Thomas Petersen
Since the beginning
Works in Copenhagen V Denmark

PORTFOLIO (5)
BIO
At some point in the eighties he switched on his Commodore computer, thereby putting serious strain on his social life for the next many years, not to mention the family’s phone bill. This event triggered a development from pixelpushing to a serious involvement in any type of technological art. At this point he’s trying to mold and promote this field from all possible vantage points. Working from the assumption that these art forms are an integral and necessary part of art history, he is active within writing, curating, teaching and the production of digital artworks. Explore his own works at http://www.crossover.dk. He is also a founder and co-editor of http://www.artificial.dk, a web magazine which grew out of the now defunct net art site kopenhagen.dk/net.art. He has an MA in Aesthetics and Culture from the University of Aarhus with a thesis on 20th century practices within technological art. He lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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DISCUSSION

SV: RHIZOME_RAW: snoop


It gets much worse (better?) than that. You have got to try Pornolizer:
http://www.pornolize.com

...

I remember a great project where you could type on top of an existing
web page, so it would get replaced word by word. But I forget the URL...
Anyone?

T

-----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
Fra: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org] Pa vegne af
ryan griffis
Sendt: 3. juni 2005 21:15
Til: rhizome
Emne: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: snoop

that is pretty funny...
but i wish it would read mo' complex styles 'n shit.

On Jun 3, 2005, at 9:34 AM, jeremy wrote:

> http://www.asksnoop.com/
>
>
> funny funny.......
>
> give me lost of ideas!

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DISCUSSION

SV: RHIZOME_RAW: kollabor8


Thanks for that link, Rob! It's absolutely addictive...

T

--------------------------
Thomas Petersen
+45 2048 2585
www.artificial.dk
www.crossover.dk

-----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
Fra: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org] Pa vegne af
Rob Myers
Sendt: 28. maj 2005 17:35
Til: Rhizome Raw list
Emne: RHIZOME_RAW: kollabor8

A web site for collaborative image creation. Register, download an
image, add to it, then re-upload. The online successor to mail art,
exquisite corpse, or Rauschenberg's ROCI.

Entirely excellent:

http://kollabor8.toegristle.com/

- Rob.

--
http://www.robmyers.org/art - All my art, Creative Commons Licensed.
http://www.robmyers.org/weblog - Free Culture and Generative Art blog.

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DISCUSSION

Kids Working with Art History through Digital Art. An Interview with Nicolas Clauss.


Originally published at Artificial, http://www.artificial.dk
Article with images and links: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/clauss.htm

KIDS WORKING WITH ART HISTORY THROUGH DIGITAL ART.
AN INTERVIEW WITH NICOLAS CLAUSS

In the creation of the project Art if I Want, the French digital artist Nicolas Clauss explored how an artist can use digital art as a catalyst to let youngsters deal with art history in a hands-on manner. At the l'Espal cultural centre in Le Mans, France, Nicolas worked with a group of adolescents using well-known historical art works as the basis for creating new interactive digital pieces. These pieces are partly digital reinterpretations or examinations of works by e.g. Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Edvard Munch and Jean-Michel Basquiat and partly documentations of the working process and the kids' thoughts and feelings towards the artworks. Thomas Petersen interviewed Nicolas about the process and practicalities of the project as well as about his personal working process. Perhaps this can be an inspiration for art institutions to learn new ways of teaching art history to youngsters.

Visit the Art if I Want website: http://www.delartsijeveux.com

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the background of Art if I Want and about the process of working with this particular group?

A: At the beginning, the l'Espal cultural and art centre of Le Mans (France) offered me the chance to work with them on a web project involving people from the neighborhood. The centre is right in the middle of a working class area with a large portion of immigrants. The l'Espal director didn't ask for any particular subject or project, just for us to get to know each other and then think about a topic. After two months of experimenting with teenagers (a group of kids aged from 11 to 16) we decided to do something dealing with contemporary art and not to focus on social issues like I did earlier. We started the project with 8 kids working mostly on weekends and holidays, we brought them a lot of books about different artists and visual art, they chose some of them, we talked about it, interviewed people and used different media for the project (videos, sounds, scans, pictures, drawings...).

For instance, the piece about Marcel Duchamp came from an 11-year-old girl who was amazed to see a toilet (Duchamp's Fountain) on the cover of a ‘serious' art book. She was fascinated with it and hassled me till we did something with it. We recorded a debate among the kids on Duchamp's works. Some explained how stupid it was to them and others spoke with enthusiasm about his genius, humor and cleverness. In the Francis Bacon tableau, we had three kids film their faces to include them in Bacon's work by modifying the video, picture after picture in Photoshop. Afterwards they discussed their experience and how they felt about going into Bacon's world and how they understood it. One of them said: ‘Bacon paints humans into monsters to show us that we are all monsters, that we are ugly in the sense of being selfish, mean…'

The strength of Art if I want is in the power and cleverness of the kids' comments, which are much smarter than many things I have read about art. Actually, the main interest of the project is the human experience behind it and what the kids tell us about art even though they didn't know anything about it before. The idea behind the project was to question art and our relation to art. We are thinking about translating the full project into a subtitled version in English.

Regarding the working process, we did everything as if we were playing, it went very smoothly, the recorded comments were natural, and nothing was written down. We worked together for over 6 months and then I worked for 2 months, putting everything together and creating a work with/about/around the experience we had. The result is a strange object - and to make it even stranger we are making a huge installation (actually four of them) in l'Espal in May 2005, where I work with Jean-Noel Montagne. We will have the Francis Bacon work where the spectator will sit in a chair in front of the projected screen and his movements (scratching nose, moving leg…) will affect the sound and the picture of the work. We will have the Edvard Munch piece, which will become a bridge with a ramp and two projections, where spectators on the bridge will interact with the work (music, voices, 2 screens…). Another installation will be the Marcel Duchamp piece where the picture is projected onto a 5 x 5 m floor screen and where people will play sounds by walking with a big magnifying glass. The last one is only about sounds. For each installation, I have reworked all the pictures and reprogrammed for a totally different interactivity. The logic is completely different from the web-based mouse interactivity.

Q: For the non-French speaking audience - can you tell us a bit about the voices in the pieces? What are the kids talking about?

A: Well, I can't translate it all, but they explain what they feel, how they understand the artists in the project, talk about art in general, as well as how they did the project and what it gave them.

The strength of their comments is that even though they sound naive and far from usual art rhetoric, they are very smart, quite accurate, sometimes very funny and always touching. It's as if the kids are talking with the big Artists in the same way as with their friends, i.e. without being intimidated. One of them explained, without doubt, that if Jean-Michel Basquiat were still alive, he would go to New York and make a canvas with him. They explained what they had learned as well; that you can do art without painting or sculpting, that you are not a piece of art, but if someone puts you in a gallery you can become one, that art can be anything, that anyone can put a moustache on Mona Lisa to make something new which is art, that if someone says something is art, it may become art...
They say so much, that you've got several levels of understanding. When you listen to them you can, on one level, feel what they've been through during their journey through art. Then they on another level bring up fundamental questions about what art is.

Q: I think this project points to the great potentials in digital artistic production as a way to let youngsters deal with art history in a hands-on manner. Some art institutions may, however, be wary because of the practical implications of using digital media. Can you tell me about the practical issues when managing these kinds of projects (equipment, training, pedagogy etc.)?

A: Actually, the web project did not have any practical problems with equipment; the l'Espal centre has a multimedia area where they do workshops with people, so they already had enough equipment to do it, except for buying some software like Director. The kids quickly learned about computers and I received a lot of help from the people from the multimedia workshop (thanks again to Sandra Gaumont for the precious help she gave me, as well as the whole l'Espal team).

The pedagogy was, like I said above, very natural. I guess it is easier to deal with kids when you are an artist; you are neither a teacher nor an educator, you are just someone who is allowed to think differently, to play with them... I never asked them to read the books or the Internet sites about art, just to take a look at the pictures, eventually to read the titles and to read some paragraphs if they felt like it. We talked a lot, they asked me many questions and I often answered with other questions.

For the installation project, in which the kids are not directly associated because it becomes much more technical and the ‘matter' is already done, we didn't suspect how much money and material it would require. I guess if we knew, we would never have decided to do it. But the project has had quite a good reception here, and we have received a lot of help and partnership. Mostly the ministry of culture is helping us, as well as the city and the region. The idea now is to have the exhibition travel and we might have a new one in October at Cite des Sciences (Villette, Paris).

Q: In the work with the installations you apparently encountered a number of difficulties, which means there are probably a number of things you would have liked to have known in advance… What advice can you offer an organization or institution wanting to do a similar project?

A: The main difficulty was to find the funds, but the cultural centre did the job. We've been working for 2 weeks on it with 5 to 8 people. The show opens May 2005, with over 500 m² of installations and we are very happy about it! The only advice I can give is to surround yourself with motivated and competent people. Luckily that's what happened in Le Mans with the l'Espal center.

Q: You have a background in traditional painting. In what way does your painterly background show in your digital pieces?

A: I guess, besides the painterly look of my work, I kept a very similar approach to digital art. I now do works nearly like I used to paint, without a plan. Most of the time it's a dialogue with the canvas. I'm very attentive to what's going on with the code, the pictures and the sound. If I make a mistake at some stage, that mistake can become a strength. The choices I make are dictated by my subconscious - but not only of course. I communicate something that people can feel with their emotions and subconscious, instead of something where they think ‘I love the idea, this is smart'.

Q: Why did you shift to digital media?

A: I felt trapped doing paintings that had already been done 40 years earlier, so I needed to find a new medium to express myself through. I thought of computers because I grew up with them even though I never made pictures with them. So around age 30 I went back to university to get free training. I didn't learn anything, but a student told me about Flash and Director and it was a personal revolution.

Q: Which aspects of these programs sparked this personal revolution?

A: In Director (and also Photoshop) I found a very similar way of thinking about pictures as I had encountered in painting, e.g. the use of multi-layered images. In my paintings I used to have from 3 to 7 (sometimes more) layers of textures and matters that could sometimes only be seen from one scratch on the surface. I guess this is what made me feel close to these tools. Then I discovered how to use sounds, videos and finally code. But I guess that if I hadn't found the transparency mode for layers (which Flash doesn't really have) I maybe wouldn't have carried on with computers. I love the ink for layers in Director and I mostly use the lightest, the darkest, the add pin and subtract pin inks for everything I do. I'm being a bit technical here, but once again, maybe without these things I wouldn't do what I do.

Then there's the Lingo code in Director. I used to program in Basic when I was 15 and I guess it helped me a lot in going back to coding 15 years later. I've always liked logics and math but not enough to study it. I like how logical Director is. The interface and the language (Lingo) are very reactive; you change one parameter and you see the change in real time, no rendering, and no delay.

That's another reason why I felt good about this software; it is much easier than painting where you think twice before putting color here or a stroke there. Here you can try as many things as you want, all you have to do is to use your eyes to choose what you feel is the closest to what you want.

DISCUSSION

Art is a software plug-in. An interview with Peter Luining


Originally published at Artificial, http://www.artificial.dk
Article with images: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/luining.htm

Dutch artist Peter Luining's digital artistic production spans over many styles and formats. Since he entered the early net art scene, his works have explored the nature of interactivity, dealt with the relationship between sound and minimal graphics using various aesthetic, and conceptual perspectives. His works have been presented at several prestigious venues worldwide and he has acted as a curator himself. Peter recently visited Denmark for the Read_me festival 2004 where he presented some new art works consisting of alternative add-ons ('plug-ins') which are installed as a part of the image editing software Photoshop. These plug-ins add unexpected dimensions to the existing software, making the interaction with the software the frame within which the art happens - not so much the resulting images. Thomas Petersen asked Peter about his work in general and his perspective on the digital arts scene. View Peter Luining 's work at: http://www.ctrlaltdel.org

Q: You have been working with computer based art for quite a while now. Tell me about your previous work and how it has developed into your present projects.

A: I started to do autonomous work for the internet in 1996. I was fascinated by the way you could easily make things interactive with html (a language in which web pages are programmed). My first work researched the possibilities of interactive sound and images. These were quite simple pieces; with a click you came to another page on which another sound and animation played. By giving people more choices on a page to navigate I created more complex works.
In these early days cross-platform compatibility was the most problematic aspect. When I discovered Flash this seemed to solve the problem. With Flash my work changed from figurative to abstract, which had several reasons, but now looking back I would say one of the most decisive reasons for the abstraction was that if you used anything else than the internal vector shapes (blocks, dots, line) in Flash you would not really gain anything in the sense of byte size, which means download speed. So in fact you were hooked to the internal logic (and aesthetics) of this program.

Soon after I started using Flash, I discovered that the possibilities of the program were limited, there were for example hardly any ways to do more complex things with sound, so I moved to the program Director. While keeping the abstract shapes in my work, it got more complex in the sense that I started to use more interactive elements like letting people choose their sounds from the net (e.g. objekt 14). A key experience for me was the public space project BGO MUI*5 I did for the Dutch Department of Justice in The Hague. Here I deepened the aspects of interactivity by doing a real site-specific networked multiuser installation. Because I really had problems to get the software of this project going, it made me start to think about the material (code) I was using.
This process of reflection actually led to my first conceptual piece of software: ZNC browser. This is a browser, which in the first place was meant to make the process of what a piece of software does, in this case browsing, transparent. What ZNC does is translate html to ASCII numbers which in turn are translated into color and sounds.
The next step for me was the investigate the direct visual surroundings of computer art work and their influence on the work. With this I mean for example the influence of the GUI (Graphic User Interface) or the type of computer on which the work runs. This investigation led to another conceptual piece called Window, which is just a window where the stage was literally cut out. I cut this out to focus all attention to the frame. During the programming process, however, I discovered that I could program it so that you actually could click through the window. This makes it look and feel like a sort of material object that you can move over your desktop.

After Window I started to become interested in image editing software. To work with this kind of software has become so ordinary that you hardly think of its added possibilities anymore. Besides all the standard options these programs have the possibility to put in plug-ins (that can be made by any person with some programming knowledge). In nearly all cases these plug-ins are just meant to do special effects or to fine tune a picture. So I started to think of a series of plug-ins that would apply the ideas of new media philosophers on images.
To a certain level this worked but soon I discovered that results of these conceptual media filters became uninteresting. For example the Deleuze filter, I had made, created a root structure on a picture... Too literal. I picked up the filter project and especially the search for unexpected filters in a new series called ‘formulas’, in which I forced myself to ignore my programming knowledge and just started to type in code in a simple and stupid looking way, by just adding and multiplying letters or numbers in the programming language till the filter would give a black or white result or there would be no result at all. Also the filter would have the name of the code I used. This led to a series of filters which sometimes had very long names. The most exciting part came when I put these filters into the Photoshop plug-in directory. When chosen in Photoshop itself the result was that it took over Photoshop's interface completely.

Q: I find your plug-in series interesting because they can infiltrate ordinary users' interaction with a well-known piece of mainstream software - actually having the potential of being used regularly. This strategy seems quite different from early experiments with e.g. alternative browsers, as these pieces could often not be used for meaningful surfing. What do you hope to achieve with the tool aspect?

A: I did not really make these filters with the intention for ordinary software users to use them. They were made for an art context in the first place. Personally, I see them as artworks that transgress ordinary use of what you could call banal pieces of software. So, there is no strategy here to infiltrate. I do however have no problems when the plug-ins are used by a different group than their target audience (which is an art audience). Something like what Matthew Fuller calls 'not just art'. I do however want to stress again that this is not the underlying thought by which they where made. That software art can actually become a tool in the hands of others is an interesting side product, but my interest at the moment is first and foremost the use of the inherent aesthetics of specific software and doing something interesting (unexpected) with them. The filters were developed out of the idea of using existing software and my contemplation of its use and structure.
In this connection it's also interesting to tell that for the recent show 'New Photographic Approach I' I did a screen recorded movie in which I explain what Photoshop is, what filters are and what the filters that I made do. With this work I want to get even people who don't know anything about Photoshop and filters to get into this kind of work. So the work was actually presented in a form of documentation in an 'institutional' art space, while the real things are available on the net.

Q: Your 'formula' works deal directly with code as material and your Photoshop works in general comment on the everyday use of mainstream software from a position within the software. What interests you about bringing forth these aspects of software and programming?

A: First there's of course the plug-in aspect. It looks like the evolution of software is moving more and more towards a few specialized host programs that everybody use (as for example Photoshop for image editing) and that give certain basic functions which can be widened by plug-ins. While in the past you saw lots of competing programs that almost could do the same, besides a few special possibilities of course, you nowadays see a few large host applications left that offer a more open structure and allow plug-ins that can do all kind of extras. The best example is the development of music software, where in the beginning there were all kinds of stand alone software synthesizers. Nowadays all serious developers of these synths make them so they can be plugged into a host application as a sequencer program like Cubase. So in fact it's just a logical step to start developing special software (plug-ins) that fit in such a host application, instead of building a whole new application that does the same and has some special functions too.
Secondly 'formulas' can be seen as tools to edit and fine tune a picture. Which is in fact a sort of artisan sort of labor, a sort of craftsmanship. My plug-ins can be seen as a referrer to this craftsmanship, or better making the sort of labor you need to do when you build filters (the programming) explicit. When you open 'formulas' you see the filters that are named the same as the code and you immediately see all the work it takes to just make some filters.

Q: In your view, what is the position of computer based art forms in relation to the art world in general and how do you see the future of this situation?

A: I would like to refine this question because I think you can talk about 2 kinds of art circuits here: 1.) Something which you could call the 'institutional' art world (museums, galleries) and 2.) The world of new media centres (ZKM, V2) and new media festivals (Ars Electronica, Transmediale). I experience and see that these circuits are separated.
At the moment you hardly see any interest of the 'institutional' art world in computer related works. In the new media (or tech) related world there's a huge interest in these kinds of works, although the only things this circuit seems to be after is works that use the latest technology and/ or socio- political implications of these kinds of works. The development I see at the moment is that, besides the hypes in the recent years of net and software art, which brought some computer works into the 'institutional' art world, this type of art seems be pushed to the 2nd circuit because that's where the expertise is (I have heard this from several fine art curators). I think they choose the easy solution, which is to get rid of all the difficult aesthetical and presentational questions, but they also seem to be unaware that the circuit where there is the tech expertise is totally uninterested in aesthetical or traditional art questions and is often only interested in the latest technology and socio- political questions. For the future I hope that somehow both worlds would open up, especially because both circuits could really gain a lot from each other.

Q: Are you implying that the new media circuit may be somewhat self sufficient or not able to see the point in connecting to the traditional art world circuit?

A: What I mean is that there is not really a lot of interest in the new media (art) circuit to look or to connect to the traditional art world. I think that the main reason for this is that this circuit is rooted more in the strategic and functional use of media than in formalist questions.

Q: These problems are often made out to being rooted in the first circuit - i.e. the traditional art world not being able or ready to accept electronic/digital art works, thus excluding electronic and digital artworks from recent (mainstream) art history.

A: I am not going to point fingers. The fact is that nowadays there are specialized new media institutes and they make it easier for (mainstream) institutions to leave anything that looks too complex or difficult to those specialized institutes. And with too complex or difficult I don't mean only technology wise but also regarding the character of the artwork. A simple example of this is what happened to me a few years ago, when I did a quite simple interactive installation that consisted of a moving set of blocks projected on a large screen that could be manipulated by a mouse. At the opening a quite popular Dutch art critic came in and was terribly excited, but after I explained that the work was interactive and you could change the work yourself, he swiftly moved on. I only can guess his motives, but the most important thing, I think, is the problematic notion of the au thor in this kind of work. This is because when you start to play, who's the author?
And when you start to think about this it becomes even more complex. If for example you compare it with the notions of interactivity you can find at performances, you will find out that computer interactivity is different. You interact with software that is programmed by an artist. This has even more difficult implications than a performance where performer and audience interact and can make an artwork together. In this sense it's important to place this work in a context in which, besides digital artists, also more 'traditional' artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija are working. With the work of this accepted artist you also see a shift in concepts of interactivity. I remember a piece by him that was just a music band rehearsal room, and people just started to play and use the instruments. It wasn't cleaned so for every newcomer to this space things could have been changed from the original setting.

Q: In your opinion, what is needed for the traditional art world circuit to deal more with computer based artworks?

A: A serious discourse that deals with aesthetic/ formalist questions of computer based artworks. The problem so far has been that computer based work was presented in 'institutional' art spaces because it was hot, new, etc. But because of a lack of any serious discourse or critics placing these works in a wider art context, the hype was over in no time. Furthermore, as lots of traditional art institutions jumped on the bandwagon to show computer art, hardly any of them thought of how to present these works. And maybe here also artists (including myself) can be blamed. A computer screen and mouse was enough, while you could criticize this way of presentation, especially from the side that loads of interactive computer works are just too complex to experience in a white cube.
So when talking about computer art I'm not only talking about a discourse but also about a mentality of the artist. I think an artist, if s/he is interested in showing her/his work in an institutional art space, the first thing s/he should think of is the way how the work should be presented. Having learned from seeing people trying to interact with others' and with my work, I decided to do presentations and performances with my work.
My latest step is making screen movies of work, with sound, that just explain or tell what happens on the screen. In this sense I see myself working in the tradition of 70s conceptualists who did their art outside the institutional spaces, as for example Robert Smithson's Spiral Getty, but showed clear documents (that are artworks themselves) of these works inside the institutions. In my case the internet is of course the outside.