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


Have a Nice Day: Hannah Perry and Bubblebyte Take Over Create London


This week, online art mavens Bubblebyte and artist Hannah Perry launched a "takeover" of the website of Create London, made in collaboration with 25 teenagers from South East London as well as a range of contemporary artists. The takeover will only be on view until 13 September.  

Bubblebyte and Hannah Perry's takeover of the website of Create London.

As takeovers go, it was of the friendly variety. A row of colored, numbered buttons appears at the bottom of the site; clicking on each button brings up a song and a visual response by an artist. The visual responses appear as transparent overlays (sometimes still, sometimes animated) on top of website content. A rotating humidifier (perhaps an oblique reference to cloud computing?) is paired with ominous industrial audio by Paul Purgas. Menna Cominetti splashes a pair of blue tinted shades over the page, set to the ethereal tones of Paul Flannery. For the most part, these works have no explicit relationship with the site's content, but some strange juxtapositions emerge, such as when Andrew Norman Wilson’s images of Martha Stewart appear on top of the words "create jobs." 


Software Takes Command: An Interview with Lev Manovich


Lev Manovich is a leading theorist of cultural objects produced with digital technology, perhaps best known for The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001). I interviewed him about his most recent book, Software Takes Command (Bloomsbury Academic, July 2014).

Photograph published in Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, "Personal Dynamic Media" with the caption, "Kids learning to use the interim Dynabook." 

MICHAEL CONNOR: I want to start with the question of methodology. How does one study software? In other words, what is the object of study—do you focus more on the interface, or the underlying code, or some combination of the two?

LEV MANOVICH: The goal of my book is to understand media software—its genealogy (where does it come from), its anatomy (the key features shared by all media viewing and editing software), and its effects in the world (pragmatics). Specifically, I am concerned with two kinds of effects: 


Sketching Bradley Manning


As the Bradley Manning trial presses on at Fort Meade, Maryland, artist Clark Stoeckley (of Wikileaks Truck fame) documents the proceedings in sketches. So far, the artists tells us he has compiled over 300 drawings from both sides of the gallery, the jury box, and the live video feed. The renderings are set to be published by OR Books in September as a graphic novel, which is an appropriate format for an epic conflict between good and evil. The previews of Stoeckley's graphic novel look very exciting, but what we find most compelling about the project is Stoeckley's commitment to the trial and to Manning, and the mundane details of the process that he captures through his daily practice of drawing and observation.

Day 1 of the trial

 

Captain Hunter Whyte, David Coombs, Bradley Manning

Courtroom observers wearing shirts that read "truth" have been mandated by officials to turn them inside-out.


Email Before PRISM: Miranda July, "We Think Alone" (2013)


There is a scene in the movie Airplane! (1980) in which a young boy suddenly recognizes the real-life actor who is playing the character of co-pilot Roger Murdoch. "Wait a minute!" he exclaims. "I know you! You're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!"

The scene breaks the "fourth wall" to comic effect. Most viewers in 1980 would have recognized Abdul-Jabbar instantly, but the conventions of performance dictate that we try to pretend that he is just an ordinary schmoe in the cockpit. By "recognizing" Abdul-Jabbar, the boy calls attention to these conventions, and breaks the tension for viewers who were probably struggling to see the six-time MVP of the NBA as an airline employee.

Such an acknowledgment is missing from a more recent project involving Abdul-Jabbar, Miranda July's We Think Alone.


Cory Arcangel, "GAO" (2013)


Cory Arcangel, "Clinton," 2011. Pencil on paper (produced with Mutoh XP-300 series printer), edition 1 of 3, 11 x 8.5 inches. 

Last year, critic Alix Rule and artist David Levine suggested in a much-discussed article in Triple Canopy that the dense, quasi-theoretical writing found in contemporary art press releases should be reformatted as meter and appreciated as avant-garde poetry. This week, Cory Arcangel took the next logical step and used the email press release for his forthcoming exhibition at DHC/ART, which was circulated on the e-flux mailing list, as an opportunity for a sly text-based intervention.



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DISCUSSION

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.

DISCUSSION

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.

DISCUSSION

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.

DISCUSSION

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.

DISCUSSION

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?