Posts for December 2012

The Junk Ships on Alibaba



Around the corner from stacks of baby shoes, counterfeit Gucci wallets, and spangled iPhone cases, I got burned copies of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy at an outdoor market in Mexico City.

A Sunday afternoon in Roma Norte, I was drinking coffee with new friends. The city was new to me and I had only arrived late the night before. We jumped in a cab and directed the driver to a market a little way outside the center of town.

Miguel said he was going to pick up a copy of Pigsty there. I was confused at first, assuming it had to be something other than the 1969 Italian film, but indeed that was the one he meant. Seemed an implausible feat to find a physical copy of any Passolini movie, let alone a more obscure selection, anywhere without paying for shipping and waiting at least a week. But I didn't say anything then.

"He's not going to find the Passolini film here," Manuel said, as we were wandering through Tepito's labyrinth of tents. It was mostly pirated goods: branded tennis shoes, video games, and handbags; but with some intention to the ordering of the inventory. Suppliers tended to specialize in certain items, one might carry only knock-offs of a single particular designer label, another sold only anime DVDs. Tepito sometimes functions as a wholesaler for vendors who operate smaller streetside sales. We walked through the section that was largely physical media for sale— Blue-ray, DVD, and CDs with covers varying from identical to the original to very handmade-looking inkjet prints. I was told that sometimes you could see vendors burning these disks in the back of the tents.

One of the tents had a sign out front, "Cine de Arte." Inside a dozen densely packed shelves included classic art house fare like 400 Blows, Breathless, Paris Texas, and L'eclisse. Each with a cover made of ordinary printer paper inside a flimsy plastic sleeve...


It’s Paper Rad Month at Rhizome!


For over a decade, the kaledescopic RGB labyrinth that is  has served as a beacon for the proliferacy of the collective known as Paper Rad. While their output spanned a spectrum of forms including comics, cartoons, music videos, installation, sculpture, performance, bands, records, and international tours, the web was in so many ways Paper Rad's substrate. In their work that extended beyond the computer screen, they spoke in the parlance of the amatuer web and personal computers. was for roughly eight years the center of a flurry of activitry – serving to satiate the collective’s international fanbase. Today Rhizome is pleased to announce the launch of a full archive of, available in the ArtBase. Thanks to Rhizome's preservation efforts, will now live on beyond the lifespan of the collective itself.

In celebration of the launch of this archive, Rhizome is pleased to share with our members a special edition of The Download featuring Paper Rad's GIF PAK (2012). The GIF PAK is a collection of 24 great animated gifs from the site including background images, popular cartoon characters, and promotional materials for tours and gallery shows. This collection was curated by Paper Rad member, Jacob Ciocci.

In addition to the launch of these two features, last month, the New Museum’s First Look program launched a project produced in collaboration with Rhizome titled Welcome to My Homey Page: Seven Years of, which presents a look at the chronological evolution of the landing page of from 2001-2008.


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: The 3D GIF


Sample from Animated GIF in 3D

A collection of examples from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive and around the web on experiments which take the familiar animated GIF format and take it out of its 2D origins.

This has been a good year for the Animated GIF— not only has it reached its 25th birthday, it has also become America's word of the year according to Oxford Dictionaries USA. It has been one of the internet's most creative canvases since it's availability, whether it has been employed in early homegrown HTML pages, to communities such as B3ta, YTMND, 4Chan and others. From it's continued popularity, some creatives have explored ways to take the animated GIF into new contexts. Here are a few examples:




The Artist Google Street View Photographed Twice


Carlo Zanni, Self Portrait With Dog, (2008)


Carlo Zanni's "Self Portrait with Dog" (2008) and "Self Portrait with Friends" (2012) both include the artist captured in Google Street View. Recently I emailed the Zanni about these projects:

Could you tell me a little bit about the Google Street View pictures "Self Portrait with Dog" (2008) and "Self Portrait with Friends" (2012)? 

They are part of an exploration around portraiture I began in 2000 designing desktop icons, programming  cookies, and making google images generated drawings.

In either cases, it's me on the street in Milan being shot by the Google Car. The first one back in 2008, the second one in 2012.

In "Self-Portrait With Dog," I'm walking my dog and I choose that frame among others from the street view sequence (that you can still browse from the project's homepage) because of its composition. It is also a classic theme in portraiture and it has a link to a famous work by futurist painter Giacomo Balla: "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash", 1912. Both explore the idea of time and space, with mine having strong ties with very urgent themes like public exposure, privacy and control.

In "Self-Portrait With Friends (i fannulloni)" I've been shot with two pals while lying around like slackers. "i fannulloni" — that is the wall writing on the left of the picture — means slackers. You might find an assonance with "I Vitelloni" by Federico Fellini. Even in this case, I chose this frame for its composition values and when shown in gray scale as it has to be, its "neo realistic" side pops up.

Naming these works "self portraits", and not "portraits made by Google" — like suggested by curator Pau Waelder — ironically plays with the idea that I had a ...


Community Fundraiser: Supporting Technology and the Arts


Kitchen Table Coders Workshop, held at the New Museum  
Rhizome occupies an unique place in the ecology of art and technology, often where these two worlds meet for the first time. Since 1996, Rhizome promoted the innovation and artistic output from the open-source and hacker communities across the world. In 2013, Rhizome plans to take our art and technology programs one step further. Please consider making a contribution to the Community Fundraiser, you will make a significant difference in the reach of Rhizome's programming in the technology world.
Rhizome is not only embraced by artists but also cutting-edge technologists who look to Rhizome for inspiration. Through our programs like New Silent Series and Seven on Seven, we actively bring great minds from these fields together. We believe that the arts have a vital role in the development of technology and, through support from our community, Rhizome will continue to grow, diversify and help shape this field, now and in the future.
Rhizome has always recognized the importance of a free and open internet for creative online communities. In the last few years, threats of government regulations have threatened to limit the freedom of information online. We protested SOPA by blacking out our site for a day in solidarity with other sites like Wikipedia. Most recently, Rhizome joined major sites such as Reddit, Techdirt, Cheesburger and Github by creating a microsite dedicated to examining and expanding the Declaration of Internet Freedom as it applies to the artistic practices on the web. Whenever there are threats to internet freedom, Rhizome is there to lend its organizational voice as a leader in the art and tech world in support of a free and open internet.
By making a contribution to the annual Community Fundraiser, you'll keep Rhizome at the forefront of these important issues that effect both artistic and technology communities.


What's (Really) Specific about New Media Art? Curating in the Information Age


This text has been written for the proceedings of the international conference "New Perspectives, New Technologies", organized by the Doctoral School Ca' Foscari - IUAV in Arts History and held in Venice and Pordenone, Italy in October 2011

The "portal" designed by Antenna Design to show net based art in the exhibition "Art Entertainment Network", Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2000. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.


In the late nineties and during the first decade of this century the term “new media art” became the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way deal with, new media technologies. Providing a more detailed definition here would inevitably mean addressing topics beyond the scope of this paper, that I discussed extensively in my book Media, New Media, Postmedia (Quaranta 2010). By way of introduction to the issues discussed in this paper, we can summarize the main argument put forward in the book: that this label, and the practices it applies to, developed mostly in an enclosed social context, sometimes called the “new media art niche”, but that would be better described as an art world in its own right, with its own institutions, professionals, discussion platforms, audience, and economic model, and its own idea of what art is and should be; and that only in recent years has the practice managed to break out of this world, and get presented on the wider platform of contemporary art.

It was at this point in time, and mainly thanks to curators who were actively involved in the presentation of new media art in the contemporary art arena, that the debate about “curating new media (art)” took shape. This debate was triggered by the pioneering work of curators – from Steve Dietz to Jon Ippolito, Benjamin Weil and Christiane Paul – who at the turn of the millennium curated seminal new media art exhibitions for contemporary art museums; and it was – and still is –nurtured by CRUMB - “Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss” - a platform and mailing list founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000 within the School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture at the University of Sunderland, UK. As early as 2001, CRUMB organized the first ever meeting of new media curators in the UK as part of BALTIC's pre-opening program – a seminar on Curating New Media held in May 2001.

In the context of this paper, our main reference texts will be CRUMB-related publications, from the proceedings of “Curating New Media” (2001) to Rethinking Curating. Art After New Media (2010), a recent book by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, a book edited by Christiane Paul in 2008. Instead of addressing the specific issues and curatorial models discussed in these publications, we will try to focus on the very foundations of “curating new media”, exploring questions like: does new media art require a specific curatorial model? Does this curatorial model follow the way artists working with new media currently present themselves on the contemporary art platform? How much could “new media art” benefit from a non-specialized approach? Are we curating “new media” or curating “art”? ...


The Ephemerality of IRL: An Interview with Rob Walker


Shawn Wolfe, Vending Machineries, 2001

"Tell me about yourself, and you might mention where you're from, the music you prefer, perhaps a favorite writer or filmmaker or artist, possibly even the sports teams you root for. But I doubt you'll mention brands or products. That would seem shallow, right? There's just something illegitimate about openly admitting that brands and products can function as cultural material, relevant to identity and expression. It's as if we would prefer this weren't true..." — Rob Walker, Exhibition Essay, As Real As It Gets, 2012.

Journalist and author Rob Walker has a long history of projects that look at the intersection of designed objects and consumer behavior. Formerly of the Times Magazine "Consumed" column and currently found at Design Observer, Walker coined the term "murketing" in his 2008 book, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, to describe the blurred strategy between marketing and entertainment used to sell products without the associations of an overt branding campaign. Walker's current project swings to the other side of the spectrum, examining brands so compelling they don't need physical manifestations: he has curated "As Real As It Gets" at New York's Apexart about imaginary brands and fictional products.  I talked to Walker over email about some of the questions the exhibition raises about our complicated relationship with things.

The show, in many ways, seems like a continuation or synthesis of your own speculative design projects with your different tumbleblogs. The majority of your own practice exists exclusively in the virtual sphere, for example your recent Significant Objects project with Joshua Glenn, where thrift store detritus was listed on eBay along with fictive narratives of their history in order to demonstrate the subjectivity of value (and ...


Artist Profile: Rewell Altunaga


Translation courtesy of Rachel Price.


The Falling Man (2011)

Can you talk about your experience co-curating (with José Manuel Noceda) the  Cuban Pavilion, Shared Creations, at the 11th Havana Biennial (2012)? What were your hopes for the mixed group of Cuban and international artists?

¿Puedes contarnos sobre tu experiencia en la co-curaduría (con José Manuel Noceda) en el Pabellón Cuba, Creaciones Compartidas, en la 11na Bienal de La Habana en el 2012? ¿Cuáles eran las expectativas para la mezcla de artistas cubanos e internacionales?

Working on the Biennial and learning alongside Noceda, Jorge Fernández and others was a very satisfying experience. My own art training was heavy on links to praxis; now, even when I'm involved in curatorial or theoretical work, it's hard for me to remove that filter. In contrast with other curatorial projects I've been involved with, on this occasion I was invited to be part of something that already had a structure and theme.  Without the customary creative freedom, it became a learning experience, an apprenticeship. It’s also the first co-curation I've done, and the first curatorial project for which I wasn't myself producing something. 

The Biennial is an international phenomenon. It's typical of such events that they increase relations between cultures, meaning artists come together who may have different ideologies and political and social discourses, but who are essentially motivated by similar tools and resources, from the market's most banal to the most spiritual of art. The mind constantly battles between a practical realism that trains its eyes on the external world and a search directed towards inner well-being, towards the idea of beauty and perfection. In all the big art events you find both states. In those moments, specific political relations are secondary.

Precisamente trabajar en la ...


Ernest Edmonds, Manfred Mohr and Digital Aesthetic 3


When visionary engineer J.C.R Licklider published Man-Computer Symbiosis in 1960 — a paper outlining how man’s intellectual productivity can, and should be significantly increased when partnered with a computer — the creative problems of contemporary artists were perhaps furthest from his mind. But during the 1960s, a digital fever struck the art world. Large numbers of enthused European and North American artists, curators, and theorists focussed their attention on the creative potential of computing. Software, systems, and concepts were tried and tested, and a decade’s worth of activity culminated in two landmark exhibitions: Jasia Reichardt’s Cybernetic Serendipity at London’s ICA and Jack Burnham's Software: Information Technology at New York’s Jewish Museum.

Two artists with retrospectives currently showing in the UK caught that initial wave of innovation: German born and New York-based Manfred Mohr, and British born, and still UK-based Ernest Edmonds.

Originally a painter with Constructivist sympathies, Edmonds turned to computer-aided algorithmic painting in 1968. Light Logic, his career-long retrospective at Site Gallery Sheffield, UK, combined early ‘70s works and original punch cards with a new motion sensitive installation and later video pieces. Edmonds’ essential project is an investigation into the variant formal possibilities of a two-dimensional square. In each work the internal bounds of that shape are divided into sectors made visible by the distribution of colour, or the placement of a line. This is a process facilitated by programs designed to filter through combinatorial permutations, defined by Edmonds, until a suitable variation is found and then rendered by hand. A collection of numbered ink drawings from 1974 and 1975 capture the result of this procedure in the exhibition’s only monochrome (black and white) works.



Shaping Forms, Ernest Edmonds, 2007

The late ‘80s saw Edmonds move from canvas and paper to video ...


Watch Rhizome's Nostalgic VHS History from 2001 — and Donate for 2013!


About Rhizome 2001 VHS

This informational video from 2001, recently unearthed in the archives, is a nostalgic reminder of Rhizome's roots. Though the VHS format is near obsolete, our history will never be, and we maintain the same international and community-driven spirit today as seen in this video.

Since 1996, Rhizome has evolved and refreshed many times over. From email list-serv to thriving non-profit, the organization always strives to bring together an international and diverse community. We hope to reinvigorate and re-engage the international community featured on our website by bringing our programs and events abroad. By hosting programs in other cities, Rhizome can promote artists and communities beyond New York City in more meaningful ways.

However, we must raise the necessary funds in order to realize our goals in 2013 and beyond. Every year we rely on our community to contribute to our operational budget in ways that grants and sponsorships cannot. Please consider contributing to the Community Fundraiser today. Your donation is a vote of confidence as we grow our programs in the next year.