Rhizome Commissions 2011

Rhizome is thrilled to announce the eleven projects that will receive grants in this year’s commissions cycle. Nine of the commissions were determined by a jury consisting of Tina Kukelski, Associate Curator of the 2013 Carnegie Internationale; Candice Madey, founder and director of On Stellar Rays gallery; Domenico Quaranta, curator and writer; and Lauren Cornell, director of Rhizome. Two awards were determined by Rhizome’s membership through an open voting system, in which hundreds of votes were cast. Rhizome will award $30,000 in total towards the projects, which represent diverse approaches to art engaged with new technology. See below for descriptions on each, all written by the artists.

Jury Selections:

Title: Dust
Artist: Aram Bartholl

Dust is a 1:1 scale replica of one of the most played computer game maps in the world. The idea is to build the 3D model of ‘de_dust’ the map of the first person shooter game ‘Counter Strike’ as a permanent ‘building’ from concrete, making this map accessible as a large scale public sculpture. Computer games differ from other mediums such as books, movies or TV, in that spatial cognition is a crucial aspect in computer games. To win a game the player needs to know the 3D game space very very well. Spatial recognition and remembrance is an important part of our human capability and has formed over millions of years by evolution. A place, house or space inscribes itself in our spatial memory. Made from concrete in 1:1 scale, the map becomes an art piece and a museum for a game at the same time. Visitors are invited to take a walk in materialized virtuality and experience the loaded game space in the physical reality. In a level of abstraction all parts of the map will be made from concrete (no color or textures) and will represent a petrified moment of cultural game space heritage.

Artist: Beatriz da Costa, Rich Pell (Center for Postnatural History), Jamie Schulte

The GMO Finder, is a combination web, smart-phone and photo-essay framework, encouraging participants to identify, map and document the presence of genetically modified crops throughout the United States. GMO food and energy crops have permeated the American agricultural system over the past 15 years and a lot of the early public debates surrounding this topic have slowed down. The novelty is gone, and so is the interest of the media. However, questions regarding the configuration of life in an age of transgenics are continuously evolving, and should still be demanding just as much of our attention as they did in the mid-nineties. Rather than promoting or contesting fears of ‘franken-food’ and ‘monster-weeds,’ it seems that today we need a more subtle, fine-graded form of public investigation and presentation. With the GMO Finder, we propose to build a platform to facilitate such activity, and create a shared knowledge base and representation of the American agricultural landscape through the lens of transgenics.

Title: Small Crowd Gathers to Watch Me Cry
Artists: Seecoy, Tao Lin, Jon Rafman

SCGTWMC is a short animated film (currently in pre-production) written by Tao Lin and realized by the directing team of Jon Rafman and Seecoy. In the film, a writer attempts to improvise his new novel in Second Life: a recursive tale where banal meets mysterious and the virtual becomes real. The film is made exclusively within Second Life—a virtual world that is built by its users.

Title: iParade: Unchanged when Exhumed
Artist: LoVid (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus)

iParade#2: iParade is a locative media project produced as a free smart-phone and tablet computer application (App). The App uses GPS data and includes video, sound, and text that are accessible only in specific geographic locations. The content is inspired by, and recorded in particular places such as a street, a building, or a city park. To watch the work in full, visitors must physically relocate themselves to upload segments linked with each particular location. Our long-term vision for iParade involves a series of Apps that will unfold with episodes in different places, each of them standing on their own as independent works while being a part of the larger structure. We are interested in expanding narratives, visceral content, and media theories that link virtual and physical spaces while incorporating multiple points of view. We are also excited to work in this genre as a new form of expanded cinema and public art.

Artists: DIS

DISimages.com will be a fully functioning stock image library dedicated to our ongoing investigation in the realm of stock photography. The purpose of a traditional stock photo is to be a “code without a message,” making it the ultimate image commodity: visual content that, without explicitly articulating anything, can be used for any number of purposes. By adopting the standards already established by stock photo websites to distribute the images, DIS will explore the overproduction of images in the commercial photography market and the oversaturation of imagery in search engines and user-generated sites. Through creating alternative scenarios and new stereotypes, we will question the medium and homogeneity of stock photography. And through co-opting certain aesthetics from commercial photography, we hope to infiltrate the marketplace, thus broadening the spectrum of lifestyle portrayal. As these images disseminate, they will be decontextualized and removed from the art context entirely. Images will be available for free with the DIS Images watermark or for purchase without it. DIS images will proliferate online and in different contexts such as brochures, PowerPoints, etc. Available for multiple—and hopefully conflicting—purposes, the images will circulate and adopt multiple meanings through their contexts and transformations.

Title: African Metropole: Sonic City Lagos
Artists: Mendi and Keith Obadike

This sound installation is the first in our series focused on African cities, an aural update or reimagining of the 1920s city symphony films by Rutman, Strand, Vertov, and others. The sounds of the Lagos, Nigeria will be the source for this work. Our multi-channel sound installation will make use of a center cluster of speakers and flat panel ultrasonic speakers that will project a narrowly focused and an extremely unidirectional beam of sound. These speakers, placed at key nodes in the gallery, will be mounted on an automated servomechanism and will give the illusion of sound following the participant through the space. The project will also include a mobile app that will allow listeners to stream audio in realtime. The first phase of these installations will premier at the Pascal Gallery at Ramapo College in New Jersey.

Title: Tunnels
Artist: Tabor Robak

Tunnels is a 3D interactive virtual environment navigable with mouse and keyboard that places the viewer in a never ending sequence of tunnels each vividly depicting a certain time, narrative, genre, or trope. Perhaps we are in the subways of New York: dirty tile, lights barely flickering, and the distant rumbling of a train. Walking on the tracks we turn into a utility door and find ourselves in the caves of Lascaux, the rocky ceiling is quietly dripping drops of water that echo through the dark cave with horses and bulls accurately depicted on the walls. We are in Jetson's like tube in the sky overlooking a futuristic city disappearing into the clouds. We are in the flashing red hull of a submarine that is slowly filling with water through spraying cracks around bolts. The hallway of a luxury hotel. A mud filled trench. The foggy freezer of a butchers shop with hanging sides of beef on hooks. And on and on. This piece is about the emotional feeling of living in hyperreality, spending an equal amount of time in places physical, mental, and virtual and valuing them equally. It is about forgetting you are in the theater when watching a movie, staying inside on a sunny day to play Crysis 2 on the PC, reading a whole book in one night, running everyday errands, and having Wikipedia on your phone.

Title: Blind Mist
Artist: Brad Troemel and Jonathan Vingiano

Blind Mist is a platform that relies on participants to submit their URL to an open database. From here, the website scrapes every image off the URLs participants offer and adds those images to another archive. There is no limit to the number of URLs/images a participant may add. A stream of images from this archive is presented at random on the Blind Mist homepage. Each image functions as a link back to its original website, allowing users to continue exploring content they found interesting. Through Blind Mist, we intend to offer an alternative to the dominant blogging format of aggregated or self-selected digital media and open possibilities for new, unforeseen juxtapositions in visual content. Additionally, we are interested in promoting a platform that mixes 'high' and 'low' artworks, allowing any and all content to be viewed in the same, uniformly context-free space for further investigation– hence the name's reference to a 'blind draw'. Blind Mist is an attempt to offer a chance for the discovery of our peers artwork in a way that sidesteps the troubled subjectivity associated with curating. By allowing everyone to mutually benefit through exposure and contribution, Blind Mist is currently the beginning of an artistic commonwealth, fulfilling the artistic potential of a decentralized population only feasible in our digital age.

Title: Image Objects
Artist: Artie Vierkant

Today the work of art lies equally in the version of the object one would encounter at a gallery or museum, the images and other representations disseminated through the Internet and print publications, bootleg images of the object or its representations, and variations on any of these as edited and recontextualized by any other author. Image Objects is part of an ongoing thread in my practice examining our relationship to images in a vastly networked society. I am interested in employing this plasticity and the sheer amount of potential venues for image dissemination as aesthetic strategies within my work. Image Objects will begin as a set of works which exist ontologically somewhere between physical sculptures and augmented documentation images. The initial series will comprise somewhere between 12 and 15 large format digital prints mounted to MDF. Each piece of cut MDF will be matched with a print conforming to the same shape, adding a "layer" or "skin" over the physical substrate to create a unified object. This will be procedurally and aesthetically similar to an earlier work, RGB Icon. However, each time the pieces are documented officially (i.e., by myself or by a gallery), any released documentation will be edited first to create a new form which does not accurately represent the physical sculpture.

Member Awards:

Title: Prairie
Artist: Shawn Decker

I have recently just finished a project called Motion Studies (Prairie). This piece is a prototype for a much larger installation. The final version of the work will be a 40' x 80' installation and will simply be titled Prairie. The prototype for the project Motion Studies (Prairie) is a 12’ x 12’ grid of speakers that are mounted on thin rods , with vibration motors attached near the base. The speakers are sent various combinations of pulses, causing them to click, buzz, chirp, and sputter in various insect-like patterns – with these same pulses being sent to the motors. In this way then, the clicks and buzzes heard through the speakers are also manifested in a physical shaking and vibration that is visual in nature, and exactly coincides with the sounds being produced. The 12’ x 12’ scale of this piece allowed for a grid of 36 (6x6) of the speakers, and served as a protoype for a larger scale piece. The patterns in the piece contrast more formal “theatrical” patterns, which seem to resemble dialogues between groups of these “grasses”, with more “naturalistic” indeterminate patterns of various characters, which are much more reminiscent of wind, water, or insects. In the full version of the work (which would be just titled Prairie) an open space as large as 50’ x 80’ would be covered with multiple grids like this one – as many as 6 or 8 of them, with space between them to allow for people to walk among them. This space would have as many as 200 to 300 separate small speakers, each playing unique sounds that are coordinated among all the speakers. This would allow large coordinated group activities and gestures – waves of motion and sound traveling through the large space.

Project: Fantastic Futures
Artists: Led by Huong Ngo, Or Zubalsky, Andrew Persoff, and Ali Salim Abood

Fantastic Futures is collaborative group of students, artists, and educators from Iraq and the United States. It is also an online platform that we have been developing since November 2010 that allows for the mixing and sharing of recorded sounds and stories across cultures. It is a tool for collaboration, critical engagement, and live performances. As a social medium, it is aimed towards connecting citizens from nations in conflict in an open dialogue based around the sharing of field recordings, songs, and interviews. Our goal is collapse the barriers of physical space that contribute to the misunderstandings between cultures and to emphasize the subversive value of sharing experiences across political borders.