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Articles on this Page
- 08/14/12--07:00: _Artist Profile: Cec...
- 08/14/12--11:00: _I, IV by A.E. Benenson
- 08/15/12--06:33: _Improving Prometheus
- 08/16/12--07:16: _Guide to Future-Pre...
- 08/20/12--05:50: _Love Letters
- 08/21/12--06:18: _Julian Oliver's Tel...
- 08/22/12--09:44: _The Unconscious Per...
- 08/23/12--14:10: _Kitchen Table Coder...
- 08/24/12--07:49: _The Web That Can't ...
- 08/27/12--11:15: _The Eternal Interne...
- 08/28/12--06:53: _Prosthetic Knowledg...
- 08/28/12--11:00: _Demiurge in the Cup...
- 08/29/12--05:32: _Jonas Lund's Paintshop
- 08/30/12--07:42: _Thank You to Our Sp...
- 08/30/12--08:36: _Rhizome Digest: Bes...
- 09/03/12--03:00: _Rhizome in Brighton...
- 09/04/12--06:02: _An Interview with S...
- 09/04/12--09:51: _The Download: Krist...
- 09/05/12--07:34: _Artist Profile: Jul...
- 09/05/12--14:06: _A Tribute to John C...
- 08/14/12--07:00: Artist Profile: Cecile B. Evans
- 08/14/12--11:00: I, IV by A.E. Benenson
- 08/15/12--06:33: Improving Prometheus
- 08/16/12--07:16: Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 3: The Cyborg-Historical
- 08/20/12--05:50: Love Letters
- 08/21/12--06:18: Julian Oliver's Tele-Cartography
- 08/23/12--14:10: Kitchen Table Coders Presents: Learn to Code From an Artist Workshop
- 08/24/12--07:49: The Web That Can't Wait
- 08/27/12--11:15: The Eternal Internet Brotherhood
- 08/28/12--06:53: Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Other Worlds
- 08/28/12--11:00: Demiurge in the Cupboard by Bradley Benedetti
- 08/29/12--05:32: Jonas Lund's Paintshop
- 08/30/12--07:42: Thank You to Our Sponsors
- Brooklyn Museum- GO is a community-curated open studio project. Artists across Brooklyn will open their studio doors, so that you can decide who will be featured in a group show at the Brooklyn Museum. Voter Registration Deadline: September 9, 2012
- School of Visual Arts – The NYC art and design school is offering continuing education courses to meet the diverse educational needs of the city’s professional art and design community.
- Vilcek Foundation - Now accepting submissions for dARTboard, a digital art space that invites foreign-born artists living permanently in the United States and specializing in new media art forms to submit their work for exhibition. Submission Deadline: October 22nd
- Art Systems – Professional art gallery, antiques and collections management software
- 08/30/12--08:36: Rhizome Digest: Best of Rhizome August
- The Web That Can't Wait
- Love Letters
- Interface Aesthetics: An Introduction
- The Universal Texture
- When Machines Speak
- Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 3: The Cyborg-Historical
- Exploring Bludgeoned Subjectivity: Talking to Chris Kraus
- The Eternal Internet Brotherhood
- Improving Prometheus
- Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Other Worlds
- Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Computed Fashion
- Demiurge in the Cupboard by Bradley Benedetti
- I, IV by A.E. Benenson
- Julian Oliver's Tele-Cartography
- Thoughts on Wikipedia's Future
- Kitchen Table Coders Presents: Learn to Code From an Artist Workshop
- Jonas Lund's Paintshop
- A Tribute to Chris Marker's Double Life
- More Chris Marker Online
- The Unconscious Performance of Identity: A Review of Johannes P. Osterhoff’s “Google”
- Introducing the Rhizome Tumblr
- 09/03/12--03:00: Rhizome in Brighton, Liverpool
- 09/04/12--06:02: An Interview with Superlative TV
- 09/04/12--09:51: The Download: Kristin Lucas
- 09/05/12--07:34: Artist Profile: Julian Oliver
- 09/05/12--14:06: A Tribute to John Cage on his Centennial
Cecile B. Evans, You May Keep One of Your Children (2011)
Many of your works reference and seem to be derived from popular culture icons, from Paula Abdul and Meryl Streep to Jean-Luc Goddard and J.D. Salinger. What is the role of popular culture in your work? Do your works attempt to comment on our conceptions of these cultural references or are they simply a point of departure?
One thing that is important to me in the work I’m doing now is to get to where several points of reference can exist on the same plane, with equal weight. In this world, Paula Abdul goes with Pina Bausch, Meryl Streep with medical instruments, and an array of other elements in each piece that vary in their visibility. I’m interested in reaching a place where the high blends into the low, the earnest into satire (and vice versa) and making a complex constellation of elements that winds up as something that’s really simple aesthetically. As I write this, I’m gluing nail art rhinestones to spell out a quote from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? in Braille to spill from the tear ducts of a vintage photo a friend emailed me of her parents kissing. I’m simultaneously editing a video that features a semphore version of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing on sleeping pills that unfolds while a Lucinda Childs-like ghost floats around dying golden embers. At the moment, we exist in a culture that lets me use these very different values to refer to the same emotions. It’s as though we’ve entered a 2nd wave of New Sentimentality where it’s as appropriate to relate loss to an Aaliyah song as it is to do so with Barthes’ Mourning Diary, and either can be done sincerely or ironically… at least I’ve always equated things that way.
I enjoy using broad references in popular culture as a reflection on how different industries have created universal conduits.
Your past works seem to levitate around notions of intimacy and relationships. Some of your projects imply that intimacy doesn't necessarily require physical closeness and can be instead experienced through connections made in internet or other forms of technology. Yet, in the age of tweeting and texting, social networking creates this constant yet increasingly vapid communication between people that feels anything but intimate. How do you think recent technology affects our perceptions of intimacy? Do you think physical closeness can be replicated within a technological frame, or do these new forms of connecting force us to reevaluate what we deem “intimate”?
In the past I’ve been interested in the internet as an intimacy generator, using its content as source material, without judgement. One thing that I’ve found since I’ve started is how blurred the lines between the virtual and real have become, to the point where it isn’t a big deal. There are feed relationships that can cross over to a more direct form of contact, either as an extension of what you’ve created or used as supplements to wish fulfillment- from rejection to validation. The volume of people and easy access serves as a lubricant either way
The danger isn’t with ourselves- I don’t think those of us who have the filter to realize what’s ok and what isn’t will lose that. It’s more how flippantly we display our feelings. The faith in an emotional utopia was decried in 1994 by Carmen Hermasillo (aka humdog) who warned that the spilling of our guts on the internet would result in the commodification of our feelings by large corporations. That’s happening now. I fear that the companies are mirroring back what we unknowingly feed them in ways that will reevaluate the meaning of intimacy for us.
But one thing has been clear from the beginning, you can have real things happen to you virtually. I think that forming a relationship of any kind online is totally legit.
You investigations span various mediums, from sculpture to performance and video in several. You also seem to gravitate towards collaboration, especially in your most recent video Straight Up, where Mati Gavriel provided the music and Edmund Brown added the after effect. In your process, what variables do you take into consideration when assigning an appropriate approach to a new project? Is the decision to use a specific medium or to include a collaboration demanded by a new project, or does it facilitate in the formation of the final piece?
I like to work with experts, people who are very good at doing something that I can’t. Mati is a professional pop songwriter- we’ve done 3 scores together. I’ve also collaborated with forensic scientists and neurologists- each one becomes analogous to a cyborg apparatus that enhances the piece and informs me. They transmit my fantasy into something that’s technically possible and it’s important to recognize that value. Basically, I don’t think the piece should be limited by what I can’t do.=
Congratulations on receiving Edmash Award. What can we expect from the upcoming audio guide you will be creating for the Frieze Art Fair?
Thanks! At the moment I’m focused on organizing a group of non-art people that will serve as a panel that responds subjectively to a selection of artworks in Frieze. I’m hoping to create an experience that introduces an emotional language into the art fair, dominated by material and intellectual value and use the audio guide to generate a power shift. I’m also playing with a physical element in the form of a telepresent host that will speak directly to the visitor, to further break up the dynamic and make a dialogue within the subjective realities.
Based in Berlin, on residence in London.
How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start?
From the start. My first experiments were lo-fi videos I shot on an HDV cam edited together with AT&T text to speech narrators.
Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them?
My most important tool is the mood board. Nearly every piece I make, no matter the medium, gets a mood board. I find images or video for every part of the idea and then summarize it in 3-5 sentences. It all goes on a PDF with hyperlinks. From there I know if the concepts in the piece will work visually, if it’s missing something or there’s too much.
I shoot on the Canon 5D/7D Mark 2, which doesn’t handle movement very well and helps me avoid erroneous zoom and pan ideas. I use Final Cut, because even if I learned another program my fingers would still Command + I + O + C. I use the phone, calling to get things done is underrated. Everything and everyone else is found via the internet. All of my projects, and the development of my work, begin with a google search.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I went to NYU, where I trained as an actor, first in Meisner (method acting) then in experimental theatre. That encompasses a lot- things from Balinese masks to postmodern dance. I’d say one of the most important introductions to an artwork I had was in choreographer Annie B. Parson’s class- she showed us The Way Things Go as inspiration for a cause and effect based choreography assignment.
What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology?
I also work with collage and sculpture. I find out how to make most of the visual components online- for example the mixture I used to make the tears in Crying About Crying About is taken from an archived forum post on how to make condensation for camera.
Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)?
I like to make dinners for groups of people.
What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way?
I’m an artist for a living now which feels great, I’ve been making work for 3 years. Before that I was an actress, which I started claiming at age 5. I’ve played people like Phaedre, a mentally disabled preteen, and a newspaper covered narrator who told the history of the potato.
I realized that the process of building a character or narrative to house emotions wasn’t right for me and that I was more engaged by the generation of emotion and how contemporary culture values it. My artistic practice suits those needs.
I’ve also been a makeup artist at Barney’s, Bloomingdales’, and Bergdorf, as well as a bartender, cocktail waitress, and secret food critic. But those don’t really relate to my work.
Who are your key artistic influences?
I look at a whole lot of work, all the time, from historical artists to my peers and am regularly informed by parts of them. Bas Jan Adler is a big one. But mostly, I’m influenced by work from outside of the art world- I borrow a lot from movies, especially sci-fi fantasy. Also choreographers like Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, tv developers like Jim Henson, Beyonce videos, anthropologists like Malinowski- sorry to be so inarticulate but there are a lot!
I think it’s nice to mention the artists who’ve influenced your work through their generosity. There have been friends who were casually very influential simply by taking my desire to work seriously, even before I was working professionally. Artists like Jordan Wolfson- who lent me his apartment (my first studio) and books for well over a year after he left Berlin, or writers like Victoria Camblin and Francesca Gavin who have written excellent texts for shows that weren’t real shows, or done a piece with me at a time where I needed a push to contextualize my own work. I don’t think that this happens enough between peers and it’s vital. Reminds me of stories you hear of people like Sol Lewitt, who encouraged a lot of less experienced artists in his time. There should be more of that!
Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what?
I’ve collaborated several times with curator Rebecca Lamarche Vadel. Together we did Art By Telephone, a series of performances where we realized artist’s works under their instruction via Skype. I also did a performance in which I explained an exhibition she had curated via the magic of Power Point and a series of subjective google searches.
Do you actively study art history?
I worked really hard at this when I moved to Berlin from Paris (where I was still an actress). I tried to see and read as much as I could, I didn’t do anything else for months, which was easy as it was the dead of winter. My knowledge is embarrassingly contemporary though. I’m still constantly looking at things and filling in blanks. But I didn’t go to art school. I get super excited when I see something that I’ve only seen in research- yesterday I saw Hans Haacke’s Condensation Cube at the Tate and practically took a lap around the room.
Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you?
There are a few works that I consistently return to- John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Clement Greenberg’s later essays, Artaud’s No More Masterpieces, the Oulipac writers, Malinowski’s The Sexual Lives of Savages (but mainly for the photo captions!). I like reading what my friends are writing, I think they are quite good.
Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?
I think that things are progressing in an exciting way, with all of the questions and concerns. How will things be archived, how will digital forms be preserved, the relationship between digital and physical, etc- I think these questions are being asked and experimented with.
One thing that I’m quite taken by is a shift in authority that’s happening, supported by new media art. Because of the internet, people have visual access to things they don’t have physical access to. Often they are receiving someone else’s perception of the work, which then gets added to their own- possibly very far from the artist or curator’s original intention. I don’t think this is always a bad thing and will ultimately encourage the viewer to approach art more freely. It’s akin to something ancient- the tradition of oral history- and brings a touch of magic back into the equation.
Ian Cheng, from This Papaya Tastes Perfect, 2011
Here are the Germans in Arizona and New Mexico.
Their skin turning the coral-red of the veined rocks, of the local jewelry, as if the color had begun to rub off on them in the heat, some kind of desert frottage but really a sunburn is the just the opposite, if you think about it.
But that is how things are when they are opposites: you can't tell them apart.
Like the first time the group saw a Swastika on a native's cloth rug beady red inside a clutch of eagles, their wings eddying around it—one of them realized for the first time that the sign looked exactly like a miniature windmill (another learned later that in Navajo the symbol did almost mean that, in fact—"whirling log")
Another German was embarrassed; but for the others, this sign was a sign and they telegraphed Goebbels immediately.
It was like when Cortez had arrived in Mexico:
His men found that the natives there already worshipped a deity with long hair and fair skin, Quetzelcoatl, who had walked the earth before he ascended into the heavens. Ignoring any other possibility, Cortez understood this as the proof of the universality of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
The Germans didn't know it then, but that turned out to be the "breakthrough" of their reconnaissance mission. It was the best these code crackers would do: discover a symbol they already all wore on their uniforms.
The rest of the Navajo language remained as much of a mystery as when it had first been captured coming across the Allied wireless.
After they returned home, those Germans still thought of the Allied Code, but something changed. It made no more sense, but before, whereas they had invariably pictured the Code as sparks, or static, percolating from iron spigots, now it looked different. Now it was something like a giant, vibrating quartz buried under the sand.
Sometimes, sitting in their listening posts, they'd find themselves talking to it, instead of listening—to the image of the rock under the sand. There wasn't anything to figure out anymore they just talked to it because they didn't know what else to do. They bitched and moaned to it, they sang folk songs to it, and when they woke up in the morning, and if they could remember, they told it parts of what they had just dreamt.
Their rational brain would never let their reptilian brain admit it out loud, but they liked it better this way—as a giant hidden rock. They liked it better than even the possibility of figuring out what it meant.
Ian Cheng, from This Papaya Tastes Perfect, 2011
The fashion was once to depict a thing inside itself. Here is the Stefaneschi Triptych (c. 1330) depicting nothing more than its master, Giotto, presenting a miniature of the same Triptych to his patron, Stefaneschi:
Giottos and Stefaneschis all the way down.
It is rarely mentioned, but during the brief moment when the Real Giotto presented The Real Triptych to The Real Stefaneschi, everyone in the church was struck with a prickling sensation at the base of their skull, as if someone was staring at them from behind but which they intuitively recognized instead as the feeling of bearing witness to one’s own birth.
We are told the proper term for this is Mise-en-Abyme, lit. put-in-the-center; Commonly misunderstood as Mis-en-Abime, lit. put-in-the-void which is commonly misunderstood as Mis-en-Abyme, lit. put-in-the-center which is commonly misunderstood as Mis-en-Abime, lit. put-in-the-void, etc.
That a thing has no content except for its form is often called Modernism, but the 20th century did not invent this, and even when Giotto painted it, he knew this meant he was already standing behind himself.
Take, for example, remembering that you just forgot something important. What is this a memory of? Or, remember a time when you begged yourself to make a lasting memory before a thing a slipped away. What is this of? a memory inside itself, a memory with “the sound of its own making”:
We imagine there is something truer than these loops but really these are the only memories we can trust for they are the ones that admit that a memory is at mercy to its own form.
Like this, each piece of fiction has its own non-fiction epilogue, an autobiography with the same plot.
Philip K. Dick wrote a story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. It is short and stilted, but with an ingenious premise about Doug Quail, a boring clerk who pays to be put under and pumped full of false memories so that he will wake up convinced he had lived a comic-book life as a secret-agent on Mars. The twist is that the doctor discovers his brain has no room for the false-memories because he really was a Martian secret-agent, and his boring clerk reality was the fake filler.
When the time came to make it into a movie, this was the elevator pitch (verbatim):
Ron Shusset (screenwriter): “We want to do Raiders of the Lost Ark Go To Mars.”
The executive starts seeing it in his head, right there in the fucking elevator:
Arnie, biceps akimbo…churning, churning.
And whenever he gets to see a working script, it’s all this artsy shit about what does it all mean, man? And he only ever has one comment: for chrissakes, get rid of all this talking, guns out to here, ok?
And so finally the script stops trying to be about Doug Quail and just starts trying to be like him. The idea is: why not just junk this whole boring thing (so much talking) and swap in images of a Laser-Guided Conan the Barbarian. Who needs to find some fussy memory-zapping doctor when you’ve got a whole goddamn soundstage full of Pyrotechnics.
cut the checks.
Now in Theaters: Total Recall, starring
Get ready for the ride of your life.
During filming, Arnie became something like a mentor: he taught everyone that just winning isn’t enough, you have to go back and rub your boot in the guy’s face. So make Total Recall: the shoot-em up video game and above all, make Total Recall: The Book. In the end there was this glossy raised-cover slab with Arnie leering and it’s sitting right next to Philip K. Dick: The Collected Stories. And whither the thing? Sitting inside a representation of itself.
Editor's Note: This text is excerpted from the catalog text "I, II, III, IV, V" for Ian Cheng's This Papaya Tastes Perfect.
John Powers, artist, blogger at Star Wars Modern, as well as Rhizome contributor, might now add "script doctor" to his bio. Yesterday, he unveiled his recent project — a rewrite of the script for Prometheus. I asked Powers several questions over email about his improvements to the script:
What was your reaction to Prometheus? How does that compare with your feelings about the films Alien and Aliens?
I was disappointed but still engaged. I had been looking forward to the film. After Requiem I could never have been lured back to another Alien movie, but it was Ridley Scott. And while I really don't like slasher films at all, body horror is something I've always been fascinated by. From Cronenberg's Fly, to Aronofsky's Black Swan, to Natali's Splice, body horror has always been a genre that my imagination has latched onto. Alien is the ultimate. I would love to know the page count of academic papers written on the sexual horror of those films. When I realized Scott was making a stab at 2001 via Alien- ala a scifi film about God (but founded in body horror) I got really excited.
So Prometheus has more in common with 2001 than the original Alien?
To horribly misquote Allen Ginsberg: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the exercise of filming their own 2001; A Space Odyssey.
In 2002 Steven Soderbergh made a run at it (and bombed), via Post-Soviet chic, with his remake of Solaris. In 2006 Darren Aronofsky all but destroyed any artistic credibility he had by making The Fountain, a over-blown scifi opus about life, the universe, and everything. A year later Danny Boyle did it with a little more success (but not much) with his movie Sunshine (wrote about that one). In 2010 Christopher Nolan was clearly aiming for the Kubrick-esque moon with his film Inception (I wrote a LOT about tht one). And Terrence Malick was clearly swinging for the Jovian moons with Tree of Life.
All these films excepting Inception (which is more about the film director as God, than God) are catastrophically flawed. All of them attracted A-list talent (Clooney, Jackman, Dicaprio, Spicoli...) and all were clearly passion projects on the part of their directors. So yeah, Ridley Scott may have said "I want to scare the living shit out of you." but then he turned around and explicitly tackled the themes of emerging post-millennial Kubrickian genre that Geoffrey O’Brien rightly calls "the speculative science fiction epic willing to flirt with cosmic pessimism; the eternally recurring saga of the space voyage toward our point of origin or ultimate destiny."
Alien wasn't about the Nietzschean concept of man as "The Rope" between beast and Star Child, it was a bunch of kids trapped in a cabin with a killer on the loose -transposed to a space ship. Prometheus is peopled by creepy pale Aryan Übermensch (that unfortunately looked like a teenage boy's drawing of a muscleman). But while Kubrick and Clarke believed that contact with a God-like being would be indistinguishable from contact with THE creator, Ridley takes an amazing different view: God-like is not God. That Scott ends up in such a pessimistic disillusioned place - more Lovecraftian than Nietzschean - was, to my mind, the core of the film - and the core of what I tried to preserve in my script.
How did the script rewrite come about?
The artist Bill Powhida and I both looked forward to Prometheus for months. We sent each other videos, essays, spoilers - whatever. Afterwards he organized a meet up for folks (guys really, it was a total sausage fest) at the Scratcher to talk out the film. Bill corresponded with me and read umpteen drafts of the script. I can't imagine doing something like this without at least one person who totally gets it.
Also, just before I saw Prometheus I read Ken MacLeod's latest novel, Intrusion. It's an updating of Orwell's 1984, far less dire in obvious ways, but just as dystopian. For me the take-away of Ken's book and Scott's film were the same: that eventually, every dystopia will produce the citizen it deserves. An individual, or individuals, so alienated, with so little stake in their own society's welfare and therefor so little to lose from its collapse, that they will stand by or even hasten its doom. David is the man his world deserves.
Criticism of Prometheus seems to be that it was overloaded with too many details. But your updated scripted doesn't read like cutting the fat. Don't you feel that a complicated plot might be too much of a departure from the original film?
I didn't want to cut or to add. I wanted to rationalize and darken, not simplify. While I changed a lot of imagery and added plenty of dialogue, I didn't add any characters or entirely new scenes. My script pretty much follows the course of the original scene for scene. But where they say "cesarian" I say "abortion". I trust that you are an adult and that you want to be challenged, that you are willing to be made uncomfortable.
My biggest departure from the original was that I didn't make a movie, I made a script. To enjoy what I made, you have to have seen the film; You have to have that art work in your mind's eye, to see what I am trying to show you. I am asking you to re-imagine those same faces, that same score, those same sets, but slightly, and crucially, different. I am using your memories of the original to give my ideas flesh, but also - I hope - getting you to reconsider the what was (David's contempt) and wasn't (Shaw's longing) the crux of the original.
Could you describe some of the major changes you made to the script?
I had a great time making Fifield and Millburn sound and behave like scientists - but doing so without changing their roles within the greater plot.
There are some weird Hollywood ticks that I felt compelled to get rid of. Scott and his collaborators seem to take a couple particularly terrible pages from the Lucas playbook. The first is the idea that audiences like when you repeat things. I felt that David's pain and contempt for all those around him had been squandered. I flet strongly that Shaw did not deserve to be in the same room with Ripley, much less take up her mantle. So I didn't feel honor-bound to end my story the way they ended theirs.
Assitionally I really dislike the idea that Christianity can be treated as an archetype. This isn't because I'm a Christian, I'm not, I just really can't stand Joseph Campbell. I did my best to root out the whole "space Jesus" idea embedded within the original script - and to do so without making Shaw an atheist or a Zoroastrian. I didn't want to get rid of Christianity, but I wanted to treat it with the respect I think it is due: as a belief system; a moral code, not a myth. I benefitted from a great essay by Adrian Bott on the christain symbolism of the film.
(re)Engineer (author's maquette)
Would you consider this fan fiction?
Totally. It isn't a brand of Fan Fiction I've seen before, I'm not writing an unauthorized sequel or imagining Fifield and Millburn having gay sex (weirdly enough someone else has done that in graphic detail). Like every other artist living I am guilty of appropriation, allusion, evoking, out-right stealing, and ham-fisted homage. I call my Star Wars project "fan nonfiction", so this wasn't a huge step for me, but still one that I knew would leave a lot of people scratching their heads. Now that I've done it though I wondered why I haven't seen more artists doing fan-fiction (and why it took me so long to do it myself). Maybe its just that no one has ever thought to do a "show" of fan fiction...
Superflux headset to enable prosthetic vision.
The Future-Present is something that once one has begun to notice it, it becomes very difficult to not see. This visual pattern of our conception of the future has the occult symbolism of apophenia, an illusion of perception generated as glitching artifact by the same non-illusory means by which we perceive reality. The shape of history projected forward in time looms out in the shape of a monster from patterns of moss on our architecture, and as a prophet from coffee stains on news magazines. Our imagination builds reality both forward and backward in time, as our vision builds reality on both isomorphic sides of the mirror. Our speculative thought catalogs these alternate realities, and we attach them to ourselves like equipment strapped to the stomach of a soldier, and we drag them along with us as we crawl across the surface of the earth, dodging death. Or so we dream, as we let our eyes slowly unfocus, gazing at our liquid crystal screens.
The Future-Present hangs heavy with acquired schematization, grows thickly in the rhizomatics of our mental constructs, and with this decaying biomass, lubricates the sliding transmission of our worldviews. But while the implications of the Future-Present for philosophical theories that deploy such semiotic hardware are important, there is a complex material realm of the Future-Present that should not be ignored. Regardless of what sort of opaque, nebulous terms we develop for the clouds in our temporal vision, they have material form with which we will collide with if we don’t watch where we are going. The gears of the mechanisms are sharp, and the metabolized exertions to avoid injury on the cutting edge are chemically taxing.
This is not simply a matter of seeing correctly and avoiding illusion. The illusions have important meanings. Patterns are the visual boundaries of underlying systems. When a slime mold grows into nearly the exact same shape as the Tokyo rail system, this is not a random coincidence. These systems are analogous, because they both function on the basis of economizing transportation of resources through space for maximum efficiency. The similarity in shape is what we see, but the choice of one particular pathway over another by the system itself is the functional pattern.
Visually apprehending the pattern is often more difficult than simply traversing it intact. Especially when two complex systems are interacting, it is difficult to map a representational pattern of differing dimensions so that we can see what’s going on. We can’t always build a stronger microscope, or find a new aspect to tag with a radioisotope, so we can see the glowing diffusion of the systems we control flowing before us on a monitor. This is an inherent difficulty with the Future-Present--it attempts to create a somewhat unified picture of many systems, each developing their pattern and interacting. And, it must do so with the knowledge that this is a flattened projection, as a simplification of the evolving temporal axis. The unfolding of history is a system interacting with our virtualization of it. Think of it this way: we are playing a video game, the goal of which is to program the video game, at the same time as it is designing and building the hardware of the game system using only that hardware. We are breaking and changing the system from the inside, but if too many wires are cut, we will lose the means by which we are working. “Meta” scarcely begins to grasp the problem. We need better verbal tools to even begin talking about what we are trying to interact with the world via virtual projection.
Thankfully, futuristic speculative-fiction-like technology has just such a verbal tool waiting for us. That is to say, the history of futuristic speculative-fiction technology, because this archetype of the Future-Present is over fifty years old.
“For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term ‘Cyborg'.”
- Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline
In 1960 these two scientists were trying to develop ways to adapt humans to space travel rather than adapt space to the human body. A cyborg is the extension of seemingly separate complex systems into a well-regulated single system. Easier said than done, of course— and this is why humans still breathe oxygen through their lungs and eat food with their mouth when they go into space, as they do on earth. But that isn’t to say that the problem of how to transport breathable air into space isn’t a problem that cannot be routed around, by re-engineering the human respiratory system or heavily integrating it with technological systems.
Science-fiction, especially in cinema, tends to think about cyborgs as the integration of the human body with weapon systems, or anti-humanist, cold, calculating logic circuits. But we are integrating complex systems into homeostatic interaction with our human body all the time. We are developing our personalities to function within social media systems; our bodies’ health limitations are being modified in conjunction with elaborate pharmacological regimens; and for aesthetic purposes we alter the visual qualities of our flesh to make them appear different, or perhaps, more similar.
The more that we do this sort of thing, the more we consciously think about it. Like the Future-Present, the Cyborg conflates our understanding the interrelation of the possible and the impossible. We re-conceptualize our bodies and beings as “exogenously extended organizational complex functioning”, so that we can figure out how and where to attach these components, and how to think about the process of doing so. We try to understand what we are doing while we do it, even while the eventual result of our experiment is unknown. The concept of the cyborg is about breaking the conceptual walls between systems. It is the archetype of integration--both material and idealistic.
The cyborg is a combination of robotics technology, and SF imagination. It is an ideal manifold of the way things are “supposed” to work, and the way we want them to work. It is a mashup of fixing and breaking. The test pilot of the Cold War, the phone phreak of late 20th Century mythos, and the contemporary Arduino hacker all find their spirit animals in the cyborg. They all concern themselves with thinking about the Future-Present, at the same time was they evolve the Future-Present. They break into the Future-Present, reverse engineer it, and short circuit its current functionality in order to build new homeostatic systems from the salvaged parts, and to discover the new boundaries that these evolutions bring about.
This point of these archetypes is that they might help us break down the conceptual wall between the technology and the way we think about the technology. I hack ideas, but my Future-Present informants hack technology. From our conversations, I got a sense of how the ideal and material planes form a cyborg-like relationship via their interaction.
Much of being a good programmer is about mindset, about the mental tools you bring to the table. For instance, how much computer science do you know, without getting bogged down in it? The set of things that you use in the building of technology, and the set of things that you use when you dream up how it could work, they are pretty distinct. Lots of people spew BS about innovation: how do you do it, and how do you bottle it. I’m a systems thinking and designer, and that’s the tool kit I use when working in the world. It’s good to know the shape of the possible, but that’s not enough. You need to know your tools and your context, and how those relate. You need to know social context, as it relates to things you are trying to do or change. The whole of the “way things work”. One thing I find useful is how large, distributed structures of similar or dissimilar parts interact with each other, how they fail. One small intervention could cause the larger system to shift in an interesting way. Everyone has a different approach to this. Some people sit down with one idea, and beat on it for decades. You need both. Innovation comes from a lot of work.
The mechanic doesn’t need formal training, but has everything laid out in front of him or her. What you see is what you got. Material things are hard--take flint-knapping for instance, which is very difficult to do well. But it’s all right there, it’s not hidden. There are things that we can take agency over, even if we don’t know how to do it yet. We simply need to have the desire to do so. The tough part about bringing women into the hacker community is that they’ve been taught not to touch certain technologies. They don’t have the “sit down and play” worldview, that permission to start playing. I think that’s really important.
— Eleanor Saitta
I would imagine that most who work with ideas or the materials of the Future-Present would agree with Eleanor— the way to hack into it is to bring a good set of tools to the table, but then to sit down at the table, and start messing around. One will have difficulties customizing their own cyborg-historical system, if one isn’t prepared to start cutting and welding. The reason that innovation is innovative is that it cannot be found on a shelf. There is no recipe for creativity, and there is no single catalyst for the future. But with a good system of visualizing the material, a good system of working with the material, and these two systems up and running simultaneously, that is about as much of a work station as anyone could hope to have.
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #289
There is a subset of things that you can tweak, not all things. There are things that are not amenable to tweaking, to working with, or are less interesting. It’s the difference between doing chemistry at home, versus high energy physics. It’s hard to do physics, period, you don’t have access to the tools. The web went through this evolution. The Arduino is bringing physical electronics to this tweakable space. You don’t have to design the chip, and you now have a platform. The appeal of drones is similar: you could buy one off the shelf, and play with it. Drones are fundamentally different than bombers in this way. You can’t buy a bomber... but with drones you have essentially the same tech as the military. It’s the same thing with websites, you could have the same level of tech in a website as the Department of Defense. There is an asymmetry with certain technologies. As well, there is an element of backlash to it. You see this with the punk movement in music, a moving away from virtuosity. It’s not so much about innovation in technology, as it’s about engagement--emotional engagement, and engagement with the world at large.
There’s a blog piece by Alex Bayley about the idea of knitting as code. Knitting patterns are basically a set of iterations. To the untrained eye it looks like code. There are a lot of repeats, row numbers. The point of the article was that it looks like coding to someone who doesn’t know anything about knitting. But she talked about how you could talk about knitting as code in using knitting code bases that already exist and modifying that code base to your purposes. This allows you to knit new things. This is an example of tweaking through craft--you could use the off the shelf patterns, but you could hack it to create what doesn’t exist before.
I knit, but I’m not a hacker when I knit. I’m just compiling the code. This is not dissimilar from Sol LeWitt’s work. He creates the instructions, and then someone else ‘compiles’ the instructions to create the piece. What is funny is the fetishization of that process. I feel the whole point of conceptual art is to hack and to patch.
Is the Future-Present, like the Arduino, a platform for hacking the future? There are similarities, but also differences. If the archetypes of the Future-Present could affect the way we view technological change as simply and directly as a servomotor, that would be magnificent. But the truth is that these archetypes and the notion of “hacking” future history is something more obscure in function. There is an asymmetry to the interaction of material and ideal systems that we are exploring— writers will never be able to use drones in the same way that programmers can. But who earns more punk cred? Cyberpunks who can hack the device, or the speculative fiction and fashion producers that turn the device into a symbol?
But fetishizing the integrity of the platform, by securing the shiny bezel on the outside of these devices against hacker intrusion, both mechanisms are isolated from evolution. Sol LeWitt created artwork instructions that are certified pieces of intellectual property, owned by galleries, museums, and private collectors. Securing work into property is a good way to safeguard exchange value— or in the case of the military-industrial complex, safeguarding access, at least for a time. Certain systems are by their nature harder to work with, and don’t avail themselves to experimentation. But artificially locking down technology or concepts doesn’t allow those systems to graft onto others. Interaction between systems is what is causes them grow. That means by which the material and ideal platforms function differ, but insofar as both are functional limitations of conceptual interaction, they are similar.
I would have to assume that for those interacting directly with the technology, there’s a tension between the feasibility of design and what you think people might want to see: what’s in the zeitgeist. Your own design skills, the tech, and the materials only allow you to do certain things. People might be talking about sending 3D printers to the moon. That’s an exciting science-fiction principle, but is that actually possible? I have to assume there’s a frustrating, but very different energy that comes from the material design side of things. Though many times I’ll have a really speculative piece on BLDGBLOG and someone will leave a really perceptive comment about the material limitations of the technology. Some people are very interested in dealing with these limitations. But what I like is talking about the fictional narrative and speculating with the possibilities. How might you usher in a different future? The very act of design is thinking about an alternate future, and whether you do that with narrative or with tinkering with nuts and bolts is more about your background. I come from a humanities background. Maybe if writers grew up in different circumstances, they would be tinkering with drones.
— Geoff Manaugh
Just because the way that we interact with systems and cause them to interact with each other is conceptually similar to a cyborg, does not mean that suddenly our understanding is an omniscient killbot, that can hunt its enemies across time and survive the vacuum of space. As much as we let creativity flow, we are constrained by a reality principle. Cyborgs, like the Future-Present, must live on earth, and are not free to roam the speculative realms untethered. There is a grounding in science to both of these that enables their speculation. This is not an arbitrary boundary, but the mean by which the functionality is fueled.
It is a bit startling when the patterns we think might be mere illusions are revealed as the very substance of reality. What was once mere speculative fiction becomes a historical concept for understanding that historical development. Ecstatic visions not only solidify, but turn out to be the entities conducting our job interviews. But we are beginning to develop the tool kit for such uncertain professions, even if we aren’t sure what we are making.
Part 1: The Spark
Part 2: Strange Attractors
The following essay first appeared on the website for The Eternal Internet Brotherhood, a gathering of artists, writers, curators and others interested in internet culture on the greek island of Anafi from August 9th until the 23rd. It was written by Burke while attending the event.
I’ve decided to write love letters because that’s what you do when you’re in love. I saw that great document today - all text and in a block, from Slovenia, I think. It was from the 90s. So basically, people got together, and they found an old or cheap building, and they inserted a sound system or bands or DJs, and for 36hrs or more they would dance, presumably, make out, get together, find myriad tangents through the throbbing artery of night. And by morning they couldn’t even see each other, just feel under their shoes the concrete, every little pore of it. They’d sleep in the cracks for half an hour, and get up and go again, right back where they started, that firstness again. And that amazing 90s hair, just enough gel still in for that cow’s lip, or curtains, throbbing, clothes that were all sportswear and primary colours. Showing the bottom part of your fist to each other, and pumping it. Chewing your own lips. Smiles that contorted and scarred our faces. Imagine finding someone in that moment, every freeze frame of the artificial lighting their body getting closer, each a different angle, a different record sleeve. And they don’t even look up, you just know as the record needle moves inwards that there’s an ultimate trajectory to all of this, you call it in your molten state a teleology, and in the repetitive stuttering beat on which all life is you hear, every revolution, “Hegel”. Or maybe that’s just the noise in the cracks in the ceiling, or maybe it’s some sort of broken signal, maybe it’s the sound the lights make. You think you hear it behind you, and you turn round, and then she’s dancing with you. All this is anachronistic of course. All these famous spaces are closed down, unopen, all the ravers with jobs and even family. Seagulls flying round them, broken bottles nesting by fences, all the detritus of late Communism, late Capitalism, everything. They go there still though, to this day, maybe once in their whole adult lifetime, just to walk round, slightly underdressed in the consistent maritime wind, thinking that was me once, that was a different me, I can see the ghost of me floating through the floor, those quiet revolutions, on repeat. Or was it everytime a different me? That was the one time it was ever the same me, and I left it there. Or something like that, melancholia, whatever. No one ever thinks, imagine dancing there now. Imagine that moment where you just say, let’s go back to mine. And being there not even talking when you know the whole thing is still going on, Hegel Hegel Hegel, the music melting through you. Just lying there, our heads touching. How can this be love? This is love that’s a small ontological simplicity. Like knowing there’s music playing. And around that, is all of us. I’m sitting by the motorway, on the balcony. I’m sitting watching the motorway moan. And how it snakes off violently, forever. As if Ulysses comes stuttering back, shirt off, on his scooter. Imagine, his chest armored with hair, him smelling of brandy, wearing those tight red shorts and speedo swimming pool sandals. Hey baby I love you. Hegel Hegel Hegel. Writing about love is the most selfish thing in the world. This heat here is unbearable. 42 degrees. Too hot even for the Akropolis. I wonder am I writing love; am I literally trying to write love, is writing violent? The motorway right to the mouth of the river. Ulysses wearing aftershave.
In the circle where we sit I look at you. We never catch eyes, but I study the edge of your cheeks, the relationship between your eyes and their freckles, the abyss of your shirt collar. I think of nothing in this moment, but elsewhere around me there are sculptors in their studios carving statues for money, hammering on in the Classical tradition. It’s ok though, right, my grandmother had one. Right by the carpet by the electric fireplace. We played lego. We often talk about sex. And I wonder: is it possible to have sex without penetration? Can we have sex without actually having sex? Is it socially acceptable for us to surround each other, it imbue each other, to add colour to each other, but that be all. Guilt for loving you. My guilt reflex for loving. My father depends on my mother. And I remember how empowered I felt when I told someone that my father can’t actually write, and they didn’t really understand it, and I only just in that moment realized. He can’t actually write, like when you write the alphabet. Thank god for computers. And typewritists. Together we talk about sex. So anyway, I was thinking last night, although this might just have been my standing on an Athenian beach in 30+ degree heat: I might have an idea of a contribution for my Embodiment day. So, it would be very low-key, and might probably just consist of an announcement at the beginning. The announcement would be: “This will not be in any way enforced, and I won’t ever remind you or check up on this at any point again, but I’d like to encourage that we kiss each other on the lips as a convivial greeting, or a goodbye. Or at least, I’m just wondering if we could accept it as socially ok amongst each other, between us as friends, and maybe not see it as wrong or weird, and therefore ok if people do it. Depends on what you feel comfortable with. Maybe it will seem the right thing to do at the end of the day, maybe totally the opposite. I’m not sure, but I’ve just been thinking recently, imagine if everyone did it, and it was just normal.” Ok end of announcement, and we all just move on, but the thought’s there, and the intervention’s been made, I think. Do you think that will make people feel really uncomfortable? Or excited? Maybe both. Why? This is just want one of those things that I totally don’t understand, and that makes me curious to think more about it. Maybe it’s just something we’ll start doing in Anafi. When no one even realises it is the best bit. We say hello to each other and kiss, because that’s what I would have wanted to happen anyway. There’s this recurring fantasy of mine: the city, surrounding us, embalming us, rearranging itself around us. When you’re stood in the middle of the road and your phone goes off, and you don’t even have to answer it to know. Us hanging out at Centre Point, knowing we’re on top of each other. They make high-rises becuase they know this, they sit on top of the city and surround it. We serve them canapés. But really it’s us that surrounds them. They can’t leave their penthouse, because it no longer exists, and all around them capital is collapsing, and people are demonstrating, cheering, hating capital. And that moment is when it happens, capital’s collapsing and we don’t even know what is is, we’re in the eye of it all, fucking. Recurring fantasy: my saying I love you. You say nothing but you know.
Acknowledging the patriarchy. Ok so we know. Ok let’s talk about the male hegemony over the world. Don’t chastise me for writing about this, the point is we’re invisible and should be everywhere, right. We take responsibility for what we do. And how to address this if we’re scared. Talking to a Quebecois about this on a Greek path, hazy Ouzo reality, smash the patriarchy. Us two males walking down a Greek path talking about the patriarchy, drunk. The internal irony. Smash the patriarchy. Future action now. Walking down the path and getting to the bottom, obviously. And there I had love, and couldn’t even talk about it. We’re in control of our own abstract power dynamics, and guess what they’re not abstract. And maybe we’re not male at all, we’re just told we are by the other males, all fragments of the big abiding male. We wish we were. And then all the males have sex. Who would you want to have in the room right now to talk about this? Who would you like to confront? I read the Metahaven book today, and antagonism is at the heart of us and them. Antagonism is at the heart of difference. The patriarchy wants flatness, because flatness is what they’re used to: twitter, facebook, the internet: flatness. The horizontal is a hierarchy. Organic foods for everyone, right. The dude abides. Nowhere else but Greece, and the gays with all their chests out, and my lazy, wandering eyes. Eye fucking because you couldn’t do it in the industrial era. My latent suppressed homosexuality. The party at the top of the hill tonight. Capitalism reduced to just describing things. Crisis. I wish you were here. I wish you were here and you are. Sleeping next to you, occassionally kissing you, wishing I could speak more to you. It’s really absurd, us sleeping together and I’ve been reading Ulysses recently and all I had in my head in the morning was Blaze-boiling Blazes Boylan, looping and repeating. And as that recurred, I got ever more dehydrated, dirty, dry. Language spinning around us, and all these letters just to tell you that we slept together. The point is that I can’t speak to you directly. Our world is a catalogue of window frames, it’s you outside mine. The point is that we built the frame together. Lol imagine love poems in 2020. I want to fly with you on Concorde. I think this was originally a group discussion, but I’m not sure how to initiate things here, apart from in secret ways, hands touching in the sand. Instead let’s paint each other’s bodies, and be together in the future. It’s exhausting here; I’ll sleep with you.
Alex Ross’s Eltham Open opens tomorrow at Gerald Moore Gallery, all the way past Brockley. It’s open for one day, and it features Julia Tcharfas, Samara Scott et al designing mini golf holes. These are then played by the viewer/participant. All this is part of their Summer School, which is art and education in August. I write about this because I couldn’t avoid it on facebook. Obviouly I’ve come to Greece to get away from it all – pure escapism – but still. I can’t help but want to keep up. A friend’s event, attended by friends, being advertised by yet more friends. Hashtag fomo. I guess i would have gone if I could. I think these letters are the place to say the most suppressed, most obvious things. Him sitting there in his leather jacket, amazing. I never did send him my dissertation. He never emailed me. But the Eltham Open is interesting in its own way. Allan Kaprow, the father of the Happening,described in 1958 the Participatory Event as, ”A game, an adventure, a number of activities engaged in by participants for the sake of playing.” The Eltham Open, when taken in these terms, is undoubtedly a Happening. It is openly and ephemerally Participantary Art, long after it ceased to be cool. It is perfectly, quirkily, Hayward: if this was once art on the ‘outside’, it is now, quite unabashadly, the suburbs, replete with its own cafe. Yet if the original Happenings developed in historicity with ’60s Participantory Politics, and in opposition to what we later recognise as ‘Spectacle’, Alex’s evolution of it seems complicit with a more insiduous and lurid reality. My point being: how can we read Kaprow’s words as anything but the mechanics and metrics of gamification? The ’60s seem so quaint and beatnik-ish today, all their anger so misdirected and irrelevant. There’s no longer such thing as the Society of the Spectacle. But instead there’s something much worse, something more everpresent and pernicious. Maybe we call it the Society of the Social, maybe we even give it capital letters. It’s no longer the image that’s the breeding ground of capital, but the way we share, interact with, and even befriend these images. It’s the process of interaction itself. The thing that happens when we have internet in the town square by the school by where they filmed the man playing bagpipes is find each other on facebook. I tell everyone I hate facebook, still around us we’re on facebook. And right now I’m telling my friends about it. Game over. Gamify insurrection. Cycling by the river, not even allowed to cross the footbridge, winning the game of rock/paper/scissors. I was taking part in a cycling protest, and wasn’t allowed to cross north of the river, even on my own, and I lied about it and they made me play rock/paper/scissors so I could go home to my home in Manor House which conveniently I didn’t have any documentation proving anything about, and I won. And then so frustrated for a week, drinking alcohol and talking about it, hating it, and then of course now writing these love letters. Vincent said a really good thing: the spectacle made relational. Of course Alex knows this, and this is the secret beauty of it all. How can we escape this double bind? Hard to say, but not by not playing it. And in a facebook that’s breaking down, post by post and image by image collapsing in on itself, its ubiquity, I can’t even access how the event was shared.
I’m so privileged because I know most people won’t even look at these, they really won’t care, that’s the point of calling them love letters. This one’s purely for you, everyone else can stop reading now: stop reading. Imagine writing letters for other emotions. Distrust letter: I fundamentally distrust you, just like I distrust alt-lit. Ultimately, everyone else will be repulsed by love letters. Maybe that’s part of it too – it’s total rejection otherwise. Chris Kraus loves dick? Everyone on this island is naked, Angelo says. Everyone here should be naked. On the nudist beach. Nudism implies considered rejection of civilisation. It is one of the clearest forms of body-as-context. You wear no clothes because you know that surrounding you are laws that, were they written, would be 9000 years old, maybe more. It is the ability to disconnect that shows we are connected. And so the Greek man who walks down the beach nude and goes for a swim carries every Hewlett-Packard processor in every provincial business park across the world. It is society that surrounds him, that makes him fully clothed. Our body is a network of occurences; the boat we arrived on, the tent we sleep in, the plane that connects me to you: all this is part of our body. And so I glow when you touch me. Imagine Gilles Deleuze sitting here, making African pyres on the beach. Around him, all of us, is a primitivist ceremony. Afterwards we go the taverna for dinner. Their ashes, that’s where I hide you. In their shadow, we’ll connect each other, because that’s what we’re told to do. When we fuck each other, that’s when we know we have bodies. Our body is a network of occurrences. Can we change it? Are we trapped? What are we trapped in? The present order was founded on desire. Desire is the death moment, is where we die. I think I decided to write love letters because of their some spatio-temporal peculiarity. As in, these are desires trapped in a peculiar and small fold; disconnected and fully, eternally, nonlinear. They are memories that I blemish in recording them, send outwards, anywhere, and disown. At the same time you pick them up, at whatever small juncture of your life, and they have material impact on you, on your life. You might even see imminently after, but I’ll have disowned them, attempting to impose linearity on the context that surrounds me called normal. We’ll know therefore that it’s a missed connection, a small slippage, but also a shared territory. Does that make them any less or more real? They’re still a shared territory, a more beautifully latent slippage. Being on holiday feels like this, storing up possible returns, future ignition to any number of the looping and multilinear contexts with which we clothe ourselves. And after all this, anyway, I’m still sat on the nudist beach, wondering how to have sex, wanting to swim round the corner and have sex on the secret beach there, like an otter glistening in the sand, wanting to talk about sex and have sex by just talking. Foucault said something like this, we should always analyse our present moment, because these are the invisible power structures that create us. He also said that recognition of power is just as significant a development as the recognition of slavery, but it might take just as long to understand and abolish. His students trailing him as he walked into the sex shop. My falling asleep straight away, my secret wholeness, my embarrassment, our perfection. Imagine seeing each other and not even talking about this.
This year, Abandon Normal Devices, a festival of "new cinema, digital culture, and art," commissioned artist and Critical Engineer Julian Oliver to create Border Bumping, a self-professed work of dislocative media that utilizes the contradictions of cell phone signals and networks to rework national boundaries. Housed within a caravan known as a mobile cartography bureau, Border Bumping puts location data into a feedback loop with its visual representation, creating new geographies out of technical necessities. The project traces the terrain of an Earth imagined by communication technologies. It's an Earth where the map destroys and redefines the territory. As described on the website:
As we traverse borders our cellular devices hop from network to network across neighbouring territories, often before or after we ourselves have arrived. These moments, of our device operating in one territory whilst our body continues in another, can be seen to produce a new and contradictory terrain for action..
Running a freely available, custom-built smartphone application, Border Bumping agents collect cell tower and location data as they traverse national borders in trains, cars, buses, boats or on foot. Moments of discrepancy at the edges are logged and uploaded to the central Border Bumping server, at the point of crossing.
For instance: a user is in Germany but her device reports she is in France. The Border Bumping server will take this report literally and the French border is redrawn accordingly. The ongoing collection and rendering of these disparities results in an ever evolving record of infrastructurally antagonised territory, a tele-cartography.
The Border Bumping application can be downloaded and used on your own phone to visualize the new boundaries of your own movement through space.
As part of this year’s Transmediale festival in Berlin, media artist Johannes P. Osterhoff organized an online collaborative performance of search engine queries, simply titled, “Google.” For one week, Osterhof convinced myself and 36 other participants to add a unique search method to our default web browsers so that everything we “googled”—from the personal to the mundane—became instantly visible online at google-performance.org.
The performers, who are mostly artists or technologists or both, recorded 1,322 searches over seven days. Search queries were displayed chronologically with their sequence number, date and time, participant name, and search tool used. The text of the search and participant name were also hyperlinked, so searches can be explored by keyword or participant.
Many queries reflect content from the Transmediale conference. Others reveal users engaging in play, submitting insider messages or odd one-liners. Most searches are about business as usual, as evidenced by the high number of phrases referencing programming or technology. Reading through them, by time or participant or keyword, gives the impression of a conscious stream of thought. They are a random series of words and phrases that make irrational leaps from noun to verb to sentence, only occasionally creating a complete thought when a participant repeats parts of phrases in their quest for the intended outcome.
The queries are often poetic, like these from my own stream:
release serial ports
release serial ports arduino
pull down resistor
Others are strangely suggestive, like this snippit from Osterhof’s searches:
chrome french download
extrem wohlgeformet google suchanfragen mit poetischer kraft
Sometimes they are coincidental, like these which share the common keyword, “python:”
python copy file os
Monty Python New Movie
python random coin flip
python do while
The project (see also its manifesto) made public what Facebook, Google, and any search engine, web-based tool, or social networking website already do—it harvested and re-represented users’ data in a new context in exchange for providing digital services. Google uses queries to create user demographic reports and sell targeted advertising space to marketers. Facebook does the same using content shared on their website. Instead, Osterhoff’s project, which arguably provided a cultural service, asked “how is search data different from all the other data we share?”
In her book, Undoing Gender (2004), Judith Butler says we perform our identities—that decisions we make, conscious or not, are meant to communicate who we are, and perhaps who society thinks we should be. This idea, of an outward staging of oneself, is manifest in the information age thanks to server-side software and the web2.0. Social networks take the idea to its techno-extreme by giving us unlimited options for showing “who we really are,” and “undo,” should we change our minds. However, if all our online actions are a conscious self performance of identity—the poking, tweeting, posting, liking, tagging, commenting, friending, bookmarking, subscribing, and sharing—what do we perform unconsciously?
We execute a significant number of physical actions without being conscious we are communicating. Yet our desires guide us in physical space without active intent. In virtual spaces we make decisions too. Whether aware or not, we know (or think) it affects how others perceive us, and how we perceive ourselves. Osterfhof’s, “Google,” makes explicit not only the gathering of information that we want to share, but the tracking that happens without our intending it.
Knowingly or not, we carefully choose what data is displayed on Facebook. We spend time manicuring the text and images on our profiles, or deciding to “friend” someone or not, in a conscious effort to create a digital identity that matches how we want others to perceive us. We perform our online identity every time we remove or censor embarrassing posts from our mothers, strange things high school acquaintances post, and anything else that doesn't match the image we intend to project.
While Facebook “has collected the most extensive data set ever assembled on human social behavior,” what we search for on the other hand, is rarely edited and therefore provides a more accurate sample of our uncensored desires. Unlike the identity we perform, we are unaware there is an audience for our searches, and therefore uninhibited. Like our unconscious decisions in the physical world, where our actions are a reflection of our intentions, this collection of data, this passive retrieval of our unconscious digital trail, is reassembled to form a composite of our desires that is many times more accurate than the profiles we groom for others to see.
Because of this, taking part in this performance was slightly unnerving. Knowing my searches would be broadcast caused me to consider what I submitted. The hidden tracking of a part of my life had been made visible, forcing me to consider how I represent myself, and it was an odd experience.
In January 2001, Eva and Franco Mattes ( http://0100101110101101.org ) launched Life Sharing (a word play on File Sharing), and made the contents of their computer, the private files and directories, public on their website for three years. Users could browse “texts, photos, music, videos, software, operating system, bank statements and even [their] private email.” The absurdity of this gesture is lost on us now, because as they state on their project webpage, this work was made before social networks like Facebook existed, and before data privacy was a contemporary issue.
Also worthy of mention is Osterhof’s current project, iPhone live, which captures and uploads a screenshot of whatever happens to be on his smart phone at the moment he presses the “home” button. This performance, which began on June 29, 2012 and will last one year, is an conscious gesture that, like the Life Sharing and the “Google” Transmediale performance, unconsciously exhibits evidence of the artists’ private, mediate life.
I haven’t seen much of a discussion online or elsewhere around this concept in identity politics as applied to identification of targeted ad demographics through clandestine data retrieval. That is, an “unconscious performance of identity” made possible by data we don’t censor. A truthful and raw rendition of our wants and believes for any agency interested in identifying, segmenting, and influencing our behaviors.
It is important to note that this is part of a larger trend, a move from active performances of identity, to identities assembled through unconscious passive data retrieval systems. In recent years, we’re taking the time to describe ourselves less, and allowing the systems we use to characterize us based on our actions more. Through tracking us, these systems learn about us, and fill in the blanks automatically.
Osterhof’s work not only makes us more conscious of the data trail we leave when we search, it makes us more aware that while we’re all performing, we’re also all looking. We perform the voyeur, looking at ourselves, looking at others, looking at others looking at others. When we analyze hits on our webpages, comments on our blog, or even or even when we Google ourselves to see if we’re famous yet.
We Google all day long. Its our starting point from which we clumsily sip our coffee in the morning, or gather knowledge for whatever ails us in the eve. We just type, and like magic, most of our answers can be found in the portion of the internet Google indexes. And, when we type in that little box, everything we submit is recorded, by Google, always.
Unless you have edited your preferences, you can see your cumulative searches on their website. I did. Google has recorded 45,012 of my queries since 4:19 PM on January 29, 2006. In fact, I just added 287 since the last time I looked, two days ago.
So what do I know looking through these records? I know that on 2:43 AM on April 27, 2006, I was searching for “Joshua Tree National Park,” and at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2007, I was installing PHP 5 on a Macintosh, and at 12:21 PM on February 28, 2009, I was trying to find Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, Florida.
Knowing this information doesn’t help me, it helps Google. By allowing us to see it, they are presenting a model of pseudo-transparency. All governments, even those under the administration of those for whom data openness is a key issue, will always maintain clandestine operations. We the people will never know what sort of black ops and measures of torture are committed in the name of freedom. Regardless of whatever “transparency” rhetoric the Obama White House or Google, Inc. uses, we will never see how our data is used. Sure, we have the option to “personalize our search results” but we won’t see the interface that examines our propensity to commit a crime, or purchase a particular item. We won’t see the tools which track, segment, and flag us and won’t ever realize how our data is already used to influence us.
It’s safe to assume the majority of Transmediale’s audience already knows much about the tracking that goes on. They understand the cost of free web services is individual privacy and that the consumer / customer model has changed. We are not Google’s customers, instead they collect data we consume and sell representations of it and targeted ad space to their customers: the advertising industry, corporations, and political parties. The scale of this activity is what may not be clear without research. That is, 96% of Google’s revenue, over $36 billion dollars, in 2011 came from advertising, and that it was possible because they track everyone that uses their services.
The general audience that might encounter Osterhof’s artwork is more diverse, but probably still clued-in even if privacy is not a top concern. As poetic as his gesture is, and primal as my response was as a participant, the challenge for a work like this is reaching and communicating to an audience, and engaging them to think, learn, or question, and motivate them to care.
How will the work contain the attention of someone who doesn’t already agree with Mr. Osterhof, and inspire them to regard the issue enough to do something about it: To not allow themselves to be tracked; To use anti-tracking software when they browse online, or a browser that supports Do Not Track; To make an artwork or write software that raises or frames these issues for others to consider: Or just to be aware, and make decisions which change the culture of the Web2.0, and influence it, slowly, but surely, to respect privacy. And to know that, in this techno-utopian-neoliberal wet dream that is dripping with app stores, computer waste, and rampant consumerism of binary data under the blanket of the good-natured term, “free market economy,” that “freedom” stated another way, means “do not track me without my consent.”
Last Friday, Rhizome hosted a panel discussion on code literacy in the arts including Amit Pitaru of Kitchen Table Coders; Vanessa Hurst of Girl Develop It and Developers for Good; Jer Thorpe, artist and educator; Sonali Sridhar of Hacker School; and moderated by Douglas Rushkoff, educator and author of Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age.
Kitchen Table Coders workshops in the New Museum Theater
Following the panel, Rhizome hosted five Kitchen Table Coders-style workshops Saturday afternoon in the New Museum Theater. Twenty-five eager coding novices came to get a crash course in Processing with some of New York City's most talented programmers; Amit Pitaru, t3db0t, David Nolen, Jer Thorp and Rob Seward. The Kitchen Table Coders host intimate workshops around a kitchen table in their Brooklyn studio on any topic the attendees choose.
Jer Throp introducing Processing to his students
Participants learned the basics in Processing, an open source programming language for visual art.
t3db0t demonstrating Arduino
More advanced students had the opportunity to sit down with t3db0t to take their Processing skills to the next level with Arduino to create interactive electronic objects.
Thanks again to all the panelists, Vanessa Hurst (Developers for Good), Sonali Sridhar (HackerSchool), Amit Pitaru (Kitchen Table Coders) and Jer Throp (NYTimes and ITP), and our moderator codevangelist Douglas Rushkoff for a stimulating conversation about code literacy. And big thanks to Nick Hasty, Director of Technology for Rhizome, who was instrumental in making this event happen. I look forward to organizing more code and hacker workshops in the future!
Moyra Davey, from the exhibition Spleen. Indolence. Torpor. Ill-humour, (Murray Guy)
One of my earliest memories is getting hit in the face by a book. I was two; we had just moved to Dubai, and were staying with another family for the first few weeks. While we were playing, their younger son threw his book at me. It cut open the thin skin below my right eye, just above the line now demarcated by insomnia’s purplish bruisings. I remember only fragmented flashes. The green Small World Library hardback with Goofy on its cover, the tears, and the blood—so much blood that the book retained a rusty stain on the spine.
The scar has since stretched and faded to a gathered curve, barely discernible to the touch and perceptible only if you know where to look. As I grew, I accrued many other scars, each with its own story, but this one remained special: my own facial bookmark. Like a tribal mark or that left arm vaccine scar that quietly signifies which global sphere you’re from, I had been struck by the weight of a book
And read I did, as if to fill up this hole that the book had gouged in my face—compulsively and voraciously, and at every snatched moment I could. Yet Dubai’s public library system was anaemic at best, and its bookstores, with their politely aligned new titles, antiseptic. Summer visits to India became all the more rarified as a result. Here, finally, pavements were hedged with booksellers, and inside, up rickety staircases and under the eye of equally rickety old men, were shelves heaving with books. These bookstores smelled like the ones I had read about: all heady with the intoxicating lignin of tomes gone to seed, mixed in with that slightly musty dampness unique to monsoon season.
Even in this bibliophilic paradise, however, lurked a sense of spoilage, insistently asserting itself like the background static of an AC. No matter how greedily I read and reread, I could never hope to possibly open—let alone own—even a fraction of the books I saw. And that’s to say nothing of all the books I had never even heard of, but was still painfully aware were out there.
Later on, college would highlight in relief just how much I hadn’t read. Each semester I took far more courses than I could legitimately handle, and reading became consumptive instead of submersive. It became good enough to quickly read each text just once; a slower savouring could come later. On visits home, I would fill my suitcase with that semester’s texts in hopes of rereading them—properly, this time—but they always remained in accusative stacks on the floor, neglected in favour of my childhood favorites. As much as I wanted to build a library and surround myself with books, NYC storage concerns colluded with a sense of self-exhorted acceleration to shift my primary reading format from books, to PDFs, to Twitter and tabbed browsing.
Here, again, was that same urgency transposed from page to screen. Do you know the feeling? That sharp, almost adrenal jolt when you open just one more tab and all the favicons disappear to give you a segmented line of characters? You can’t increase your screen resolution much more, but keep the pages open, just on the off chance that you might actually read them. Perhaps you quickly scan in order to close a tab, yet find yourself clicking on “History” just moments later, just in case you missed something. Perhaps you feel guilty about not giving each piece the undivided attention you once lavished upon your books, but often, just knowing the dust jacket-like gist seems to be enough. You consider developing an Instapaper habit, but don’t trust that you will ever train yourself to go back, sit down, and read them at leisure. Because should you manage the impossible, and find time to actually read them after the fact, won’t it be too late? Won’t the conversation have moved on?
This kind of pearl clutching over time poverty and the whirling hyperkineticism of the Web is nothing new. A few decades into the Internet, the browser has become cemented as the new battleground. At face, debates about the experience of reading online rest on a collective nostalgia for the book as an aesthetic object. What’s really at stake is the practice of reading itself: when, where, and on whose platform.
Relevant here is what Jack Cheng has conceptualised as the ‘Slow Web Movement,’ using the metaphor of slow and fast foods. In the Fast Web (“a cruel wonderland of shiny shiny things”) our timelines, dashboards, inboxes, and RSS readers are overflowing with dubiously recycled styrofoam. Against this real-time heartburn—overcalorific and cholesterol laden—he suggests we instead privilege timeliness. That we forgo the whizzy randomness of the Fast Web in favour of a compartmentalised sense of rhythm, consuming media only when we have the time to give them our full attention. Instapaper becomes reframed as ‘turn based reading,’ while email becomes similarly gamified as ‘turn based communication.’ “What next?” becomes “when next?” Coupled with portion control, specialist apps, and productivity systems, the Slow Web ethos promises a healthier, happier, more self-satisfied life. Or to refashion Michael Pollan’s food rules: Read online. Not too much. Mostly #longform.
My biggest beef with the Slow Web Movement, however? It hinges on self control and delayed gratification, and moderation was never my strong suit. I’ve never been able to maintain a Google Reader or productively use any kind of RSS service; ludicrous as it may sound, I read everything at source. No matter how much I organise and breadcrumb subscriptions, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing out. Rather than limit myself to the curated CSA inboxed newsletters, I want to devour it all; what was once an ambient AC hum is now more akin to roaring static. It’s a tower of Babel out there in the world wide web, and I love that about it.
Caption: Robin Sloan, Fish: a tap essay (2012)
Robin Sloan’s Fish App for iOS takes another approach to recreating an immersive reading experience. Its design is arresting—pastelised and in full screen, you are straitjacketed into focusing on just one quiet sentence or phrase at a time. To move through the essay, you tap the screen; there is no back button. Sloan juxtaposes the qualitative differences between liking or favoriting, and loving, noting that when we love something on the internet, we “pluck them out of the flood and put them on shelves and playlists and home screens.” We put them in places where we can see, and easily return to them. Watching something twice becomes a radical act; reading something twice is one of love. Yes, you can download things to read later, but the ultimate problem with the Internet, in his estimation, is that it has no album view. Put another way, the problem with the Internet is that it is difficult to build a library.
How then do you return to things on the Internet? And what does it mean to amass a digital library, and not an archive? Is it about the visual metaphor, about displaying your links and files on an iOS-like interface? The ability to browse your collection, to see it in shelves and stacks and file folders instead of just calling it up via a search?
With finite disk space, however, comes the familiar old storage anxieties—even the Fish App, in its very form, dredges up the spectre of home screen clutter. Despite your best attempts at a taxonomy of spareness, hard drives fill up quickly with PDFs and MP3s. You devise new rules to spring clean your digital hoard: if you haven’t watched or listened to this file in a year, into the bin it goes. Ikea unfortunately doesn’t make storage solutions for files; unlike physical books, they are all too easy to delete.
So the tabs stay open. They haunt you, and perhaps guilt you with baleful, anthropomorphised glares. In a way, they are a discursive equivalent of the decidedly frenzied urban condition, ‘fomo,’ or ‘fear of missing out.’ On events, on parties, on shows, on things that you should have already read and be conversant about. So you get on the train; so you open a new tab. It’s much the same with books—piled up on tables, Jengaed on the floor, waiting. As if owning and beginning the book is tantamount to having read it; as if by surrounding yourself, you might magically learn by pure osmosis.
And now I’m thinking of these gorgeous, searing lines from Nicholas Rombes’ “Julia Kristeva’s Face,” which have remained screenburned into my head since I first read them.
The Kristeva book was like a hot coal. It burned through desks and tables and the seats of chairs. It singed the carpeting. It glowed at night in a regurgitated blood orange. It misplaced itself. It flipped itself over in the dark like a fish. I had to put a brick on it to keep it still.
That pneumatic urgency, where a book bristles, and demands, and makes its presence felt? You have to actually first begin reading, and get stuck in. Except—unlike tabs, unlike files, unlike the now-you-see-it-now-it’s-404 current underwriting the internet, books won’t leave you, and instead stay, patiently stacked until they are read. But what if this wasn’t the case? What if the books on your shelves began to wipe themselves with time, a reader’s nightmare akin to the writer’s productivity app, Write or Die on kamikaze mode? Argentinian indie publishers Eterna Cadencia have created just that, with The Book That Can’t Wait, an anthology of new authors. The book is printed with a special ink that begins to fade as soon as it is opened and exposed to sun and air, with the words disappearing completely within two months.
My instant reaction is positive. Their explanatory video is rich, slickly produced, and tugs at all the right bibliophilic heartstrings. As they explain, “There’s a lot of literature out there that doesn’t deserve to wait on the shelf. And ours won’t wait at all.” Like the talking avatars dissecting experiences of online reading, Eterna Cadencia are trying their best to renegotiate the way we read online—when, where, and using whose hardware. Instead of slowing down reading to the measured rhythms of the codex, however, the BTCW speeds it up to the frenetic tempo of tabbed browsing. And in a landscape already saturated with lazy skeuomorphism, it seems hard to argue against. Why slavishly make the screen look more like a page when you can make the page feel more like a screen?
Aesthetics aside, it’s important to interrogate what this kind of marketing strategy actually means. Who benefits? The publisher, certainly, and perhaps the authors, if only for the publicity. The reader, however, loses a lot: the ability to keep a beloved, dog eared book around for years, to dip in and out of it at will, and to lend, gift, or resell their copy; to build a library. As for booksellers, already beleaguered in the best of economies? An entire ecosystem of second-hand bookstores, both brick-and-mortar and online, will crumble, as will prison literacy-type programs, that sustain themselves upon donated materials.
The disappearing ink technology in itself opens up some broader questions. Used for newspapers, flyers, office printouts and other limited-use ephemeral literature, it could revolutionise paper use and recycling—albeit with the risk of creating a new hierarchy of printed matter. More chillingly, it can be seen as an analogue application of DRM to the printed page, following in the footsteps of the e-book. Recall Amazon’s deliciously Orwellian blunder in which it remotely deleted copies of Animal Farm and 1984 from Kindles over copyright claims. In the process, it alienated customers who were shocked that something they had purchased was not theirs to keep. In some cases, people even lost their annotations and notes in the margins—original, sometimes scholarly work—which raised further questions of ownership and impermanence.
Returning to that early recollection of getting cut open by the crushing physicality of a book, I called my mother. To ask about the incident, about the gushing blood, and did I have to get stitches? She sounds surprised I remember it, and tells me it was not much more than a little nick. Not much blood, no fuss, and certainly no surgery. That was memory, writ in an equally precarious kind of disappearing ink. For it to be remotely debunked and wiped clean—reformatting my early childhood, in a way—so neatly is unsettling.
When we enthuse about print books, we talk about them like they’ll be around forever. Such is not the case; like memories and scars, they fade and warp over time. Consider the spectrum from mass-market paperbacks that very quickly become unbound and jaundiced with age, through to more expensive texts that might be printed on acid-free paper. Rarer texts get a panopoly of preservation treatments from binding and display cases through to environmental controls that limit exposure to heat and light. In their attempt to rejuvenate print, Eterna Cadencia just might be sounding the death knell, in insisting that we treat each book with the white-gloved, sacralised care we accord to museum and archival pieces.
I’m imagining, too, what future bookstores might look like if more publishers adopt the technology. Perhaps they will come to more closely resemble hypermarket cold rooms, with sterilised, vac-packed books. Next to the register, a wall of single-or-multiple use shellacs, that reveal the invisible ink, and grant you a painted on-access to your words for a limited time. A new cottage industry of dry cleaners that chemically treat and process your books to make them legible for a time. And small, microbial clusters of stealth cells, in several nowheres, gather together each week to figure out how to hack the page.
Recently, Angelo Plessas assembled artists, writers, and curators working with technology in an event called The Eternal Internet Brotherhood. I asked him the following questions over email about the event, which concluded on August 23rd:
What was the inspiration for the Eternal Internet Brotherhood?
I was always inspired by various alternative and autonomous communities getting together to push the limits of creativity. In our days the internet is a place where new realities are taking form and I believe is not only "embodied" through our screens anymore. The Eternal Internet Brotherhood is an experiment of how these realities continue to extend after/beyond the limits of the web, a shelter from the visual provincialism of technology within which we now live. The interface we use for this spiritual and creative journey is the mystical island of Anafi in Greece, the place which ancient god Apollo "teleported" as a shelter for the Argonauts.
Who were the participants?
I invited different artists, writers, poets and curators from all over the world.
This is the final list.
Amalia Ulman (ES)
Amateur Boyz (GR)
Andreas Angelidakis (GR/NO)
Angelo Plessas (GR/IT)
Anthony Antonellis (UK)
Apache Anafi (USA)
Georges Jacotey (GR)
Guglielmo Fabian (AR/IT)
Harry Burke (UK)
Helga Wretman (SE)
Jesse Darling (UK)
Jordan Tate (USA)
Miltos Manetas (GR/IT)
Mona Mahall and Asli Serbest (Junk Jet magazine) (TR/DE)
Paolo di Landro (IT)
Petros Moris (GR)
Priscilla Tea (IT)
Rafael Rozendaal (NL)
Rhys Coren (bubblebyte.org) (UK)
Rozsa Farkas (UK)
Travess Smalley (USA)
Vincent Charlebois (CA)
I ♥ the Universe and the Universe ♥ me, perfomance by Vincent Charlebois, contribution for #ETINTERBRO
What ideas emerged from experience?
Internet art and culture — instead of identified within the narrow sense of its technological aspect and as a dependent and restricted medium — is a genre that can actualize a union of disciplines and organically create new concepts, whether in the form of communication, thinking or the method that we use to create a work using the internet as a starting reference. For example, Amalia Ulman's project started "performatively" on the public webcams of Santorini after being stranded for a day there. A friend of hers took some very nice screen grabs of her standing in all of these cams in front of the island's volcano.
Some other artists used as an interface or inspiration another artist's work. For example, Miltos Manetas made an invisible painting with his Blackberry on the sand-immersed head-stand body of artist Vincent Charlebois who just before had seen the video of Helga Wretman called "Body Improvisation for Artists". Artist Priscilla Tea projected the images of her paintings using the surface of the sea as an animated layer and so on. Some nights Andreas Angelidakis curated open-air ipad screenings of retro futuristic underground movies and another night we just watched the shooting stars along with discussions.
Do you think you might hold this event again?
Yes, I plan to hold this event every year and bringing this project in warm places, bringing new or familiar people that I think can co-exist in this context. People that will like each other as we will all spend a lot of time together for a while. The experience is communal friendly and casual at the same time. I am looking for all the perfect conditions for the next editions too.
A collection of items from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive and around the web, around the theme of 'Other Worlds', a collection of independent / student games that veer away from convention, either produced as 'experiences' in another environment, aesthetic exercises that the paths of commercial gaming did not tread.
Indie video game with Zen-like experience, with ambient audio music and 3D Atari-cartridge-like visuals. An island is randomly generated for exploration, with no goal orientated action. (PK)
Free game by Arcane Kids that celebrates ' ... speed, movement, and Twitter ...', acrobatic skating in a polygon world.
Currently unreleased, when available should be free for all. (PK)
Bradley Benedetti, Demiurge in the Cupboard, Circusology of Native Leadership Piece 1, 2012
Orca Tears Turquoise( Wish'd We'd Ha'd)
"How can I retry when I was a watermarked birth? I was a global write, universally speaking. My only choice is to image search. rch, sea. Can you smell the past? It is yours. Commercial help gonna fix this Etc.?"
“Nostalgic For captivity…Scent of an orca's tears. Anti-virus wishing wells
If you haven't had your first familiar encounter
please refer to the catalog.
now that I’ve slowed down your 3 dimensional momentarium
I can let you in on something.”
sea u kiosk museum efficiency baby
if you take your TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME . I’ll wait for
breeze and ufo- take your time
we were supposed to grow old together"
Libra von Katzengiest
“I just, I just, I just toed this rope, you know , I just tied this
rope three times, well 6 really because I said it and then did it, but I
mean I tied it while saying it, well hahah you know what I mean,
anyway, the point is it WORKED
This dimension is feeling stuffy
I’m tired of living moment to moment, GET ME OUT OF HERE
I feel really 3 dimensional, I’m looking for something more, I felt
nervous not knowing what came next
In the 4th dimension I get to see it all, people from the past, the
future, really its the continuous present ever flowing around me and
you into one big ball of energy.
5th dimensional living felt too complex, the text was fifth dimensional
5 feels really dark velvety, red, very red blue, you know when you
close your eyes and see that extra door to the right, that’s where I
“WOIFG! 9 gods, 9 devotees, who's god are you going to go home with tonight
Post earth art composed the 71st century within the infini-universal coordinates of naming conventions”
Frusca Glob and ClamV
“Fith G'blarner and pathmate Köl
have discovered an enveloped entity outside their local fire-sphere early
Bradley Benedetti, Demiurge in the Cupboard, Circusology of Native Leadership Piece 6, 2012
Tiffany Girl and I've Already
“Lower living is a gamble, you’re never sure what’s next, I hate making
choices without knowing the outcome. this helps me understand that I
don’t have to choose one, I can just relax knowing that I can do
anything. me feel good, and feeling good is all me care about.
make a crescent shape about a quarter of an astronomical unit, then
place your lower region in the center, while vibrating on the upper
mid portion of your entity. This should assist you in the window
>>>>>>>>stellar/lunar, lunar/earth, earth/solar
“I cant take this life interface existence anymore I need to feel my
Cyber-living space and understand its complexities with my heart. I
want to connect on a level u just cant offer me. I’m getting a B. Just
B. I’m wearing cmyk, spray on inkjet. I smell the chemicals and print
out my feelings, its a post computation expression. Is this cyber
punk? I’m going soft. Richter pulsations, volcanic bubbler,
I took away the treble. I’m left with a blurred filter on like, a
high definition fog space. This is low magick at its best. With quiet, I
can cross the hedge. You get my drift, asthma attacks and belladonna, its
a never ending prayer. I don’t wear hats, they never fit,
the only thing this head was meant for is a halo.”
>>>>>>>>>Nature is Ancient, DOI
“Burning off cfcs all day is EXHAUSTING yall.
Wiped my face with this sigil cloth, I made a witches ladder in honor
of my pours.
CLOGGED> I’m trying out this Hopi tooth fix. I’m feeling it. America
Jenni. Social justice-
natural dominance. Earthly disorder, citizen chaos. city sin. Aerobic spirituality.
this is my country and I get to do whatever I want. nothing can stand
in the way of my revered future in stardom.”
“nature is obvious, SEE. I lit a frog on fire in honor of the new tree
I planted. I’m hugging our dystopical towel set >it has a saurapod
on it from two ages ago. that's really old. How many people does it take
to plant an ocean? orca tears smell like CAPTIVITY
Children are playing outside and I’m wondering how long each one has.
The expiration date is past due but somehow we aren’t getting any fines.
LOOK THAT ONE UP. “
OKAY YOU KNOW WHAT
“You pull me out of time. That’s funny.
0 through 10 is reality, anything after that is just a dream.
I’m living, I’m making, I’m being, NOW I’m feeling?
This story is ticking. I’m rolling my eyes at the thought of reaching.
Who said anything about cloud surfing?
The sand is talking and YOUR’E NOT LISTENING!
Forget about it, I’m sinking in YOUR mud and its 90% ME.
Do you know what these are? Take a closer look.
And this? I can tell I’m loosing you. Who’s feeding who?
Hitting you over the head is what got you here in the first place!
We send you here to be happy and this is how you treat the place?
What happened here? Did you think no one noticed? Party’s over.
Save THAT one for your story tellers. CLAP, oh that was fun, this
Friction based level is something…5”
Did you think you were the only ones?
Can you remember the first time you saw it?
Wait until you hear it, You wont remember a thing.
Global nostalgia is a preset
I’m just here to rid you of
Holocene wake up call. You're fired.
Antarctic Cold Re-reversal
K–Pg extinction event…
Sorry babe, it was protocol-boredom
This time wont be that drastic.
You were so close.
Psyche River by Jonas Lund
Since the launch of Jonas Lund's Paintshop project at the end of June, three paintings have been sold and over 2,000 have been completed. The Paintshop allows users to collaborate on paintings and complete, or sign, whenever they consider a work to be finished. Once signed, paintings are on sale in an edition of one. Prices are determined by the trademarked Paintshop Rank algorithm, calculated daily.
Lund explained the algorithm's inner workings via email:
The Paintshop Rank™ is calculating the price by analyzing a set of criteria, such as Artfacts ranking and Google Ranking of the author, the quality ranking in relation to the amount of views, the amount of Facebook likes and Tweets. The underlying assumption is that two general things matter for the price, the reputation of the artist and the popularity of the painting itself.
The project is somewhat reminiscent of Aaron Koblin's Sheep Market. Where that project crowdsourced its drawings via Amazon's Mechanical Turk and used a flat-rate payment, The Paintshop hosts a collaborative form of interactivity to create works with apparently arbitrary authorships. Collaborators who choose to complete and sign a work, though, will recieve the algorithmically determined value of any sold work, minus production costs and gallery comission.
CLOOOOOWN by Systaime
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Joanne McNeil, the editor of Rhizome, will be in the UK over the next two weeks, speaking at these upcoming events:
Improving Reality, organized by the Lighthouse Foundation, part of Brighton Digital Festival. Sept 6, 2012
Session 1. The Edge of Reality: How do speculative fictions, alternate realities, and radically new conceptions of time help shape our experience of reality? Today, writers, designers and artists are working with techniques and ideas which only a few years ago would have been considered science fiction. This sessions presents tales from the edge of reality, near-future designs, unlikely inventions, time travel and atemporality. Speakers include Warren Ellis, Anab Jain, Leila Johnston, and Joanne McNeil.
Artist Talk, organized by FACT, part of the Liverpool Biennial
Sept 13, 2012
Come and join artists Anja Kirschner, David Panos and Jemima Wyman who are exhibiting at FACT as part of Liverpool Biennial. Alongside Joanne McNeil, Editor of Rhizome, they will explore and respond to provocations set by the Biennial's 2012 exhibition, The Unexpected Guest.
As part of England’s nationwide switchover from analog to digital tele-broadcasting, London’s official analog signal went down on April 18, 2012. While dumpsters citywide filled with old TV sets, a flurry of commemorative activity sprung up in the art world. Most notably London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) staged Remote Control, a large survey show examining prominent artists’ responses to television; and across town pioneering British video artist David Hall staged 1001 TV Sets (End Piece), 1972 – 2012, an epic installation in which 1001 sets, tuned to one of five UK analog channels, gradually transitioned from color broadcasts to snow and noise.
Against this backdrop of retrospection and nostalgia the politicised London-based pirate television group Superlative TV formed. Set to begin broadcasting the evening of September 14, Superlative TV will be available to anyone in the city who can unplug a TV digital receiver and tune into the yet to be designated frequency. Inclusive, liberal, and egalitarian, the channel will run a program consisting of community led documentaries, artists’ works, performance, news, and film. Tackling subjects like the 2011 London riots – civil unrest that saw unprecedented looting, arson, and violence in the city – Superlative TV are distancing themselves from the post-modern tendencies of contemporaries like south London’s Auto Italia South East and Lucky PDF. In other words, it is not all about VHS generation loss and ironic distance. Instead Superlative TV seek to offer a politically active model of public access television: an enfranchising, free television service in dialogue with its users, as opposed to a paid for service that is not. Recently I spoke with Superlative TV co-founder Anne Tennor about the upcoming broadcast.
How did Superlative TV start and why?
I think it started because we saw a need. Not that there isn’t a lot of “art TV” out there, because there is a lot, but art TV seems to have almost become about a brand. A brand in which an individual’s voice might get lost in the crowd. So what we're facilitating is a kind of open platform that is missing from British broadcasting in general, and the idea is to fill the gap of open access television as well as produce art TV.
We have a background working with lots of artists in London, doing various projects with moving image and broadcasting whether that is radio or television. Then the digital switchover happened and it just seemed like the perfect time to subvert an old medium that people aren’t using anymore. We see it as a redundant space that can be completely free, completely uncensored, completely unrestricted. Not even the Internet can provide that opportunity, for artists especially. But if you look at last summer’s riots the government was trying to shut Twitter down. So we’re still being controlled, in spite of the idea that we use modern technology to have a voice.
It’s interesting that you’re talking about issues of control; because what you are doing you have to do covertly as it’s illegal.
We’re hoping through our activity we’ll eventually not be seen as criminals, but as people offering something which should be made legal. Eventually the idea is to have an open access television station in the UK as there isn’t one, but it’s happening all over the world now, of course in America, but also in parts of Eastern Europe you’ve got artists who are offered half an hour on a local channel. That said, open access isn’t the extent of what we plan to program. We’d like to commission relevant programs that national TV doesn’t seem to cover. Also, given the current political situation in the UK, there’s a feeling that some parts of society are being targeted by Conservative policies and not being given a voice at all. So this goes beyond just offering young artists, or people with nowhere to show work, a space.
I was thinking about the fact that it’s on analogue television, which means people will have to detune their sets to watch. First of all you’re getting an active and engaged audience, because their making a big effort to find out what we’re broadcasting; and second it’s like time travelling, which is how it feels in the UK at the moment. I just think that a lot of what’s happening has happened twenty, thirty years ago with Margaret Thatcher, and even before that. Things seem to go in cycles and it would be nice to offer some hope.
So can you tell me a bit about where you’re at with the project at the moment?
Well you’ve come towards the end of phase two. Phase one has been collecting content, practising camerawork, assembling equipment, and we’re ready to go live. We’ve been trying to collect shows together, and ideas for formats. We have a show that we’re advertising now, which is called Prime Time: we’re asking artists and curators to submit three videos to us, one that they’ve made, one they have influenced and one that has influenced them. We’ll screen those after we’ve launched piratically on the 14September.
We’ve also been filming and documenting events for the last year: working with PAMI (Peckham Artists Moving Image festival), and a radio show on Resonance FM called The Gravy. They have a great bunch of weird and wonderful musical acts, that we filmed and put our live mixing over, and we have a whole catalogue of them now. We’re also commissioning new works with artists, so a lot of great young talent is going to be shown via our channel. On top of that we’re working on more documentary style content about the political situation now.
I want to talk to you about how this project speaks to, lets say, video art, new media history, and the history of artists working with television. Were those things in your mind when you were building the project from the ground up?
I mean we’re definitely interested in tactical media, and artists like Ubermorgen who have done major public interventions that have gone far beyond the art world. But I suppose the difference with a lot of those politicised interventions is that it’s through modern technology on the Internet, which came to a bit of a cooling stage in the mid 2000s. What we’re doing is a bit different because rather than intervening in something that people aren’t aware an artist is behind, we’re asking people to actively be involved.
Television seemed to always be cast as the twentieth century villain, as the culture industry’s primary tool for twisting reality into a simulacrum of itself. So it’s interesting to think of it being used as a medium for the dissemination of material unmediated, and unfiltered through the corporate sieve.
I was just thinking about Black Audio Film Collective, their film Handsworth Songs, and how important that still is today. They were essentially a group of young, disenchanted youth that wanted to talk about things from a perspective they felt lacked a voice. It’s a shame, but it feels like the same situation is happening now and coming together is maybe the best way to go against it. Also I was thinking about the history of TV, and how it used to be that maybe there’d only be one television on the street. So it was kind of an event to watch television right? You’d have all your neighbours coming around to that one house, lucky enough to have a TV, and it became a communal activity, creating a sense of community around that event. Hopefully something similar will happen here. Because of the lengths people will have to go to view, maybe something different will come out of it.
So how can people get involved with Superlative TV?
We have a website at www.superlativetv.com, and a blog at www.superlativetv.tumblr.com, that’s one way people can keep up to date with what we’re doing. But what we’re really encouraging people to do is email us on email@example.com with any ideas they have for broadcasting. We want to help people to make programs; we have the equipment, we’ve got the monitors, we’ve got the cameras. We want to help people to find their voice on the medium of television. So give us an email. If you’ve got any kind of film, or even something that already exists that you want to show, we’re more then happy to have a look and put it on the channel.
Is this an international call?
Of course! The more the merrier.
Screenshot of The Sole Ripper in Google SketchUp, courtesy of the artist
This month The Download features Kristin Lucas's digital book The Sole Ripper (2012).
The Sole Ripper is a digital book containing a 1:132 scale architectural view of a fictional pedestrian roller coster modeled for an empty lot in Manhattan discovered by Lucas on Google Maps. The architectural plan arrives fragmented and out of order, given its shape through a process of software conventions and workarounds. It is a visual corollary to the download process in which files are broken down into packets and transmitted over internet pathways from one computer to another, and reconfigured at their final destination. Only, Lucas leaves the task of file reconfigurability open to the viewer, and opts for an alternative view that features a 352-page vertical drop and bears likeness to a filmstrip. Recalling Luis Borges's hyperreal map that was as large as the empire itself from "On Exactitude in Science," Lucas's plan for The Sole Ripper is too large to see in its entirety even when reassembled.
The Download gives a first look to great art for Rhizome members. Start your own digital art collection by becoming a member today.
Transparency Grendade (pre-assembly), 2012 by Julian Oliver
You've been participating in the tech and art community for over a decade now. You're work spans everything from establishing an artistic game-development collective to pushing the boundaries of privacy on public wireless networks with custom hardware. Just this past year you published the Critical Engineering Manifesto with Gordan Savičić and Danja Vasiliev. Was there a specific event or moment that inspired its creation and were there any earlier iterations of the ten statements that didn't make the final cut?
Danja, Gordan and I felt a long standing need to frame our respective practices a little more acutely, foregrounding the languages and cultures of Engineering, rather than Art, in the creative and critical process. We'd each found ourselves frustrated under the vague, ballooning term of Media Artist - like trying to swim in a bathrobe. This came up in conversation enough times to explore alternatives. Afterall, it didn't seem to matter whether we called what we made 'art', even ourselves 'artists', people were quick to do it for us anyway.
One thing that regularly came up in conversation between us is that Engineering, not Art, is the most transformative language of our time - informing the way we communicate, move, trade and even think. The reach of Engineering is so deep that it's hard to disagree it has become part of our environment, with vast impacts on human culture, the Earth and how we understand it. So it follows that to ignore the languages, logics and ideas that make up this thing we call Engineering is to assume a critically vulnerable position - we become unable to describe our environment.
As thinkers with technical abilities in several areas, we want to take on our built and increasingly automated environment by the terms in which it's given, opening it up for post-utilitarian conversation, for play and interrogation. If there's ever a time to be doing that, it's now, especially with opaque and hidden infrastructure in the telecommunications space deeply impacting diplomatic relations and civil liberties world wide.
The Critical Engineering Manifesto grew directly from conversations along these lines and was generally very well received, soon translated into 14 languages. A couple of people wrote in that they wondered why we didn't include or reference 'hacking' as a critical practice to draw upon. Admittedly none of us had an instinct to include it, as it is also a term that has an increasingly vague meaning. I think Danja and Gordan would agree that those that hack in a way we appreciate are already Critical Engineers!
The Transparency Grenade and Newstweek are projects that are designed to disrupt traditional systems of information distribution in news organizations, companies, and governments. Do they achieve your desired affects on the systems they are designed to criticize? Have you been satisfied with the results of the two projects?
It's true that both projects are real implementations with tangible and disruptive effects. That said Danja and I developed Newstweek primarily to spur critical attention to the vulnerabilities of our increasingly 'browser-defined reality', to return an eye to the network infrastructure that plays an integral role in the distribution of fact. If you can control the infrastructure, you can control what's understood to be fact. Newstweek has certainly achieved what we'd hoped in this regard, inciting plenty of productive, healthy paranoia - helped along by us releasing a full HOWTO so that others can build their own Newstweek devices.
The second dimension to the project surrounds an intervention on the top->down news distribution model. We know that our news is being 'tweeked' anyway - an endemic symptom of the (rather bizarre) fact we traditionally depend on privately owned news corporations to inform our summarial view of the world. Newstweek seeks to intervene on this model, an on the ground solution for civilians to have their chance to propagandise or simply 'fix the facts' they know to be untrue.
The Transparency Grenade has been a tricky project as all of sudden some people think I'm in the cyber-weapons business, which I'm not. Like Newstweek, it's first and foremost a conversation starter. It seeks to directly manifest the fears we have, whether state, corporation or individual, around the increased political volatility of data. Indeed it is an implementation that can be used but I'm not selling grenades to be used as weapons. In fact they're limited edition finely crafted objects that look enough like a grenade for you to /not/ want to take with you into a corporate meeting. The Android application I'm still developing will mimic much of the functionality of the grenade and is better suited for such purposes, though I certainly will never suggest it be used and nor will I use it myself. That would put me in a very different legal position.
Many of your works challenge the implicit trust people have in the wireless networks they use - from cell phones to public wifi. In that same way your pieces often blur the boundaries between gallery space and the public sphere. Why is revealing and breaking these boundaries of trust and perception important to you and your work?
Again it comes back to infrastructure and how our inability to describe and understand reduces our critical reach, leaving us both disempowered and, quite often, vulnerable.
Opacity is an important word here too, as is the term 'black box'. Most of our engineered communications infrastructure is not just extraordinarily abstract for people to come to grips with but is actively kept hidden. There are some valid reasons, of course, for keeping infrastructure hidden but the fact is it out of sight is being increasingly exploited in and out of supposedly democratic contexts, largely by surveillance initiatives we were never told about.
Engendering a healthy paranoia here, along with making work that ruptures the featureless skin of these black boxes - providing points of entry - is important to me currently. Infrastructure must not be a ghost. Nor should we have only mythic imagination at our disposal in attempts to describe it. 'The Cloud' is a good example of a dangerous simplification at work, akin to a children's book. Such convenient reductions will be expensive in time as some corporations and governments continue to both engineer - and take advantage of - ignorance.
Often the suite of software institutions select for their students are managed and updated by only a handful of companies that have a monopoly over the industries of creative production. Why do you think free software is important to art education and artistic production? What would inspire more institutions to adopt open source tools?
This monopoly has always worried me, as it is a monopoly impacting creative diversity among student work. That may seem to be a bold claim but consider that every developer authoring software intended for creative industries inevitably plays a curatorial role in the use of that software; they provide defaults and options, a preferences panel and perhaps, at best, a plugin interface for other developers.
Certainly there is something to be said for subverting, bending these proprietary tools but really, when one compares the work that comes out of many huge 'digital arts' departments with a little pro FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) school like Piet Zwart, Rotterdam, it's clear. The work is simply bolder and better when students are encouraged to use multiple operating systems, interact with diverse hardware (including obsolete), use the command line, learn to program in several languages, learn to read source code and work with GNU/Linux.
We think through tools both before and while we use them and the more we depend upon a tool the more we are changed by it. In the software space, certain ideologies and expectations have become deeply rooted. People expect their tools to be 'intuitive', 'seamlessly' interoperating with other tools. They expect them to look 'sexy', what ever that means. This symptomatically asserts that not seeing what's going on 'under the hood' is always good and generic user interface standards is always desireable.
With FOSS unique results are quickly gained. Such software is not always intended for the mass market and also because, being open, they tend to encourage customisation. Tools are thus more readily shaped to fit the user and not the other way around.
I, for instance, realised early on that I didn't want to be staring at a rectangle full of little pictures other people and companies have made and so I switched to an iconless digital workspace. For many years I've started the day with a black terminal on a GNU/Linux host operating system. That is my blank canvas. I work with software, not software products.
Would the cherished painters of old have accepted an ever persistent logo in the top-left hand corner of their canvas as they painted? Should we?
Another advantage to free and open source software, particularly on a UNIX or UNIX-like system, is that it often allows for interconnection with other software (something referred to as 'piping'). I simply can't imagine not being able to connect the output of one software with the input of another. This is the basis of automation, rendering an open source operating system (which is itself many softwares) a material in itself, not just a mere support for programs running 'on top'.
Finally there is the right to read. Software which allows its source code to be read innately benefits learning; I can study other people's code, or even the code of the tool I'm using, to work with it in undocumented, unintended ways or use what I learn to improve my own software. I can't imagine not having the right to read the software I'm using.
Photo by Peter Langer
How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start?
I grew up in a rural part of New Zealand on a small farm embraced in forest that'd never been cut down, high up in the North Island.
I was lucky to have a father interested in electronic music, gadgets and computers. He bought much of it via mail order from various obscure magazines he was subscribed to, Omni magazine in particular. This resulted in our little farm being visited by extraterrestrials like the C64, ZX Spectrum and later an Amiga. Each was a unique universe of its own for me and I was left to my own devices in an effort to converse with them. Back then I didn't know anyone else with the same machines and so reading the manual and finding my own way in was the only means of getting anywhere. The Amiga 500 especially was very important to me. In all seriousness, it changed my life.
It was only much later however that I really started working with technology in a creative and critical way. In 1996 I was asked by Honor Harger, then working at Art Space in Auckland to be an assistant for Stelarc in a piece called Ping Body, involving four hours of remote electrocution over the Internet. Despite being accidentally electrocuted while removing electrodes from his body, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them?
The tools I use now, and many of the strategies I use in my work, are directly attributable to the Free and Open Source Software movement. While I'd been experimenting with GNU/Linux for a few years it wasn't until I installed Debian in 2000 that something clicked. This was an operating system that openly presented itself to be a material. It wasn't a 'productivity platform', nor was it geared toward one particular use. Everything was modifiable. Core aspects of the OS could be studied, transparently available as text files.
It was at this point that I developed an interest not in software, but software systems. I started to realise that GNU/Linux was the OS of infrastructure, from the Internet to stock markets, weather stations, satellites, transport and the power grid itself. While being keen on graphics programming I started to see computers with screens in a different light, almost as output terminals within a broader sea of symbol processing machines.
Networking became increasingly interesting for me, albeit mostly as a study area. I learnt shell scripting for OS automation and as a glue language for bricolage. I worked away at learning C and explored what ever arcane language I could come across. GNU/Linx became a sort of University for me - I really couldn't get enough of it.
I've been using GNU/Linux, Debian in particular, as my core OS ever since, from tiny computers to laptops and servers. Short of graphics editing, video editing and browsing I work almost entirely in the command-line.
Software aside, I have a little electronics studio here in Berlin and greatly enjoy learning in this area as I make use of it.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I learnt more in my first little country school of 50 pupils than I did studying Philosophy and Architecture / Spatial Design in Auckland. Auckland University wasn't right for me at the time and so when not working to pay the rent I defaulted to my own areas of study and work.
What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology?
I'm not really interested in building a body of work around any particular traditional media. In that sense I'm entirely project driven - I choose whatever material I need to manifest the work.
That said, with the equipped studio we have here in Berlin I'm finding myself wanting to make objects.
Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)?
I'd like to be writing much more and hope to make time for this outside of project development and traveling. I will in some activist related domains in future but I'm not ready to talk about what or how just yet.
What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way?
I haven't had a job since 1996, living entirely from exhibitions, commissions, teaching and talks. This means I have to travel around 2 weeks a month and be careful with planning. Lately it's become a little unmanagable and so I desperately need an assistant!
Who are your key artistic influences?
I'd like to answer with a 'who' but in reality I find myself influenced by projects, rather than particular people. There's plenty from the contemporary art world that has inspired, old and new but I'd say reading history and science has influenced me as much as Situationist or Conceptual Art projects. I'm a big fan of Gerhard Richter, but I'd be surprised if he influences my work in any way!
Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what?
I haven't worked with artists that aren't technologists but I have worked with many arts organisations over the years, from museums to festivals and galleries.
Do you actively study art history?
Some chapters of it yes!
Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you?
Philosophy and crit theory are an important part of my diet but I'm also increasingly drawn to political philosophy and history.
Recently I've enjoyed Paul N. Edwards (The Closed World is a must read!), Gerald Raunig, Adorno, Marcuse, Baudrillard (Conspiracy of Art), Foucault (again), Kittler and the excellent Jussi Parikka. John O'Shea gave me a great book called 'The Concept of Law' which I'm about to tuck into, once I've finished what I'm reading now.
Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?
I think that historical, archival and curatorial efforts will greatly benefit from coming into closer contact with how works of 'media art' are made. Too much work in this domain is simplified/framed as an artefact in service of a tradition of spectacle, rather than the complex intersection of processes and substrates that they often comprise.
Cultural contributions and technical contributions cannot be considered mutually exclusive within the field of media arts. One cannot talk about one without the other here.
In tribute to John Cage on his 100th birthday, we've gathered a collection of archival footage, interviews, and collected works – presented in reverse chronological order, beginning with Cage's final work, and only feature length film.
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One11 with 103 (1991-1992) (via UbuWeb)
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"American Masters" John Cage (1991) via UbuWeb
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For The Third Time (1978) via UbuWeb
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John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Sound?? (1966) via UbuWeb
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Variations V (1965) via UbuWeb