Posts for 2011

Tomorrow at the New Museum: The Kill Screen Dialogues


Image from Mary Flanagan's [boarders]. Courtesy of the artist.


Rhizome New Silent Series event: The Kill Screen Dialogues

Tomorrow // Dec 16, 2011 // 7:00pm at the New Museum

$6 Rhizome Members, $8 General Public // Purchase tickets

When are games more than games? When they are communicating with others?

Although videogames are bigger than ever, they are often perceived as cultural silos and not in conversation with other art forms or cultures. In conjunction with videogame arts and culture company Kill Screen, Rhizome invites you to an evening of conversations between game designers and new media artists. Divided into three mini-conversations, the talks will explore three areas: artificial intelligence, with Dave Mark and Mary Flanagan; the feeling of digital objects, with Tabor Robak and Katherine Isbister; and games as space, with Casey Reas and Andy Nealen.


Katherine Isbister is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment between the NYU Game Center and NYU-Poly's Computer Science Department. She is Research Director of the Game Innovation Lab at NYU-Poly, where she focuses on designing games that heighten social and emotional connections for players, toward innovating design theory and practice. Isbister's work has been featured in Wired, Scientific American, on NPR's Science Friday, as well as in many game development and scholarly venues.

Mary Flanagan is interested in subjectivity in digital media artifacts and in the ways in which play affects everyday life; she has made game-related artwork for over a decade. Her work has exhibited internationally at venues including the Laboral, The Whitney, SIGGRAPH, Beall Center, Postmasters, Steirischer Herbst, Ars Electronica, Artist's Space, The Guggenheim, Incheon Digital Arts Festival, and others. Flanagan’s research with her game lab has been deeply concerned with novel game design and her theories of "critical play" and “collaborative strategy” games ...


Ben Fino-Radin Rhizome's Digital Conservator on Supporting Preservation


Ensuring that a piece of software will always work; capturing the subtleties of aging technology; extracting content from the clutches of closed platforms – none of these are simple feats, yet this is what Rhizome does on a daily basis. Since the ArtBase was founded in 1999, it has grown to become one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of it's kind. Today, the ArtBase is a free collection providing documentation and access to over 2,500 art works spanning nearly two decades. We need your continued support to keep the ArtBase free, open and permanent - Please make a contribution today!

I joined Rhizome this past August, and it has truly been a pleasure to become part of a team that is saving a significant moment in art history from the void. We work hard every day to ensure that future generations will be able to study the work of our time.

Thanks to your support the following is only a tiny selection of what we have accomplished recently:

• Archive and restore lost video assets to Lev Manovich's "Little Movies" (1994)

• Restore access to "VVEBCAM" (2007) by Petra Cortright, after it was censored and removed by YouTube

• Support new additions to the collection, including Travess Smalley, Esther Hunziker, Richard Vijgen, Mouchette, Dave Gerber, Sterling Crispin, and Andrew Norman Wilson just to name a few recent additions

• Begin collaborations with online exhibition spaces to archive and preserve their output

Simply put, we are only able to do this because of your continued support. The fact is we can't do it without you.  Your donation today enables Rhizome to be a greater advocate for the preservation of a unique moment of art history. With your support, we can take bigger steps toward solving the complex challenges posed by preserving digital ephemera. On behalf of everyone at Rhizome, and on behalf of the artists whose work we preserve, I hope you will consider making a contribution to our Campaign today!



Artist Profile: Ofri Cnaani


A number of your works deal quite complexly with preexisting texts, from the Talmud to Jorge Luis Borges. What are your textual sources and how do they shape your sense of narrative and the "backstory" in your art?

I started reading talmud legends at quite a young age. There's a long tradition of working with mythology, namely Greek and Roman mythology and the public's command of these stories is quite amazing. I'm not a scholar and my knowledge of these stories is not organized; I am interested in the fact that these legends are rooted in a dialectic tradition. Almost all of these stories written at a certain time in history and arise from a tradition of "What if?". Two scholars would sit and discuss a subject, and then take an extreme case study, the answer to which will take the form of a story. So the structure of the discussion is polemical but the answer is always a narrative, which is something so beautiful and rare. These stories are short, ten or fifteen lines long, and like all good mythology they include a lot of happening as well as a dark side and a certain level of  "the impossible" in their relationship to reality. Like Zeus falling in love with Leda, coming down from the Olympus as a swan, making love to her and her then giving birth to an egg—and it all makes sense. 

The world is comprised in the kind of fashion that it all makes sense. And it works that way in what I call Jewish mythology, too. I really love this structure of taking one coded text and deconstructing it as a way of studying it. Even though I worked with mythology in the past, I never thought I'd work ...


Tauba Auerbach at Bergen Kunsthall


Tauba Auerbach has long worked with different types of book production. Recently these have developed into independent sculptural works that continue Auerbach’s research on multidimensionality and the importance of colour for spatiality. She presents several new book sculptures in this exhibition, and in a way these function as manuals for thinking about the project by constantly revolving around the question “How can we imagine what is impossible to sense?”

Although Auerbach draws much of her inspiration from mathematics and physics, her visual investigations deal equally with the basic themes of art history. Her paintings raise fundamental issues in new ways, among them the depiction of three-dimensional reality on a two-dimensional surface, and the relationship between abstraction and representation.

Tauba Auerbach at Bergen Kunsthall via Contemporary Art Daily


Rhizome Community Campaign: A Message from Jason Scott


"Of the many forms of artistic expression, digital works are among the most easily preserved, and the most fragile. Easily preserved, because with a simple digital copy across media or networks the artworks are duplicated perfectly. And yet also fragile, because the nature of computers and technology ensure constant change, shifting standards, and a propensity to make that which came before unusable and unworkable.

The efforts of Rhizome and its ArtBase project are to recognize this environment and work with it, not in spite of it or ignoring it. By capturing what they can of digital works, bringing in statements and context of the artist and art, and making this effort publicly available, they ensure a greater longevity and audience for all the items in their archives. While nothing lasts forever, the short and sometimes obscure life of born-digital works can be extended with attention, passion and effort, which this group provides." - Jason Scott

To support Rhizome and the ArtBase, make a contribution today – become a member to renew and receive a limited edition artwork as a thank you gift!

Jason Scott is an American archivist and historian of technology. He is the creator, owner and maintainer of, a web site which archives files from historic bulletin board systems. He is also the creator of a 2005 documentary film about BBSes, BBS: The Documentary, and a 2010 documentary film about interactive fiction, GET LAMP. Recently Scott has taken a position as Adjunct Archivist at the Internet Archive.



RECOMMENDED READING: Maximal Nation by Simon Reynolds


Simon Reynolds (author of Retromania) writes a long essay considering "maximalism" in electronic music starting with the "awake" sounds of Rustie's Glass Swords: "The overall effect of pulling from all these different phases in the evolution of electronic music technology is a fiesta of retro-futures: as if flashing back simultaneously to all the moments when a bunch of new machines changed the sound of music could somehow redeliver that original shock of the now. But there's no melancholy for a "lost future," just delirious reiteration, thrilling overkill."

Compared with the analog hardware that underpinned early house and techno, the digital software used by the vast majority of dance producers today has an inherent tendency towards maximalism. In an article for Loops, Matthew Ingram (who records as Woebot) wrote about how digital audio workstations like Ableton Live and FL Studio encourage "interminable layering" and how the graphic interface insidiously inculcates a view of music as "a giant sandwich of vertically arranged elements stacked upon one another." Meanwhile, the software's scope for tweaking the parameters of  any given sonic event  opens up a potential "bad infinity" abyss of fiddly fine-tuning. When digital software meshes with the minimalist aesthetic you get what Ingram calls "audio trickle": a finicky focus on sound-design, intricate fluctuations in rhythm, and other minutiae that will be awfully familiar to anyone who has followed mnml or post-dubstep during the last decade. But now that same digital technology is getting deployed to opposite purposes: rococo-florid riffs, eruptions of digitally-enhanced virtuosity, skyscraping solos, and other "maxutiae," all daubed from a palette of fluorescent primary colors. Audio trickle has given way to audio torrent-- the frothing extravagance of fountain gardens in the Versailles style


I got quite a long way into this piece before discovering that the term "digital ...


YouTube Censors Petra Cortright, But 'VVEBCAM' Lives on in the Rhizome ArtBase


RIP 2007-2011 – 65,403 views

On Saturday December 10th 2011, Petra Cortright received an email stating that a video of hers had been flagged by a member of the YouTube Community. The automatically generated email said that upon review it was verified that the video did indeed violate the terms of the YouTube Community Guidelines and has thus been removed. The video in question, titled "VVEBCAM" was uploaded to YouTube in 2007. It has exhibited internationally, is discussed in several new media and contemporary art texts, and is taught in academic curricula.

The video, likely known to most readers, features Cortright mundanely clicking through the stock effects of a $20 webcam, gazing bored into the screen of her computer, trance playing in the background. Far from offensive content. The violation lies in Cortright's use of keywords. The video description contained 733 keywords, ranging from "tits, vagina, sex, nude, boobs" to "san francisco, diego, jose, puto, taco bell, border patrol, mcdonalds, KFC, kentucky fried chicken, trans fat".

Cortright told us over email that she appealed the decision. She explained to YouTube that the video and its contents were part of an original artwork. She referenced interviews that have explained the importance of the use of "spam" in the video's description. Four hours later her appeal was denied, and the video now has ceased to exist on YouTube. The work is also defunct on the artists website, where the video was embedded via YouTube.

Thankfully Rhizome has recently archived VVEBCAM in the ArtBase. We worked with Cortright to create an archival representation of the work as it existed on her site. We have replaced the broken YouTube video with an HTML5 player that references local files and emulates (at least approximately) the look and feel of the original YouTube player.



PRISMA 1666 - Wonwei and Super Nature Design (2011)



In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton conducted a famous experiment that has been widely considered as a landmark discovery in the study of optics and color theory. Inspired by this discovery, PRISMA 1666 is an interactive light installation consisting of 15 triangular crystal blocks distributed randomly on a clean white surface. The projection of colorful graphics is refracted and dispersed by these crystal blocks, creating a fascinating visual experience and ambiance. The installation enables interaction with the projected colors, angles, and shapes through a touch interface, creating an opportunity to experiment with these elements like Isaac Newton did so many years before us.

The installation is a collaboration between Wonwei and Shanghai-based design studio Super Nature Design. It was first exhibited at the 2011 International Science and Art Exhibition in Shanghai where it received the Best Creative Design Award. 

via i like this art


If Facebook, Google Plus, and YouTube Were Built in 1997....


Three important contemporary web sites,
recreated with technology and spirit of late 1997,
according to our memories.

Best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4.03 and a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels, running under Windows 95. We recommend using a Virtual Machine or appropriate hardware, connected to a CRT monitor. If such an environment unachievable, it should be possible to experience the piece with any browser that still supports HTML Frames. The transfer speed of our server is limited to 8 kB/s («dial-up» speed).

olia & dragan, December 2011


Rhizome Community Campaign: Brody Condon


We're midway through Rhizome's Community Campaign! Thank you to all of our supporters who've contributed so far! To mark the occasion, we are pleased to announce two, new limited edition artworks from Brody Condon now available during the Campaign! 

In this series of limited edition prints donated by Condon, images from fantasy and science fiction illustrations confront strange, haunted geometries.

Experimental Ethnography (2011)

Cats Green (2010)

Condon is an artist based in New York. His work frequently incorporates modified computer and role-playing games to explore the obsession with fantasy in contemporary culture. In the past year, he has staged exhibitions and performances at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, CCS Bard Hessel Museum, NY, Moderna Galerija Ljubljana, Slovenia, LevelFive Liverpool, UK, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, among other spaces.

Become a member or join today to receive a limited edition artwork of your choice.