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.

Kill Your Television


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Today, the Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Center for New Media, and Long Now Foundation will host what author Bruce Sterling calls a "Dead Media hootenanny." The Funeral for Analog TV will be a full day of revelry, capped-off by the kind of pseudo-event perhaps not seen by the Bay Area since Ant Farm's Media Burn. Attendees of the festive wake are encouraged to bring their analog TV sets to pile on an electronic heap which will simulate a snow crash at the end of the night. Though the US Congress recently extended the deadline by which all broadcasting television signals must legally be converted to digital HD, Sterling says the event is moving ahead as originally scheduled "because we prefer to bury a fresh corpse rather than wait for the walking dead to fall over." As the organizer of the Dead Media Project, Sterling knows a thing or two about the carcasses left behind as a result of technological upgrades. He joins a lineup of people that includes media historian Paul Saffo, artist collective Neighborhood Public Radio, and sound artist Author & Punisher in marking this rite of obsolescence. The organizers point out that it's only fitting that the funeral service be held in the Bay Area, given that the system for broadcasting and receiving TV signals was invented there. But if you can't make it to the West Coast to hear the eulogy, fear not. The event's penultimate "scattering of the ashes" will be an online rebroadcasting of the program. - Marisa Olson

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Bucking the Pseudonym


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Image: Rick Silva, Antlers Wifi, 2009

Calgary-based Brazilian-American artist Rick Silva is a man of at least as many talents as identities. Perhaps this can be chalked-up to the fact that he studied under and often collaborates with pseudonymous hypertext pioneer Mark Amerika. But last week he unveiled a collaboration with himself in which he's finally ready to disclose that he is the artist previously known as Abe Linkoln. Antlers Wifi merges the stylistic affinities with which both names have been associated. Linkoln anticipated the "pro-surfer" net art movement with Screenfull.net, his first collaborative work with Jimpunk, the motto of which was "we crash your browser with content." He's continued to push this aesthetic over the last five years while helping to establish "blog art" as a genre, and Triptych.tv (with Jimpunk and Mr. Tamale) is evidence of his ongoing interest in web-based group remix blogs. But Antlers Wifi is a step in a solo direction, bringing a copy/paste aesthetic to original animations. If Linkoln is the product of Amerika, then Silva is the product of Stan Brakhage, with whom the artist also studied. He refers to the site's multi-layered digital collages as "poems about light and nature" and indeed they have all the flickery appeal of Brakhage's performatively-composed films. The project is an interesting move on the heels of Silva's high-def Rough Mix, which playfully compared the practices of scratching images as a filmmaker and scratching records as a DJ. It also conveyed a deep interest in nature appropriate to someone who came of age in the mountains of Colorado. The videos posted at Antlers Wifi build upon each other while leaning on the time-based format of the blog. Now in its second week, Silva anticipates archiving his posts on a ...

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Picture Stories


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Image: Kristin Lucas, Travel Advisory, 2007

This year's Artefact festival is organized around the notion that "images inevitably show and hide at the same time." Given the theme of "Behind the Image/ The Image Behind," the fest will feature the usual assemblage of great performances, panels, lectures, and installations. From the 10th through the 15th of February, Leuven's STUK Museum will be headquarters for deep discussion of the semiotics of digital images, the cultural snapshots that looking at code provides, and the patterns by which both are circulated. These form vs. content questions are part of the event's goal of "covering and uncovering media," as a means of exploring the nuances of contemporary digital visual culture, and the politics of representation and sharing in this realm. The lineup of speakers attests to a continuum of modification practices ranging from secret messages encoded in images to remixing other people's images, and the organizers hint explicitly at the connection between these transitional forms of textuality and the ideological transitions in representational strategies that coincide with technological development. That's right--this is a no fluff conference! Smart practitioners Taryn Simon, Ines Schaber, Harun Farocki, Pia Linz, Kristin Lucas, Peter Weibel, and ShiftSpace will be among those present to crack into these deep discussions. Not to worry, the evening programs are full of fun events to stimulate your eyes and ears after days of thinktankery. - Marisa Olson

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Downtown Dorks


Video: Jeremy Bailey, SOS - Preview, 2008

In the New York art world, there's a funny distinction between "uptown" and "downtown." If "uptown" is Broadway, "downtown" is Off-Off-Broadway. The 92nd Street Y has famously presented an uptown lecture series for years, bringing in artists, musicians, authors, and others worth taking note of. But their downtown Tribeca branch is the place to go see cool bands or comedians rapidly sprouting up from the underground. It's within this context that the fine geeks at Dorkbot have curated an evening next Wednesday entitled "You're Doing it Wrong: Creative Misuse of Technology." Following from the group's mission to present "people doing strange things with electricity," the night will begin with live performances by The Draftmasters + Daniel Iglesia, who will invite you to don 3D glasses in viewing and listening to their pen plotter-generated sound and video projection, and Jeremy Bailey, who will run a deadpan demo of SOS, "his latest ill-conceived homebrew productivity software." These live activities will be followed by five short screenings, including Tom Sachs's Space Program, billed as "an incredibly detailed mis-re-imagining of a NASA space mission;" Paul Slocum's You're Not My Father, a compilation of internet users' reenactment of a clip from the 80s sitcom Full House; and Daniel Greenfeld's Mini-disasters, small-scale reenactments of famous transportation-related disasters. The lineup offers something for geeks of every stripe and a collective glimpse at the aesthetics of failure. - Marisa Olson

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In the Round


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Image: Lucky Dragons, Showing, 2009

The question of the relationship between performance and its documentation is an interesting, if longstanding one. These relations have continued to shift with the emergence of newer and newer media, so that the telephonic or radio broadcast, camera, and internet transmission become implicated in the content they capture and deliver, often begging a chicken vs. egg-style question of whether the performance or the recording is paramount. The "Stage II" exhibition at New York's The Project gallery returns attention to the site of performance, even as it displays the residual ephemera of artists' actions. The work of artist Dave Allen stimulates a visceral connection with audiences in tapping into sound art's classic obsession with silence to deliver Silence Recordings, Hansa Studios, Berlin (2001), which fills the gallery space with the seemingly-silent recordings of vacant artist studios and empty concert halls. Lucky Dragons is a band and art collective whose work encompasses music, drawing, public collaboration, and more. For "Stage II," they present Showing (2009), a sculptural installation that proves the artists need not be physically present to make noise. An arrangement of their homebrew instruments featuring rocks, wood, and analog electronics sits in waiting for viewers to move them, generating a shift in their electrical field and a resultant shift in the shape of the sounds they are set to make. While these two projects provide perfect bookends for the exhibition, the show also includes work by Larry Krone, Rashaad Newsome, and Superamas, each of whom is engaged in the practice of splicing together object relationships, filmic clips, or cultural reenactments to establish a new interdependence between artist, viewer, stage, and document. - Marisa Olson

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Discussions (281) Opportunities (10) Events (4) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

Rhizome Today: A critic, with opinions about postinternet art


Great post, Michael! What an exciting (if facebook-thread-dramatic!) couple weeks for Postinternet discussion. I appreciate your breakdown of these three (obviously not mutually exclusive) approaches. To my mind, the results of approach #1 have only had fickle results. i.e. Ed, I actually talked about Postinternet Art before I read the "internet aware" comment from Guthrie--I believe first on a Rhizome panel Michael was on at EAI--but then again, Guth & I used to gchat every day then, as we were just about to start Nasty Nets when I brought it up. But moreover, as I recently posted in an FB thread, I truly believe there was a zeitgeist around recognizing these ideas (and using whatever word or phrase to do so; not just postinternet) in 2005-2006, as expressed in writings and talks by Lev Manovich, Steve Dietz, Sarah Cook, Josephine Berry Slater, Jon Ippolito, myself & Guthrie, etc.. (Christiane Paul touched on this in her responses to Karen Archey's Ullens questionnaire.) I don't think it's productive to construct/dismantle/bash origin myths, if only because it's led to a rash of ad hominem attacks on a number of artists & writers lately, completely sacrificing the point of critical writing.

My own effort in talking about Postinternet, at least in those early instances, as on the panel, was to (a) expand Rhizome's mission--I was then Editor & Curator--to cover and support a wider variety of practices; and (b) just to describe my own work and how a project like my Monitor Tracings (totally "offline" drawings) could be contextualized as internet art, or art 'after' the internet (i.e. In the style of & made after I log-off.) I think Michael puts it *perfectly* when he says, "we should understand all our gestures, 'online' and 'offline,' as actions in a network that is mediated and administered by computers." Perhaps this is obvious, but I'd say this applies to all of waking life, not just art production+reception.

I've personally moved from discussing Postinternet Art as "art after the internet" toward discussing Postinternet as "the symptoms of network culture." I am less interested in discussing PI Art specifically/exclusively, now that people have brow-beaten and/or branded the term into something far different than what I originally meant, and much more interested in discussing the social affects around the production of postinternet conditions and their manifestations. And, meanwhile, I have said (particularly in the Ullens catalogue & also in an interview in the Art and the Internet book put out by Black Dog) that, to me, Postinternet is just a 'placeholder' term around which to convene in having conversations around the latter symptoms. (I've started working on spelling these out more explicitly in recent & forthcoming writing-- including the keynote lecture I just gave at Pratt's UPLOAD conference, entitled "Postinternet is Dead. Long Live Postinternet.")

Likes/Dislikes around the word, aside, I hope this very long-running conversation around art and the internet can continue to incorporate careful consideration of the affects of network culture, as networks themselves evolve.


DISCUSSION

Breaking the Ice


Hi, everyone! Wow, I've got to say, it's nice to see some familiar names here! Michael, Congratulations on your new job. As someone who held that same title (and various permutations of it) for several years, I know you are in for a heavy load and I also know that you are also more than up to the task.

Like most of the folks above, I too am a "forever member," from the days of the Rhizome Communications ascii RAW listserv and, later, fancy Dreamweaver/Flash "Splash Pages," to the present. Reena Jana and I were the first two paid writers (poached from Wired!), when Alex Galloway was running "content," which at that time meant programming and editorial--though Rhizome was declaratively non-editorial, so they just commissioned book & exhibition reviews, and some interviews from us that were fed into the RAW stream and included in the Digest as Features. Oy vey, I can still remember the cross-eyed weekly ritual of trying to untangle parallel conversations to reassemble them into a coherent thread for the Digest, when I was editing it--and the race to get it out by noon one day each week!!

I've seen Rhizome go through so many changes, and I've been a part of the back channel conversations on years of them, including huge ones that we decided not to go through with. I have to say that it's always hard to serve a membership-based organization, which is what Rhizome has always thought of itself as. But I can say that every change in content or form has been discussed critically, at length, and typically not without a degree of passion.

I am also biting my tongue because I *really* do not want to put words in any staff member's mouth (past or present), but I can say that I believe everyone who's ever worked there has taken their position as a labor of love, with users/reader/members/community (everyone has their favorite self-identification; semantics trolls please don't hate today!) in mind, and everyone has collaborated with the staff to bring a unique take on how best to serve you in the current creative and technological climate. For instance, I remember that my big objective coming in the door was wanting to change the mission statement to reflect not only net art and not only highly technological art, but also art that "reflects" on technology in a meaningful way. In fact, I think contemplating this change was very much a part of my conceptualizing Postinternet.

There is so much to say here, but I think I'd best sign off. This is not my soap box, and in some way, it feels weird to comment so much. I used to be a Superusing Megaposter, but as soon as I became Editor & Curator, I stepped back to focus on trying to facilitate and amplify other voices, which I do believe every Rhizome Editor has done in their own way.

I'll end with this, then. I'd be surprised if every reader, writer, or editor loved everything that ever appeared (structurally or content-wise) in their newspaper of choice. I'd be surprised if every curator or museumgoer loved every artwork shown (or every exhibition design decision) in their favorite museum. But it's the day we stop reading, stop going to look at art that disappoints me. It's the day Rhizome stops experimenting that scares me. And I wish them well on this new experiment.

DISCUSSION

Conference Report: NET.ART (SECOND EPOCH)


Hi, Josephine.

Thank you for these points of clarification. I actually tried to convey (and forgive me if I failed) that your presentation was unique in identifying multiple generations of networked artists, and I particularly liked the way you talked about artists working before the internet in ways that anticipated network culture.

You also made that great point (via Hal Foster) about the ways in which critics' work is influenced by what is/ was happening at the moment they entered the art world. I admire how you helped pioneer new media criticism and yet have continued to stay on the pulse of new work. This is what I had in mind when recalling your point about your relationship to a previous generation of net-dot-artists, versus the artists of the era Inclusiva was calling the "second epoch." I just really liked the way you fleshed out more than two epochs and I wanted to highlight your catalyzing role in the net-dot-art scene, in particular.

In my own presentation, my intent absolutely was not to dismiss any previous artists, movements, practices, etc. It was simply to flesh-out one niche of new media art practice. In fact, I really liked the pointed questions that the audience asked afterwards, because it helped us have a really meaningful discussion about the problematic relationship of pro surfer work to art historical discourse, and my calls to action revolved around getting those artists to participate in learning about their own pre-histories and writing historiographies that situate their own trajectories on their own terms.

So I don't think we're in disagreement. But I appreciate your call to fine-tune my articulation of these scenarios.

DISCUSSION

Go Ahead, Touch Her


Why are vocal remixes different than video? This is a very interesting distinction. Can you please say more about this and why one is ok and one isn't, beyond the rubric of industry standards? I think that remix and parody have the potential to be very useful and viable political tools. The best-known examples of such efforts would be the work of the Yes Men, but examples of parasitic media within the field abound. In your comments (i.e. "Here it seems the remix does imply ridicule") it seems as if you think that remixing automatically equals mockery but I don't agree and don't see that implied in the project. Laric's video simply shows us (or arguably amplifies) what's already there and gives both fans and critics a chance to say what they will. This is the pact that all artists make with their audience when they release their work into the world--that people will interpret it as they will, whether that means reading it a certain way, hearing it a certain way, or incorporating it into their lives in a certain way. This is how the popular preconscious works. I don't think it's fair to call this project a senseless derision of Carey, but I do still think that your vehement apprehension towards remixes says something interesting about the ways that certain corners of the cultural community (particularly academia) perceive the effects of these acts. I just think they need fleshing-out. There is a big difference between real violence towards women and perceived theoretical misdeeds towards a celebrity's highly-guarded public image. If this is the true issue, I think our energies are best directed toward prevention of the former rather than scandalizing the latter.

DISCUSSION

Go Ahead, Touch Her


Hi, Brittany.

I'm sorry that you found my article objectionable. I didn't intend to make the implications you suggest, but I believe your response cuts to the most interesting aspect of Laric's piece, which is the effect of remixing.

For those who care to review the lyrics to this song, they are here:
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/mariahcarey/touchmybody.html

They include the refrain:

Touch my body
Put me on the floor
Wrestle me around
Play with me some more
Touch my body
Throw me on the bed


So, in fact, I do think that Carey's lyrics (and video) invite sexual fantasy, but my article doesn't say that she is asking to be violated, it says that she's asking to be remixed. Of course, the slippage between the two that you identify is what's so interesting.

In an interview with Laric, he told me that he noticed that the video takes-on an increased sexual tone when all but Carey is masked out. He was interested in how this first-person invitation to "touch my body" could be construed as an invitation to remix the visage of her body (and/or the voice emitted from it), particularly given (a) the implicit link to digital culture embodied by both the lyrics and video, and (b) the fact that the remix is now such an important part of the media ecology of pop culture.

In the last 25+ years of pop music, lining-up celebrity remixes and making singles remix-ready has been an important part of the production cycle, often preceding the release of the original recording. Almost all historical accounts of Madonna's rise to fame cite her relationship with DJs and openness to remixing as a key factor in her success. So while you may see the remix as a violent act, clearly those participating in this industry see it as an imperative.

Discussions of why a remix is or isn't violent are interesting, as they get to questions of the status of the digital reproduction. Are we remixing a person or "just" her image, and what's the difference when thinking about how a person's identity--particularly a famous person's identity--hinges upon their image? Carey's image was already manipulated before it came to us. In the interview with Laric, he pointed to a segment in the original video in which the shape of a cup becomes distorted as a result of distorting the footage to make the singer standing behind the cup appear slimmer. So this is already not her. If you listen closely, I believe there is also a question as to whether all of the voiced parts of the song are her, so the audio issue adds another layer to the phenomenological question of the brute force of the remix.

These issues of the import of the remix, the relationship to broader pop culture (rather than an insular art world), collective authorship, and the nature of Carey's invitation are what I hoped to address in this article.