October 22 at the New Museum and Livestreamed: Blockchain Horizons

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PWR, #1 (trustless), 0x9ab9f7a4b85412bfbe2f4f63b1c98808851c4f32, Tongersestraat 42a, Maastricht, NL, 9/10 2015. Photograph of Bitcoin mining rig. Courtesy of the artists.

Blockchain Horizons
Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 7pm 
at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, NYC 
and livestreamed at rhizome.org 
Tickets

Blockchains are distributed databases, secure and transparent by virtue of peer-to-peer communities that cryptographically validate each entry. As the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the blockchain has given rise to divergent speculations about the future of politics and finance outside of direct state control, from collective utopias to sublime dystopias.

Organized by Rhizome's Artistic Director, Michael Connor, "Blockchain Horizons" convenes artists, critics, and entrepreneurs to discuss the cultural implications of this technology for publishing, licensing, and distribution. In doing so, it treats the blockchain as social fact rather than science fiction.

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Organic Hardware at Fantastic Arcade

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 Paloma Dawkins and Cale Bradbury, Alea (2015)

This past week, Fantastic Arcade, an independently curated video games arcade featuring talks, tournaments, and over 45 playable games—part of the Fantastic Fest film festival—was held in Austin's Alamo Drafthouse.

A number of the games at Fantastic Arcade this year featured alternative game controllers. Cat Nips contains stuffed animals whose bellies need to be rubbed; the gameplay in Butt Sniffin' Pugs was controlled by balls that needed to be rolled. Other games used a receipt dispenser and a gun with which one played Russian Roulette. A fair amount of the games, easily accessible in the arcade setup, featured used standard controllers and interfaces, from Playstation controllers to mice and keyboards. The audience was diverse; the only underrepresented group appeared to be X-box players (fun fact: Sony Playstation sponsored Fantastic Arcade).

Perhaps the most innovative and interesting game was Alea, a psychedelic hiking simulator designed by Paloma Dawkins and Cale Bradbury using organic materials as part of the hardware.

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Mapping Landscape Paintings: Joe Hamilton's 'Indirect Flights' on the front page

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Joe Hamilton's Indirect Flights is on the front page of rhizome.org through Sunday, as part of the ongoing online digital painting exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series.

All of the works in "Brushes" are paintings made on the computer and shown primarily online. The exhibition focuses on works that are derived from an artist's bodily gestures, rather than those that are derived from code-based practices. In the case of Indirect Flights, the brushstrokes in the work are actually sampled from high-resolution scans of landscape paintings by notable historical figures like Van Gogh and Arthur Streeton. Thus, the gestures in this case were made long ago on canvas, and only later translated to digital form. 

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Artist Profile: Olivia Erlanger

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 The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

 Olivia Erlanger x Ned Siegel x NanoCorp, Suggestion of a House Slipper, The Refusal to get Dressed, Spending a Season Dreaming of Sunlight only to Prefer it Dark (2014)

Language plays a huge part in your work. The titles of works range from being exploratory—The Space Between My Hand and What it Holds (2014)—to almost explanatory (Olivia Erlanger x NanoCorp x Ned Siegel Suggestion of a House Slipper, The Refusal to get Dressed, Spending a Season Dreaming of Sunlight only to Prefer it Dark. Painted Leather Slippers, 2014), and are always poetic (Everything that Rises Sinks into Mud, 2015). How do you come up with these titles? How do you envision their connection to the work?

A title is a guide.

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Jacob Ciocci Paints Outside of the Box

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For his contribution to the ongoing online digital painting exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series, artist Jacob Ciocci presents a series of gifs from his New Expressions series. The gifs are viewable on the front page of rhizome.org through Oct 4 and permanently on the online exhibition page. 

The gifs are made by printing material from the internet, gluing, collaging and painting it, scanning the result back into the computer, animating it digitally, and repeating. He has applied this practice to works that are shown onscreen, such as these GIFs, while also creating objects for gallery display, some of which incorporate video projection into the work.

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Announcing: Zachary Kaplan Appointed Rhizome's Executive Director

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Photo: Sheiva Rezvani  

Rhizome is pleased to announce that Zachary Kaplan, formerly our Assistant Director, has been appointed the organization's new Executive Director. 

Zach has spent the last two years at Rhizome contributing to the organization's programs, strategic planning, and development, successfully managing events like Seven on Seven, benefits and campaigns, and external affairs. He is editor of the organization's forthcoming publication The Born-Digital Art Institution, a collection of essays exploring the relationship between art institutions and digital networks. Zach came to Rhizome from the Renaissance Society in Chicago, where he worked in development, and before that from the Education Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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It Doesn't Just Work: DullTech on Kickstarter and Shenzhen

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Earlier this month, the artist and DullTech CEO Constant Dullaart launched a Kickstarter to crowd-source the company's first product. The DullTech media player is a product that promises to simplify the installation of single- and multi-channel video work. The device works by playing and looping the first video file found on a USB-drive on any monitor or television without concern for file format, remote controls, or syncing screens. Considering the artist's previous works, which often focused on the conditions of art viewership within online networks and galleries, the concept for this device is both humorously apt and much-needed to solve the hassles of installation. 

Those who I have spoken with outside of the arts, however, have raised doubts concerning the ethics of the Kickstarter campaign and the product. Dulltech began while the artist was on a 2012 residency in Shenzhen, South China, a region known as "The Silicon Valley of Hardware." At that time, the company and product were a way for the artist to get into to an original equipment manufacturer (O.E.M.) to see the working conditions of Chinese laborers. After artists expressed excitement about the convenience of the product, Dullaart and his colleagues decided to go into actual production with the factory. Though the O.E.M. Dullaart used for this project, the Taiwanese manufacturer RealTek, does not have any reported violations, mentioning Chinese labor often elicits discomfort due to the 2010 suicides at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory and several reports by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights and other watchdog organizations concerning working conditions, employee exhaustion, and contract terminations due to work-related illness.

DullTech's Kickstarter video

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Artist Profile: Shawné Michaelain Holloway

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Shawné Michaelain Hollowaysnow white LQQKS by black bitch_latergram (2015)

Self-representation is a recurring theme of internet-based art, one that you approach from a specific perspective: as a queer, black, [self-described] privileged individual. In your Cam-Era work, you perform this identity within the Camgirl business. How did the power dynamics of this environment affect the work you were making at the time?

Power dynamics affected this work not because of the power of the people or the culture inside, but the power of the people and the culture outside looking in. I feel ashamed that I see these spaces as a playground where I get to construct my own fantasies and control my environment. In a lot of ways I am excited about this non-corporal freedom I gain there.

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