nathaniel stern
Since the beginning
Works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin United States of America

Nathaniel Stern is an artist and writer, Fulbright grantee and professor, interventionist and public citizen. He has produced and collaborated on projects ranging from ecological, participatory and online interventions, interactive, immersive and mixed reality environments, to prints, sculptures, videos, performances and hybrid forms. His book, Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance, is due for release in mid-2013, and his ongoing work in industry has helped launch dozens of new businesses, products and ideas. Stern has been featured in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Guardian UK, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Washington Post, Daily News, BBC’s Today show, Wired, Time, Forbes, Fast Company, Scientific American, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Leonardo Journal of Art, Science and Technology, Rhizome, Furtherfield, Turbulence, and more. According to Chicago’s widely popular Bad at Sports art podcast, Stern has “the most varied and strange bio of maybe anyone ever on the show,” and South Africa’s Live Out Loud magazine calls him a “prolific scholar” as well as artist, whose work is “quite possibly some of the most relevant around.” Dubbed one of the Milwaukee’s “avant-garde” (Journal Sentinel), Stern has been called ”an interesting and prolific fixture” ( behind many “multimedia experiments” (, “accessible and abstract simultaneously” (Art and Electronic Media web site), someone “with starry, starry eyes” ( who “makes an obscene amount of work in an obscene amount of ways” (Bad at Sports). According to Caleb A. Scharf at Scientific American, Stern’s art is “tremendous fun” but also “fascinating” in how it is “investigating the possibilities of human interaction and art.”

New Media, New Modes: On "Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media"

Humorous and surprising, smart and provocative, Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media (MIT Press, 2010) jumps from opposing viewpoints to opposing personalities, from one arts trajectory to another. The entire book is a dialectic exercise: none of its problems or theories are solved or concluded, but are rather complicated through revelations around their origins, arguments and appropriations. Overall, the book adopts the collaborative style and hyperlinked approach of the media and practice it purports to rethink. In other words, it is not just the content of the book that asks us to rethink curating, but the reading itself; by the end, we are forced to digest and internalize the consistently problematized behaviors of the “media formerly known as new.”

Screening Screens

Kate Mondloch’s first book, Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art (University of Minnesota Press), is a welcome study of the cathode ray tubes, liquid crystal and plasma displays, and film, video and data projections that “pervade contemporary life” (xi). The author reminds us that screens are not just “illusionist windows” into other spaces or worlds, but also “physical, material entities [that] beckon, provoke, separate, and seduce” (xii). Most importantly, however, Mondloch’s approach is that of an art historian. She does not merely use art as a case study for media theory, but rather makes the contributions of artists her central focus in this, the first in-depth study of the space between bodies and screens in contemporary art.

Action, Reaction, and Phenomenon

In his book, Parables for the Virtual, Brian Massumi calls for "movement, sensation, and qualities of experience" to be put back into our understandings of embodiment. He says that contemporary society comprehends bodies, and by extension the world, almost exclusively through linguistic and visual apprehension. They are defined by their images, their symbols, what they look like and how we write and talk about them. Massumi wants to instead "engage with continuity," to encourage a processual and active approach to embodied experience. In essence, Massumi proposes that our theories "feel" again. "Act/React", curator George Fifield's "dream exhibition" that opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum last week, picks up on these phenomenologist principles. He and his selected artists invite viewer-participants to physically explore their embodied and continuous relationships to each other, the screen, space, biology, art history and perhaps more.

Fifield is quick to point out that all the works on show are unhindered by traditional interface objects such as the mouse and keyboard. Most of them instead employ computer vision technologies, more commonly known as interactive video. Here, the combined use of digital video cameras and custom computer software allows each artwork to "see," and respond to, bodies, colors and/or motion in the space of the museum. The few works not using cameras in this fashion employ similar technologies towards the same end. While this homogeneity means that the works might at first seem too similar in their interactions, their one-to-one responsiveness, and their lack of other new media-specific explorations -- such as networked art or dynamic appropriation and re-mixing systems -- it also accomplishes something most museum-based "state of the digital art" shows don't. It uses just one avenue of interest by contemporary media artists in order to dig much deeper into what their practice means, and why it's important. "Act/React" encourages an extremely varied and nuanced investigation of our embodied experiences in our own surroundings. As the curator himself notes in the Museum's press release, "If in the last century the crisis of representation was resolved by new ways of seeing, then in the twenty-first century the challenge is for artists to suggest new ways of experiencing...This is contemporary art about contemporary existence." This exhibition, in other words, implores us to look at action and reaction, at our embodied relationships, as critical experience. It is a contemporary investigation of phenomenology.

Discussions (77) Opportunities (2) Events (10) Jobs (3)


Has anyone else noticed the fine print, which reads, "The rights to the art
works will be granted the buyer (PlayStation2) and the selected art
institution. If the artist/artists are not willing to relinquish their
rights to their work then they should not apply for the Third Place Award
and simply submit the art work for the general gallery." ?

Curious what, exactly, my rights entail? Will be taken offline? Will
I no longer be able to link to it, as my work? Do they just put a logo on
the site? Must I give them FTP access, and if so, will they start to pay my
host bills? Being that their isn't exactly a standard model for the sale of, I'd think they'd be a bit more exact in their description here.
Also of note is that I have not found a way to "simply submit the art work
for the general gallery"...


Joman, who can be found @ online, so boldly stated the
following, on 10/20/03 8:41 AM:

> The first show is concluded and the winners were Danielle Aubert and David
> Crawford.
> Enter the Third Place Gallery second show "FUN" now if you have any other
> new or old digital art work/web sites that is waiting to be rewarded.
> Just log-in and upload/link it and you will be part of the short list for
> getting 2000 Euro and this time the winning works will be the first new
> media art works to be represented in the Swedish art collection at Museum of
> Modern Art, Stockholm.
> +
> -> post:
> -> questions:
> -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
> -> give:
> -> visit: on Fridays the web site is open to non-members
> +
> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> Membership Agreement available online at


new work: stuttering

I'm currently seeking critical feedback, discussion and exhibition venues
(including festivals) on/for my new interactive installation, stuttering.
Details are below; video and images online at Any discussion much
appreciated; thanks in advance,


stuttering, 2003

According George Lakoff, author of Philosophy In The Flesh, human
communication is always already mediated. Our emotions, our past and the
memories it carries, cannot be separated from it. He says, "The mind is
inherently embodied." Because of our flesh, our multi-sensory perception,
and our personal experiences, our communications convey much more than
transparent information.

stuttering proposes a space which accents how we effect, and are affected
by, conversation and comprehension. It suggests that stillness and
stumbling play a role in the un/realized potentials of memory and

Newsprint is scattered about the floor, containing quotes and passages about
stutterers, situations in which stuttering, in its broadest sense, is
common, and suggestions of when and where we should "make stutters," in
order to break "seamless" communication. Each viewer in the space triggers
a large-scale interactive art object projected on the wall in front them.
This projection is broken into a Mondrian-like mirror, where each
sub-section, initialized by body-tracking software, animates one of the
floor-found quotes; every animation is accompanied by an audio recitation of
its text.

stuttering thus creates a tense environment through its inescapable barrage
of stuttering sound and visual stuttering: noise. Only by lessening their
participation will the information explosion slow into an understandable
text for the viewer. The piece asks them not to interact, but merely to
listen. Their minimal movements, and the phrases they trigger, literally
create new meaning.

The spaces between speaking and listening, between language and the body,
add to the complex experience of communication. stuttering is not displaying
data, but rather, pushing us to explore these practices of speaking and
listening. It suggests that communication comes to and from us, in ways
that even we do not fully comprehend.


24.7 artist residency project, Johannesburg - nathaniel stern

The 24.7 artist residency project - - had
its launch party in the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) this past weekend. A
motley crew of traditional and contemporary artists, designers, performers,
musicians, fashion designers and interested parties in all of the above
disciplines gathered in the heart of downtown Johannesburg to see
potentiality at its start.

The concept began in Christian Nerf's City+Suburban studios (also downtown;
now shared with Kathryn Smith and nathaniel stern) in mid-2002, when Barend
de Wet spent 24 non-sequential hours knitting bikinis there, for an upcoming
exhibition. Since then, the studio has housed several artists - including
Stephen Hobbs and Tracy Hennen - working through experimental phases of
various projects.

The JAG residency proposes to exhibit "art as usual," turning the gallery
into a live, working studio for all participators during open hours (24
hours of time per week, for 7 weeks); approximately 35 projects are now
planned, and that number is still growing. Although the residential weeks
are broken into specific areas of interest (beginning today with New Media,
and continuing with Traditional Practice, Fashion, Audio, Conceptual,
Lens-Based Media, & Public Art, respectively), the shows goals are simple:
participation and collaboration between specialists in varying media, their
surroundings, and their audience. They are given space, equipment, and each

Each week will start and end with the "Braai Klub," a barbeque, drinks and
DJs, while showcasing the previous week's documentation and art-in-progress.
It will culminate in a final exhibition, from August 30th - September 20th,
of archives, works, and works-in-progress, which are currently unknown to
the facilitators.

The first of the Braai Klub art parties featured ArtThrob - - editor Sean O'Toole reading excerpts from past
interviews with Nerf. From interest in chance proceedings, to facilitating
active participation and collaboration, one thing was clear: he sees no work
that includes a viewer as anything less than collaborative, and believes
that process equals provocation. "The exhibition of this project offers an
opportunity for the passive [or perhaps not so passive?] participants to
experience the Creative Act and arrive at their own conclusions."

The full text of O'Toole's talk is already available on 24.7's blog, When they first arrive at the JAG, each
resident is given a time card to "clock" their art-making hours, and a
username and password allowing them to post ideas and progress to the site,
which should be updated on a regular basis.

Both conceptually and technically, this is a new frontier for the JAG, often
considered to be a fairly conservative art institution. Upon entering the
24.7 space, boxes full of roped off equipment are seen stacked along the
walls, just waiting to be used; at the launch, excited artists were chatting
away about bringing in dancers, computers and musical instruments, and
moving in directions they never have before, using other participators and
their talents. Of special interest to most, was continual access to space,
audience, equipment and critical and curatorial expertise *during* their
process, rather than after it.

Some ideas I overheard being passed around included a live
dance/painting/music performance organized by Wayne Barker, rehearsal space
for the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative's new multimedia work on HIV - - an all-African hack into Jonah Brucker-Cohen's
bumplist - - collage workstations for
artists to team up with viewers, and further plays on public/private space
through the use of the gallery's security camera footage in the final
exhibition. And this is just the beginning (literally).

The 24.7 artist residency project promises to be one of the most interesting
and provocative explorations that Johannesburg has seen in a long time. And
when asked if he'd be interested in having oversees e-participation in the
project, Nerf simply responded, "Yes, please -"


attached photo: filmmaker Jahmil X. T. Qubeka at the 24.7 launch


This Sunday: Johannesburg/Berlin art party

The Mooimark Show, Johannesburg
March 30 from 7.30 pm only

Founded 1999 in Berlin by curator Spunk Seipel, Gallery Expo 3000 is a
non-profit art gallery which, for over three years in Berlin, has shown a
new exhibition by young artists each week. The Gallery Expo 3000 concept has
thus far traveled to South Germany and Vienna and now it comes to Jozi.
Seipel has been living in downtown Johannesburg for three weeks, and in
collaboration with City + Suburban Studios and the Johannesburg Art Gallery,
brings us The Mooimark Show, named after the old factory building in which