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.
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.
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.
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, 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 ...
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 ...
THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
SCHOOL OF ART AND ART HISTORY
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN INTERMEDIA
The University of Iowa, School of Art and Art History, seeks an
Assistant Professor of Intermedia. Tenure track position starts
August 2008. Basic qualifications: Highly accomplished in digital new
media and one or more additional time-based media. The successful
candidate will be conversant in contemporary art theory and have
interdisciplinary engagement with the performing arts, the humanities,
or the sciences. Requires MFA or equivalent, record of strong teaching
and a significant record of creative research. Teach undergraduates
and graduates in B.A., B.F.A., M.A. and M.F.A. programs.
Applicants should send a letter of application, statements describing
their creative practice and teaching philosophy, a complete CV,
documentation of personal work (CD/DVD/URL), examples of students'
work, the names, addresses and e-mail addresses of three references,
and a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of your CD or DVD.
Consideration of applications will begin on November 15, 2007 and will
continue until the position is filled. Semi-finalists may be
interviewed at the CAA Conference in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas from
February 20-23, 2008.
Send applications to:
Intermedia Search Committee
The University of Iowa
School of Art and Art History
120 N. Riverside Dr, 150 ABW
Iowa City, IA 52242
The School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are strongly
committed to gender and ethnic diversity; the strategic plans of the
University, College and School reflect this commitment. Women and
members of underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to
apply. The University of Iowa is an affirmative action/equal
Caitlin Jones--who will make daily original contributions that will
expand the scope of our front page news stream. The writers will serve
as a community amplifier, covering art, events, and ideas happening on
Rhizome and also across the expanding field of contemporary art that
Hanley and Jones are respected critics who bring to Rhizome a wealth
of experience. Both have written for numerous international
publications on new media and contemporary art. Hanley was formerly an
editor at ArtInfo.com and Jones held a combined curatorial and
conservation position at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum before
becoming Director of Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.
Together with Rhizome Editor & Curator, Marisa Olson, the staff
writers will be responsible for bringing Rhizome readers large doses
of daily criticism and coverage of local and international events. In
addition to their original articles, the writers will become Rhizome's
resident rebloggers and will share responsibility for writing Rhizome
News--the organization's thrice-weekly email and web-based
publication--with the pool of talented freelancers that has always
ensured a diversity of voices and subject matter on Rhizome's front
Rhizome's front page news stream will now include a mixture of
original writing--short posts and longer editorial features--alongside
reblogged content: blog posts from all over the web and highlights
from Rhizome Raw, the organization's listserv of eleven years, which
supports a community of new media practitioners and enthusiasts.
Rhizome's editorial content is part of Rhizome's broader slate of
programs, including exhibitions, commissions, education, symposia,
performances, and other events, all of which strive to bring greater
visibility, context, and discussion to the new media art field.
Please join us in welcoming Hanley and Jones, and please... Post some
comments to our new blog!
+ + +
Editor & Curator
Rhizome at the
New Museum of Contemporary Art
As always, we appreciate your feedback.
It's true that discussion on Raw has simmered. --Though this is not
true of Rare, as it's still alive and Patrick will look into whether
this is a bug in the RSS feed. Needless to say, posts are regularly
The status of discussion on Rhizome is of high priority to the staff,
but I think it's fair to say that what's happening on Raw is
indicative of what's happening in listservs across the board. In the
list's 10+ years, people have changed the way that they seek to
exchange information. We have hundreds of thousands of RSS subscribers
and only a few hundred list subscribers. There's been a shift in the
push- and pull- models of editorial content, online. Rhizome still
wants to support "old school" discussion (I say this tongue-in-cheek
because I think we share in the sentiment that this is important and
it's sad to see it languor on the internet), but we're also trying to
keep up with the new models, in order to provide better visibility to
artists engaging with technology in significant ways.
I think Patrick's efforts, this year, to respond to member feedback
about the commissions process in order to ensure more proposal views
and livelier discussion are (to me) a really exciting effort of the
ways that Rhizome strives to facilitate conversation. Nonetheless, all
we can do are provide the tools for people. We can't have all the
conversations for them.
Now, to be frank, this comment bewilders me:
> it used to be informative and exciting to visit the
> Rhizome website. Its content would change on
> a daily basis, often with new material appearing
> on the front page several times over the course
> of the day.
This is still the case. With the exception of weekends, which we
attempt to take off, we publish content daily and we are on the brink
of ramping this up even more.
All I can say for now is stay-tuned to the front page. We are
currently working very hard on upgrading our site content (not only on
the front page) and will soon announce new features developed in
response to community feedback. But these things take time.
It's always funny to me when people use phrases like "Rhizome's
directors and other employees" because there are only three of us:
Lauren, Patrick, and myself. We do employ freelance writers (the
people who help ensure that our front page always has new material, as
you say), and we do have one unpaid Curatorial Fellow, an incredibly
overqualified and overburdened intern. Together he and I manage the
Artbase and this, frankly, is a job in itself. We stay on top of it as
best we can, but given the huge number of submissions and
correspondence that comes in, sometimes weekly or semi-weekly spurts
are just the best way to handle it all. Nonetheless, we're excited by
our recent policy change to allow all artists to add work to their
profiles, and making the Artbase admin a secondary process, thus
giving the artists more exposure and increasing the number of works
for you to peruse, Pall.
Now this comment is admittedly a bit trickier to address:
>Rhizome's directors and other employees have busied
> themselves with organizing physical events. I wonder
> if these really do serve the community. It feels to me
> like they serve the New York based members
> of Rhizome but do very little for others.
I think there are several ways to look at this, and they are
influenced by the facts that we have a limited staff, limited budget,
and the exciting fact that "the community" of people interested in new
media has now blossomed into *multiple* thriving, diverse communities.
We can't be all things to all people, but we believe strongly in the
importance of live events. The artists we serve and our audience are
always asking for them, and we've seen a lot of good come out of them,
in terms of new conversations, new relationships, and new contexts for
the interpretation of work that don't get to germinate in quite the
same way through online conversation. (This is not a prioritization of
RL vs online, but just a way of complementing our programs which are
primarily online.) We also believe that what the field needs, right
now, is to be put into deeper conversation with the contemporary art
world, and our events and exhibitions have been an effort to do so.
We have no desire to be NY-centric--quite the contrary. We'd love to
be able to do events like this all over the world or even in other
parts of the US. When we were planning our 10th Anniversary Festival,
we tried to do that. We reached out to other festivals and venues, and
started many great conversations. But the fact is that we just do not
have the budget to pull these off. And we live in a country where arts
funding is not comparable to the funding in other countries that have
thriving new media organizations. But those organizations support
those communities well. We respect them for their work and try to stay
in dialogue with them.
Meanwhile, we do what we can, and we are doing a lot. We're all
working overtime to support the field. We do listen to your feedback,
in this process, and appreciate it very much.
Jill Magid and Hasan Elahi, moderated by Marisa Olson
Saturday, September 15, 2007
2:30pm - 4:00pm
61 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Rhizome presents this panel, in conjunction with Conflux, New York's
annual festival for contemporary psychogeography, the investigation of
everyday urban life through emerging artistic, technological, and
social practice. The panel centers on "sousveillance," the practice of
watching from below (sous-) rather than above (sur-). A diverse group
of artists whose work engages surveillance will explore the cultural
and political implications of sousveillance, which tends to be
discussed as empowering when manifest as a "taking-back" of cameras or
the rising-up of "little brother," but which also unfolds in an era of
increased self-surveillance, encouraged by both the government and the
culture of participatory and 'transparent' media. Panelists include
artists Amy Alexander, Jill. Magid and Hasan Elahi, and moderator
Marisa Olson, Editor and Curator, Rhizome.
Amy Alexander is a software and performance artist and VJ. Her work
has been presented on the Internet, in clubs and on the street as well
as in festivals and museums. She is an Associate Professor of Visual
Arts at the University of California, San Diego. She is also a
co-founder and moderator of the Runme.org software art repository, and
is active in software art curation. Amy's latest software project,
SVEN: Surveillance Video Entertaiment Network, with Wojciech Kosma and
Vincent Rabaud, is a real-time computer vision and video system that
detects likely rock stars in public places, an installation version of
which was on view at the Whitney Museum during Summer 2007.
Hasan Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines issues
of surveillance, simulated time, transport systems, borders and
frontiers. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at
venues such as the Venice Biennale; the Centre Georges Pompidou,
Paris; the Kulturbahnhof, Kassel, Germany; The Hermitage, St.
Petersburg, Russia; and The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in
New York. Elahi recently was invited to speak about his work at the
Tate Modern in London, Pop!Tech, and at at the American Association of
Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University. His work has been
supported with significant grants and numerous sponsorships from the
Creative Capital Foundation, Ford Foundation/Philip Morris, and the
Asociacion Artetik Berrikuntzara in Donostia-San Sebastian in the
Basque Country/Spain among others.
Jill Magid is a visual artist working in a variety of media including
literature, video, sculpture, and performance. Magid received an MS in
Visual Studies from MIT in 2000, was a resident artist at the
Rijksakademie in Amsterdam 2002, and currently lives and works in both
Amsterdam and Brooklyn. Solo exhibitions in include With Full Consent
at Gagosian Gallery (NYC), Sparwasser HQ (Berlin), Centre d'Art Santa
Monica (Barcelona), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Recent
performances in New York at The Bowery Poetry Club, Eyebeam, The
Poetry Project , Orchard. Her work has been included in group
exhibitions at Storefront for Art and Architecture (NYC), De Appel
(Amsterdam), Balance and Power (Rose Art Museum), Naked Life at MOCA
Taipei (Taiwan), Positioning statement | Image Cairo 3 (Cairo), Egypt,
DMZ 2005_Korea, and at the Liverpool Biennial International '04. She
has written two novellas: Lincoln Ocean Victor Eddy (2007), and One
Cycle of Memory in the city of L (2004).
Moderator Marisa Olson is Rhizome's Editor & Curator and a practicing
artist. She has organized exhibitions and programs at the Guggenheim,
SFMOMA, the Getty, White Columns, Artists Space, the Yerba Buena
Center for the Arts, and elsewhere, including SF Camerawork, where she
was previously Associate Director. She's written for Wired, Mute,
Afterimage, Flash Art, ArtReview, and others. Her own work has
recently been presented by the Whitney Museum, the New Museum of
Contemporary Art, the Pacific Film Archive, and the New York
Underground Film Festival. Marisa is currently an Adjunct Assistant
Professor in the ITP graduate program at NYU's Tisch School of the
Arts and a PhD Candidate in Rhetoric/ Film Studies at UC Berkeley.
From: Sarah_lookofsky@whitney.org <Sarah_lookofsky@whitney.org>
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CLAIM A PIECE OF LAND TODAY?
The exhibition project LAND GRAB ONLINE seeks to display artworks
that explicitly address the naming and claiming of space.
Artists are encouraged to send in submissions including - but not
limited to - issues of land ownership, real estate acquisitions,
squatting on private or public property, citizenship and colonialism.
The projects included need not occupy actual space.
LAND GRAB ONLINE is the virtual counterpart to LAND GRAB - an
exhibition to take place at the renowned art institution APEXART in
New York City (Nov. 7 - Dec. 22, 2007).
A planned LAND GRAB publication will include selections from both
LAND GRAB and LAND GRAB ONLINE.
LAND GRAB is a project instigated by the curators Lillian Fellmann
and Sarah Lookofsky.
To participate in the project, please go to landgrabonline.org.
The application deadline is September 15th, 2007 (it is possible that
it might be extended a week). (Midnight/Pacific Standard Time.)
Feel free to email me with any questions.
All my best,