Marisa Olson
Since the beginning
Works in New York, 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, and has been commissioned and collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122. This work's been reviewed in Artforum, Art21, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere. New York Magazine has called Marisa one of the Top Five video artists working online, Wired has called her both funny and humorous, the New York Times once called her "anything but stupid," and the Wall Street Journal considers her their "Walkman Historian" of choice.

Marisa actively contributes to the field, writing for many major art publications, ranging from magazines & exhibition catalogs to academic journals and chapters in books on the history and theory of media art. She has served as Editor & Curator at Rhizome, the inaugural curator at Zero1, and Associate Director at SF Camerawork, whose Journal she edited. In 2013 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, Marisa has also curated programs at the Guggenheim, New Museum, SFMOMA, White Columns, and Artists Space. She has served on Advisory Boards for Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ISEA, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, Creative Capital, EYEBEAM, the Getty Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Marisa 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, Oberlin, VCU, UC-Boulder's Brakhage Symposium, Penn State, Visiting Faculty at Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, and Visiting Faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Ox-Bow program. She previously taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' new media graduate program and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase's School of Film & Media Studies. She is currently Visiting Critic at Brown University.

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 (280) Opportunities (10) Events (4) Jobs (0)

Re: From Matt Locke's blog - An Interview with Tim Etchells

see, also, the original rhizome review of surrender control (a GREAT project):

i've put feelers out for this, before, but if anyone is doing
sms/txt-msg projects, please let me know (especially americans where
this is so rare). i'm constantly looking for this, in my writing &


Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001


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cool wikki's?

hi. anyone seen any good examples of wikkis that LOOK good,
graphically, in addition to working well, having cool content, etc?

or any cool alternatives, using the same model allowing for user input?


Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001


re-best work with Flash? [apres whidden]

ok. this is why i dislike the phrase "conceptual artist." the logic
of its established use sets the phrase up as an oxymoron, as if
"other" artists are conceptless... i like t.whid's "conceptualists"
better, but i'd still mailbomb that term, if i could...

and i know this conversation started with talking about flash, but
after reading t's notes, especially this one...

>who are these entrenched conceptualists keeping out the visual
>aesthetic in net art?

i can't help but remember the debate we all had about cory arcangel
when data diaries came out. i think cory's work is amazing, visually,
but many people seemed to feel that his "dirt aesthetics"
deprioritized the visual (i disagree, but even if so, what's wrong
with that?) and favored the conceptual.

both in the case of that work (which was based on QT films), and in
much discussion about flash art, the work frequently gets criticized
for having a "pointless" existence on the web--see, for instance, the
rhizome-archived debates of the 2000 Net Art Webby jury, regarding
heavy industries's project. the argument made by some was that it was
not net art, but simply a film, which could have shown anywhere. of
copurse, this was situated within a weby context, which is initself a
self-proclaimed "best practices" context and the sense was that chang
was less experienced in net work... but the second/implied argument
was that net art needed to be self-reflexive of its
status/site-specificity as net art. or should i say :)

i've been a bit deluged with e-mails and am wading into this
conversation without being caught up (please forgive), but it occurs
to me that (has it not already been considered) we might think about
checking these demands--with which i admit to struggling, myself...

also to be checked is the assumption that a larger amount of data or
a different kind of data is somehow more valid than another, as
"data" and/or as "art" and/or as "visual art."

i do sympathize with current arguments about getting over blaming the
"primitive" state of the web (another horrible word!), but i have
trouble agreeing with ones that work should somehow live up to the
newly "advanced" state of the web & it's accoutrements.

maybe it is about time we relate these arguments to the old painting
vs photography arguments, because that's what it's starting to feel
like. ansel adams's representations of rocks & trees are no more or
less valid to me as data-visualization and/or art than a painting.
and it's no skin off my back that some of the big "early california"
landscape painters worked from photos.

what matter what's speaking?

Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001


CFE: (Mouments)

Hi. Below are two CFE's. They are for two portions of a larger
project on monuments. One is for gallery & public art installations
and one is for "proposals" for "improbable monuments," which would
live only on the web... Overall, this will be a very large, ambitious
project by SF Camerawork which will include a printed journal with
critical essays & portfolios, a CD-ROM addendum with video clips &
interviews, and the three-component exhibition... Please forward!

SF Camerawork
Receipt Deadline: August 29, 2003

Improbable Monuments
part of
An exhibition of work scheduled for the Fall, 2004, curated by SF Camerawork

Monument Recall is an exhibition of work by artists who are
challenging ideas of 'monument.' Through scale, material, subject
matter and concept, the work in this exhibition reframes and
challenges conventions and traditions of public monuments in public
spaces. Improbable Monuments is a web component of this exhibition,
calling for work that will only be exhibited on-line.

We are looking for Proposals for Improbable Monuments, monuments that
are unlikely to happen. These proposal ideas should not be
restricted by subject matter, historical voice, materials, funds,
location or any other more practical, social or political
considerations which usually influence and shape public monuments.
Proposals should include a description of the project idea and
intention, images of the design, materials (if the idea is physical)
and how it functions. Submissions for this call must be received by
August 29, 2003.

Materials for review:
All submissions should be available either on-line (please send url
for viewing) or in (web ready) digital files on CD-ROMS (format for
Macs). Work should be completed net-based projects only; not
portfolios on web pages. Please include an Artist Statement & CV, as
well as a SASE for the return of your materials. Mail material to:
1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
or email submissions to:


SF Camerawork
Receipt Deadline: August 29, 2003


An exhibition of work scheduled for the Fall, 2004, curated by SF Camerawork

Monument Recall is an exhibition of work by artists who are
challenging ideas of 'monument.' Through scale, material, subject
matter and concept, the work in this exhibition reframes and
challenges conventions and traditions of public monuments in public
Work can be in Photography, Performance, Video, Digital and
Interactive Media, Web or Installation. Submissions for this call
must be received by August 29, 2003.

Materials for review:
Send examples of work and projects in : CD-ROM, DVD, clearly labeled
slides, (sending exactly 8 of your strongest images, with each slide
having your name, address, and title of work), Web, Video (NTSC/VHS
and cued for preview), or small prints., including information on the
examples of work sent (materials, size, date and title of the work).
Do not send original work.

Please include an Artist Statement, CV and Project Description. The
Project Description should include details of the project, completion
date and previous exhibitions (if any) of the proposed work. Also,
include a SASE for the return of your materials.
Send the materials to:
1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

For more information, contact:
Paula Levine (

Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001