Posts for 2005

Just Obey Your Ads

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The chipper, poignant and irksome imperatives launched from all corners of daily routine by competing companies permeate our commutes, grocery lists, and vernaculars. Current mantras like 'Laugh More. Cry More. Experience More.' (Blockbuster), 'Try Being More Of A Woman!' (Coty Perfume) and 'Get the Most Incredible Memory Ever.' (Dell) make big demands or promises to their targets! The Institute for Infinitely Small Things, based in and out of Boston, endeavors to compile authoritative research on this topic, comprising a project called The International Database of Corporate Commands. In the opinion that these commands function within society and public consciousness on a nano level that is virtual and powerful, the white-lab-coated Institute invites researchers from all over the world to upload documentation of corporate commands to their online database. By gathering them all in one place and enacting certain slogans in real spaces--a recent flash-mob-meets-teach-in 'microperformance' at a Cingular store produced 10 minutes of literal 'Roll(ing)over'--the institute hopes to produce a better understanding of the ramifications of constant commercial programming. If you'll be in Boston, come visit the Institute on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (2PM) at Space 200 (200 State Street). - Kevin McGarry

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Re-do the Du!

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Unlike Grandma's pearls, those that fill the cache of art history can, and regularly should be, replaced. The repeated pawning of seminal gestures perpetuates the value of their originals and the virility of their legacies. Thus the tradition of the readymade transplanted to the internet re-seeds the disjunctive potential of Duchamp's creations, but in projects that are more easily reblogged. For their current online exhibition, 'The New Readymades,' UK net art collective low-fi has selected eight net-based works by some of the masters of creative copy-and-paste, each of which investigates the effects of artistic replacements. Substituting human performers with computers (MTAA's '1 year performance video' and Darrel O'Pry's 'On Kawara Generator'), the appropriate owner of a website with an appropriator of the same website (Vuk Cosic's 'Documenta X'), or authentic net.art technologies with a Blogger.com diary (Abe Linkoln's 'My Boyfriend Came Back from the War'), these projects engage the online manifestation of the readymade as a migration that revitalizes the transformational potential of out of place art. - Kevin McGarry

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Body Movin'

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The 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival began April 22 and encompasses more than 70 exhibitions, performances, and workshops in the Greater Boston Area. Since 1999, the biennial festival has brought together artists who work with cutting-edge technologies to show work, discuss the ways new technologies are impacting art practice, and share skills with each other. This year marks the addition of a new conference to the Cyberarts Festival: Ideas in Motion: Innovations in Dance, Movement, and Technology. As means of real-time interactivity between the body and computers become more accessible, many dancers and choreographers have embraced these innovations, creating complex multi-media performances. Highlighting these novel intersections between the body and various media, the Ideas in Motion conference will feature a keynote address from John D. Mitchell, a professor of the Department of Dance at Arizona State University and an early innovator in the use of computers in dance, as well as performances from a number of dance companies including Troika Ranch (NYC), Mei Be Whatever (NYC), Fico Balet (Slovenia), and Kinodance (Boston). Other highlights of the Cyberarts festival include an exhibition of work incorporating GPS and Satellite Imaging and an interactive installation by Scott Snibbe. - Matt Boch

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One Foot in Front of the Other

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With all the attention that 'locative media' seems to be getting within new media communities, it only makes sense that the actual process of moving bodies through space and place should be seen as a site worth investigating. The history of artists exploring the performative nature of walking--from Richard Long to Yayoi Kusama--provides one starting point for many contemporary practitioners. To give this developing history some context, the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hosting a symposium called 'Walking as Knowing as Making: a Peripatetic Investigation of Place.' About to start it's fourth, and final, session, the symposium has already delved into the social, environmental and aesthetic dimensions of walking with talks and guided walks by such notables as long time 'walking artist' Hamish Fulton. The upcoming fourth installment, beginning on 28 April, includes presentations by artist Walid Raad (of the Atlas Group) and architectural theorist Jane Rendell among others. If you're too far to walk to the events, you can find discussions and documentation from the symposium online. - Ryan Griffis

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You Can Be a Winner in the Game of Class

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Recalling landmark 1980s board game Life, but in a key of conceptualist critique, Richard Rinehart's blog-cum-multi-player online game directs a fish-eye lens at that great vanishing mediator of the American scene, social class. The blog features Rinehart's astute, personal insights into class's elusive markers, while an array of multiple-choice cards bearing impish questions like 'What kind of raincoat would you buy?' lead a character around the game board. With a nod to Beuys' 'social sculpture' trope, 'Reading Class' deploys the social software of blogging and interactive gaming to devise a composite map of class mobility. There's small development glitches: it's unclear how to register the presence of other players or past journeys, limiting the interactivity to 'back-end' technology of the database and the site's blog, and the character tends to drift off the board. The role of street culture in problematising social distinctions would have been good to address, too. Nonetheless, a sharp intervention in the lineage of 'They Rule' and Michael Alstad's 'Choice Maps,' plotting the material differentials of power and consumption that shape the anxious fairytale of everyday life. - Marina Vishmidt

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You Can Feel It in the Air

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At some point in our lives, we notice ourselves lugging around an overload of ideas and information. How is it that we continually play the role of unwitting receiver to a barrage of loaded transmissions? 'Transmission' is a series of exhibitions presented by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, which profiles artists and scholars exploring the concept of 'transmission' in and through new media, radio, sound and broadcast media. 'Airborne,' the second show in the series, takes on the 'aesthetic, sonic and socio-political' aspects of these cunningly concealed wireless transmissions. Curated by Anne Barlow and Defne Ayas, in collaboration with www.free103point9.org, the exhibition features seven works by New York-based artists that aim to give substance to intangible electronic signals and to the interests they power. Take Paul Davies 'Prayer Antenna,' which wittingly transforms viewers into supplicants as they kneel to insert their head into an ordained helmet covered with antennas; or Mendi and Keith Obadike's '4-1-9,' which invites one to compose an individualized email money transfer scam. Airborne will be at the New Museum until June 4, with performances on May 4 at 6:30PM. - Ophra Wolf

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Baring It All

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The newly available Fifth Sarai Reader, takes its title from the term 'Bare Acts,' the name for Indian legislation presented in its 'bare' form, free of interpretive explanations. The collection of creative and critical texts in 'Bare Acts' reveals how legal systems are negotiated and confronted in the processes of daily life and creative activity. Organized in chapters with titles like 'Disputations,' 'Trespasses' and 'Records,' the articles included address these conflicts from positions of geographic and subjective specificity, where abstract laws (like copyright) meet the concrete and flesh of cities and the people living in them. Sarai has made all of their readers available for free browsing and download, so you can chart their ongoing engagement with the collisions between local and global new media scenes. - Ryan Griffis

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Rhyme Star's Roadmap

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With online assistance galore, speaking one's mind is no longer a chore. These days all you need is an internet connection. HTTP In Tha House will give your flows a dot-org inflection. Plasma Studii's Judson developed the site to 'shout out some dope rhymes,' and the battle-worthy bot delivers, time after time. Type in a URL (on your Dell?) and HITH produces a holla for your homies to yell. This site reads your site's script all dramatic, and assembles 16 lines, automatic. HITH only needs a hundredth of your words, so 'it hacks them down and reassembles' for all the hip hoppin' nerdz. Bits and bytes are run through a rhyming dictionary, and results greatly vary. So try your URL again and again, subject yourself to an HTTP spin. Observe the cut-up given to Net Art News' home, Rhizome: 'class fresh object positioning hack// href http yack // agonistics a language game// http rhizome maim.' Judon's engine sifts your digital silt, assembles patchwork quilt, remixed to tha hilt. So bring some thesaurus to your chorus, or just reorganize your code. HTTP In The House brings fresh flows to your node. - Marisa S. Olson

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I Blog, Therefore I Curate

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One could cogently argue that blogging, a daily ritual for millions, is an essentially curatorial act. To blog is, after all, to stage--through selective inclusion, exclusion, and recontextualization--a performance of individual identity, to imaginatively order an inchoate universe through the re-centering lens of subjectivity. The blogger can reincarnate her- or himself as an authoritative and consequential presence, with a voice and purpose. Unflattering as the analogy may be to many curators of fine art, it holds, and Liverpool-based curator Michael Connor has playfully evoked it with what may be the first blogged art exhibition, 'Raiders of the Lost ArtBase.' Commisioned by Rhizome, Connor has delved into the platform's ArtBase--a nearly six-year-old online archive of more than 1,500 new media artworks--to excavate its 'buried treasures' in weekly blog postings. Connor's commentary is refreshingly de-jargonized and entertaining ('OK, turn the techno off, put Rod Stewart back on, and get back to work'), giving this curatorial project a wonderfully personal and decidedly non-institutional feel. There's an earnestness to Connor's manner that underlines and celebrates the ways in which curators have become visible pundits with personalities and agendas--or bloggers, if you will. - Andy Comer

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What's Eating Gilbert and Grape?

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Courtship between two periods in history customarily leads to each sharing the other's things, like tastes for fashion, art and home decor. But, perhaps it is the impossibly bridged distance between flirting times and aesthetics that keeps history perpetually romancing itself. GilbertandGrape (hopefully their singing namesakes would enjoy being conflated with a Leonardo DiCaprio movie) are two New Europeans who describe their art practice as 'performance journalism.' Helen Pritchard (UK) and Anne-Marte Eidseth Rygh (Norway) have set out on a stubborn three-year journey called 'Lone Ranging Romance,' during which they will travel by Volvo through their homelands, with an iconic 20-kilo moose head, conducting interviews around the subject of nostalgia with the ‘heroes’ they meet along their way. These found respondents will be subsequently mythologized into the epic voyage, and the interviews will be posted to GilbertandGrape’s blog every second Thursday of the month. 'Lone Ranging Romance' will conclude when the aforementioned moose head, 'The Lone Ranger,' reaches Nordkapp, Norway, 'where the midnight sun never sets.' This will occur in 2008, timed with the UK and Norway each hosting European Capitals of Culture, and thus becoming sites for historic and arbitrary convergence. - Kevin McGarry

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