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)

Cameraless Film Screening (SF)

The screening below is organized in conjunction with AGITATE, at SF
Camerawork. This is a rare opportunity to see some amazing
performative, kinetically-inspired, experimental film work. Please,
please come! ~marisa

Haptic Refractions: A Cameraless Evening
Thursday, May 22 at 7:30 pm - opens at 7:00 pm
at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

Presented by SF Cinematheque in conjunction with Agitate
Curated by Irina Leimbacher and Steve Polta

A cinema based on touch, gestures of contact between the surface of
film and the world, is the basis of tonight's screening. Emulsive
transformations, both human and the earth's, palimpsests of paint and
scratchings, or traces left by light and life transform the site of
film into a new experience of sight. Films include: silt's
performance of their multiple-projector biotriptych (excerpted from
All Pieces of a River Shore), a continuation of their investigations
of film emulsion as a microcosmic peering into the earth's crust;
Fred Worden's Automatic Writing 2; Rock Ross' Psycho Porpoise;
Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof's Light Magic; Saul Levine's Light Lick (az
sent)-Only Sunshine; Karen Johannesen's Untitled; Alexis Bravos' The
World's Dry Lever; Luis Recoder's Silver Recovery; Steve Polta's A
Glimpse of Soviet Science; and Phil Solomon and Stan Brakhage's The

$7 general admission /$4 Cinematheque and Camerawork members, students, seniors

***Thank you, HOTEL TRITON, for sponsoring Agitate.***

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


AGITATE/Happening @ Camerawork

Dear All,

AGITATE is now open at Camerawork and I cannot tell you how excited I
am about the show. (!!) Since they began planning it before I started
working here, I don't feel too shameless in telling you it's one of
the best exhibits I've seen in years and I am very proud to be
associated with it. I hope that you can all come check it out. Below
is a description of the show. You might want to come see it this
Tuesday evening, when we will host a "Happening" by Jean-Phillipe
Baert, an intensely brilliant young Parisian artist. All info below.
I hope to see you! ~marisa

Happening - Jean-Philippe Baert
Tuesday, May 20, 7:30 pm
SF Camerawork, 1246 Folsom btwn 8th & 9th
Gallery opens at 7:00 pm

Jean-Philippe Baert describes his "Happening" as a tableau vivant in
progress. Using digital media as a raw material, Baert introduces his
body into the video transmission of images; suspending his 'being'
between analog and digital. By exposing a monitor with his likeness
onto a mural size sheet of photo paper, the subsequent transmission
of his digital 'being' is recorded and then developed before a live
audience in the gallery. $6/$4 members, students, and seniors

May 13-June 14, 2003, at SF Camerawork, 1246 Folsom
Curated by Dore Bowen & Chuck Mobley

Situating itself in the context of a "post-photographic" digital era,
AGITATE challenges photographic convention by exhibiting works that
reexamine, rebuild, or dispense entirely with the standard
photographic apparatus, often returning to antiquarian processes. The
majority of the artists in this exhibit eschew the camera altogether
while other artists concern themselves with inventing their own
photographic lenses, devices, and printing surfaces to further their
exploration of the medium. Still others incorporate a performative
aspect into the production of their images. The after-effects of
their purposeful interruption of traditional photographic processes
and technologies alter our perception of how the medium can be
manipulated to creative ends.

Artists: Heather Ackroyd/Dan Harvey, Jean-Philippe Baert, Marco
Breuer, Binh Danh, Kate Farrall, Diane Althoff, Carlos Motta, Roger
Newton, Ann Hamilton, Cynthia Young

Gallery Hours: 12-5 pm, Tuesday-Saturday Gallery Admission is F R E E
Gallery Talks are available for classes and community groups. Please
call to schedule: 415-863-1624 or e-mail

***Thank you, HOTEL TRITON, for sponsoring Agitate.***

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


SF Camerawork Job Listing

Hi, all. We've got a position opening up at Camerawork. Please feel
free to forward this announcement to qualified/interested folks.


SF Camerawork - Job Opening

Program/Education Coordinator

Job Description-Full Time/Tuesday-Saturday, weekend and evening
installations and events. Applicants must have strong black & white
darkroom skills and experience with instructing and working with
at-risk youth.
$26K plus vacation and health benefits.

Send letter of intent, resume and list of three references with
telephone numbers to: Attn. Program/Education Coordinator Position/SF
Camerawork/1246 Folsom St./ S.F. CA 94103. Applications due June
13, 2003.

1. Coordinate First Exposures: Youth Opportunities Through
Photography, a photography/mentoring program for youth in
transitional and low-income environments. Recruit, screen, train, and
provide ongoing support for mentors and students. Develop semester
syllabus that incorporates relevant exercises, field trips and
exhibitions. Teach Saturday classes and encourage mentor and student
leadership. Oversee First Exposures web site and maintain student
archives. Facilitate appropriate crisis intervention when needed.
2. Generate and lead gallery exhibition discussions for visiting
students and community groups.
3. Coordinate Camerawork's involvement in outreach workshops and
collaborative projects with other arts, education and community
organizations in order to attract a broader audience and foster
long-term alliances.
4. Attend and actively participate in Camerawork programming meetings.

Responsible for all aspects of installation process: includes
coordinating and training volunteers and other preparators,
troubleshooting non-traditional installations, assisting curators and
Associate Director with exhibition planning, and documenting
installations. Framing, repairing, and packaging of artwork for
shipping. General gallery and installation maintenance and repair.

Responsible for various general operations of the gallery, including
but not limited to providing support to staff and board on day-to-day
basis with planning and implementing artistic programs and special
fundraising events including the annual auction.

Responsible for all technical setup for lectures, educational
activities, and fundraisers including the annual auction. Assisting
gallery manager with trouble-shooting, maintenance, and repair of
technical hardware. Coordination and delivery of loaned equipment to
and from other nonprofit organizations.

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



here's a nice general question for the list... are any of you making
(or seeing) internet-based (or -housed) work that relies upon or
constructs notions of intimacy? this could range from a consideration
of the "intimacy" of interactivity, to an autobiographical photo
project, to something like igor stromajer's "mobile intimate
communicator" (see, and much in between...

i'm considering work for an exhibition...


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


"gay eye" on baghdad

for those of you looking for yet another perspective...

> Gay Eye On Baghdad
> by Doug Windsor
> Newscenter
> New York Bureau
> March 29, 2003
> 12:01 a.m. ET/+5GMT/-3PT
> (New York City) A website by a mysterious gay man is attracting tens of
> thousands of readers around the world seeking updates on the situation in
> Baghdad.
> He calls himself Salam Pax, a nom de plume which means "peace" in Arabic and
> Latin.
> His site ( is a web log called a blog, a sort
> of online diary. His entries not only criticize Saddam Hussein but also the
> U.S. led invasion of Iraq.
> While little is known about Salam Pax, it appears he is a 28 or 29-year-old
> Iraqi architect who lived as a teenager in Europe. His writings provide an
> eerie look at a city under seige.
> "Our brightest and most creative minds fled the country not because of
> oppression alone but because no one inside Iraq could make a living,
> survive," he wrote of economic sanctions, telling the U.S. government to "get
> a clue."
> "There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they
> surrendering by the thousands. People are ... sitting in their homes hoping
> that a bomb doesn't fall on them," he wrote.
> In yet another entry he writes: "Houses near al-salam palace ... have had all
> their windows broke, doors blown in and in one case a roof has caved in,"
> Salam wrote in his journal. "I guess that is what is called 'collateral
> damage' and that makes it OK?"
> "How could 'support democracy in Iraq' become to mean 'bomb the hell out of
> Iraq'? ... Nobody minded an undemocratic Iraq for a very long time, now
> people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how
> thoughtful," he wrote.
> Before the invasion began several of his entries detailed persecutions
> against gays in Iraq.
> Some of his entries are witty, others profoundly disturbing glimpses at
> Saddam's regime and the fears of Iraqis about the bombing campaign.
> The site has become so popular that exceeded the amount of bandwidth he was
> allotted.
> Google, the company which operates the company that hosts his blog has
> upgraded his account last weekend gratis so he could continue writing and
> posting photos. This week it added a mirror site to keep up with the ever
> growing traffic. (
> Salam Pax has his detractors who believe he is actually an American or
> Israeli agent - and may not even be in Baghdad. But his supports point to
> the meticulous detail in his postings which even include the price of
> vegetables. One internet sleuth tested the code behind the Internet address
> of his blog and determined it most likely came from Iraq.
> The site was knocked off the air on Monday prompting fears that Iraq's secret
> police may have discovered him, but it came back up on Friday night.