Announcing Rhizome Commissions and Rhizome | Tumblr Internet Art Grant Awardees 2013

Promotional image for David Wightman and Jacob Ciocci, The Realm Recognize Realm Tour.

Rhizome is pleased to announce the artists and collaboratives awarded grants through our annual Commissions Program. This year, nearly 250 proposals were submitted by artists from around the world. One project was selected by Rhizome's membership, through an open vote, and four more by jury. With a focus on NYC-based artists due to the generous support of the Jerome Foundation, plus a select few national and international projects, the awardees are:

‪Colin Self ‬
‪Yung Jake‬
‪Aaron Meyers with Lauren McCarthy‬
‪Haley Mellin‬
‪Lauren McCarthy
Additional commissioned projects by Jace Clayton and Aleksandra Domanovic will be announced shortly.

‬‪We are also pleased to announce the winners of our first Rhizome | Tumblr Internet Art award, which placed a special focus on projects from emerging artists engaged with Tumblr: ‬

‪Masood Kamandy‬
‪Dina Kelberman
‪David Wightman and Jacob Ciocci‬

The Rhizome Commissions program is supported, in part, by funds from Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by generous individuals and Rhizome members.

Rhizome Commissions 2013-2014

Colin Self‬—‪ClumpTV

ClumpTV is a trans-disciplinary art and talk show hosted by Colin Self that features performances by and interviews with artists, musicians, stylists, writers, and dancers. A new episode of ClumpTV will be released quarterly on the American Medium Network (AMN), at

In October of 2010, the moniker Clump was given to a Brooklyn drag show and dance party, queering the concept of gathering. More than two years later, it has developed into a thriving community that integrates diverse queer sub-genres and celebrates freedom and creativity outside the frameworks of class, gender, race, and sexuality. Created to expand upon foundations of queer and feminist video content like LTTR (print) and PILOT TV (video), ClumpTV (web) digs into the sediment of queer pasts and presents to instigate a new chapter in the cultivation and documentation of artistic community.

Yung JakeKickstarder

Using the crowd-sourced fundraising platform Kickstarter, Yung Jake will create an interactive rap video into which supporters are automatically inserted. The artist describes it as "a short story that shows an artist go from the bottom 2 da top."

The project will comprise an official Kickstarter project as well as an unofficial and simulated Kickstarter. The real Kickstarter will show Yung Jake at a low point: lonely, in his bare room, requesting money to create a high budget music video. The video will be very lo-fi, since he does not have the means to bring his aspirations to life. On the SIMULATED Kickstarter page,, we will see these aspirations of fame and fortune gradually coming to fruition. This video will start at the same low-budget, lo-fi point, but will end in a fantasy world where Yung Jake has everything that he sought out to gain, "some ridiculous baller shit."

When donors give money to the project on Kickstarter, they will be given the opportunity to be automatically inserted into the piece. If they donate a smaller amount of money, their name will be inserted into the beginning (where Yung Jake hasn't made much money yet) of the Kickstarder video. As Yung Jake begins to "ball out harder," as he puts it, there will be further options for supporters to insert themselves into the video.

Aaron Meyers with Lauren McCarthy—God's Eyes

God's Eyes takes online voyeurism to new extremes by giving the one user at a time the power to peer into a panoply of other users' lives.

The project takes the form of a mobile app. One user at a time will be designated as God, while all others are God's Eyes. The God user will be shown a list of currently active Eyes offering live video streams from their mobile devices. If the list is underpopulated, God can summon their Eyes through a push notification that is broadcast to all other users of the app, beckoning them to offer up their streams before God. When the God user chooses an Eye, God's screen is filled with the live video stream of the Eye's experience. God is able to talk directly to the Eye, while the host Eye can only communicate through the audio-less video stream. When the Eye fails to sustain God's attention, God can choose another Eye to enter.

The experience for an Eye is quite different. After choosing a caption or name, the app begins streaming the Eye's video feed. As long as the feed is kept open, the Eye will steadily accumulate God Points, the in-app currency of God's Eyes. If and when God chooses to occupy the Eye's stream, the rate of God Point collection increases rapidly, giving the Eye a strong incentive to keep God's interest through whatever means they can imagine. God Points allow Eyes to unlock special features, and ultimately to claim the role of God.

Upon losing their power, the outgoing God enters a debriefing screen where they are given the opportunity to describe any aspect of their experience they choose. These anonymous debriefings are serialized on the God's Eyes website as "The God Log", a public-facing communiqué of private God-Eye interaction.

Part of the motivation to create God's Eyes was to imagine mobile experiences outside of the current paradigm that places all value on growing a large user base. The structure of God's Eyes has implicit limitations on the number of user-to-user interactions and thus the size to which the app can comfortably grow. By privileging one user over thousands of others, we seek to question the most basic assumptions of app design in order to explore and enable new kinds of device-driven social dynamics.

Haley Mellin - BOT: Automated Image Production  

Data is the new coal.
– Kenneth Goldsmith

This project involves the creation of a bot to automate digital image production. Using an algorithmic code, the bot produces 72 dpi, born-digital images, watermarked with a time stamp. The application generates these jpegs from “trending” digital content. These authorless images exist ontologically between computer code and documentation. The resulting production is dispersed to a series of social sites (Tumblr, Facebook, Imgur, Twitter) and archived to a dedicated stream. The bot illustrates the pressure of the contemporary to adequately keep up with the ever-escalating demands of this emergent environment. Given the digital appetite for new visual information, it proposes satiation is now only attainable with the help of automated modes of production. The application, along with the jpegs it yields, illustrates the contemporary attention economy which calls its subject to continually put out content. Eventually one runs out of time to generate enough visual material at an increased pace and relies on automated modes of production to auto-respond to content, like algorithmic, high volume stock trading, or an IFTTT. The real-time application will be a combination of web-crawler, processor and automated sharing; the bot and the resulting production images are mutually dependent works and develop within the acoustics of the internet. The beta stages of this project will be tested by Rhizome members. This project references the Gibson-appropriated track "Pattern Recognition" on Sonic Youth’s 2004 album that opens with the lyric "I'm a cool hunter making you my way."

Lauren McCarthy—Social Turkers

What if we could receive real-time feedback on our social interactions? I developed a system like this for myself using Amazon Mechanical Turk to explore in the form of a performance. During a month of continuous dates with new people I met on OkCupid, I streamed the interaction to the web using an iPhone app. MTurk workers were paid to watch the stream, interpret what was happening, and offer feedback as to what I should do or say next. These directions were communicated to me via text message.

I now want to create a mobile application that will allow anyone to have this experience. The app will make it easy for anyone to stream their interactions to the web for MTurk viewing, and receive frequent directions aiding them in social situations. Rather than limiting it to dating, the app will allow users to specify a range of situations they might find themselves in (business meeting, argument, comforting a friend, party, etc), and describe the emotional tone or background of the situation, resulting in tailored feedback from the MTurk workers that is relevant and useful.

Payment of the MTurk workers will be handled internally by the app, and paid for with in-app purchases the user makes (estimated cost $1.50/hr of social help). We are also considering the possibility of streaming only audio rather than video too, in order to make using the app more seamless and inconspicuous. Directions will be sent discreetly to the user as push notifications which they can then incorporate into their interaction.

This piece talks explores potential futures through the creation of situations that are real in the present. I question the direction we are heading with the development of augmented vision systems and networked mobile applications. However, it is not meant to be purely critical -- embedded in the performance is a suggestion of a networked humanity that uses its collective wisdom to improve people’s ability to interact and form relationships. Most importantly, the piece is meant to question how we define our identities, and what freedoms might come from clinging to these ideas a little less tightly.


Rhizome | Tumblr Internet Art Grant

Masood Kamandy—Content Visualization System

Jogging’s fifteen member team is proposing a Content Visualization System (CVS) as a Tumblr-specific artwork and community building tool for the hundreds of international participants who have contributed to the project.

Jogging occupies a unique position among Tumblr’s many art producers, having created thousands of original posts for the past four years without reblogging a single image. Jogging hosts an inclusive submission process to which hundreds of Tumblr users have contributed while also maintaining an evolving formal-conceptual language specific to the project. Jogging prides itself on accessibility; reaching new demographics of Tumblr followers and presenting work that is able to be understood in multiple ways is an intentional strategy for a project that hopes every one of its followers can one day become a contributor as well.

Jogging’s proposed CVS is comprised of both a back end statistical analyzer and a publicly available front end information visualizer that will illustrate the relationships among different Jogging posts’ content, their authors, the time they were published, the audience they reached, and the comments they inspired. Available publicly as a page within Jogging’s Tumblr domain, CVS will be a real-time map of dialogue, progression, and influence exercised among Jogging’s myriad contributors and audience.

Out of a pile of big data, CVS provides a clear way to make sense of Jogging contributors’ prodigious output by shining light on the threads of artistic conversation that exist and providing a more stable foundation for responsive works in the future.

Dina Kelberman—I'm Google        

I’m Google is an ongoing tumblr blog in which batches of images and videos culled from the internet are compiled into a long stream-of-consciousness. The batches move seamlessly from one subject to the next based on similarities in form, composition, color, and theme. This results visually in a colorful grid that slowly changes as the viewer scrolls through it. Images of houses being demolished transition into images of buildings on fire, to forest fires, to billowing smoke, to geysers, to bursting fire hydrants, to fire hoses, to spools of thread. The site is constantly updated week after week, batch by batch, sometimes in bursts, sometimes very slowly.

The blog came out of what the artist describes as a "natural tendency to spend long hours obsessing over Google Image searches, collecting photos I found beautiful and storing them by theme. Often the images that interest me are of industrial or municipal materials or everyday photo snapshots. I do not select images or videos that appear to be intentionally artistic. Happily, the process of researching various themes in this way has lead to unintentionally learning about topics I might never have otherwise, including structural drying, bale feeders, B2P, VAWTs, screw turbines, the cleveland pack, and powder coating. This ability to endlessly drift from one topic to the next is the inherently fascinating quality that makes the internet so amazing."

David Wightman and Jacob Ciocci—The Realm Recognize Realm Tour

Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman (Extreme Animals) will curate, produce, and participate in the first REALM RECOGNIZE REALM TOUR – an actual 1-week tour through the United States scheduled for August 2013, with five internet artists including: Molly Soda, @TOP8FRIENDS, Lil Internet, Labanna Babalon, and Ben Aqua.

Ciocci and Wightman describe their project as follows: "The idea behind the tour stems from our interest in extremely active internet identities--people who harness the power of The Net to create a powerful personal self-image/brand. We are not inviting people who use the Web just to promote their other activities (art, music, bands, or fashion) but instead we are inviting people who use the Web synonymously with their daily life in interesting ways – the Super Users."

"Rather than clubs, the “shows” will happen in unconventional venues and spaces – suburban high school kid’s basements, pool parties, parking lots.  We are interested in trying to create a physical-world performance space that is closer to the experience of Tumblr than to the experience of the Club, that embraces rather than erases all of the awkwardness, banality, and domesticity of the Tumblr or web 2.0 cam-performance. No stages, no hyper-loud sound systems, no fancy light rigs. Instead these shows will be intimate, quiet, and raw in the best way possible (like the best cam-vids).”