Posts for 2012

Rhizome Digest: Best of Rhizome November



Prosthetic Knowledge Web Toys



Five Videos:


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks:

Artist Profiles:


Thank You to Our Sponsors


We would like to take a brief moment to thank this month’s sponsors. These are the organizations and companies that keep us publishing, so be sure to check them out!

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  • Guggenheim - The “Conversations with Contemporary Artists” series presents the opportunity to hear and meet artists such as Gabriel Orozco and R. H. Quaytman as they discuss themes in their work as well as current issues in the art world.
  • Asia Society MuseumBound Unbound: Lin Tianmiao represents the artist’s first major solo exhibition in the United States
  • Artspace – Insider access to art from the best artists, museums, and galleries in the world
  • Art Miami – Miami’s premier anchor fair showcases the best in modern and contemporary art from more than 100 international art galleries.
  • Miami Project  - A new contemporary and modern art fair consisting of presentations by 65 galleries from around the world.
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art – For over 100 years, PNCA has served as a creative hub for artists and designers with an educational philosophy that emphasizes individualized curricula, independent inquiry and cross-disciplinary exchange.
  • NYU Steinhardt -The M.A. in Studio Art program in Berlin, Germany provides artists, students of art, and current and prospective art teachers the opportunity to do  high-level studio work over three intensive summers.
  • School of Art Institute of Chicago offers an MA program in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism as well as an MFA program in Film, Video, New Media, and Animation. Application deadlines: January 15 & 10, 2013.

Network Sponsors

  • American Apparel - Made in Downtown LA—vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of clothing
  • Mixed Greens - Currently on view are Christina Mazzalupo’s Prognosis: Doom paintings and Jonathan Feldschuh’s window installation Large Hadron Collider.
  • Pernod Absinthe - The Art & Absinthe Guide to Brooklyn – mobile interaction with the thriving ...


Send/Receive: Liza Bear and Willoughby Sharp After Avalanche


Still from Send/Receive

In recent years, the significance of artists' magazines has been cemented by the proliferation of exhibitions, panels, and monographic studies devoted to independent publishing endeavors. Not merely side projects or promotional vehicles, such magazines constituted, as art historian Gwen Allen argues in her 2011 book Artists Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art, a form of exhibition space in itself, a central site of postwar artistic experimentation.

The magazine was, in a sense, the ideal form for the “dematerialized” art practices taking hold in the 1960s and ‘70s, which were often rooted in language and typically exhibitable solely in the form of secondary documentation—textual descriptions, instructions, or scores; diagrams and maps; and photographs. At the moment when artists were vehemently challenging the authority of the institutions that mediated between their work and its audience, as well as the attendant commercial system that conferred value based on the saleability of the object, the form of the magazine offered a way to circumvent existing structures—to disseminate projects and ideas directly to an audience, and one that was, at least theoretically, broader than that of the museum or gallery, and more geographically dispersed.

Among the storied magazines of the ‘70s, Avalanche, founded by artist and curator Willoughby Sharp and filmmaker Liza Bear in 1968 (the first issue appeared in Fall 1970), is perhaps the most iconic in terms of capturing the ethos and character of the period’s artistic climate. The privileged editorial form of Avalanche was not the critical essay or review, but the artist interview and it often turned pages over to artists— including Gordon Matta-Clark, Hanne Darboven, and Richard Long —to design their own spreads. Likewise, its “Rumblings” section functioned as a form of pre-internet global art-world message board where artists could submit announcements of upcoming exhibitions, projects, and publications.

Ephemeral and inexpensive, Avalanche was, as Bear described, “a cross between a magazine, an artist book, and an exhibition space in print. Basically, it was devoted to avant-garde art, from the perspective of the artist.” Avalanche, and periodicals like it, were attempts to rethink the art magazine in terms of both form and content, conceived in response to mainstream publications like Artforum, which were dominated by the critic’s voice and implicitly bore the influence of curators and dealers. However, Avalanche was also a network, a decentralized mode of distributing art that aimed to shift the site of reception beyond institutional boundaries...


Hito Steyerl at e-flux


from Abstract, Hito Steyerl, 2012

Abstract, one of three pieces in Hito Steyerl's solo exhibition at e-flux, shows the artist's visit to the deathplace of a friend. As an eyewitness plainly recounts the evening slaughter, he points out the remains of Andrea Wolf and some 40 other insurgents shot dead by the Turkish Army in Kurdistan. On the adjacent screen, Steyerl shoots the facades of German monuments with her phone. Doing so exposes the material origin for the killing (Turkey is a second market for German arms) and connects the languages of cinema with combat (the shot > countershot; an image becomes a target between crosshairs). As Steyerl acts as both editor and the woman with the movie camera (for her short discussion of Vertov, go here), the exhibit explores an area of overlapping influence between subject and object; aptly, one of her pieces is entitled Adorno's Grey.  

Journalist and PKK revolutionary Andrea Wolf is an ever-present proof of synthesis in the show. In November, we see a young Wolf as a leader of a motorcycle gang (that includes Steyerl) in a Russ Meyer homage. In Steyerl's films, builds happen, not sequences: someone discusses the usage of Costa-Gavras' State of Siege as a training film for young terrorists. See them kidnap, plant bombs, and evade authorities; learn that the film was based on first-hand, real-life accounts of resistance behavior. These films of bad-assery first appear as templates to turn an internal sense of (in)justice into action. They grow into an entangled relationship of images and events that map the formation and remembrance of Wolf's conscience. We may not know her details, but we have a sense of her motivation...


Help Fund Rhizome's Preservation Program


Rhizome has always placed an emphasis on, and played a leading role in the preservation of born-digital works of art and culture. Since 2001, our archive, the ArtBase has grown to become one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind, and our preservation practices have inspired an emerging generation of archivists. Here at the end of 2012 however, we find ourselves on the precipice of a new moment. Our ambitions have grown, or mission expanded, and we need your help in order to accomplish our goals in 2013. Please consider making a donation to our Annual Community Fundraiser to help us realize our preservation efforts.

Recently, we were generously donated two machines (seen above) from 1993, that functioned as servers for a NYC based electronic bulletin board system (BBS) that many readers will be familiar with: The Thing. This BBS was one of the earliest online communities of artists, curators, and critics, and grew to become a forum for international discourse – all of this pre-dating the emergence of the World Wide Web. In 1994, when The Thing migrated to the web, much of the BBS material was left behind. As well – the material nature of the experience of using The Thing was forever changed – transitioning from a text-based or crude graphical interface, to the new interactive affordances of the web.

Rhizome is on a mission to rescue data from these machines, and others, that contains the sole remaining complete record of The Thing as a BBS. Our goal is to restore access to this data through a virtualization that will allow the public to interact with The Thing BBS. In order to accomplish this task, there are very real costs. This is Rhizome’s first forray into a project involving digital forensics, and with your support we can secure the crucial hardware required for this work.

In 2012, the scale of our web archiving efforts grew exponentially. In the past, works that were preserved in the ArtBase tended to be of relatively small scale – solitary works or projects. We are now archiving sites that are much larger in scope, including the legendary website of prominent collective, Paper Rad. In order to make large scale web archiving efforts a larger part of our everyday operations, we need the community's support in order to grow the Rhizome team.

The past year was a boon for expanding the ArtBase collection. This past summer, the prolific Rafael Rozendaal donated the entirety of his finished works produced to-date – consisting of 75 websites in all. In addition to this sizeable donation, we preserved over seventy works, just a few highlights of which including:

Takeshi MurataPaper RadKari AltmanDragan EspensheidOld Boys NetworkHugo ArcierJustin KempMichael ManningPaint FXBrian KhekTimur Si-QinDigital CraftsBrenna MurphyTabor RobakSebastian SchmiegRosa MenkmanV5mtJohannes P OsterhoffChristine Love

While our preservation efforts and accomplishments in 2012 have been no small feat, our goals for 2013 are ambitious to the extent that we can’t realize them without a bit of help. I hope that you will consider a donation today, so that Rhizome may continue to ensure the longevity of these important slices of history.


Visualizing Sandy: An Interview with Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg


Wind Map by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg
All the way in blissfully sunny Los Angeles during the throes of Hurricane Sandy, I watched with growing anxiety as friends and family rode out the storm. I found myself unsatisfied by personal accounts of empty supermarket shelves and mass media coverage of FEMA efforts and felt I needed better awareness of what was happening in empirical, but also meaningful terms. As it turns out, I wasn't alone — cue the Wind Project, from artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg. Wattenberg, trained as a mathematician, is also known for his work on number of classic digital art projects like the Shape of Song, The Apartment, and Whitney Artport's Idea Line, as well as Rhizome's StarryNight. Collaborating with Viégas since 2003, they have served as principles at the IBM Visual Communication Lab, where they initiated the "Many Eyes" project, a user-generated forum for uploading data and creating visualizations through conversation and collaboration, in the hopes of fostering a more social and democratic style of data analysis. Other past projects span from visualizations of Google Image discrepancies of fine art masterpieces to chat histories to baby names. Viégas and Wattenberg currently work with Google's "Big Picture" Data Group in Cambridge, MA and maintain their own practice as Flowing Media, Inc. 
Their latest project is "a living portrait of the wind currents over the United States" using data pulled hourly from the National Digital Forecast Database. The Wind Project site saw a strong spike in visitors in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, as dumbfounded viewers watched the complex choreography of curling, comet-like wind lines circling the eastern seaboard. Though I'm not sure it did much to calm my nerves, the image from landfall — October 29th, 2012 — has become an instant visualization classic. I recently spoke with Viégas and Wattenberg over email about the project and its impact on our experience of Sandy:
Were you surprised by the reaction to the wind map in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy?  What do you think it is about that specific visualization that really captured people's awe but also sense of dread?
We were impressed, but not totally surprised: Hurricane Isaac was kind of a warm-up storm, and we saw a lot of interest then. One big difference was this time we were in the path of the storm. In fact, it's a minor miracle that our data center (that is, one old computer) in Massachusetts had power the entire time...


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Internet Coolhunting


A collection of examples where pop culture was clearly inspired by smaller creative activities on the web (with some people not necessarily happy about it). With online chatter regarding the performance by Rihanna on Saturday Night Live and it's adoption to the net-art 'Seapunk' style, it's worth knowing that the mixed reaction is not an isolated occasion. Marketers employ 'coolhunters' to look out for interesting small cultural developments to make their artist's seem 'fresh' and ahead of the game, an activity that has been happening since the early 1990s, which was a key subject in William Gibson's 2003 novel Pattern Recognition. It is now becoming more apparent in our more modern technological age — here are some of the better known examples:

Chiptune / Timbaland

Chiptunes, the lo-fi music associated with soundchips of old computers and gaming consoles, started to make their way into contemporary music with one piece eventually leading to a file for infringement, the Timberland-produced 'Do It' for Nelly Furtado:

Compare this to "Acidjazzed Evening" by Tempest/Damage

For a much more clearer comparison, the Demoscene documentary by Moleman breifly compares and contrasts the two songs. 

According to Wikipedia:

In August 2007, an action for infringement was filed in the District Court of Helsinki against Universal Music, Ltd alleging Nelly Furtado's song "Do It" infringed "Acid Jazz Evening". In January 2009, after a trial that included multiple expert and technical witnesses, a three judge panel unanimously dismissed the plaintiff's case.

On December 17, 2008, Abbott also testified as a witness of prosecution in the Helsinki court in Gallefoss' case against Universal Music Finland. The Finnish court reportedly threw out the case after ruling in only one aspects of the three claims (sampling, performance rights, producer rights), and the case remains in appellate court ...


John Underkoffler at Eyeo, On the Verge


Two videos for the day: John Underkoffler (Oblong Industries) is the UI designer best known for creating interfaces for Minority Report and Iron Man. His presentation at Eyeo this year was among the most talked about. Also, recently the Verge visited their studio in Los Angeles.

Eyeo2012 - John Underkoffler from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

John Underkoffler : Animating Spirit. "A way to change everything is to build a completely new HMI. The new HMI will be exhilarating, beautiful, and capable, a complement and compliment to people. Just as surely as we do it will occupy real-world space, because that’s where the action is and because it will need to pay special heed to hands and what they’re up to. It will be characterized, like living things, by dynamism, by motion elegant and allusive and comic. It will make the pixels it inhabits — projected and barnacled, singular and teeming, sessile and itinerant — it will make these brazenly heterogeneous pixels interoperable: at once incidental and indispensable. This new HMI will embody a conviction that design, that fundamental human activity, is its as well. And it will infect everything built atop it with the same sentiment. The resulting world might well be one we like. So let’s see."

On The Verge, Episode 011 - John Underkoffler

Ross Miller took a trip to Oblong industries to check out their work in multi-screen hand gesture computers à la Minority Report. Then John Underkoffler — Oblong co-founder and chief scientist, as well as the science adviser for Minority Report and Iron Man — talks in-studio with Josh. Fascination, awe, even an ounce of fear — you won't believe Josh's range of emotion.


Artist Profile: Body by Body



Body by Body & Julia Rob3rts, Sculpture for Burning Man (2012)

Why did you choose to create Body by Body?

CAMERON: I wanted to start something like a band but with visual art (but not a collective). Or at least have a Malcolm McLaren type role. I still would like to start a visual art version of Bow Wow Wow. So we started Body by Body, and it was nice to make work that was different from what I did solo.  When we started the Aventa Garden series, we needed a writer with a certain tone of voice, so we made Julia Rob3rts who does all the writing for us and about us.  In this way, we have our own private economy.  She writes all our press releases and sort of plays the 'artist as researcher/digital ethnographer/cyberflaneur' role for us, so we can focus on being symbolic artists and beatniks. This isn't new by any stretch, Pessoa is the first thing that comes to mind...

MELISSA: It was pretty random and not as deliberate as it seems now. Parker (Ito) and Caitlin (Denny) asked me to do something for jstchillin, and at that point I had been out of school for two years and wasn’t really making much work. I said to Cameron, 'I don’t know what to do for this but I think we should make something together and sell it on the site'. Then Cameron suggested we use a pseudonym to identify our collaborative efforts. The name stuck and grew into something else. We started creating other ‘characters’ and giving them a life, but really the pseudonyms function, at least for me, as a psychologically liberating outlet. It helps to not get bogged down in what one thinks they should be making or how ...


Community Fundraiser: Focus on Editorial


Have you enjoyed an article Rhizome published recently? Have you saved any of our features on Instapaper or emailed a story to your friends? Is there something you first saw on this website that inspired you or made you consider things in a new way?

I invite you to consider making a donation to Rhizome. Your donation allows us to continue our editorial operations and maintain our independent voice.

This past year alone, Rhizome’s editorial team has covered a breathtaking range of topics relating to the intersection of art and technology. Here are several highlights:

Martin Murphy's desktop from Adam Cruces's Desktop Views, featured in Beyond the Surface: 15 Years of Desktop Aesthetics

Photoshopped Sherman
Rachel Wetzler considers how we might think of Cindy Sherman’s photography now that she uses Photoshop in her practice.

Beyond the Surface: 15 Years of Desktop Aesthetics
Using Adam Cruces’ Desktop Views (a response to Alexei Shulgin’s Desktop Is,) as a jumping off point, Jason Huff explores the history of desktop aesthetics.

Screen. Image. Text.
As publishing moves from the page to the screen, Orit Gat considers the unique role of the digital image. She later spoke about this essay on a panel at the Frieze Art Fair.

Shu Lea Cheang on Brandon
Yin Ho speaks with the creator of the Guggenheim Museum’s first digital project, 14 years after its launch.

Image of Democracy: Why I Want to Build Nine Freedom Towers in Tiananmen Square
A personal essay by artist John Powers on public space and its political implications.

The Impermanent Book
An essay from The Piracy Project, an international publishing and exhibition project, on the mutability of text in both physical and digital books.

The Shape of Shaping Things to Come
Speculating on 3D printing’s potential to ...