mark cooley
Since 2002
Works in United States of America

Mark Cooley is an interdisciplinary artist interested in exploring the intersections of art, activism and institutional critique in a variety of contexts. Subjects of particular interest are U.S. foreign policy, corporate culture, and the political economy of new technologies. Recently, Mark has focused his attention on food production and consumption and the ways in which artists may mediate in these processes.

The New American Dictionary

The Boston-based performance group Institute for Infinitely Small Things has published a book called The New American Dictionary.

The dictionary highlights the terminology of fear, security and war that has permeated American English post 9-11. It includes 68 new terms i.e. Preparedness and Freedom Fries as well as terms that have recently been redefined i.e. Torture.

The dictionary also has an interactive dimension. 58 terms are left undefined for the reader to pencil in their own definition. Furthermore, readers are invited to submit their additions to the institute for a possible inclusion in the 2nd edition.

The New American Dictionary is available at several online stores.


exhaust emissions balloons

a huge balloon, tied to a car�s vent-pipe, depicting the amount of exhaust emissions a car releases a day.

the "bursting earth" project is similar, but more dynamic. activists attach world globe balloons on exhaust pipes of cars in Berlin. the exhaust gas inflates the ballons. after the message becomes readable, there is a big "bang".

[link: & &]



Aram Bartholl is a german artist renowned for making physical abstractions of the digital world, particularly game-worlds.

One of Aram's not-to-be-missed performances is inspired by the popular computer game World of Warcraft (WoW).

In WoW, the nickname of the player's avatar is constantly hovering above the head of the player so that the identity is visible for everyone else in the game.

Aram took this little feature out of cyberspace to see how it would look if people's names would float above their heads in the physical world too.

WoW has been performed at different locations around the world. Luckily, it is well-documented!

Getting coffee WoW style Workshop in Ghent Project Site




Aesthetics and Politics

REALIZING THE IMPOSSIBLE: ART AGAINST AUTHORITY by Josh MacPhee, Erik Reuland, editors :: There has always been a close relationship between aesthetics and politics in anti-authoritarian social movements. And those movements have in turn influenced many of the last century's most important art movements, including cubism, Dada, post-impressionism, abstract expressionism, surrealism, Fluxus, Situationism, and punk. Today, the movement against corporate globalization, with its creative acts of resistance, has brought anti-authoritarian politics into the forefront. This sprawling, inclusive collection explores this vibrant history, with topics ranging from turn-of-the-century French cartoonists to modern Indonesian printmaking, from people rolling giant balls of trash down Chicago streets to massive squatted urban villages and renegade playgrounds in Denmark, from stencil artists of Argentina to radical video collectives of the US and Mexico. Lots of illustrations, all b&w.;


Discussions (102) Opportunities (7) Events (39) Jobs (2)

internet 2 url correction

Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:13

oops. the http for internet2 is - not - I was given the wrong address. phew! not so many suits - i'm a little more comfortable now.


mark cooley


art / cultural projects using Internet 2

Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:10

Hi everyone. My current employer, George Mason University, is beginning to implement i2 into its building and operating structures. I've been approached to initiate a project using this technology. Coming from the sort of lofi angle, I'm a little clueless (although, a quick visit to tells me that this is a big business thing - all the suits scare me a little, honestly) I'm seeing its use in industrial activities (and of course aerospace and defense is heavily involved), but I'm wondering if anyone out there is doing art projects or events etc. with this technology. I am possibly seeking collaboration with institutions that are using this technology. I'm particularly interested in work that has a critical perspective on this new technology. I welcome any statements, opinions, articles, research on the positives and negatives of this technology and the way it is being implemented.

please email me at

thank you,

mark cooley


absence / presence: a conversation with artist charles cohen

absence / presence: a conversation with charles cohen

A conversation between Charles Cohen and Mark Cooley conducted through electronic mail - 2006

For a hypertext version of this interview please visit

See Charles Cohen's work at:

MC: I'd like to begin by exploring your use of the "cut-out" in some of your most well known works. I've been covering your Buff series in various new media related courses for a couple of years now, and several questions and points of discussion are frequently raised. Can you speak first about the dichotomy of absence/presence at work in these pieces: How do you wish this dichotomy to play out for your audience, and what role does the content of the original image play in this scenario?

CC: If I may, I’d like to dissect the viewing experience into three “effects” which the cut-out generates. The “first effect” is the immediate recognition of the void; a mere observation, not an intellectual reaction, per se. The second effect is “the abstract effect,” which would be any subsequent intellectual activity for the viewer. This sets up an ideal and final “reflexive effect”.

The catalyst for the reaction is expectation. Because we expect nudity (in the Buff series) the suggestive poses of the subject and the conditioned responses of the viewer confront the void. This disconnect of what is expected with what is actually there has a variety of reactions in viewers. After digesting the experience, however, the question of what has happened occurs. This question, a momentary wedge in a normal viewing experience, sets up the “abstract effect”. The viewer is questioning the nature of this particular type of imagery as well as the effect of imagery in general on the mind. It is no longer a transparent and immediate experience, as it is so often in photography where the experience is oversimplified. Finally, the pinnacle for the artist is to create a third, “reflexive” effect. The viewer dissects all viewing experiences to the degree where the subtleties of the construction of meaning are understood and, perhaps assumes co-authorship with the artist.

MC: You mention co-authorship and I'm interested in pursuing this concept because it echoes many of the discussions I've had with students regarding your work, but before we get into that I am interested in how you came upon the source imagery for Buff and analogtime (full title, Why I prefer digital clocks and can no longer pretend to like analog time) — I'm wondering if you could speak about the significance of the specific imagery in the two series. While the cut-out seems to set-up a similar relationship between viewer and image in both series, it also seems to lead to very different results in terms of specific associations or meaning.

CC: The theme which my work tends to revolve around, the presence of absence, first surfaced in two photographic series, that and set (See linked statements for that and set). This work was created in 1997-1999. As you may or may not know, the Buff series starts with an appropriated image and the analogtime series is from film negatives that I took and happen to be in. The Buff work, which I am most known for, preceded the analogtime series from the Drop Out show at Julie Saul. Buff is an intellectual exercise to dialog with the viewer about expectation and imagery in general. I elaborate on this in-depth in the linked statement. The text from Curve: The Female Nude Now (by Sarah Valdez, Megan Dailey, Jane Harris) is also related and interesting. The analogtime images are an emotional exercise that follows the principles of Buff addressing issues of attachment and lack. I have embedded the intellectual mission of Buff into an emotional narrative in analogtime. And by being seductive and generic, the farewell scene sustains some of the abstraction issues that I addressed in Buff.

The fact that the main differences relate to love and lust were not planned per se but are certainly very relevant and seem to be a good way to differentiate. The white space in Buff would be a novel, retinal fling (albeit with an important invitation to think) and the analogtime silhouette would be the profound long-term relationship with a pain/pleasure point of entry. The similarity of the white space allows the viewer to project a thought in both cases, but those thoughts are very different for the two series. In Buff, while the exercise for me is detached, general and intellectual, for the viewer it may be more immediate and specific, facilitating co-authorship. While in the analogtime imagery the picture itself is specific, narrative and attached for me, the viewer’s involvement is contingent upon appeal—requiring more participation from the viewer.

I never show the two series in the same room and preferably not at the same time as the subtleties compete in the experience. The analytical differences are interesting but don’t translate to an effective installation.

MC: I'm interested in touching on this concept of co-authorship that you mentioned previously. As you know, many aspects of digital culture (from products defined as fine art to those defined as entertainment or mass media) are celebrated and formed around ideas of "interactivity". It seems unfortunate that "interactivity", which suggests an opening for co-authorship with the participant, often boils down to a "user" clicking buttons to get to prearranged content. It has been pointed out many times that this kind of "interactivity" is not fundamentally different than flipping through a book or channels on a t.v. remote. Do you think our culture's fascination with gadgets and clicking buttons has had any effect on the kind of conceptual interactivity one can have with (or through) static imagery? Relatedly, I've had many classroom discussions in which I've posed the question, "what is interactivity?" - almost inevitably, responses tend to revolve around manipulating gadgetry. Technologies and representations made with them tend lose their roles as mediators between people and their ideas and become ends unto themselves. Communication and interaction seem lost at this level. Do you think that technology sometimes serves to alienate or distance people from conscious interaction with their environments? I'm also partly interested in this question because much of your work seems to suggest or conjure simultaneous feelings of intimacy and distance or alienation - not only in your Buff and analogtime series, but I get this sense in your set, that and Standard Double series as well. What are your general or specific thoughts along these lines?

CC: Hmmm. That’s a great point of entry for me in particular. I was raised on the tube. The effect of the preoccupation (if you don’t mind) of the gadget and related control/interactive devices depends on the individual and has the potential for positive effect. In the analytical realm, however, clicking should never merit interactivity. Perhaps co-authorship is the standard for interactivity.

I was just talking with a friend about a more recent addition to the analogtime series that explicitly includes issues of memory, narrative, projection and therefore control. The name analogtime reflects the multi-temporal nature of the images for which the silhouette is directly responsible. By “multi-temporal” I mean the image depicts the record of a past event/gesture and IS an explicit revisiting of that event in the viewing present as well as a longing for something in the future. The silhouette draws attention to the process of making the image as well as the motivation, and draws the viewer into the equation, making the narrative relative to the present moment. This reflexivity within the image, for the viewer and between the image and the viewer is interactivity.

When you ask if technology causes alienation and distance, I say yes, except that distance (and alienation) can be an opportunity to understand the way in which we process mediated images and to enhance interactivity. It only takes the tiniest pause for a numb moment to reveal profound, reflective insights. I was an anthropology major in college and I identified very much with an underlying principle in ethnographic fieldwork - participant observation. That is, the blending of analytical distance with whole-hearted engagement. It is perhaps recognizing this in my own thinking that drew me toward making art - for I feel that artwork is an even more satisfactory resolution of these contradictory thoughts than prose. I’ll leave poetry alone except that de-contextualized and duplicitous language has a desirable effect for me.

This contradiction or in-between state of participant observation is something that is more difficult to convey than language traditionally permits. If two exclusive voices exist in our mental faculty, that is, solely participation or solely observation, then it is visual language that can set up an experience for communication rather than a verbal account that simply constructs the message for one-way delivery.

In the analogtime pieces I am attempting to blend “account” with “experience” using conflicting modes of time to address the same contradiction in the image as well as that which sets up the image. The pieces include active gestures like reaching or embracing but they refer to something not there and therefore past. In the set series there is also an underlying duality - that of natural and artificial light. The images are all taken at either dusk or dawn with an overlap of outdoor lighting - betwixt and between. That one cannot discern the time of day is intended to alienate the viewer as well as highlight a form of beauty in the lack of knowledge. The same goes for the that series of billboard profiles. There is no face, or information in the image — the original function debunked as the viewer surrenders to questions, not answers.

Ultimately my art and all contemporary art is perhaps a projection of an inner duality that engages and provokes thought in equal amounts.

MC: I'm interested to know what your thoughts are on how the cut-out has been popularized in advertising imagery in recent years. There are numerous examples that I've come across, but the obvious and by far the most enduring is the iPod campaign. It interests me because it seems an ideal example of how similar technical and formal applications can be initiated by very different conceptual intentions and work toward very different affects for viewer / participant - or stated another way, an illustration of how context determines meaning. I'd like to know your thoughts, if you've had any, on how the "cut-out" seems to function in your work in comparison / contrast to how it functions in commercial applications - specifically the iPod campaign?

CC: I once scribbled, design is to “ooh!” as art is to “oh?”. Design seeks to hook while art aims to cause pause. Apple and its image makers don’t necessarily want thought, only impulse. Sadly, this is what a viewer often wants too. The viewer wants what the image wants and we gladly cooperate. (This is a plug for a great book, “What Do Pictures Want” by W.J.T. Mitchell). With this difference between art and design in mind, I try to take advantage of the seduction dynamic with a little kung fu and some blank space. I probably mean some other martial art, but I am referring to the ability to redirect energy coming at you, to turn an ad image on its head gracefully, like Marx did analytically to a table, unlocking the implied forces within and re-empowering the viewer. Marx would clearly side with the viewer (if I haven’t made him roll over yet), because it is the viewer that constructs the meaning of the message. The result is revolutionary. Like a French sabot, the silhouette disrupts the fetish mechanism and unleashes a flurry of thought. The ipod ad insidiously lacks who they think you want to be (the silhouette). The message is lack itself—you lack meaning without an ipod. The void I emphasize simply asks the viewer for an idea and in return grants authority to the viewer.

Regarding the silhouette, I often consider the allegory of the cave and some general eastern thought, i.e. that the world we experience is merely light and shadow distraction interpreted by an ego mind. I hope to transcend the fiction (rather than profoundly reinforce it) by indicating the relationship between one’s mind and the flickering shadows. My friend Max who works in IT once said, “it’s amazing how much you can discern about a communication only knowing that it took place”. Perhaps, in looking at a silhouette, the viewer, once implicated and engaged in the dialog, knows the significance of his role and thus the sensation of reality without knowing what in fact that reality is.

About the artists

Charles Cohen (New York, USA) Currently represented by Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York, Genovese/Sullivan in Boston, Patricia Faure in Los Angeles and Imago Galleries in Palm Desert, Charles Cohen participated in the Core Fellowship program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston after earning his MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to traditional photography Cohen uses video, digital imaging and sculpture to explore various aspects of a central theme——the presence of absence. Cohen often finds or applies abstraction to mundane subjects in order to complete the meaning of a piece by engaging the viewer. His "Buff" series has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Boston, Houston, San Francisco and Portland. It can also be seen in two recently released books: "Digital Art" by Christiane Paul published by Thames & Hudson, and "CURVE: The Female Nude Now" by Dailey, Meghan et al, published by Rizzoli.

Mark Cooley is a new genre artist interested in visual rhetoric, forgotten histories and political economy. His work has been exhibited in many international venues both online and off. Mark is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Visual Technology at George Mason University.

contact info:
mark cooley

charles cohen


Re: Re: Re: Re: on bad digital art

I understand what you are saying, but I wasn't speaking of historic significance. I'm more interested in how digital can be explored as cultural rather than solely technological. here's a good paragraph from an interview that ryan griffis did with critical art ensemble a few years back
CAE: "...Recent developments in
information and communication technologies (ICT) and in biotechnology are
on a parallel course. Contemporary ICT is slightly ahead of biotech, but
they are both products of the digital era. When speaking of the "digital,"
CAE means this in a grander sense than just as a category of technology.
We are speaking of a worldview, of a new cosmology. When we use the term
"digital," we are referring to the idea of replication. Western cosmology
has traditionally been analogic. That is, a process moves from chaos to
order and back to chaos, and products exist in a binary pattern--the
original and the counterfeit. For centuries the principle that order came
from chaos and chaos from order was unchallenged. This situation really
started to change in the early 20th century with Fordist
mass-manufacturing. Ford intuitively understood the digital in terms of
manufacture, in that he knew the distinction between the original and the
counterfeit was actually an impediment to profit, and that profitability
was increased by employing principles of replication and equivalence. This
new model was directly understood and addressed in the development of
digital technology--the technology of replication and equivalence. The
model is based on the principle that order comes from order. Such an idea
had tremendous impact on biology, because without it, the reproductive
process could not be understood, because biological reproductive process
is about replication. Once this idea was accepted, it was possible to
understand DNA in a whole new way. Manufacturing, ICT, and biotechnology
(the primary markers of the 20th century) are linked in that they share
this new principle of order from order."

Also, Lev Manovich in his book Principles of New Media breaks the so-called digital age down into several principles that set it apart from analog culture, but he is very careful not to keep his definitions solely in the realm of technology. These are cultural shifts that get built into technology. so in this sense digital art is not defined by the technology that is used in its production, but rather the cultural context of its production. In this sense, art that explores biotechnology, for instance, may not always be created with digital tools, but rather the assumptions it is based on - that the body (and the world for that matter) is made up of code (digital culture) rather than a series of machine parts (analog culture) - is what determines it to be digital art.

Eric Dymond wrote:

> mark cooley wrote:
> > > those that use technology as their subject
> > > those that use technology as their medium
> >
> > digital art - i'd like to throw in another definition as well - "art
> > that is found significant in the context of digital culture." by
> > digital culture i do not necessarily mean to point to the machines
> > that do its work. if we examine digital culture next to its
> > predecessor - analog culture - then we can see some clear changes in
> > the way that humans (within such cultures) see the world differently
> > and of course construct the world differently through the
> technologies
> > built to represent these cultures. myself, i think emphasis should
> be
> > taken off technology and focused on the culture that finds such
> tools
> > valuable. and besides technology does not necessarily have anything
> > to do with digital. the word technology can not stand in for
> digital.
> The only problem with that is defining what it is that digital culture
> accepts as historically significant. What if we think that The Jazz
> Singer was significant.Although the movie that ruined cinema to many
> at the time by introducing sound (although analog) , was considered
> significant because it broke the silence that was filled by the
> viewers personality, is it really a significant milestone in the
> evolution of digital work? There's no end to significant cultural
> shifts in the evolution of images ( from BC to post 911) and
> presentive works.
> We're still lacking a concrete reference for defining digital culture.
> Maybe we should stop focusing on purism.
> I think you are getting closer to a working definition by looking at
> the concept rather than the tool.
> Eric


Re: Re: on bad digital art

> those that use technology as their subject
> those that use technology as their medium

digital art - i'd like to throw in another definition as well - "art that is found significant in the context of digital culture." by digital culture i do not necessarily mean to point to the machines that do its work. if we examine digital culture next to its predecessor - analog culture - then we can see some clear changes in the way that humans (within such cultures) see the world differently and of course construct the world differently through the technologies built to represent these cultures. myself, i think emphasis should be taken off technology and focused on the culture that finds such tools valuable. and besides technology does not necessarily have anything to do with digital. the word technology can not stand in for digital.

Maschine Hospital wrote:

> We are all bad digital art. Terrible.
> On Thu, 10 Aug 2006, Alexis Turner wrote:
> > Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 17:25:13 +0000 (UTC)
> > From: Alexis Turner <>
> > To: Pall Thayer <>
> > Cc:
> > Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: on bad digital art
> >
> > Based on the examples you gave, and your definition of bad, it seems
> that, In
> > other words, your question is really, "what counts as digital art?"
> It seems
> > that you are taking those that fall into the first category
> (utilityof tech) as
> > art, but nt digital art, per se.
> >
> > I think you could create several dichotomies of the two types f X,
> depending on
> > the point you want to make. I don't necessarily think that they
> take all into
> > account (much like saying there are two types f people in the world
> - the good
> > and the evil...hardly does justice to the reality, does it?)
> >
> > With digital art, for instance, you could say that the two types
> are:
> > those that use technology as their subject
> > those that use technology as their medium
> >
> > I prefer the latter, in spite of the fact that the possibilities of
> both are
> > quite endless.
> > -Alexis
> >
> > On Wed, 9 Aug 2006, Pall Thayer wrote:
> >
> > ::Something occured to me last night and I'm going to toss it out
> there and see what people think.
> > ::
> > ::I was thinking about why I dislike a lot of digital and net art
> and came to the conclusion that digital and net art can be separated
> into two distinct categories. I'm not going to explain them in detail.
> Make what you want of my descriptions and state what you think. Here
> are the two categories:
> > ::
> > ::Art that uses the utility of technology as a medium.
> > ::Art that uses technology as a medium.
> > ::
> > ::I prefer the latter.
> > ::
> > ::Pall Thayer
> > ::+
> > +
> > -> post:
> > -> questions:
> > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
> > -> give:
> > +
> > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> > Membership Agreement available online at
> >
> o
> [ + ]
> + + +
> | '|' |
> _________________________________________
> `, . ` `k a r e i' ? ' D42