Posts for November 2007

Rhizome Needs You!

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This week, Rhizome begins our 2007 Community Campaign. We need to raise $30,000 by midnight, December 31st. We're calling upon the artists, critics, curators, scholars, scientists, and general digital culture fans in our network to achieve this goal. Now is the time to become a member (it's only $25!), renew your membership, or make a generous donation. Rhizome serves an emerging field and we rely, to no small extent, on our community for support. Your contribution will seed the development of our web-based programs, such as commissions, discussion, and digital art preservation, all of which aim to increase the visibility and vibrancy of this growing field. Helping us will help make new media art history. Please support us today!

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Shine On

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There are a few cities in the world whose history is written through its architecture, and Istanbul is a sublime example. Roman hippodromes, Byzantine churches, and spectacular mosques mix with art nouveau and modern structures--conveying a dynamic and layered past and present, both spiritual and civic. Silahtaraga, an Ottoman power station dating from the 20th century, is an awesome example of civic architecture and it has recently, with the oversight of Istanbul's Bilgi University, been turned into a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional space. Home to a massive art space, an energy museum, and a center for culture and education, Santralistanbul has been become host to a number of exhibitions and events, in collaboration with the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art (Cairo), ZINC--ECM de la Friche Belle de Mai (Marseille), NOMAD (Istanbul), and SCCA (Ljubljana), santralistanbul presents Light, Illumination, Electricity an Artists in Residence program that consists of workshops, open studios, and exhibitions. Taking as its subject Light and Electricity, the projects will echo the transformation of the space both architecturally and culturally. The participating artists, architects, scientists, choreographers, and musicians reflect not only the city's storied past but also its continuing relevance as a major center for art and culture.


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Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible

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Given that the legacy of the Situationist International so often gets overshadowed by the political events of May 1968, it is easy to forget that Guy Debord's first S.I. was started some 11 years earlier. Fifty years onwards, Debord's critique of advanced capitalism and consumer culture are continually insightful and highly influential to each ensuing generation of artists and activists. Celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the first Situationist International, project space New General Catalog in Brooklyn, NY is presenting The Guy Debord Show, a month-long web program being broadcast to and from the gallery every night at 11:30pm Eastern Central Time. Fittingly, the press release specifically points out that it airs "following Fox News," the hyper-conservative American program. The first broadcast was November 5th and until November 30th each night will feature an hour of the "best Situationist-inspired performance/action." Curated by Trong G. Nguyen, some of the featured artists include Art Hijack 2.0, Fluff Constructivists, Eh-Team, Shit TV, and UFO Factory, to name a few. No doubt a spectacle in its own right, this project promises nightly ideological disruptions and a 50th anniversary gift far more valuable than the traditional gold...

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Oh, Pretty Things...

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I was a bright-eyed 20-year old the first time I encountered the work of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake. The year was 2000 and I walking through the Whitney Biennial. The work in question was The History of Glamour, a digital animation by Duncan and Blake that was something of a pseudo-rockumentary exploring the excesses and dangers of celebrity, through the guise of Charles Valentine, a teen singer and her rise to stardom. In hindsight, it is sadly poignant that the couple's tragic demise would embody so many aspects of the salacious celebrity arc that they set out to critique then. While speculation about the reasons behind these events will ensue for years to come, their death this past summer was certainly a great loss for the art world. Blake's New York gallery Kinz, Tillou, and Feigen (KTF) is opening a Memorial Exhibition from November 10th to January 5th. The show will include wall works and a retrospective of 21 animated films, screening throughout each day. Blake's last project before his death was Glitterbest, a collaborative portrait of cultural icon Malcom Mclaren. Incomplete at the time of his passing, documentation of the project will also be shown. - David Michael Perez

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Tag, We're it!

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Peter Plagens started it in this month's Art in America, then Kriston Capps from Grammar.Police picked it up and passed it on to Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City (and Jen Bekman, Jeffry Cudlin, Global Warming Your Cold Heart, Hungry Hyaena, Modern Kicks, and Arthur Whitman), who then passed it on to me (as well as artist Martin Bromirski of http://www.anaba.blogspot.comAnaba, editor of ArtCal Zine Bosko Blagojevic, MTAA, James Wagner and Barry Hoggard of bloggy). 'It' is a series of questions posed to a few art bloggers on the differences between art writing in blog form and other forms of art journalism. And while not all the questions are relevant to Rhizome's blog practice, in the interest of keeping it going, I thought I'd take a stab at answering at least a few of them.

What's the purpose of your blog?

In contrast to some of the other blogs that have responded to these questions, Rhizome, is at its very base, a non-profit organization. Which, in this case, means it has institutional support, members, and staff, all of whom give the organization and--by extension--this blog a strong sense of purpose. Namely, to highlight exhibitions, activities, and artists either directly or in some cases peripherally involved in the field of media art, and to be a sort of 'community amplifier' for both pioneering internet artists and emerging media artists that comprise the Rhizome community. Aside from this, I personally think what most sets Rhizome's blog apart from other contemporary art blogs is that it is located within its own history as an active and international platform for art and debate. It has a built-in audience that has for years both presented and critiqued work in the same platform. So, in ...

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Press Enter to Continue

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When looking at the program of exhibitions, screenings, conferences, and performances at Enter3, the third international festival for art, sciences, and technologies being held in Prague this week, you could be forgiven for thinking that every square inch of the Czech Republic capital is being dedicated to the event. Indeed, it is an impressively massive festival, pouring over with innovative projects. The festival is split into three different portions, the first being the EnterMultimediale that contains the exhibitions and performances and accounts for the bulk of the festival. Many of the projects have a political and/or environmental interest, including Beatriz da Costa's 'PigeonBlog' which uses homing pigeons equipped with miniature air pollution sensing devices to map the air quality levels through the city. Meanwhile, performance artist Stelarc's 'Ear on Arm' project, wherein an extra ear is being constructed on his arm, is in a radical space all its own. Perhaps indicitve of the exhibition, EnterMultimediale's ever-shifting and non-hierarchized website is a great example of rhizomatic design (just refresh a few times if it isn't clear why). The MutaMorphosis portion is a three-day academic conference exploring everything from Extremophiles to Mutaphobia. Lastly, the Kampa Museum will exhibit Point - Line - Universe, a retrospective on Frank J. Malina. As someone who pioneered the exploratory interstices of science and art, as well as founding the Leonardo organization, Malina best exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of the festival.


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Developing Histories

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This week in Berlin, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt hosts Re:Place The Second International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology. Re:Place is the follow up to Re:fresh, a similar conference that took place at the Banff Center in the fall of 2005, which hosted many of the biggest brains in new media art practice and academia. Together these two conferences represent an academic institutionalization of new media art and new media art history. But as the title of this conference would suggest, it is not a rigid canonization. The artists, art historians, and curators, are all presenting papers with an aim towards developing and unearthing multiple 'histories'--narratives that take into account geographic, economic, and gender diversity. Out of what is sure to be a multitude of excellent papers, this need for diverse voices and experience will be directly addressed by the always thought-provoking Erkki Huhtamo from UCLA, who will present a paper addressing Western biases in the history of media art. This said, it is likely that many of the presenters from Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, Asia and Africa will articulate the reality of these histories even more convincingly. - Caitlin Jones

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Background Check

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With Brody Condon's second solo show, titled Three Modifications, opening at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York City this week, l thought I'd take the opportunity to do a little Rhizome-based background research. Condon, an early practitioner in the 'game art' genre, gained much recognition through his work with the collective c-level and his often cited piece 'Adam Killer.' Subverting expectations of the first person shooter game 'Half Life,' Condon inserted and then killed (over and over) an avatar of his friend Adam--to gruesome yet beautifully kaleidoscopic effect. 'Adam Killer' is an important example of this type of game hack and also happens to be part of Rhizome's ArtBase (and the subject of numerous discussion threads on Rhizome, including a great interview with Jonah Brucker-Cohen). For the new work in Three Modifications, Condon exploits his game engine tinkering to more aesthetic ends. Formally comparing the visual similarities between the realistic yet highly stylized look of contemporary 3-D video games with those of 15th Century Flemish painting, Condon raises issues of representation, iconography, and multi-dimensionality. And as always, through his use of the game engine and his "self playing" games, he frustrates our desire for interaction, forcing us instead to participate through meditation, as opposed to physical action.

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Yield to Total Elation

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The fluid contemporary art medium that is the World Wide Web is also an omnipresent interface that touches on almost every aspect of our lives. As such, when a site is composed a bit too conservatively it can be easy to ignore. To explore the full spectrum of the internet medium, it is always good to crank it up to 11 and kick out the virtual jams now and again. For those who enjoy total perceptual immersion it is time to rejoice in Triptych.TV, the new web project by Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Subculture. The same artists responsible for Screenfull.net and Disco-nnect here carry over their aesthetic, which is both primal and futuristic. To call the project a sonic and visual assault would be an understatement. Upon entering the site videos and gifs of skulls, snakes, weapons, and other ecstatically puerile images jump out and build into a crescendo of noise that must be experienced to be understood. This island of Dionysian ecstasy is a testament to the more immediate pleasures of net art.

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Chance Meetings

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The Emily Harvey Foundation, named after the important gallerist and champion of avant garde and fluxus artists, is opening a new space in lower Manhattan tonight. With Programming Chance, a group-show curated by James Fuentes, the space looks to be off to an impressive start. A refreshingly historical mixture, the show's "unifying principal in the work exhibited is having been created by means of a computer or machine." Had all the work been made in the last year, this would be a rather mundane and forgone conclusion, but with works by John Cage, Jean Dupuy, and Ken Knowlton dating from the 1960s coupled with contemporary works, this directive is uniquely significant. First published in 1968, Fluxus artist Alison Knowles's 'House of Dust' is a computerized poem, consisting of "quatrains resulting from randomly generated permutations: 'a house of' (list material), (list location) (list light source) (list inhabitants)." Of course, no exhibit exploring chance would be complete without the work of John Cage, and I'-Ching Hexagram' (1967), his computer generated work inspired by philosophy of the I-Ching text is included. Meanwhile, NY based artist Aaron Young's new "burnout" paintings will be on display, wherein he has ridden a motorcycle over aluminum in an act of machismo that would make Richard Serra blush. Young, like all the artists involved, has a wider interest though--namely the beguiling paradox of improvisation in the otherwise highly-calibrated machine age.


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