Posts for November 2011

Community Campaign 2012 and The Download


Today is the start of Rhizome's Community Campaign, our annual fundraiser that brings in critical operating support to the organization. This year, we are aiming to raise $25,000 by January 14th, 2012 and we ask that you consider making a contribution today to help us meet this goal. 

Why prioritize a gift to Rhizome?

First, there is our broad purpose and function: Rhizome ensures that a vital space for artists engaged with digital and emergent technologies remains open, active, contested, and thriving. Rhizome serves as a focal point — and sometimes a useful flash point — for discourse around this emerging field and, since our founding in 1996, one of its most insistent and impactful advocates.

Finally, our small (4.5 people!) staff acts on our mission by producing an immense amount of programming year-round. Over the past year, we have published nearly 500 articles; preserved numerous works of digital art through the unparalleled ArtBase; financially supported the creation of 11 new artworks through our Commissions Program; and  hosted countless events that have premiered new works and cultivated conversation among artists, curators, critics — all of you.

What distinguishes Rhizome from countless other causes is the large impact we have on emerging artists and an evolving field, and what differentiates us as an arts organization is that one of our biggest sources of support comes from you – our community. A donation from you will help us uphold our mission another year, as well as directly impact our programs.

As a thank you to our supporters, we are offering unique works by artists, such as Anamanaguchi, Extreme Animals, Jon Rafman, DIS, Paul Chan, Joe Hamilton, Ofri Cnaani, and Kärt Ojavee & Eszter Ozsvald.

We are also launching a new benefit of membership: The Download, a program through which we highlight and support one digital, downloadable work for free each month. Part curatorial platform, part incentive to budding digital art collectors, the Download highlights great new works and encourages members to display their new acquisitions at home—viewable on any screen, computer, or suitable device. Participating artists—Ryder Ripps, Sabrina Ratte, Clement Valla, Rick Silva, Elna Frederick, Keith & Mendi Obadike, Kristin Lucas, Heba Amin and more–are compensated directly through the Artist Fund, which is supported by members and Rhizome donors like you. More info here.

Thank you in advance for making a contribution and helping keep Rhizome alive and thriving for another year!

Please donate today!



Paz de la Huerta Plays Michele Abeles


Paz de la Huerta/Michele Abeles

David Velasco writes about Michele Abeles in Artforum (via Brian Droitcour.) Starting with an amusing anecdote about a project involving the Boardwalk Empire star, the piece is a look at the artist's approach to photography, given its changing nature in the digital age:

As if to further disarticulate the usual figure-ground relationship, she’ll often title her photos by rattling off some of their ingredients. The title Number, Lycra, Man, Hand, Rock, M.L., Cardboard concatenates the generic elements of that 2009 image according to the flattened order in which her eye is drawn to them as she scans the composition. The photograph becomes a sort of rebus that could be read out loud. Against photography’s materiality (the indexical trace of light on film) we have an insistence on iconicity, on the fundamental unmooring of picture from reality.

Not only do these pictures subdue the photograph’s material trace, but they also imply the elision of the photographic machine itself. The best example of this is the only one with a face: Sunglasses, Lips, Head, Reflection, 2009, a photo of a dude in pink-camo sunglasses looking at the camera, his odalisque pose reflected in his shades. Abeles and her camera should be reflected in the sunglasses too, but they aren’t. (She shot the photo from behind a panel of mirrored glass.) So it’s like he’s posing for himself, his picture magically taken without anything at all—the disappearance of the apparatus and its operator maybe signaling the eventual obsolescence of the camera in our imagemaking repertoire. We’ll be our own cameras. Of course, the camera is still there. And so is Abeles. They’re just out of the picture.

Some pictures leave the camera behind altogether. Take the ...


Artist Profile: Dave Greber


Dave Greber's The Fool, The Hierophant, The Devil and the Wheel

There's a rather distinct cadence to the way that people communicate in your pieces with characters often having their dialogue cut up, displaced and de-contextualized. It seems to simultaneously give them a stilted, artificial quality but also seems very true to how we're coming to communicate with text messages and the forced brevity of Twitter. Do you think that we're learning to speak from commercials? 

Commercials, in their contemporary form, have their own built-in morality and sanity which are influencing the world in ways we don't fully understand yet.  Is it possible to say anything "true" in the form of a commercial?  Or, is the form, itself, inherently corrupt?  A big-picture goal of my work is to fully harness the effectiveness of capitalist messages, for communication of real value, without satirizing them.  I think we are all going through this struggle as we learn to re-communicate, every few years or so, with each new advent social media.   

It seems that the majority of your videos are presented (even online) as loops - why do you think that you are drawn to the loop as a formal and narrative device?

Much of my work, exists in a sort of purgatory, where beginnings and endings aren't as apparent as in most forms of cinema.  In my experience, exhibiting my work in the form of a linear-narrative leaves audiences baffled and uncomfortable.  But a loop is a much more natural shape for my work.  A loop gives the viewer an opportunity to linger with it if they are intrigued, or leave it behind if they want to.  When I started giving the audience that power, my work became much more effective.   There's a real elegant formal ...


Stop the E-PARASITE Act


CNET has a great analysis of SOPA ("Stop Online Privacy Act"), also known as the E-PARASITE Act ("Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act."): 

House leaders assured Silicon Valley they would correct serious defects in the Senate bill. Unfortunately, SOPA does just the opposite. It creates vague, sweeping new standards for secondary liability, drafted to ensure maximum litigation..

The House bill, for example, dubbed the "E-PARASITE Act," proposes alternative versions of several provisions from Protect IP, including new authority for the attorney general to cut off access and funding for "parasite" foreign Web sites. (SOPA requires the U.S. copyright czar to determine the extent to which these foreign infringers are actually harming U.S. interests, data collection that logically should precede such sweeping new powers.)

Once the Justice Department determines a site "or a portion thereof" is "committing or facilitating" certain copyright and trademark violations, it can apply for court orders that would force ISPs and others who maintain DNS lookup tables to block access to the site.

Search engines (a term broadly defined that includes any website with a "search" field), along with payment processors and advertising networks, can also be forced to cut ties with the parasites. Operators of innocent sites have limited ability to challenge the Justice Department's decision before or after action is taken.

SOPA also includes its own version of another Senate bill, which would make it a felony to stream copyrighted works. The House version allows prosecution of anyone who "willfully" includes protected content without permission, including, for example, YouTube videos where copyrighted music is covered or even played in the background.

While supporters deny that such minimal infractions would meet the bill's definition of "willfully," the actual text suggests otherwise. Prosecutors need only demonstrate ...


Weekend Clicking


Yogi Proctor, Canon (2011) via Border Studies

  • Leigh Alexander writes about Ian Bogost's Facebook satire Cow Clicker that unintentially gained an audience not in on the joke (It was supposed to be silly, insultingly simple, a vacuous waste of time, and a manipulative joke at the expense of its players-–in other words, everything Bogost thought that Facebook games like the Zynga-made hit). The article also discusses his series of "game poems" A Slow Year.
  • What CNN thinks hacking looks like (Betabeat)
  • The Movie Set That Ate Itself. Fascinating story of the ongoing (since 2006) filming of Dau in Ukraine, a massive built to scale undertaking even more absurd than Synecdoche, New York or Tom McCarthy's Remainder, with the "institute" taking strict measures to avoid an inauthenticity or anachronism. Guards even impose fines if you use words that are inauthetic to the time period ("Google" is now "Pravda," as in "Pravda it.") More on writer Michael Idov's Tumblr.
  • The Paris Review considers the "high art fanzine" with one exceptional example. In 1997, Johanna Fateman was the twenty-two year old author of the fanzine Artaud-Mania. (the syphilitic and schizophrenic Artaud, an enfant terrible of French arts and letters, was an unlikely idol for the feminist punk scene that Fateman had been a part of and was reacting against—post–Riot Grrrl publications that rarely ventured beyond subjects like the DIY music scene, grassroots organizing, and personal politics. Her appreciation for Artaud came through artists and writers like Nancy Spero and Kathy Acker. Like them, she was inspired by his fierce articulation of what Spero once termed a “sense of victimhood”; Fateman put it more bluntly when she wrote approvingly that Artaud was a “crazy bitch with male authority.”)
  • QR maleware (via Beyond the Beyond.)
  • A murmuration of starlings ...


Stranger Interactions with Kio Stark


Last month, I visited the BMW Guggenheim Lab for a talk by my friend Kio Stark, author of the novel Follow Me Down. Kio is interested in cities, technology, and intimacy; the intersection of which is explored in the class she teaches at ITP on stranger interactions.

"Cities are machines that produce interactions," she explained at the outdoor lecture hall. While most of us go out of our way to avoid having to acknowledge persons we do not know, she argues the presence of strangers is probably why you live in a city in the first place. "The culture of cities is a culture of strangers." 

Stranger interactions can be emotional and meaningful. Most of us can recall some insight gleaned from a fleeting interaction with someone at a coffee shop or queuing up for a train. Kio says it's actually "good for your brain" to talk with strangers as we become more creative when our frame of references grows wider. Stranger interactions make us more tolerant people, and also expand "our sense of the group we belong to."

She concluded the talk with practical advice on how to go about initiating and/or welcoming stranger interactions. Much as I appreciated the lesson, as a hardnosed introvert, I was still not so inclined to put it all in practice — intending to step out for the interactive portion of the event. But before I could stealthily exit out the side, I was paired with an enthusiastic freshman at NYU. As part of the assignment, we struck up conversations with people and asked "what are you afraid of?"

While the answers from these strangers we met were thoughtful and the experience of meeting them randomly was empowering, in the end, the conversation I had with the girl I was partnered with ...


Community Campaign 2012: The Download features Ryder Ripps


In-process screenshot of Ryder Ripps's Facebook, courtsey of the artist

Last week, we kicked off our annual Community Campaign with the announcement of a new program for Rhizome members called The Download. Through The Download, Rhizome members are invited to get a first look at a new and significant artwork by one artist every month. Artworks will come in a variety of ubiquitous file formats such as .gifs, .html, .mov, and .jpegs. All works will be delivered as a .zip via The Download page. Once the artwork is downloaded, it is yours to collect, share with friends, and display on the screen of any suitable device. The Download is a premier opportunity to become a collector of great digital art!

For the first Download, we are highlighting a new work by conceptual artist Ryder Ripps (Internet and OKFocus). Ryder Ripps's Facebook (2011) is a copy of his entire personal Facebook history including all of his photos, private messages, chats, and wall posts. The viewer is invited to explore all of Ripps's Facebook activity, exposing some of the most intimate and private information. As with previous works, this project confronts issues of privacyFacebook, and fetishization of technology. Read more about Ripps's work on The Download page.

Next month, we will feature a new work by video artist Sabrina Ratté including music by Roger Tellier-Craig, aka Le Révélateur. Look out for more information about upcoming featured artists in the next few months.

The Download is supported by the Artist Fund, a pool of financial support generated by our members that is divided evenly among the participating artists. You can learn more about The Download and the Artist Fund on the FAQ page.

If you would like to be able to receive The Download first-hand and directly support artists, please contribute to Rhizome's Community Campaign and the Artists Fund today!



A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics


Production stills from Judy Radul, World Rehearsal Court, 2009.

A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics is an anthology published by Sternberg Press and Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo, accompanying Judy Radul’s exhibition “World Rehearsal Court.” Radul’s work is a research project into the model of the International Criminal Court, complexly considering the effect technology and new media have had on our justice systems. Her work is a four-hour, seven-channel video installation that includes a courtroom staged and shot in a gymnasium, with a scripted text that takes the forms of vignettes, so that “you never get a whole picture” (Judy Radoul in an interview for Artforum), while including the viewers, who are filmed and projected onto screens that form part of the installation.

Edited by Radoul and Oslo-based curator and art historian Marit Paasche, A Thousand Eyes introduces a different way of discussing the idea of law and the modern justice system in a way that is different than commonplace representation of law and lawmaking in the visual arts. Whereas the form of the trial has been commonly used in artworks, performances, and symposia in the contemporary art world (I am thinking, for example, of Hila Peleg’s film documenting Anton Vidokle and Tirdad Zolghadr’s A Crime Against Art [The Madrid Trial], where the artist and curator put themselves on trial for “collusion with the bourgeoisie and other serious accusations”), the discussion of law and lawmaking in the arts has largely focused on subjects of intellectual property, artistic freedom, and censorship (for example, in Daniel McClean’s (ed.) excellent book The Trials of Art [London: Ridinghouse, 2007]). This book introduces and promotes an intricate web of ways of thinking about the relationship between visual media and the law.

In the introduction to the book ...


Artist Profile: Jill Magid


I Can Burn Your Face, neon, transformers. Installed at Yvon Lambert Paris, 2009.

Much of your work takes place off site as a performance or engagement with a public entity outside of the confines of a typical artist’s studio. What are your thoughts about the artist’s studio in contemporary art practice? Do you feel you spend more time generating work outside of your studio or are the private space of the studio and the public space of the commons one in the same?

I do a lot of research in my studio that prepares me for engagements with the public or private institutions I explore. The studio is also where I reflect and build upon those engagements, drawing from the raw material that I have acquired. 

Works like Article 12 / The Spy Project and Evidence Locker produce narratives in the multitude and variety of objects they generate. You create beautiful custom websites for some of your projects, videos, prints, and even novellas. Do feel particularly drawn to one medium as your body of work has developed?

The media I work with fluctuates depending on the system I am exploring. Some systems offer up their own visual or textual media, which I’ll then use or incorporate into the work I make. For instance, Evidence Locker mainly consisted of videos and a novella. This is due to the system: CCTV cameras produce video footage; to access the footage a citizen must fill out a Subject Access Request Form. In the Spy Project I was only allowed to record my meetings with agents through writing. While I used a multitude of media (neon, drawing, a book, video, sculpture) writing is clearly at the heart of the work.

Over the past decade the role of the artist has become a more ...


Occupy the Internet


This essay was originally published in N+1's Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images via The Big Picture

A Tumblr of user-submitted handwritten signs with bleak personal testimonies first captured the internet’s attention. Presented are the lives of real people, unmistakable hardships, ready to reblog and retweet. But implied—by the faces, the faces, the faces —is that to sympathize you must show up. This time a Facebook “like” is not enough. 

There is something twisted and belittling about the momentary act of tapping on Tumblr’s like button — a heart icon — when you are looking at the face of someone who has itemized his debt in magic marker for you to calculate. How much we have and what we owe is what we are typically raised never to discuss openly in polite company. These images of persons denuded of financial mystery request from the viewer something just as human; not a thoughtless mouse click. To properly commiserate with the enormity of this curated series of individual misfortunes, one must in person participate.

Around the globe, the “99 percent” sloganing rings effortlessly. This is a generation accustomed to encapsulating arguments into 140 character messages. It is also a generation experienced in negotiating private entities for public means. Zuccotti Park’s tenuous standing as a privately owned public park seems an inevitable metaphor for the questions of free speech, assembly, and property rights posed by so many virtual spaces. Brookfield is like Facebook, Bloomberg like Zuckerberg: their threatened park closure is like the ever-present possibility that Facebook will suspend activist accounts and group pages used to plan rallies and activities, for vaguely specified reasons.

"We must occupy real and virtual spaces,” Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa tweeted, quoting an occupier at the second Washington Square park General Assembly. Without one there couldn’t exist the other.