Just over one month remains until the close of our annual Community Campaign. We are seeking support for our online programs in 2008, including our daily art coverage, in-depth criticism, discussion forums, artist commissions and online exhibitions. Like all our efforts, these programs are underlined by our mission to encourage and expand new media art practices and discourse. We are calling on our community -- all those who read or participate in Rhizome year-round -- to make a contribution during this critical Campaign. Become a member ($25) or make an additional donation and receive a special limited edition artwork as a thank you gift. Help us keep Rhizome's online real estate running strong!
From 1974-1993 WGBH Boston's 'New Television Workshop' supported the creation and broadcast of works for television by an extensive and illustrious group of artists. Nam June Paik not only created a number of his influential videos there, including '9/23/69 Experiment with David Atwood' (who was a WGBH engineer), but also with Japanese engineer Shuya Abe he created the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer--a major development not only for Paik's work but for the entire medium. Other artists to pass through the workshop included Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Peter Campus, Stan Vanderbeek, and Bill Viola. Following in the footsteps of this important program is the WGBH Lab, which provides tools and broadcast access for a new generation of media artists. They offer a 'Filmmaker in Residence' program as well as the 'Sandbox' service that gives users free access to WGBH stock footage. For their new program, 'Open Call,' WGBH is teaming up with the National Black Programming Consortium, inviting 'pitches' from filmmakers and new media artists for projects which address current and historical issue of race in creative and relevant ways. Encouraging alternative approaches to narrative and broadcast, 'Open Call' and the WGBH Lab are progressively engaging in a multitude of issues relevant in contemporary media production and reception. These efforts are a timely and welcome reminder of the supportive potential of the Public Broadcasting System, and that public television isn't solely for the historical films of Ken Burns, but is also relevant to the diverse range media makers and issues of the present. - Caitlin Jones
Like it or not, advertising has become a deeply entrenched part of our online experience. Ads--moving, still, or blinking--sit alongside our news, our email, and our Facebook profiles. If you find this visual bombardment less than pleasing, one of the 2008 Rhizome Commissions should be able to help you out. Developed by Steve Lambert with Evan Harper, Addart is a Firefox extension that replaces ad content on given websites with original artworks from a predetermined database. More than just blocking adds like other available 'ad blockers,' with 'AddArt' every two weeks a selection of five to eight artworks (chosen by invited curators) will be available to you. This is not Steve Lambert's first shot at the plight of omnipresent advertising. He is the CEO of The Anti-Advertising Agency and with GRL (Graffiti Research Labs) they recently created Light Criticism, a creative 'rebranding' of some of New York City's LCD screens. The Bus Stop Bench Project worked to the same effect, by covering Oakland city bus stop benches with original artwork, Lambert addressed the passive ways through which we constantly receive images, and highlighted the ease through which this power can be harnessed for good.
As one of the most celebrated compositions of avant-garde music, John Cage's 4' 33" (1952) has been appropriated and performed by countless musicians in a myriad of contexts. The underlying concept behind the work is that in a stretch of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of 'silence,' the listener is enveloped in the non-silence of our sonic environment. The deeply imaginative artist Katie Paterson actually produced 'silence' in her own rendition of the work where she projected the composition onto the surface on the moon, never to be returned. As in other works, she used Earth-Moon-Earth (E.M.E.) technique, "a form of radio transmission whereby messages are sent in morse-code from earth, reflected from the surface of the moon, and then received back on earth." The composition was projected from Japan on November 23rd and is the most recent example of Paterson's complexly poetic work. For a forthcoming show at the space ROOM in London, she will exhibit Langjokull, Snefellsjokull, Solheimajokull, a video performance of 3 different field recordings of glaciers in Iceland, played simultaneously on turntables. Using a very sensitive casting technique, the water from those same glaciers was pressed into the very records and then frozen. With the needle catching on the last loop of the 'records,' they are played for nearly two hours until they melt completely; a meditation on what the artist calls 'geological time.' With such elegiac projects, Paterson exhibits Cage's sublime sense of wonder perhaps better than any other contemporary artist.
'The future ain't what it used to be.' So said Yogi Berra, and so too say artists Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead (of the British duo Thomson and Craighead) in a recent interview in the quarterly web journal Vague Terrain. Looking forward through the lens of history is one of the many strands that runs through the work Thomson and Craighead. Their early online work, Trigger Happy (which is included in Rhizome's Artbase), is a 'mashup' of Roland Barthes's 'Death of the Author' essay and the vintage arcade game 'Space Invaders.' The piece reflects the range of historical influence on new media art. Automated Beacon, a live stream of internet search queries, juxtaposes ideas of immediacy and desire from a distanced perspective, while Light From Tomorrow literally sends light from the future into the present by working across time zones. Flat Earth is a new animation created in conjunction with the UK's Channel Four Television. Billed as a 'desktop documentary,' the piece compiles texts from blogs and freely-available satellite imagery to create a narrative slice of our world, now, and what is soon to be our past. Whether embracing the old to reflect the new or vice versa, Thomson and Craighead play not only with the critical tensions between past, present, and future, but also the role of technology within that timeline.
The northern Italian city of Turin will be a hotbed of generative art this weekend, for the second annual C.Stem festival. While the fest is generally dedicated to 'the applications of electronic systems in cultural and artistic fields,' this year's focus is on the conceptual and creative aspects of generative systems, particularly in relation to graphic design and auditory culture. In a project that would make graffiti writer and theorist Ramellzee proud, artist Michael Schmitz explores the relationship between typography and genetics in GynoTyp, asking if font types can reproduce themselves through generative systems. In a complementary project, Spanish artist Ricard Marxer Pinon's Caligraft uses digital systems to create computational calligraphies. Similar Diversity is a rather stunning and thought-provoking project by Andreas Koller and Philipp Steinweber using Processing and VVVV software to present an 'information graphic which opens up a new perspective (of) religion and faith by visualizing the Holy Books of five world religions.' Never forgetting that the digital revolution needs to dance too, Valerio Spoletini will perform with his V-Scratch program on the opening night. Accompanying turntables, it visually responds to the motion of the record player and movements of the DJ in a generative merger of sound and vision. These are but a few of the exciting projects in a diverse and timely festival.
Young Italian artist Alessandro Nassiri brings together the tradition of performance art with the practices of relational aesthetics to stage actions, carried-out by himself or other individuals, that disrupt the conventions of everyday life. Recently he has developed a project for the streets of downtown New York, in which a group of people, wearing white t-shirts with words forming the expression 'coming soon,' created a 'private demonstration.' However, Nassiri gained worldwide recognition with his humorous online project, 'Giubileo degli stagisti' (Jubilee of the Interns). Informed by the fact that most internships in Italy and elsewhere are not paid, he has devised a counter mechanism that converts time into calories and chocolate. For example, 0.22 pounds of chocolate equal 494 calories, which corresponds to 6 hours spent in an office. The global economy, especially in relation to technological advances, is also examined in Nassiri's latest work, which is currently being presented in Piacenza, Italy. 'TR4480C: An Odyssey of the 21st Century' consists of video reportage of the journey that the artist and a friend made between Tirana and Milan. The purpose of the trip was to buy a 1978 Volkswagen Golf and drive it back to Italy, where it resided until 1994. The car was then crashed and its debris is on view at the gallery. Through this documentation, Nassiri shows how goods are exchanged today. As he has put it, 'When we buy a new model, we throw away the old one. Often our used things are sold in other countries. Old buses from Italian cities are now used in Tirana. The motorcycle of the Italian police in the 80s is now the Albanian police's vehicle.' With irony, Nassiri thus questions the prevailing ideologies, foreign policy practices, and financial trends in late capitalist societies. - Miguel Amado
Shiftspace is a project that enables users to create layers on top of the web. Often compared to ambling public parks or recreational areas, these areas allow people to navigate and interact with the web on their own terms, as opposed to the surrounding online territory which, to extend the parks metaphor, can be understood as privately-owned malls. Founded by Mushon Zer-Aviv and Dan Phiffer, Shiftspace was developed in response to the questionable creative freedoms that circumscribe user-generated content. While it ostensibly embodies principles of democratic, grassroots participation, the process of user-generated content is always pre-determined by the site's creator. Shiftspace sets out to subvert these inherent limitations. By downloading the application and pressing the shift and space keys, participants can, in Zer-Aviv and Phiffer's words, "invoke a new meta layer above any web page to browse and create additional interpretations, contextualizations and interventions--which are called 'Shifts'." Rhizome and fellow new media art organization Turbulence provided initial support to Shiftspace; and recently the latter organization, in partnership with the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, gave additional support enabling Shiftspace to distribute 10 grants (for up to $2000) for the creation of new kinds of authoring tools in two categories: 1) Spaces, which allow web users to annotate, modify and shift the content of a page, and 2) Trails, which are maps of shifts (shiftspace content) that create meta-layer navigation across websites. To me, this seems like a win-win proposition. Contribute to the ongoing innovation of a unique, open source project of great vision and potential impact, and have your labor paid for. Why not? Applications are available on the Shiftspace Commissions site. - Lauren Cornell
In an age of Facebook, omnipresent blogs, and camera phones, the charming awkwardness of young love is arguably more transparent, though certainly no less thorny. Digital social networking means that the American teenage heart need not be a lonely hunter. Or at least not as portrayed in Golan Levin's Valentine's Day project, The Dumpster (2006), an interactive online visualization of internet heartbreak. The site extracts real postings from millions of blogs to explore "specific romantic relationships in which one person has 'dumped' another." While this sounds partly tragic, there is a great deal of humanist redemption in viewing how similar our innermost feelings are. Levin will no doubt bring this same sense of hope and wit to his first solo show at Bitforms gallery in New York City, opening Friday November 30th. Levin's illustrious career is too vast to encapsulate and almost reads like the history of interactive software art itself, but suffice it to say he is an artist, composer, performer, and engineer that whimsically presents new ways in which to expressively relate to technology and each other. In the show at Bitforms he will present five new interactive environments that "signal a shift in his interests toward spectatorship and the human gaze as a means of activating visual art experiences." Levin has created work that incorporates its own sense and history of being observed.