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

ARTBASE (7)
PORTFOLIO (3)
BIO
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.

Collectible After All: Christiane Paul on net art at the Whitney Museum


The Whitney Museum artport has been an important institutional presence in net art and new media since its launch in 2002. Created and curated by Christiane Paul, artport features online commissions as well as documentation of new media artworks from the museum's exhibitions and collections. This year, artport as a whole was made an official part of the Whitney Museum collection; to mark this occasion, participating artist Marisa Olson interviewed Paul about the program's history and evolution over thirteen years.

 Douglas Davis, image from The World's First Collaborative Sentence (1994).

Collections like artport are a rare and valuable window onto a field of practice that, in some senses, was borne out of not being taken seriously. From mid-80s Eastern European game crackers to late-90s net artists, the first people working online were often isolated, by default or design, and were certainly marginalized by the art world, where few curators knew of their existence and fewer took them seriously, advocated for them, or worked to theorize and articulate the art historical precedents and currents flowing through the work. Help me fast-forward to the beginning of this century at one of the most important international art museums. Many of the US museums that funded new media projects did so with dot-com infusions that dried-up after 2000. Artport officially launched in 2001; the same year, you curated a section devoted to net art in the Whitney Biennial. What was the behind-the-scenes sequence of events that led to artport's founding?

I think artport's inception was emblematic of a wave of interest in net art in the US around the turn of the century and in the early 2000s. This more committed involvement with the art form interestingly coincided with or came shortly after the dot com bubble, which inflated from 1997–2000, had its climax on March 10, 2000 when NASDAQ peaked, and burst pretty much the next day. Net art, however, remained a very active practice and started appearing on the radar of more US art institutions. To some extent, their interest may have been sparked by European exhibitions that had begun to respond to the effects of the web on artistic practice earlier on. In 1997, Documenta X had already included web projects (that year the Documenta website was also famously "stolen"—that is, copied and archived—by Vuk Cosic in the project Documenta: done) and Net Condition, which took place at ZKM in 1999/2000, further acknowledged the importance of art on the web.

US museums increasingly began to take notice. Steve Dietz, who had started the Walker Art Center's New Media Initiatives early on, in 1996, was curating the online art Gallery 9 and digital art study collection. Jon Ippolito, in his role as Associate Curator of Media Arts at the Guggenheim, was commissioning net art in the early 2000s and in 2002, Benjamin Weil, with Joseph Rosa, unveiled a new version of SFMOMA's E-space, which had been created in 2000. This was the institutional netscape in which I created artport in 2001, since I felt that the Whitney, which had for the first time included net art in its 2000 Biennial, also needed a portal to online art. The original artport was much more of a satellite site and less integrated into whitney.org than it is now. Artist Yael Kanarek redesigned the site not too long after its initial launch and created version 1.1. Artport in its early days was sponsored by a backend storage company in New Jersey, which was then bought by HP, so HP appeared as the official sponsor. I think it is notable that sponsorship at that point did not come from a new tech company but a brand name that presumably wanted to appear more cutting edge.


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


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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

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Tagalicious


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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, Del.icio.us/ 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 ...

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Reappearance of the Undead


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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 ...

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

Thank you, Patrick May


I'd just like to say another public word of thanks to Patrick. I have vivid memories of our first conversation, when he was applying for the job. He'd done extensive research on the organization, asked some good, tough questions, and had boundless energy and enthusiasm for working with us to take the organization to a new level. I think he's more than succeeded at this. As a long-time participant in the Rhizome community, I've admired the community-driven ideas, tools, and upgrades Patrick's brought to us. It takes a LOT to keep Rhizome running, but it takes true vision and selfless commitment to move things forward in the way that he has.

You've been an awesome colleague, Patrick! Thanks for everything!


OPPORTUNITY

Assisted Living - Call for Participants


Deadline:
Sat May 31, 2008 00:00

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Hi. I'm looking for collaborators (performers, sculptors, the a/v savvy, the paranoid) to join the crew of a new project taking the form of a scifi homemaking tv show, filmed before a live studio audience, June 1-15, 2008, at Wooloo.org's New Life Berlin festival. More info is below. Please note that, while the official deadline is May 31st, we are looking at applications immediately. If you're in Berlin this summer, please consider joining us!

Apply here:
http://www.wooloo.org/assisted/

ASSISTED LIVING is a futuristic parody of Martha Stewart's American TV show focused on coping with the health & environmental challenges of living a life prolonged by technology. The hostess, Marisa Olson, will devise craft-projects and recipes for these 130-year-olds, taping the show on-site before a "live studio audience." (There will be one episode taped in each day of the festival, June 1-15.)

Technology might help us live longer, but it may also give us health challenges like Global Warming-Related Illnesses (GWI's) and radioactive growths, or lifestyle setbacks like high waterline stains on furniture and insomnia due to the extinction of animals whose sounds we once slept to. ASSISTED LIVING invites participants to travel 30 years into the near future, joining the live studio audience for daily tapings of the very first episodes of this TV phenomenon.

Anyone can join the audience of the show by arriving 30 minutes prior to each afternoon's "taping." You can also apply to go behind-the-scenes and join the crew of this show, as a production assistant, audio/visual coordinator, audience-coordinator, or propmaker. The crew and hostess will perform together to make the show's production process as transparent (if surreal) as possible, humorously blurring the lines between process and product.


DISCUSSION

The charges against Steve Kurtz have been dropped


Ok, here's the release:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 21, 2008

CONTACTS:
Email: media@caedefensefund.org
Edmund Cardoni: (716) 854-1694
Lucia Sommer: (716) 359-3061

JUDGE DISMISSES MAIL FRAUD CASE AGAINST BIO-ARTIST KURTZ

Buffalo, NY—A process that has taken nearly four years may be coming to an end. On Monday, April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled to dismiss the indictment against University at Buffalo Professor of Visual Studies Dr. Steven Kurtz.

In June 2004, Professor Kurtz was charged with two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud stemming from an exchange of $256 worth of harmless bacteria with Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Dr. Kurtz planned to use the bacteria in an educational art exhibit about biotechnology with his award-winning art and theater collective, Critical Art Ensemble.

Professor Kurtz’ lawyer, Paul Cambria, said that his client was “pleased and relieved that this ordeal may be coming to an end.”

The prosecution has the right to appeal this dismissal. How the prosecution will proceed is unknown at this time. If an appeal were undertaken the case would move to the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.

Lucia Sommer, Coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, which raises funds for Kurtz’ legal defense, said, “We are all grateful that after reviewing this case, Judge Arcara took appropriate action.” She added that “this decision is further testament to our original statements that Dr. Kurtz is completely innocent and never should have been charged in the first place.”

BACKGROUND ON DR. STEVEN KURTZ AND CRITICAL ART ENSEMBLE

Critical Art Ensemble (which Kurtz co-founded in 1987 with Steven Barnes) has won numerous awards for its bio-art, including the prestigious 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Grant, honoring more than two decades of distinguished work. The group has been commissioned to exhibit and perform in many of the world's cultural institutions—including the London Museum of Natural History; The ICA, London; the Whitney Museum and the New Museum in NYC; the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; der Volksbüne, Berlin; ZKM, Karlsruhe; El Matadero, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Museo de Arte Carrilo Gil, Mexico City and many more.

For more information about the case, please visit: caedefensefund.org

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DISCUSSION

The charges against Steve Kurtz have been dropped


Yeah, but sadly this is far from truly over. This is what Lucia Sommer, of Steve's defense fund says:

"The DoJ is almost certain to appeal, meaning the case could drag on for 2-3 more years (being bounced back and forth between appeals court in NYC and Buffalo) and could even reach the Supreme Court -- thus making it nearly impossible to raise the amount of money required to defend Steve..."

They are working on a press release right now. I'll post it here when it's out.

EVENT

Sousveillance Culture Conference


Dates:
Sat Apr 26, 2008 00:00 - Wed Apr 16, 2008

Location:
United States of America

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SOUSVEILLANCE CULTURE CONFERENCE
Saturday, April 26, 2008
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Presentations on the theory & practice of surveillance and contemporary protest art, by graduate students in the ITP program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

The presenters' talks will be grouped into four panels, to be moderated by their Professor, Marisa Olson (Curator at Large, Rhizome), on topics ranging from voyeurism and play to intervention and networks of control. These panels will consist of both artist talks and critical essays, and audience members will be invited to give feedback on a few works in progress.

Venue: The Change You Want to See Gallery
84 Havemeyer @ Metropolitan, Brooklyn, NY 11211
L to Bedford or Lorimer, G to Metropolitan, J/M/Z to Marcy
http://www.thechangeyouwanttosee.org

Hours: 12-5 pm, Saturday, April 26, 2008

Program:

11:45 Open Seating
12:00 Welcome & Introduction, Marisa Olson

12:05-1:15 Voyeurism vs. Exhibitionism: Online and In the Streets
Panelists: Allistar Peters and Meng Li, Ana Maria Gutierrez, Heather Rasley

1:15-2:00 Watchful Intervening: From Scientologists to Spy Shops
Panelists: Amanda Bernsohn and Kacie Kinzer, Syed Salahuddin

2-3:30 Playtime: Games, Toys, and Entertainment
Panelists: Oscar Torres, Scott Hoffer, Shlomit Lehavi and Leah Gilliam

3:30-5 Looking at Control: From Candidate Self-Surveillance to Wireless Subversion
Panelists: Michael Clemow and Tom Jenkins, Alberto Tafoya, Emery Martin

About the venue:
The Change You Want To See is the gallery and convergence stage run by the activist arts collective Not An Alternative.