Posts for December 2009

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...


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 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


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:


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


Usman Haque, Primal Source, 2009

Jo-Anne Green is Co-Director of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., a small, not-for-profit experimental arts organization whose current projects include, Networked_Performance, Networked_Music_Review, Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art) and Upgrade! Boston. She is also an artist, writer, curator, and Adjunct Faculty at Emerson College.

Helen Thorington is Founder and Co-Director of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. She is a sound artist and radio producer whose works have been aired internationally and received numerous prestigious awards. Helen has also created compositions for film and dance, including the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company. She has exhibited, performed, published and lectured world-wide.

► "Natural Fuse" by Haque Design + Research

► "Tantalum Memorial" by Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji on Network Research

► "Video Vortex" Institute for Network Cultures

► V_2 Test_Lab: Intimate Interfaces

► fibreculture #14: Web 2.0: Before, during and after the event

► NomadicMilk: Nigeria 2009

► Public Sphere_s by Steve Dietz on Medien Kunst Netz

► "Primal Source" by Usman Haque on Interactive

► "" by Burak Arikan

► Vague Terrain 15: microsound


Top 5 - 10


Image from There I Fixed It

Jonah Brucker-Cohen is a researcher, artist, professor and writer. His writing has appeared in numerous international publications including WIRED Magazine, Make Magazine, Neural, Rhizome, Art Asia Pacific, Gizmodo and more, and his work has been shown at events such as DEAF (03,04), Art Futura (04), SIGGRAPH (00,05), UBICOMP (02,03,04), CHI (04,06) Transmediale (02,04,08), NIME (07), ISEA (02,04,06,09), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (04), Whitney Museum of American Art's ArtPort (03), Ars Electronica (02,04,08), Chelsea Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (04-5),Museum of Modern Art (MOMA - NYC)(2008), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (2008). He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Networking and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG), Trinity College Dublin. He is an adjunct assistant professor of communications at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and in the Media, Culture, Communication dept of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development.

2009 was an important year for the Internet as a whole. The advent of web 2.0 and "crowdsourcing" initiatives has enabled a much richer array of content from users who might never have ventured onto the Internet in previous years. My top 10 sites for this year cover a wide range of topics from art made for mobile devices with to evidence of both information saturation with Information Aesthetics and physical and pseudo intellectual abundance with This is Why You're Fat and There I Fixed It, to strange observances of mistakes in the public realm with Fail Blog. In addition to these crowdsourced content sites, I also see some ongoing potential with artist-created sites such as Brett Domino's lowtech approach to music making ...


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Top 5 - 10


Image from Digital Folklore Reader

Caitlin Jones is the Executive Director of the Western Front Society in Vancouver, BC. Prior to this appointment she had a combined curatorial and conservation position at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and was the Director of Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York. A key member of the Variable Media Network, Caitlin has also been responsible for developing important tools and policy for the preservation of electronic and ephemeral artworks. She has been a contributor to Rhizome and her other writings have appeared in a wide range of exhibition catalogues, periodicals and other international publications.

► The Real Thing« curated by VVORK
VVORK taking it to the next level.

► Donk -- Music World.
Never thought I would be so into something that Vice Magazine was responsible for, but this documentary is fantastic. Thanks Michael Bell-Smith for telling me about it.

► The Bichon Frisé in Art @ Art since the Summer 69

► See This Sound
One of the best "historical" shows I've seen in years.

► Digital Folklore Reader
(full disclosure, I worked as an editor on this book)
Smart, original and has unicorns on the cover.
Edited by Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied
Designed by Manuel Buerger
Texts and projects by: Cory Arcangel, Julia Böger, Manuel Buerger, Helene Dams, Dragan Espenschied, Jörg Frohnmayer, Mark Grimm, Christopher Heller, Yunchul Kim, Dennis Knopf, Stefan Krappitz, Florian Kröner, Tobias Leingruber, Olia Lialina, Leo Merz, Bernadette Neuroth, o+ro, johannes p osterhoff, Isabel Pettinato, Michael Ruß, Theo Seemann, Alexander Schlegel, Bert Schutzbach, Siegfried Zielinsky


Top 5 - 10


zipper_naGF.gif GIANT FUNNEL gif

Raphaël Bastide is a freelance graphic designer and artist.

► The web web
thewebweb is a net art website in seven acts.
The balance between Internet mythology and new html technology (canvas & js) is perfect.
By Anton Gerasimenko, Sergey Chikuyonok, Kostya Loginov, Showpanorama, Vladislav Yakovlev, Natasha Klimchuk, Kate Malykh, Sergey Filippov, Andrey Zubrilov, Anton Schnaider, Vasily Dubovoy

► Webjam
<~ ~> surfing club

► Avastard by Carlo Lowfi
A great piece with Twitter avatars.

The question about archive when visit really matters.

One of my favorite 2009 exhibition. The way they expose net art in real life was for me inspiring.
Photo gallery

► Mybiennalisbetterthanyours
A Fresh net art overview for 2009 by Tolga Taluy

► Ben Schumacher
Especially his piece 0%

► Junk Jet
A nerdy fanzine discovered in 2009.

The feed I should take on a desert island.