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

PORTFOLIO (10)
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.

Choosy Moms Choose GIF



It's no secret that the Rhizome staff loves animated gifs. The best to roll through our feed readers are often reblogged to our front page, and in 2005 we presented The GIF Show, an exhibition of 12 artists using animated gifs to make new work. When we heard about the upcoming "Graphics Interchange Format" exhibition, we knew we had to share the news. Curated by Laurel Ptak, keeper of the popular I Heart Photograph blog, the show at emerging Brooklyn art space Bond Street Gallery features 67 animated gifs made by 26 artists, including Rhizome's own staff writer Tyler Coburn, Petra Cortright, C. Coy, Ilia Ovechkin, M. River, Trevor Shimizu, Jo-ey Tang, Anne De Vries, and Damon Zucconi. Some of the artists are among the net's gif stars and others made their first gifs for the show--they were all commissioned on three days' notice by Ptak and are being sold in unlimited editions (accompanied by a personalized note from the artist) for $20, instigating "gif shop" puns across the net art blogosphere. The curator promises a show that will demonstrate the diversity of what this beloved file format has come to prove capable of since its inception by CompuServe in 1987. Nonetheless, as a show nestled within a group show of group photo shows, called "Young Curators, New Ideas," the artists were encouraged to use photographic media and the resultant works are poised to trigger references to the history of lens-based practices and proto-filmic experimental cell animation. Either that or they will just flicker their way into your hearts as they clearly have ours. - Marisa Olson


Image: M. River, Safarirafas, 2008

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Summer in the City



Designer/researcher Greg J. Smith has curated an online exhibition that surveys twelve of the most influential mapping-related new media projects of the last ten years. "City of Nodes" is the 21st show presented by CONT3XT.NET, who use social bookmarking site del.icio.us as a platform for their TAGallery. The sites Smith selected actually skim the longstanding relationship between tagging and urban studies, with a focus on cartography and locative media. In his curatorial introduction (in this case, a "tag description"), Smith synthesizes Lewis Mumford's late-1930s conception of the city as "a nexus of social, creative, and economic collaboration," in contrast to William J. Mitchell's '90s era take on cities as including "not only asphalt and concrete, but bandwidth, code, and connectivity." This is the filter through which the twelve selected projects are viewed. They include the seminal Amsterdam Realtime (2002) project by Esther Polak and Jeroen Kee (the Waag Society) in which GPS devices worn by volunteers create a comparative portrait of the personal occupation of the city; iSee (2005), the Institute for Applied Autonomy's web-based program for locating CCTV cameras throughout a city and planning your travel route accordingly; and One Block Radius, Dave Mandl and Christina Ray's (a.k.a. Glowlab's) psychogeographic documentary of the immediate neighborhood surrounding what was then the future site of the new New Museum building. Given that so many of the selected projects are about tracing a collective experience, the folksonomic curatorial platform seems a perfect one on which to contemplate the work, with guest-curators' tags suggesting an interpretation before inviting viewers to travel off on their own. - Marisa Olson


Image: David Rokeby, Seen, 2002

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Rock Me Amadeus



Australian artist Lynette Wallworth is bringing a high tech touch to this year's Mostly Mozart festival at New York's venerable Lincoln Center. At first glance, the pairing of a new media installation artist with a celebration of an old dead white guy's music may seem formulaically nouveau, but Wallworth's interactive works bring a nice visual meditation on this year's festival theme: mortality and transcendence. If anyone could speak from the grave about this topic, it's Mozart, the legend of whose death surrounds the mythologizing of his oeuvre and who has been the subject of remixes (or variations, as the ancients call them) by a number of significant classical composers. Wallworth's video installations Hold Vessel 1 and 2 and Invisible by Night create a truly immersive space, one which relies on the viewer to proactively enter and activate these areas. In Hold Vessel 1 and 2, viewers carry a bowl-shaped screen into the room, to capture "projected images of microscopic marine life and telescopic astronomical imagery." The physical analogy here seems equal parts panning for gold and holding the whole world in your hands, with the artist's expressed intention being that of revealing "the hidden intricacies of human immersion in the wide, complex world." Invisible by Night uniquely engages the context of the Lincoln Center complex, which is not only a family of concert halls but also a shopping center, luxury apartment building, and corporate headquarters. Wallworth encourages visitors to slow down, ponder the emotional history of the site, and practice empathy in engaging with video footage of a grieving woman whose gestures will mirror those of viewers who elect to touch the projection surface. The piece is meant to speak to "the transient nature of compassion," and the interactive installation format's ...

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Let's Get Physical



Los Angeles-based artist Xtine Hanson calls her Mechanical Olympics "an alternative media spectacle to the Olympic games." Indeed, the project humorously turns the otherwise tightly-regulated machinery of both web commerce and international sports competition on their heads. Launching simultaneously with the Beijing games, on August 8th, The Mechanical Olympics invite the public to compete in sports previously restricted to people of specific genders and nationalities. The artist has enlisted participants via Amazon's Mechanical Turk site in which users receive paid commissions for completing tasks almost but not quite so simple a machine could complete them, thus joining the ranks of participatory projects like AddArt, Sheep Market, and Ten Thousand Cents, which also employed this service. Hanson likens this playful outsourcing of labor to working with artificial intelligence. Nonetheless, it's clear that her worker bees are bringing a hefty dose of personal creativity to this web-based role-playing game. A perusal of the videos thus far uploaded to The Mechanical Olympics' YouTube channel features Starbucks baristas working overtime to put their own spin on the classic sport of Hockey, and the woman who represents South Africa in the Freestyle Swimming event could win a gold medal in charm for her combined use of a spray bottle and trippy arm movements. When accepting one of the project's Human Intelligence Tasks (or HITs), the athletes agree to wear a pre-designed sign indicating their sport, gender, and country (they get to pick their own number) and to be paid between $1-3 dollars upon emailing Hanson a URL to their 30-60 second video. The footage will be posted daily, during the Olympics, and voted upon by blog readers. Rather than medals, the winning artificial Olympians receive bonus commissions, much like their more famous counterparts whose accomplishments score them lucrative endorsement deals. - Marisa Olson ...

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Team Spoof



In the days of DIY online publishing, what we once knew as agitprop has increasingly taken the form of parasitic media. In such projects, activists leech qualities from the web presence of the host they intend to critique and use these visual resemblances (logos, site maps, page layouts, even URLs) to mimic their opponent in parallel sites that shoot off rather rhizomatically. Like a scientific parasite, the activist lives off the host, but what really thrives is the self-referential critique enabled by this form of parody. The Italian collective, Les Liens Invisibles, excels at initiatives such as these. In their open source project, Fake is a Fake, they make it easy for internet users with access to free Word Press blogging software to mimic high profile sites like news and government agencies, while inserting their own statements. "If at one time or another in your life you wanted to speak with 'the master's voice,'" they say, "then you are ready for our brand new fake-publishing services!" Constantly updated and refined by a group of devoted developers, the list of available spoofs continues to grow. Their most recent (ironically credited to Luther Blissett, the open source nom de plume--taken from the given name of a Jamaican footballer--originated in Italy for hundreds of worldwide activists) uses the upcoming games in Beijing as a backdrop for discussing China's attitude towards human rights. In the announcement of the Peking 2008 site, they declared, "While the Olympic curtain softly falls on the Chinese repression in Tibet, the imaginary art-group Les Liens Invisibles celebrates the upcoming Olympic Games with a new fake-based hybridation between art, activism, and advertising strategies." The ubiquity and recognizability of branded messages make them particularly vulnerable to such forms of plagiarism. The artists' disclaimer for Fake is a ...

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