Posts for 2009

Image Effects


In Harun Farocki’s latest work, Immersion (2009), at London’s Raven Row in its current show ‘Harun Farocki. Against What? Against Whom?’, a US soldier from the Iraq war, coaxed on by a therapist and aided by virtual simulation, relives the experience of a reconnaissance mission in which a mistake he committed led to his partner’s death. The film, as does much of Farocki’s astoundingly relevant and astute catalogue of film and media installation work, investigates overlaps between military and industrial production - here, the use of technology pioneered in the video game/entertainment industry to treat post-traumatic stress disorder - and, most importantly, the role of the image in this negotiation.

Farocki has been making films since the late 1960s and can be labelled a critical film-essayist - a broad category drawn to include other European filmmakers such as Straub-Huillet, Chris Marker, Alexander Kluge and Jean-Luc Godard, and, latterly, younger filmmakers such as Hito Steyerl, who were or are invested in film as a mode of political and economic critique, and whose films operate mainly through the montage of footage of different provenance and the collision of word and image. Farocki is perhaps unique among these peers for his insistent focus on the image in its historical and real-world relevance - that is, in aesthetic but also ethical terms - and as a changing site of technology. The intensity of his interest and the breadth of conclusions he draws became all the more clear throughout the course of London’s two concurrent retrospectives devoted to his work this past November. While Raven Row’s program, organised by the foundation’s director, Alex Sainsbury, focused on the multi-screen and installation work that Farocki began making in the mid-1990s, when he began showing in an art world context, Tate Modern hosted a program of his films from 1968 to 2009, curated by Stuart Comer, Antje Ehmann and the Otolith Group, which took an explicitly retrospective stance towards his work. (The majority of the films from this program are available on DVD at Raven Row.)


Top 5 - 10


Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt

Jenny Jaskey is Rhizome's Curatorial Fellow

It's no secret that the internet, particularly with the help of social media, has birthed a whole new kind of celebrity. Here are a few of the highlights from the past year that demonstrate the power of viral media and the changing face of fame.

► Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt
In early Summer 2009, a t-shirt featuring three wolves howling at the moon appeared on The Customer Reviews got a lot of attention (there are 1,598 to date), and by October the shirt made its first celebrity appearance on The Office. Three Wolf Moon is now a souvenir of itself.

► Tavi: The New Girl in Town
Her blog has been around since 2008, but Tavi’s had a big year, the thirteen-year old pixie fashion blogger recently appeared on the cover of Editor Dasha Zhukova’s debut edition of Pop Magazine. She is one of the most sought-after editorial voices in fashion and has not yet finished eighth grade.

► Susan Boyle
In April, Susan Boyle appeared on “Britain’s Got Talent.” The 47-year old, who says she lives with her cat Pebbles and has never been kissed, performed the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. When the clip appeared on YouTube, there were over 100 million views within the first weeks, making it one of the top Internet videos of all time.

► Kanye West
Kanye’s unforgettable appearance at the 2009 VMAs sparked a host of memes and memes within memes. Even Obama weighed in on the issue.

The event that started it all:


Top 5 - 10


Image: From Jon Rafman's Google Street Views

Brian Droitcour is a writer, curator, and Russian-to-English translator. From 2002 to 2007 he lived in Moscow, where he covered art for The Moscow Times and Artchronika, a Russian monthly magazine. In 2008 he moved to New York, where he started working for Rhizome, first as curatorial fellow, then as staff writer. As a translator he's worked on several exhibition catalogues and art anthologies.

Jon Rafman's Google Street Views and the accompanying essay he wrote for Art Fag City's IMG MGMT series are sure to get several well-deserved mentions in end-of-the-year lists. Tom Moody on Google Street Views: "Jon Rafman's gathering of images from Google Street Views isn't really collecting at all but solid, groundbreaking journalism. Obviously untold hours were spent perusing this recent-but-everyday tool for images in very specific, focused categories. Photos that look like art photos, photos of mishaps, photos showing the success and failure of Google's face-blurring software, photos that show class issues in a supposedly 'universal' product (the down and out are more likely to be photographed unsympathetically than the up and in). As much as one hates to see more attention paid to the monopoly that aspires to put the happy face on Big Brother, this is worthwhile, thoughtful research." Kool-Aid Man in Second Life is a distorted twin to Google Street Views, another set of screen captures singling out accidental beauty and quirks of surveillance, only this time in a fantasy world that lets Rafman personify his searching gaze in a pitcher of fruit drink.

кремль.рф (kremlin.rf) won't go live until early next year, but the Russian presidential administration's new Cyrillic URL already made waves last month, when Russia became the first country to register top-level ...


Top 5 - 10


The World Series Of 'Tubing - Jeff Crouse & Aaron Meyers

Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer with an active interest in the intersection of space and media. He is co-editor of the digital arts publication Vague Terrain and blogs at Serial Consign.

Five 2009 projects that deal with the translation of online experience into environments, events, artifacts and performance.

► World Series of 'Tubing - Jeff Crouse & Aaron Meyers
The everyday action of "favoriting" online media is expanded into a participatory game show (video above). A pair of contestants square off by selecting viral videos from YouTube and this media is "played" in an augmented reality card game where a live audience determines the victor. (see Paddy Johnson's adventures as a contestant)

► What my friends are doing on Facebook - Lee Walton
The ubiquitous status update is used to inspire an ongoing series of charming short videos. Banal announcements, everyday routine and the inhabitation of domestic space make for surprisingly entertaining vignettes. (see Walton's vimeo channel to access the entire series and Marisa Olson's writeup from February)

► WOW PoD - Cati Vaucelle, Steve Shada and Marisa Jahn
An architectural testament to the "shut in" tendencies within MMORPG culture, this project creates a playspace that addresses the needs of the player and their avatar. A built in toilet, cookware and food dispensers are hardwired into the World of Warcraft interface underscoring the dedication/obsession demanded by these types of online communities. (See the video documentation of the piece)

► Bicycle Built For 2,000 - Aaron Koblin and Daniel Massey
Updating the 1962 experiment in speech synthesis by John Kelly, Max Mathews and Carol Lockbaum, this project employs the Amazon Mechanical Turk webservice to outsource the production of molecular elements of the song Daisy Bell. The resulting 2,088 voice recordings are reassembled into a strange, bumbling chorus - is this what the future of labor sounds like? (see Peter Kirn's analysis)

► Are you human? - Aram Bartholl
Riffing on the scrambled aesthetics of the CAPTCHA challenge-response test, this project creates real world artifacts out of online protocol. These text objects are deployed in the gallery, as identity document business cards and (most interestingly) on the street amongst the "urban markup" of tagged surfaces.(see photographs of the sculptural objects in the gallery and out in the wild)


Top of the Tops



For the next two weeks, we will be rolling out our year-end round-up of Top 5-10 lists by a host of artists, curators, and critics. The lists are meant to be an overview of almost everything that has appeared online within the last year, from highbrow to lowbrow, from projects that are decidedly art, to wild youtube videos, that haven't decided what they are. As the cheeky title "Top 5-10" implies, the actual ranking process - the hierarchy - wasn’t as important to us as the quality of the links themselves. So, get ready to bookmark! Here we go...


Support Rhizome and Receive Paul Chan's "Sade For Fonts Sake"!



Move over Helvetica. Rhizome is pleased to announce the gift of a limited edition CD by Paul Chan, Sade For Fonts Sake, for Community Campaign donors at the $1,000 level. Sade For Fonts Sake is a special edition data CD containing 21 truetype fonts and a collection of digital artworks. Each CD comes with an accompanying signed print by Chan, exclusive to Rhizome. Inspired by the writings and philosophies of Marquis De Sade, Chan’s fonts transform alphanumeric characters into eroticized phrases. Donors at this level also will become members of the Rhizome Council.



Inversion (2005) - Dan Havel and Dean Ruck






Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, Inversion, 2005 (Source: DesignVerb!)

The project Inversion will transform two Art League houses on the corner of Montrose Boulevard and Willard Street. The Art League offered Havel and Ruck the old studio buildings before they are demolished this spring making way for a new Art League building.



Tunnel (2004) - Marjolijn Dijkman





This intervention consists of a tunnel build through the gallery space that transformed the non-public space of the gallery into a public space. By removing one of the windows at the front and a garage door at the back we allowed twenty-four hour access through the tunnel. The design of the tunnel was strongly related to the space’s architecture- which is why there was a long narrow section, a very narrow corner, and a wide section. There were still areas which were not accessible-one of these was visible through a window at the front of the gallery and another, which was only accessible for the audience, could be accessed through the front door. In the gallery’s office, where the owner usually received visitors, there was no control over the space via the tunnel. In the three weeks that the tunnel was public it was decorated with graffiti-the public used the tunnel to a far greater extent than we had anticipated.



Tunnel Vision (2004) - Jasper van den Brink


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Video projection in which motorist and passer-by go through a special experience. I mounted a videocamera on the rotating part of a cement mixer truck and drove it back and forth through the Y-tunnel in Amsterdam endlessly. The result is a totally disorienting projection causing the motorist to never be able to drive and look through Y-tunnel again as he used to. This video was projected on a large screen on the Mediamatic building located next to the Y-tunnel.



Push / Pull (my luck is your misfortune) (2006) - Pascual Sisto