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.
There is an approach, within military strategy, known as "Razzle Dazzle." The idea is to stand out with such visual intensity so as to perplex your target. This might be a good point of comparison with the work of Meredyth Sparks, which addresses political issues by dialetically fusing stills from the halls of rock music history, a constructivist visual vocabulary, and bling...lots of bling! Her current show at New York's Elizabeth Dee gallery, entitled "We were strangers for too long," employs images and sculpture heavy on silver foil, vinyl, and glitter, as ammo in launching an argument about intersections of "radical chic" and the culture wars. Her digitally-processed collages layer not only images from the mid-1970s that she argues chart a rise in rebellion against conservative culture, but also splice together art historical references to perspectivalism, the history of photographic media, and modernism's love affair with the grid. Her work both pushes and critiques the ideology of loud, glam, in your face activism, looking particularly at how strains of punk rock became (either through their own design or by a process of co-opting) part of the capitalist system they sought to tear down, thus raising the question of how we might come to fight fire with fire by once again making protest hot. - Marisa Olson
Image credit: Meredyth Sparks, Kraftwerk III, 2008
Damon Rich would like you to remember that in Old French, "mortgage" means "death vow." This truism rings sadly ironic in the United States where financial crisis has put many people out of their homes and the implosion of the subprime mortgage market has had deeper effects upon the national economy and our international relations. In a show at the MIT Museum, commissioned by the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, called "Red Lines, Death Vows, Foreclosures, Risk Structures," Rich explores the architectural history and financial terrain of the American housing market and the continued impetus toward residential development and unsound design practices. The artist is the founder of the venerable Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) collective who work with youth and local community members to address street-level issues through research and remarkable art projects. Rich's penchant for excavating facts, figures, and ideological trends is manifest in the exhibition, which includes new video work, photos, drawings, models, and historical artifacts. Open through December 21st, the show promises to draw a big red line around "the furious circulation of finance capital." - Marisa Olson
Image credit: Video stills from Predatory Tales, produced by Damon Rich in cooperation with Lawrence Community Works in Lawrence, Massachusetts
The artist statements written by Berlin-based American artists AIDS-3D read as simultaneously post-apocalyptic and utopian. They are primarily concerned with the unfulfilled promises of emergent technologies and the ways in which our daily lives revolve around these media. Alienation, self-preservation, reproduction (sexual and otherwise), and the construction of lifestyles are common themes in their work, which takes the form of performances, sculptures, and installations frequently employing lasers, electroluminescent cable, and relics from a recent past promoting the heights to which novelties of various origin will change the world. On September 20th, the duo will open the show "Digital Awakening" at Athens, Greece-based K44 Gallery, in which they will elaborate two radically different future scenarios, one in which Earth suffers "a disastrous energy crisis leading to war, famine and the breakdown of the global capitalist system" and an another where "humanity lives in a techno-utopia, where communication tools and futuristic technology fueled by alternative energy have allowed us to fully transcend into a scientifically maintained balance." Considering the potential impact of current directions in the field of energy production, these fictional accounts may not be the work of utter fantasy. - Marisa Olson
Many of the artists recently covered on Rhizome have shared an interest in spirituality, particularly as it intersects with mythology and ethos. Call it new media three-point-something, this sect of artists is also significantly prolific and a new show at Prato, Italy gallery Project Gentili surveys very recent work by a handful of the most interesting, including Maurizio Bianchi, Brody Condon, Deva Graf, Shane Hope, Xavi Hurtado, Michael Jones McKean, Dexter Sinister, Damon Zucconi, and AIDS-3D. Entitled "Pole Shift," the show alludes to a recent resurgence in New Age attitudes and interest in the metaphysical; particularly the conjecture that the earth might undergo an axial adjustment, causing a relocation of its poles. (Some worry warts link this prediction with the fear that an expiration in the Mayan calendar in the Gregorian year 2012 signals not only a pending geographic shake-up, but also an apocalypse.) Appropriately, many of the works in the show combine technology and a keen interest in systems with an end-of-an-era, eleventh-hour-type fervency sure to keep viewers on the tips of their toes. After its preview in Italy, the show will be reincarnated in nearly the same shape at Art-Forum Berlin, October 25-December 15. Assuming the world hasn't turned upside down by then, the show's worth adding to your art tour itinerary. - Marisa Olson
Montreal-based artist Matthew Biederman is daring to speak out about what he sees as military and government hijacking of what is "arguably one of Earth's most important, and only inexhaustible resources": air waves. Whereas radio was once intended as a many-to-many mode of communication, tight regulation of frequencies has led to a scenario in which the few (mostly corporate entities) are entitled to speak to the masses. His project, DAREDX, "seeks to re-establish the public's presence and right of occupation within the radio spectrum." In an effort to restore some of the utopian ideals initially associated with radio, the project will connect the public with the voices that float in the air around them and yet often go unheard: the voices of amateur broadcasters. Working almost like an astronomer, Biederman (under the call sign VA2XBX) will pluck transmissions out of the night sky, playing them back in Montreal's Cabot Square and logging and mapping them online. Drawing a connection between free public speech and the right of public assembly, DAREDX will amplify the voice of the people. Radioheads will be excited to know that non-vocal signals will also be charted, as the artist will "work with digital communications on HF, in order to send and receive SSTV (SlowScan Televsion), WEFAX (from NOAA Satellites), PSK31, Hellschrieber, and many more." In case you don't feel dialed-in enough to understand what that means, consider attending one of the talks, walks, or workshops associated with the project--including the one on how to build and take home your own FM transmitter! - Marisa Olson