patrick lichty
pl@voyd.com
Works in Oak Park, Wisconsin United States of America

PORTFOLIO (2)
BIO
Patrick Lichty (b.1962) is a technologically-based conceptual artist, writer, independent curator, animator for the activist group, The Yes Men, and Executive Editor of Intelligent Agent Magazine. He began showing technological media art in 1989, and deals with works and writing that explore the social relations between us and media. Venues in which Lichty has been involved with solo and collaborative works include the Whitney & Turin Biennials, Maribor Triennial, Performa Performance Biennial, Ars Electronica, and the International Symposium on the Electronic Arts (ISEA).

He also works extensively with virtual worlds, including Second Life, and his work, both solo and with his performance art group, Second Front, has been featured in Flash Art, Eikon Milan, and ArtNews.

Discussions (20) Opportunities (1) Events (5) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

Breaking the Ice


Michael, I'll take you up on that. And for lack of more time, glad to have you on.

DISCUSSION

Breaking the Ice


Michael,
I echo everyone else's appreciation for your post, and as a mid-90's Rhizomer and rabid poster, I remember hanging out at the Spring offices in SoHo with Mark and Alex. I remember that after RTMark was in the WiBi in 2000, with Max Anderson going crazy with what we were doing, Cory Arcangel was on Houston and Spring, asking me how to make it as a New Media Artist.

As an aside, he certainly seems to have done a better job of it than I did, even as a tangential Yes Man.

A lot of it changed here. It became institutional, striated, compartmentalized, very much like the infrastructure of a museum. I remember having coffee with Lauren Cornell once briefly after her coming on board that was very collegial and warm. But at the 15th Anniversary party, I felt like I received a boilerplate "Oh, hello, yes, Patrick, we want to thank you for all the support and (free) content that you have contributed over the years." No, Lauren, I'm not being entitled and feeling like I deserve anything but perhaps a little friendship for the thousands of hours that I put into this thing. This isn't a social media site, this was my motherfucking HOME while I was talking about this obscure emerging form of art that no one in North Canton, Ohio had the faintest inkling about. I became a virtual New Yorker through Rhizome and The Thing, and when i came to town, Blackhawk, Jen Crowe, and the McCoys, along with Napier, Klima, etc would throw 50+ person parties with me as an excuse to get everyone together. This wasn't a business, it was a community of artists who knew and cared about each other.

Which brings me to my ChiBuddy Nick O'Brien's comments about the new artists trying to work out working into the galleries. That isn't what it was about at all. We hadn't become part of the art world proper yet (and according to Claire Bishop, we still shouldn't). In the 90's most of us weren't about being part of the art world because until things like net.Condition, the WiBi 2000, Data Dynamics, the SFMoMA show, we just weren't on the radar. We hung out, traded chops, hung at Postmasters (yes, before Bitforms was founded), created other networks like The Upgrade (which is still around but flagging a little).

It wasn't about the business of the art world, Nick. it was about being an artist with a passion for art and technology, and if you got a break, great. There weren't any MFAs in New Media or many galleries that would take us.

I used to feel that Rhizome was a home for me, for art, for discourse; but once I felt it turn into an art system institution tailoring itself to young NYC artists just like everything else, I lost interest in it and started my blog at Furtherfield.

I started doing digital art as a Contemporary at 27 (in 1990). And as Guillermo Gomez-Pena once said, I'm not as young, hip, or pretty, but there's still a swing in that hip.

I guess my point for Michael is that I feel like somewhere along the way, Rhizome has taken various turns; guerrilla, community, institutional, take your pick.

I'd love to be at home at Rhizome again. I've said so much to Heather. However, I don't expect Rhizome to be a scrappy little RAW listserv again. What I think did happen to Rhizome is that it got caught in its own snare of success and Dyske and Curt have outlined many of the issues here very well. I think that what the new management would do well to consider is that where Rhizome had its humanity was not in positioning technological media in the art world or giving credibility to certain members (which I think is a reason why R's affiliation with the New is a little problematic, but something we have to live with), but the maintenance of a haven for discussion and activity and community to flourish. There is a difference between being a strategic, "eyes on the prize" art worlder and being an artist, and that difference lies in your intent, your belief, and your passion.

Fuck the art world. Home is where your homies are.
Rhizome was that for me. It just happened to be in the art world, and I just happened to be a contemporary artist. However, these were incidental. Rhizome was a place where my passions could live and flourish. I hope it can be again.

For those of you who know me for having a more scholarly tone, please excuse my language, but I think passion needs its voice, and it's something that Rhizome has been lacking for a long time.

EVENT

Book Release: Patrick Lichty: Variant Analyses


Dates:
Wed Apr 10, 2013 00:00 - Tue Apr 30, 2013

Lichty’s range of commentary and analysis dissects nearly two decades of what has now become new media society. Before Facebook’s IPO and Wikileaks’ media storm, artist-as-activists experimented with data gloves, virtual world performance, and anonymous, anarchic disruptions determined to bewilder traditional enclaves of art and political society. In this collection Lichty presents several such experiments in distributed creativity: collaborations across a range of technologies and platforms, where authorship becomes a vague placeholder and sometimes acts as a performance in of itself, and the artwork is equally in flux, always in process, and often disappearing into bits.

These essays provide an extensive and timely overview of critical thought on new media culture, written by an observer-participant who has made major contributions to the sociopolitical movements he archives. Spanning art and new media theory, activism and literary criticism, this assembly seeks to understand the networked society in flux: what it means when the virtual integrates with the physical, and when newer, uncategorized media works prompt major shifts in cultural production and change the very definition of art and protest. As a veteran observer of the technological society, Lichty has produced the ideal guidebook for exploring the wilderness of our digital mediascapes, both past and present.

colophon Author: Patrick Lichty. Editorial support: Morgan Currie. Design: Katja van Stiphout. DTP: Margreet Riphagen & Katja van Stiphout. Printer: ‘Print on Demand’. Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2013. ISBN: 978-90-818575-4-3


EVENT

2013 - Fourth Annual - UNCG Sustainability Shorts Film Competition


Dates:
Mon Mar 18, 2013 06:30 - Mon Mar 18, 2013

Location:
Greensboro, North Carolina
United States of America

For the fourth year, the UNCG Sustainability Committee presents its annual Sustainability Shorts Festival. Time-based work of up to roughly 10 minutes is eligible dealing with sustainability. Deadline is extended to April 5.
For more info, write:
sustain@uncg.edu


DISCUSSION

New Aesthetics: Cyber-Aesthetics and Degrees of Autonomy.


From realityaugmentedblog.com, Feb. 22, 2013

In perusing Honor Harger’s recent missive on drone aesthetics and James Bridle’s ongoing posts of drone images at Dronestagram, taken in context with the Glitch un-conference in Chicago, some new questions have come to mind. These questions have to do with conceptions of New Aesthetics in its various forms in terms of interaction with the program/device and its level of autonomy from the user. In my mind, there seems to be a NA continuum from generative programs that operate under the strict criteria of the programmer to the often-autonomous actions of drones and planetary rovers. As you can see, I am still chewing on the idea that The New Aesthetic as it seems to be defined, as encompassing all semi-autonomous aspects of ‘computer vision’. This includes Glitch, Algorism, Drone imagery, satellite photography and face recognition, and it’s sometimes a tough nugget to swallow that resonates with me on a number of levels. First, image-creating technological agents are far from new, as Darko Fritz recently stated in a talk that algorithms have been creating images, in my opinion, within criteria of NA since the 60’s, and pioneers like Frieder Nake, A. Michael Noll, and Roman Verostko have been exploring algorithmic agency for decades. If we take these computer art pioneers into account, one can argue that NA has existed since the 60’s if one lumps in genres like Verostko’s ‘style’ of Algorism or the use of algorithms as aesthetic choice. A notch along the continuum toward the ‘fire and forget’ imaging (e.g. drones) is the Glitch contingent, which is less deterministic about their methodologies of data corruption aesthetics by either running a program that corrupts the media or they perform digital vivisection and watch what little monster they’ve created. Glitchers exhibit less control over their processes, and are much more akin to John Cage, Dada or Fluxus artists in their allowance of whimsical or chance elements in their media.

However, as we slide along the spectrum of control/autonomy from the lockstep control of code to the less deterministic aesthetics of face recognition, drone imaging, robotic cameras, Google Street View cams, Mars Rovers and satellite imaging, things get murkier. Autonomic aesthetics remind me of the ruby-hued Terminator T500 vision generated by intelligent agents running the ‘housekeeping’ on the machine platform. I consider this continuum from Algorism to Glitch to autonomous robotic agents under an NA continuum of aesthetics is important insofar as it defines a balance of agency between the operator and the ‘tool’. For me this is the difference between the high degree of control of the Algorist, the ‘twiddle and tweak’ sensibility of the Glitcher, and the gleaning from the database of pseudo-autonomous images created by Big Imaging created by drones and automatic imaging. Notice I use the term ‘pseudo’ in that there are operators flying the platforms or driving the car, while the on-board agents take care of issues like pattern/face recognition and target acquisition. We also see this in Facebook, as recent technological changes as of 2012 have introduced face recognition in the tagging of images. From this, a key issue for me in this discussion of what began as a nebulous set of terms (the criteria of NA as defined by the global conversation) is that of agency and autonomy, and how much control the New Aestheticist gets in the execution of their process. Another important point is that I am not calling the ‘New Aestheticist’ an artist or curator, but something in between, but I’ll get to that later as this is also an issue of control of intent.

Back to this idea of autonomy between the subject, the ‘curator’ and the viewer, what interests me is the degree of control or not that the person creating, tweaking, or gleaning the image has over the creation or contextualization of that image. In the case of the Algorist, this is the Control end of the spectrum, where the artist takes nearly full control of the process of creation of the image, unless there is a randomization function involved in the process, and that it itself is a form of control – very Cybernetic in nature. Agency is at a maximum here, as the artist and machine are in partnership. Roman Verostko is a prime example of this, as he explores intricate recursive images created by ink pen plotters using paints in the pens. What he, and the AI-driven AARON, by Harold Cohen, for that matter, are machine painting.

The next step down the autonomy spectrum would involve the use of ‘glitch’ tools and processes that distort, disturb, and warp digital media. The process involves executing a given intervention upon the medium, such as saving it improperly, hex editing its code to corrupt it, or as Caleb Kelly writes, ‘crack’ the media. There are differing degrees of disturbance of the media to inject chance processes into it, from a more ‘algoristic’/programmatic application of programs upon the media to directly changing the internal data structure through manipulating the information through hex code and text editors. The resultant process is an iterative ‘tweak and test’ methodology that still involves the user in the process to varying degrees. Of course, the direct manipulation of the data with a hex editor is the most intimate of the processes, but there is still one factor to account for. The factor in question is that there is the set of causes and effects that are set in motion when the artist/operator opens the media and the codec (Compressor/DECompressor) mis/interprets the media, as is intended by the artist.

If we are to look at the glitch process, we can say that there is a point of intervention/disturbance upon the media, which is entirely a function of control on the part of the user. Afterwards, it is set loose into the system to allow the corruptions within the media to trigger chance/autonomous operations in its interpretation in the browser, etc. This is where the glitcher straddles the line between control and autonomy, as they manually insert noise into their media (control), then the codecs struggle with the ‘cracked’ media (autonomy). The glitcher, then, has the option to try a new iteration, thereby making the process cybernetic in nature. In Glitch, there is a conversation between the operator, the media and the codec. With the aesthetics created by drones, algorithmic recognition software, and satellite reconstructions, the process is far more autonomous/disjoint, and the New Aestheticist has to deal with this in the construction of their practice.

In the genre that I will call ‘mobEYEle’ imaging, the robot, satellite, or parabolic street eye abstracts from the ‘artist’, aptly turning them into an ‘aestheticist’, as their level of control is defined as that of a gleaner/pattern recognizer from the image bank of Big Data. Rhetorically speaking, we could say that a connection between the aestheticist and the generator of the image would be less abstract if, say, a New Aestheticist were to be in the room with a drone pilot, conversing about points of interest. It is likely that a military remote pilot and a graphic designer would have sharply differing views as to what constitutes a ‘target of interest’. Like that’s going to happen…

Therefore, let us just say that the collaboration of a New Aestheticist and a drone pilot is nightly unlikely, and that the New Aestheticist is therefore abstracted from the decisions of command and control involved in acquiring the image that eventually gets in their hands. This, however, presents us with two levels of autonomous agency, one human and one algotrithmic. But before I expand on this, I would like to discuss my decision to call the practitioner an ‘aestheticist’ as opposed to an artist or curator.

This decision rests on what I feel is the function of the aestheticist, that is, to glean value from an image and ‘ascribe’ an aesthetic to it. This position puts them in a murky locus between artist and curator, as they have elements of neither and both. For example, does the drone-image NA practitioner create the image; are they the artist per se, of the image? No. Although they are more closely aligned to curatorial practice as they collect, filter (to paraphrase Anne-Marie Schleiner), and post on tumblrs and Pinterests? From my perspective, the role of a curator is the suggestion of taste through and informed subjectivity through ecologies of trust and legitimacy, but the social image aggregator, although they might want to perform the same function, has no guarantee of accomplishing this unless they develop a following. Therefore, under my definition, they are neither creators nor taste-makers in the traditional sense, so what makes sense is to call them ‘aggregators’ of aesthetic material and thus my term ‘Aestheticist’.

Returning to our conversation, the drone aestheticist, then, is subject to one of two degrees of completely abstracted autonomy of the creation of the image; that of the operator or that of the algorithms operating the drone. The abstraction surrounding the human operator is easiest to resolve, as the images of interest are either the preference of the drone operator or those created by the operator under the parameters of the mission, and not the results of a New Aestheticist’s joyride on a Global Hawk. It is merely someone else’s volition selecting the image, and a confluence of personal interest deciding as to whether the image deserves to be on the New Aestheticist’s social imaging organ. However, it is the drone’s algorithmic image acquisition system that creates a more alien perspective in regards to aesthetics and autonomy of the image.

Compared to the Algorist or the Glitcher, all loosely placed under the banner of New Aesthetics, the Drone/Big Data Aestheticist is most problematic, as they are a fetishizer of sheer command and control operations that are potentially utterly abstracted from the pilot/driver’s volition. This creates a double abstraction through first the pilot, and then the algorithmic recognition system. There is no cybernetic loop here at all, as the gleaning of the item of interest from the beach of Big Data is twice removed from any feedback potential. Secondly, as I have written before, the Drone Aestheticist is exactly that, a gleaner of interesting images for use on their social image site, which in itself is a bit of an abject exercise.

Or is it? For example, if one is to say that the Aestheticist gleaning the images does so without intent or politics, and is merely operating on fetish/interest value, then this is perhaps one of the least interesting practices in New Aesthetic practice. But on the other hand, if one looks at the work of practitioners like Jordan Crandall, Trevor Paglen, or Ricardo Dominguez, who examine the acquired image as instrument of aggression, control, and oppression, this puts a new lease on the life of the Drone Aesthetic. In a way, though inquiry, there is an indirect feedback loop established in questioning the gaze of the device, its presence, and its function in its theater of operations. The politics of the New Aesthetic emerges here, in asking what mechanisms of command and control guide the machine eye and determine its targets of interest. This is of utmost importance, as the abstracted eye is guided without subjectivity or ethics and is determined solely by the parameters of its algorithms and the stated goals of its functions.

Is the aesthetic of the machine image merely a function of examining its processes, fetishizing its errors, or something else? The criteria of the New Aesthetic attempts to talk about a spectrum of digital imaging that stretches back into time far longer than 2010, and has a problematically broad sense of definition. Once these problems are set aside as a given, one of the key criteria for the evaluation of NA practice and the function of its images depends upon the degree of control and autonomy inherent in the process within the creation of the image. This is formed in a continuum of control and abstraction from Algorism and Generative Art to autonomous eyes like drones and satellites. Algorism is one of the oldest NA practices, and exhibits the closest relationship between artist, machine and determinacy of digital process. A greater degree of indeterminacy is evident in the Glitch, but the iterative process of tweaking the media and then setting it forth into the process of interpretation by the codec, foregrounds the issue of digital autonomy.

The eye of the unmanned platform abstracts creation from the human organism at least once if a human does not operate it remotely, and twice if it is. There is the Terminator-like fear of the autonomous robot, but at this time, perhaps the more salient questions regarding what I have qualified as drone/autonomous aestheticism under NA of what the function of the image is, and is it really that interesting? Are the practices of NA blurring artistic and curatorial practice into a conceptual aestheticism, creating a cool detachment from the image despite its source or method of creation? Is the bottom line to the genres of NA the degree of control that the artist or aestheticist has over the image’s creation or its modality/intent? It seems that NA is an ongoing reflection upon the continuum of control over the generation of the image, our beliefs regarding its aesthetics, and what the intentions or politics are behind the creation of the New Aesthetic image. Or, as I have written before, are we just pinning images from Big Data and saying, “Isn’t that kinda cool?”

Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle of intention and cool.