Michael Connor
Since 2002
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Art & Technology According to Powhida and Townsend

William Powhida and Jade Townsend's drawing Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes (2012). Detail.  

William Powhida and Jade Townsend's drawing Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes is a depiction of the art world as a medieval battlefield populated by warring factions, complete with a legend identifying each faction in language that is part literary epic, part incoherent rant. It's an excellent time-waster, both funny and irritating. For example, one part of the drawing depicts a suburban hinterland where burghers gather outside the church of Thomas Kinkade (above). Steve Lambert can be seen rolling by with his "Capitalism works for me!" sign, one of only a few artists found in these uncharted middlebrow realms. (Lambert toured the large sign across the US, asking people to vote on whether the sign is true or false for them.)

The Rhizome ArtBase As Seen Through Vince McKelvie's 3dGif

GIF by Vince McKelvie. (The artbase GIFs can be found below).

We've been enjoying learning more about the work of Vince McKelvie since he released the web-based toy 3dGif a couple of weeks back. 

Allan Sekula's Letter to Bill Gates

Allan Sekula, artist and author of such indispensable texts as "The Body and the Archive," passed away over the weekend. While Sekula's primary medium was photography, his work had no small relevance to questions that surround art and technology, and is well worth revisiting in the wake of this sad news. Among his works that have been circulating on Tumblr over the past couple of days are his 1999 work Dear Bill Gates. The work involved a photographed action in which the artist swam as close as he could to the Microsoft founder's house.

The Week Ahead: Honk-Tweet Edition

LabrynthitisLabrynthitis by Jacob Kirkegaard is presented at Eyebeam on Friday

This week, New York is awash with sound art, led by MoMA's exhibition Soundings: A Contemporary Score (which features work by Rhizome-commissioned artist Tristan Perich). One event organized in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition looks particularly interesting: Jacob Kirkegaard's Labyrinthitis, in which the artist "sparks audible emissions within the audience's own ears" inside a "floating cube" at Eyebeam. The piece uses the listener's ear as an instrument, and it sounds like the best $11 night out we've heard of in a long time, except… it's sold out. More performances, please?

Since we're on the subject of sound art: last week the New York Times ran an article that included this passage contrasting more cerebral, "art-trained" figures in sound art with the "honk-tweet" school, described as follows:

Aligned with experimental music rather than visual art, the honk-tweeters are interested in strange beeps and buzzings for their own sakes. They craft what the sound artist, theorist and blogger Seth Kim-Cohen refers to as purely cochlear, rather than fully mindful, sound art. 
In June, Mr. Kim-Cohen chided the survey at the Modern for including such work, which he described as the sonic equivalent of Op Art, a movement in painting “that does not demand (or merit) serious critical response,” as he has written.

This summary doesn't do justice to Kim-Cohen's ideas, but for the record: Op Art absolutely demands serious critical response, as does sound art that you actually have to, you know, listen to

We take it as a good sign that the listing for Labyrinthitis includes a diagram of a cochlea. Prepare to put that organ to good use.

So without further ado, here are more selected events, exhibitions, and deadlines for the near future, all culled from Rhizome Announce.

Marc Ngui, Illustration for 'A Thousand Plateaus'

Artist Marc Ngui recently returned to his A Thousand Plateaus drawing project, in which he visually interpretats the famous text by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Ngui had previously only illustrated the first two chapters, but he is now working his way through the rest of the book and uploading his work to a Tumblr.

The above image is from the original series, created as an illustration of chapter 1, paragraph 6, which includes some rather key statements: "Any point of a rhi­zome can be connected to anything other, and must be;" and, "A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sci­ences, and social struggles." 

[H/T: Kenyatta Cheese]

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Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups

Not really - but I'm using the term public utility in the usual sense of a body that provides something like water or gas to the public, but may be privately or publicly owned. (A NYC example: Con Ed).

If we're talking about publicly owned utilities, then yes, that is something different. I am really interested in the idea of software as publicly owned utility--this is something that was discussed at our recent event with Airbnb Pavilion.

It would be great to see more sharing "economy platforms" run as public utilities, since those often have a very direct economic impact on a city. My sense is that Facebook would be kind of a poor use case for public ownership - but it is interesting to think of as a public utility in the sense of a private company that provides public infrastructure & service and therefore has some level of public accountability.


Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups

The other consideration I raised was whether the profile was being used for publicity purposes. The larger point there is that not all contexts are created equal, and so violating their integrity can be more or less justifiable.

Again, not commenting on the specific situation but rather the general case: there is a difference between communication that takes place via a profile that is only shared with close friends and the communication that takes place via a profile that is shared with journalists and used for publicity purposes. In the latter case, the contextual integrity violation could be much easier to justify even if the public interest case is relatively weak.


Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups

It is a mistake to rely too much on what is technically public or private to guide decision-making about whether to respect the contextual integrity of any communication. Hilary Clinton's emails as Secretary of State are technically private, but have no legitimate claim to remaining so. Many Facebook users might accidentally set posts to "public," without intending for them to be shared widely. And even users on the very public Twitter have felt violated, and perhaps rightfully so, when their posts were shared onto other platforms.

Another term I like, since public and private get quite fuzzy, is "contextual integrity," as articulated by Nissenbaum. The idea there is that communication is often intended for a specific context, and when it remains only in that context, then it has integrity. When it is moved to a different context, that integrity has been violated.

A blog posting a screenshot of an artist's Facebook post would certainly be a violation of the artist's contextual integrity--but that doesn't mean it's always indefensible. There might be a strong public interest argument to share the post, and blogs have a responsibility to their publics which might outweigh this consideration. If an artist uses social media as part of the publicity surrounding a work, that might even be crucial for understanding the work, then that also could make it more OK to share.

These questions are very important for our current dynamic web archiving efforts...very tricky stuff.


Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups

Your examples of the "missing" sense of the term public are all spaces. A more apt analogy for Facebook would be a public utility. Public utilities can be privately owned or publicly owned, they are not necessarily characterized by "mutual ownership" - only by public oversight. And such oversight is only likely to emerge through the organization of users themselves, very possibly with the platform itself as an organizing tool.


Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups

Thank you for doing such a good job illustrating the impoverishment of commenting culture outside of Facebook! You really captured the patronizing tone of a commenting demographic that feels its relevance waning in the age of social media. What were your inspirations for this pastiche?