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


Hey: Your data-driven headlines are probably just drivel after all, but that's OK


A few years back, a writer friend who worked at a prominent blog explained to me that her employer's sensationalist, runon headlines were crafted with the help of a cutting-edge A/B testing system. Each article would go live with multiple versions of the same headline; the version to draw the most clicks would become the canonical version. This, I thought, this is the future: algorithms drawing on user feedback to adjust our texts on the fly for maximum impact.

In 2012, I was among the millions of Americans who noticed that Barack Obama and his campaign staff had started writing some kinda weird messages to me. They'd arrive with subject lines like "Hey" or "Would Love to Meet You." They got talked about at dinner parties. After Election Day, explanations were offered in the press. These weren't the brainchild of a mad creative subject line marketing genius. No, they were carefully tested beforehand among multiple variations sent to smaller groups of supporters, and only the most successful versions made it to the full campaign email list. Obama's campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars through email direct marketing. 


Welcome to the Internet Smoking Room


Following the conclusion of This is the ENDD and Pinar&Viola's front-page exhibition, this project can be found here permanently.

This weekend, to coincide with This is the ENDD: a Forum on the E-Cigarette, the front page of Rhizome.org will present The Smoking Room, created by Pinar&Viola and programmed by Gui Machiavelli. In this lush chatroom, you can wield strange new kinds of e-cigarettes and blow virtual smoke shapes while talking to friends and strangers.

I know. Vaping is not smoking. This is rule #1 of vaping culture, a distinction of paramount importance for vapers (who rightfully want to avoid the social stigma of the cigarette) and e-cigarette manufacturers (who want to avoid tobacco-style regulation). Therefore, in their marketing of this emerging technology, the manufacturers have trodden a fine line between reminding potential users of the good, old-fashioned "benefits" of smoking, and establishing their product as something new and hi-tech and detached from bodily consequence. In a word, as something virtual.


Getty Images: Still Kinda Sexist?


Portrait of a confident businesswoman

This week, LeanIn.org and Getty teamed up to release a new collection of 2,500 stock photos that aim to "represent women and families in more empowering ways." The need to do this was quite clear; stock photographs had become something of an internet sensation for their lingering embrace of a range of visual clichés, many of them sexist, such as the notorious "Woman Laughing Alone With Salad." As depictions of broadly-applicable situations and people that could be used in a wide variety of publications, particularly for marketing purposes, stock photographs claim to represent generic ideals for easy illustration. Their effect is, in fact, the inverse—it is specific ideologies they illustrate, in order to continue their reproduction.


I (No Longer) Have a Web Site: Access, Authenticity, and the Restoration of GeoCities


"I Have a Website." JPEG version of screenshot from One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op.

One year ago, a system developed by artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied began taking screenshots of now-defunct GeoCities webpages from the late 1990s as they would appear on hardware and software from that time. Every twenty minutes, a new screenshot is automatically uploaded to their Tumblr, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op. Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the project; to celebrate, Espenschied restored the three most reblogged and liked home pages posted there, as tracked by Lialina. This article covers the why and how of this restoration.

It may seem strange to say this about the likes of "Cute Boy Site" or "Divorced Dads Page," but the remains of the GeoCities web hosting service are a vital part of our cultural legacy. In its dial-up heyday, GeoCities was where non-specialist internet users made their first-ever webpages. Today, it exists as a vast, if partial, repository of the anxieties, hopes, and dreams of those creators, and offers a snapshot of the early popular usage of a now-ubiquitous cultural form, the webpage.


Why You Should Not Buy This Painting (So That Michael Connor Can)


Austin Lee, Profile Picture (2013). 11" x 14" Acrylic on canvas.

Postmasters Gallery is now showing a solo exhibition of work by Austin Lee, a young painter whose work you should really not purchase. If his prices remain flat for long enough, it's possible that in the future, when all my babysitting bills are paid, I might stumble across it in the Postmasters sub-basement and offer whatever I happen to have in my wallet. Recent history shows us that the artworks that I have come to own do not significantly appreciate in value. Therefore, an important tip to prudent buyers: do not purchase this painting, or really any other painting by Austin Lee. Are you following my logic?



Discussions (81) Opportunities (1) Events (1) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

OPPORTUNITY

Birth Rites Collection Bi-annual Award


Deadline:
Sat Feb 07, 2015 23:59

Location:
London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Submissions for our Birth Rites Collection Bi-annual Award are now open!

Artwork can be submitted in any medium.
DEADLINE 7th February 2015.
Entry fee £10

The winner will receive a residency at the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths University, London plus a stipend and winning work to be included in the Birth Rites Collection, The University of Salford. Shortlisted artists will have thier work screened digitally at Media CityUK in the Egg Suite in March 2015.

The Birth Rites Collection is the first and only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth. The collection currently comprises of photography, sculpture, painting, wallpaper, drawing, new media, documentary and experimental film. It is housed between the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians in London and Salford University Midwifery Department.

Judges: Helen Knowles BRC Curator & Althea Greenan, Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths University, London.
For more info:

http://birthritescollection.org.uk/#/media-city-bi-annual-award/4587224707


DISCUSSION

Bodies on the Line


I fully agree about etiquette w/r/t social media being needed! I think in this case it's particularly complex because no one seems really clear on the object boundary - i.e., whether the social media response should be considered "part of the work."

It's hard not to read "monitoring social media channels" without an Orwellian spin.

Of course, that is exactly what we did by archiving Amalia Ulman's Instagram feed, although everything captured on it is "public" in the sense that anyone can see it, without logging in. In that case, we made the specific decision not to capture her Facebook feed, which has a greater expectation of privacy attached to it. Such archives undermine the contextual integrity of social media, and the balance between this and various arguments for the public value created by non-profit digital archives requires further analysis.

DISCUSSION

Bodies on the Line


I'm dismayed by your suggestion that Ryder is currently being subject to harassment tactics. As we and you and others have pointed out, Ryder is far from the only one of us whose practice has ethically unsound aspects at times, and to continue to demonize him is too easy, and unproductive. To harass him is certainly unconscionable. As Heather said above, we all feel sorry for the distress that we caused Ryder.

I'm also a bit dismayed by your attack on closed Facebook discussions. To argue that every viewpoint, however unpopular, must be expressed in full public view is in effect to advocate for censorship.

Also, two factual corrections.

First, saying that we planned to "monitor" social media is a distortion. We are working on archiving social media, but we're working through the ethical implications of this; I anticipate that this will take the form of working with communities and users and putting tools in their hands rather than "monitoring" them.

Second, you say on your blog that this "started" on private Facebook groups. Maybe, but from my perspective the conversation about 'Art Whore' get going on Ryder's own Facebook thread, not on a private group. (That's the thread that would have been most useful for Rhizome to archive I guess, if the tools had been ready at that time, and if it met our still-evolving ethical guidelines to do so.)

Ryder deleted that thread, and many of the extant criticisms of his project were gone by the time I began writing my article.

DISCUSSION

Rhizome Today: A critic, with opinions about postinternet art


The internet does have a short memory, and we are always struggling against this. But I find the constantly enforcement of indebtedness equally destructive to the idea of the internet as a "vital and contested site for artistic practice." Not only does this obscure the specificity of emerging practices, it also locks the older generation in a time capsule. People like Harwood/YoHa, Olia, Ubermorgen and JODI have all made really exciting work over the last six years that isn't just a rehash of their early careers. I think discussions of the fallacies of digital dualism and web objectivity, the idea of the internet as practice and not medium, questions of digital materialism and labor, and ideas of posthuman, networked cultural production--these ideas may have been present in net art and its precursors, but they have been elaborated in recent years in ways that may be in conversation with the past, but should be appreciated for their specificity, not written off with a world weary sense of deja vu.