Posts for 2012

Perspective on the Supposed Swedish Instagram Riots


On December 18th, an Instagram account in Gothenburg, Sweden ignited a media-identified riot resulting in the detention of 27 individuals. A more intensive explanation, via Free Art & Technology:

What happened this time around was that a person (a 17 yo girl attending Plusgymnasiet (The Plus High School, a privately owned and managed school) was suspected and got police protection) started an Instagram account called “gbgorroz” (“gbg” is short for Gothenburg, “orroz” is a swedishification of a turkish word meaning whore) asking people to name and shame the sluts of Gothenburg and what slutty things they have done. The account gained about 6000 followers and posted about a hundred pictures and description about “sluts” of Gothenburg (mostly female but also male, often for being “gays”. Age 12-18) and their alleged sex acts before it was shut down. In an unexpected turn of events, the last pictures posted was screenshots of the inbox of the account where you could see who had submitted what “slut” – shaming the shamers.

Somehow it was revealed who was behind the account – or at least someone was accused – and people decided to “take revenge”. A rumour started spreading that there would be “chaos” at this high school the morning after. And there was even a facebook event called “World War 3 at Plusgymnasiet”. About 500 people showed up the day after (18/12) and tried to enter the school. I guess most to just watch THE CHAOS unfold. Some were there to beat up the girl that started it (among them people who had submitted to the account and had been exposed in the screenshots). Others to beat up the people who had submitted to the account. Some even might have been there to beat up someone for what they allegedly had done. And yet more just ...


Best of Rhizome 2012


Hidden Information: An Interview with Jim Sanborn




Rhizome Digest: Best of Rhizome December



Artist Profiles



Prosthetic Knowledge Picks




The Fundamental Units


How did this collaboration with National Physical Laboratory come about for your project The Fundamental Units?

For six months I was having tests run all around the UK on different types of microscopes such as scanning electron microscopes, at different institutions, universities and testing laboratories. The Curator of Modern Money at the British Museum suggested an idea which eventually lead me to the National Physical Laboratory.

I ended up at the Advanced Engineered Materials Group which is part of the National Physical Laboratory, using an Alicona infinite focus 3D optical microscope.

They were really into experimenting and pushing the equipment. It took about a month of tests to get the results we see. The process involved Petra the scientist in charge of the machine writing programs to capture the data as a whole, as the machine is designed for looking in detail at one tiny part of an object. We crashed it several times working out the right solution. Each coin, which are generally around 18-20mm in diameter, take a whole night to capture. Then computers run for three days assembling the data into extremely high resolution photographic images. We are talking files too big for normal image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Each photographic print is from files with around 400 million pixels.

What did some of the earlier tests look like?

Many microscopes are not optical, they don't use light, and therefore produce results that are removed from what we generally expect to see. A scanning electron microscope, for example (attached), produces images in greyscale and the electric charge greatly emphasises dust and dirt. Clean images could be obtained though sonic cleaning and plating the coins in gold, but this started to become very removed from examining these low value tokens of exchange.

Could you explain ...


The Cost to Connect


A like of my photo on Instagram, a post to Twitter when an email was languishing unanswered, a view on Spotify of what music he was listening to that day became torture, after a boy I loved broke my heart and moved out of town. We'd promised to “stay friends” but in practice that just meant that our social networks, so closely entwined, served as tiny little stabs in the heart each day. The social web is just that—a web of connections, woven through multiple sites and apps but spun out of real human relationships, sometimes stretched thin or sometimes already so but made accidentally closer through the technology. I could hide him on Facebook without having to “unfriend,” and I deliberately left him on Foursquare so I'd know if he came into town unannounced. These are the ways we connect and communicate today, the ways we maintain relationships and the ways it remains hard to end them.

An article this spring in the Atlantic by Stephen Marche wondered “Is Facebook making us lonely?” Marche theorized that hyperconnectivity, epitomized by Mark Zuckerberg's human stamp collection of a website, is actually making us less connected than ever—and he discussed it with researchers who found his thesis, ultimately, inconclusive. It turns out, of course, that the loneliness or lack thereof that one derives from the Internet is much related to how one uses it.

The metaphor for the speed of connection that Marche picks up, then leaves dangling, a giant waste of a great symbol, is a connection between stock traders on Wall Street and Chicago. He shifts topics to Facebook almost as quickly as the stocks zip between trading floors, but he misses the entire point he just subtly made—what we've actually done is ...


Everything is a Game: A (very) Brief History of Larp Part 3


"Chatting to Integral Danton (aka Warren Ellis) in The Wastelands about his newly acquired Dune Project stillsuit"

"I'm not sure I felt this at the time, but in retrospect, I think my trip to Knudepunkt could be termed an elaborate larp built for one, a larp conducted in public without the knowledge of those around me, a pervasive game... " Stark, Leaving Mundania, p234


I'm left with the same feeling as Stark, without having yet so much as played a Nordic game or attended a conference: once you know what a larp can be, then everything starts to look like one.

Furthermore, there's a realisation that the psychological phenomena which larp explores and manipulates might just be the missing link between a whole bunch of artforms, technologies and philosophies. Perhaps it is the ubiquity of the toolset in use, namely the human imagination, that lends it this interstitial quality: conceived in reductionist terms, Nordic larp is simply imagination-as-play.

Where does experimental theatre end, and consensual indoctrination into a covert ideology begin? Can a temporary intentional community, in and of itself, be a form of performance art? Can a performance art piece become a political movement instead of just a statement? These questions pivot on the fluid dualities of fiction and reality, of reader and subject, which can be upended with a flick of the wrist or a twist of the frame; if we assume altermodernism to have accepted and integrated (if not fully approved of) the ubiquitous ontological hollowness of the postmodern condition, then might Nordic larp be one of the first truly altermodernist forms, an experimental laboratory for the breeding of new metanarratives?

Maybe, maybe not. But Nordic larp's brisk defrocking of essentialist identity politics, and its repeated demonstrations that convincing and compelling constructs of ...


Limited Edition Artwork Available During the Community Fundraiser


When you make a contribution to Rhizome's Community Fundraiser this holiday season, you'll receive a fantastic limited edition art work as our way of saying thanks - think about it as an investment in a post-holiday pick me up. We are midway through the annual Community Fundraiser and with your support Rhizome can continue to bring great programming in 2013.

Every year, we reach out to our community for a vital portion of our operating budget. This year, our goal of $30,000 will help take Rhizome into 2013 and beyond.

There is a gift at every donation level:

Give $30and receive an exclusive eBook, 56+10 Broken Kindle Screens (2012) by Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso plus one full year of Rhizome membership.

Give $50 and receive a limited edition tote bag featuring an image by ReCode Project plus the eBook and one full year of Rhizome membership.

Give $125 and receive a limited edition print of Tabor Robak's Rocks (mirrored) (2012) plus the tote bag, eBook and one full year of membership.

Give $300 and receive a limited edition artwork for your phone, Off Pocket by Adam Harvey, plus the tote bag, eBook, and one full year of Rhizome membership.

Give $500 and receive a cozy, limited edition glitch textile artwork, Knit Glitch Blanket (2012) by Phillip Stearns, plus the tote bag, eBook, and one full year of Rhizome membership.

Give $1,000 and receive a unique 3D printed sculpture, from Digital Natives by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, plus the tote bag, eBook, and one full year of Rhizome membership at the Council level.

These gifts can be yours with a donation. And, with tax-time coming too, a reminder that your contribution is tax deductible to the extent of the law. Your support is essential to our mission ...


Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 6: Critical Vulnerability


Throughout this guide I’ve tried to isolate the patterns of how we think about the Future-Present, as symbolized by particular evocative technology. By engaging five, extraordinarily knowledgeable informants, I’ve traced their thoughts into directional arcs that don’t necessarily nail down this swirling cloud of future-forward ideas, but at least give us sense of the difficulty of the terrain.

The archetypes are stories, each one about us, our ideas, and our material world. The excitement of the future is represented by the LED. Neodymium magnets tell a story about the the allure of technological magic interacting with our everyday life. The fable of the cyborg explains a bit about our interface with our own history. The theology of our technologically advanced commodities are explained to us through drones. And our maps tendency to glitch is a cautionary tale about our minds’ inherent difficulties in navigating all of these different idea structures at the same time.

I like to think of these archetypes as stories, because there is something harmless in allegory. A meaning is intended, but if it doesn’t particular stick, or if as storyteller I trip in my delivery, the stakes are low. These are not actually designs for massive structures, harnessing dangerous physical forces to be constrained within conduits wrapped around us while we sleep at night. If these narratives become unpleasant, we can simply wake up, dispelling them like a dream, returning to the safe world of consistent reality that is not fraught with loops of meaning and pitfalls of symbolism. We can clear the slate easily, claiming the fallibility of narratives, and returning to the kernel of “simple” material things, ignoring the implications of our ideas. And then the next night, we have a chance to dream again.

But what I have come ...


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Commodore Christmas Demos


In this submission, we take a look at how a holiday season was expressed through the Commodore 64.

Released in 1982, the Commodore 64 was, at one point, the biggest selling computer ever, selling up to 17 million units in it's time. As a retail-focused product (as opposed to an electrical one), Christmas was an important time to attract this highly desirable present. As well as this, groups and communities around the machine emerged, creating shareable demos of images, animations and music for themselves, a highly humanizing response to a digital technology. It's happened with other machines as well (the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad, various Atari machines, the Amiga etc ...), not just in it's time but also currently where communities exist around these older technologies. It also happens around file formats, for example, with the GIF net art community and the GIF Wrapping project where artists randomly selected together to produce something for each other.

Commodore 64 Christmas Demo (1982)

This charming demo was created by Commodore themselves, shipped to retailers to demonstrate the graphical and sound capabilities - via csixty4:

Commodore wrote their famous Christmas Demo in 1982 to demonstrate the capabilities of their new Commodore 64 computer and the upcoming Executive 64 (SX-64) portable. It was included with the test/demo disk that shipped with every SX-64 so dealers could introduce customers to the machines' advanced (for the time) sound and graphics. Though its character graphics and SID sound seem quaint by today's standards, the Christmas Demo reminds many Commodore fans of the morning they woke to find a computer under their tree.

Should you wish to get a copy of this demo and try it in an emulator, csixty4 have links to everything you need here

A Twisted Christmas (1987)

GIF via noname64

A ...


Chrome & Flesh: An Interview with Mark Leckey


Screenshot courtsey of Garrett Lockhart

In July of this year, the video artist Mark Leckey gave an informal lecture at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London on an ephemeral concept he titled 'Touchy-Feely' — a sort of sensory nerve at the tip-end of his cumulative project on distribution and demand, The Long Tail (2009), (which he previously spoke to Rhizome about.) During the talk, he presented an excerpt from Pearl Vision (2012), a short film and 'self-portrait', that premiered at 'Ghosts in the Machine' at the New Museum and was broadcast on BBC4 last month. The sensuous object of the snare drum (physically absent yet present in high definition audio and video) in this latest work addresses contemporary effects of desire and displacement, caused in part by the everyday technological prostheses at the body's disposal. Recently I spoke with Leckey over email. His perspectives on the intricacy of feeling, ever-changing aesthetic hierarchies, the space beyond the screen and the power of rhythm follow:

Do you think the shift from pointing toward the camera, perceiving it as a means of broadcast to using the camera to point – as a prosthesis for our own hands – is a recent phenomenon? It seems that for young artists especially, the cinematic image has suffered; instead of the establishing shot, the long take and other aspects of framing 'the image', video attempts to enter a world, or a flow, of imagery that is bigger than what can possibly fit into a single frame. The tension between on-screen and off-screen feels more fluid today, a sort of David Cronenburg-circa-Videodrome (1983) effect...

It seems to me that Vito Acconci’s Centers (1971), for example, embodies the concerns of single-channel video at that time: one person broadcasting out from the television and attempting to address the masses on the other side. Whereas now it’s a single person, or their hands, in isolation and trying to address the mass that’s on the other side of the screen, that is, inside it. I’ve collected lots of images and examples of hands manipulating objects and stuff sort of ‘inside’ the image. They’ve got their hands in there the same way you’ve described those glove boxes scientists use to carry out radioactive experiments.

We touch things in order to know them, to see them properly. Like when we say: ‘can I look at that?’ but actually we mean: can I hold it, can I manipulate it. And I make pictures or images of things in the same way, so that I can know them better, grasp them, fully apprehend them, ‘grok’ them. Grok is a good word – it was coined by a science fiction writer, and it means to understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. So it’s all about grokking; trying to know something intimately. 

And once you’ve got this image of an evocative object on the screen, and it’s in your hands, then you can start to squeeze it, squish it; it’s totally plasmatic. And once you’re done with that you can point to these manipulations; to emphasize the object’s thingness, its objecthood.

Like the numinous TV screen in Videodrome – it takes us back to older ideas when animals, trees and rocks contained a spirit and we were all connected through the ‘Great Spirit’. It’s the animistic world-view...