2. One of the main features of the interactive narrative was the travel of the eponymous avatar across the internet. Let's just say the girl got around. But the magical illusion of the piece was that she appeared to stay still, even when links in the narrative were clicked and the viewer's address bar indicated movement to another server. But in time, both the browser and code in which the story was written became defunct and the piece unraveled as the sites previously hosting the links and files upon which Agatha was dependent disappeared or cleaned house. Such a scenario is common to early internet art (and will no doubt continue to plague the field), as ours is an upgrade culture constantly driving towards new tools, platforms, and codes. Many have debated whether to let older works whither or how it might be possible to update these works, making them compatible with new systems. For those who are interested, some of the best research on the subject has been performed by the folks affiliated with the Variable Media Initiative. Meanwhile, luddites and neophiles alike are now in luck because Agatha Appears has just undergone rejuvenation. Ela Wysocka, a restorer working at Budapest's Center for Culture & Communication Foundation has worked to overcome the sound problems, code incompatibilities, and file corruption and disappearance issues, and she's written a fascinating report about the process, here. And new collaborating hosts have jumped in line to bring the piece back to life, so that like a black and white boyfriend coming home from war, Agatha now offers us a shiny new webring as a token of ...


In the Future-Past Tense

The fantasy of the future and the utopian promises of new technologies have always gone hand-in-hand. If the history of technology's evolution tells the story of our culture, we can also trace our present-day novelties back to the root of our anxieties about the future and the problems these devices hoped to solve. With this correlation in mind, the interactive DVD novel The Imaginary 20th Century (2007) by Norman Klein, Margo Bistis, and Andreas Kratky, jumps back to the fin de siècle era between the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a time of wonder when new technologies and their representation were wedded in documents like panoramic films of public light shows and short actualities about newfangled transportation devices called roller skates. The novel tells the story of "the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and the story of a woman (Carrie), who in 1901, selects four men to seduce her, each with his own version of the new century" in a recombinatory visual narrative that overlaps 2,200 images culled from primary documents, architectural plans, photos, and other ephemera with an original score. The project speaks to the multiplicity of visions circulating about what the new century would hold, and it's an even more past-tense follow-up to Norman Klein's interactive novel, Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 (2003). Klein's work has clearly resonated with at least eleven people, because closing this week at Otis College of Art and Design's Ben Maltz Gallery is "The Future Imaginary," an exhibition that responds to The Imaginary 20th Century with the work of artists Deborah Aschheim, Jeff Cain, Tom Jennings, Jon Kessler, Ed Osborn, Lea Rekow, Douglas Repetto, Phil Ross, Kari Rae Seekins and Aaron Drake, and Susan Simpson. Each contribution embodies the special genre of ...


Discussions (281) Opportunities (10) Events (4) Jobs (0)

Fwd: Southern Exposure Announces SoEx Offsite, A New Program for the Year 2006-2007

Program Dates: September 2006 to June 2007

(415) 863-2141



Re: Letters from Lebanon

Nat Muller (whom I interviewed for Rhizome, here ) is also there. An
excerpt from a recent letter from her...

> a very quick message from a lebanon and a beirut under siege. it is
> very very difficult for me to get online. i am sure you are watching
> the news; the situation is horrible. i was living close to the airport
> and when the bombing started moved out. in the past 3 days i changed
> locations 3 times. now i am in achrafieh - east beirut. i can hear the
> fighter jets and bombing all the time, and am very very nervous. esp.
> today has been very bad. east beirut is supposed to be safer, but whith
> all the ports (even jounieh, which is christian) being bombed,
> alternatives of getting out are not looking good. before the bombing of
> all the ports the embassy sent me a message they might try to organise a
> ship on monday to cyprus. that's unlikely to happen with no access to
> the ports. the roads do syria and northern borders are bombed: no way
> out. so in the meanwhile i am staying put in beirut. we have very
> little electricity (rationed), and all the shops are closed, so food
> might become a problem soon.

On 7/17/06, Ryan Griffis <> wrote:
> a couple from Walid Raad on the 16 Beaver blog and another from a
> friend of a friend of Temporary Services.
> ryan
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Fwd: RADIO GALLERY: A series of 12 radio programmes envisaging radio as exhibition space

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: e-Flux <>

06/30/06 ________________________________

A series of 12 radio programmes envisaging radio as exhibition space

July 3


Fwd: [spectre] [Fellowship in Culture and Science, Culture Lab]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Norman <>
Date: Jun 30, 2006 8:55 AM
Subject: [spectre] (no subject)

Dear spectres,

Culture Lab is offering a Research Council post in digital
technologies and live performance in our new facilities.
I'd greatly appreciate your forwarding this to interested networks.

With thanks and best wishes

Sally Jane Norman
Director, Culture Lab

Detailed information at

RCUK Academic Fellowship in Culture and Science, Culture Lab

Culture Lab is a unique creative practice-driven interdisciplinary
research platform equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology
infrastructure which opened in May 2006. The Fellow will be expected
to develop research in association with Culture Lab, working in the
area of digital technologies and live performance where there are
already established strengths. The Fellow will also be expected to
collaborate with one or more Schools engaged in Theatre and
Performance Studies, Cultural Theory and Human-Computer interaction.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural
Affairs (Tel. 0191 222 6536 or

Job reference: G1313

Closing date: 25 July 2006

The fellowship is available for 5 years from October 2006. Subject to
the successful completion of a probationary period and the appointees
meeting the University's criteria for appointment to an academic post
the University will guarantee a permanent academic position after
completion of the fellowship. Individuals who already hold, or have
held, a permanent University position, or an offer of one, are not
eligible to apply. Individuals currently holding a personal research
fellowship or research grant are eligible.

SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
Info, archive and help:


Rhizome Writing Tree


I'm writing because we're currently preparing a "Writing Tree," which will
be part of our 10th Anniversary season. Below is an initial description of
the project and a call for your input.

Each branch of this tree will cover an issue related to the history,
theory, and practice of new media art. We settled upon this model, in
part, because we wanted to avoid any singular definitions of the field and
its practices, but instead to reveal the diversity of ideas embodied by
the community. We are presently inviting members of the greater new media
community to write thematic essays that will become a "seed" for a
"writing tree" --an idea I must admit to having borrowed largely from
MTAA's "To Be Listened To" project. After the initial seeds are planted,
anyone can post their own essays or comments, in response to the same
prompt. We truly hope it will become an active, broad, and
non-hierarchical platform for meaningful discussion.

If you have ideas for seed topics, or if you would like to initiate one
yourself, please let me know. The seeds would need to be 600-800 word
essays, and they would be due in two weeks, on July 15. We are trying to
keep things contained to about 8-12 broader threads, which will eventually
branch off in whatever direction the readers decide to take. If you don't
think you have time to contribute a seed but would like to be involved,
please start prepping your thoughts now and consider posting your own
essay after the initial seeds are planted. The conversation will be

Elements of this project will undoubtedly touch on Rhizome's history,
while much of it will consider technology in its broader cultural
contexts. Rhizome's staff feels that these are very important
conversations to be having at this time, and we value your contributions
to the discussion.

All the best,

+ + +
Marisa Olson
Editor & Curator, at the
New Museum of Contemporary Art