Posts for July 2012

Plausibility Isn't the Endgame


On Arcfinity, you can watch Bruce Sterling and Liam Young discuss the conceptual process of designing and modeling urban space of the future. Both showcase thier unique ways of thinking practically beyond utopia, without regard for efficiency or plausibility. The conversation is the coda of a summit last month in which Young brought together a collection of the future-minded best and brightest to form a blueprint for the city of tomorrow.  


Even Alien Whales: Stan VanDerBeek's Brainchildren



Interview with Stan VanDerBeek from John Musilli's 1972 documentary The Computer Generation

Jonas Meekas crowned Stan VanDerBeek the "laughing man of the bomb age," refering to his starry-eyed embrace Cold War technology and its transformative aesthetic and spiritual potential. Of VanDerBeek’s numerous large scale proposals, his Movie-Drome was the most fully realized. VanDerBeek began creating films for the Drome in 1957. Built next to his home in Stony Point, NY, the Movie-Drome operated between 1963 and 1966. During that time, viewers would lie on the floor with their heads against the wall and watch and watch projections throughout the dome’s interior. It's visible at the New Museum as part of the exhibition "Ghosts in the Machine" next week until September 30. 

Interior view of the Movie-Drome in action

The full potential of the Movie-Drome, as proposed in his Culture: Intercom manifesto, was not fully realized. In that tract, VanDerBeek proposed:

That immediate research begin on the possibility of a picture-language based on motion pictures.

That we combine audio-visual devices into an educational tool: an experience machine or "culture-intercom."

That audio-visual research centers be established on an inter-national scale to explore the existing audio-visual devices and procedures, develop new image-making devices, and store and transfer image materials, motion pictures, television, computers, video-tape, etc.

That artists be trained on an international basis in the use of these image tools.

The Movie-Drome was to be the exhibition space for these experiments: a network of Movie-Dromes would have been built throughout the world to show experiments from the culture-intercom. “The audience,” wrote VanDerBeek, “Takes what it can or wants from the presentation and makes its own conclusions. Each member of the audience will build his own references and realizations from the image-flow.” Additionally, the urgent utopianism of his project cannot ...


Artist Profile: Nadim Abbas


Cataract, site specific installation, dimensions variable, 2010

Your series "I Would Prefer Not To" consists of 22 photographs and action figures in vitrine, labeled based on disorders and psychoses. The series focuses on "men without qualities," males cut off from society by the Internet, videogames, and anime. What drew you to this subculture? Do you think of their withdrawal as a kind of decadence that accompanies historical and literary portrayals of societies on the brink of disaster?

Growing up in Hong Kong in the 80s & 90s, it was very easy for a boy to become immersed in the manga and anime that was being imported over here from Japan.  For this project, I was drawn to what is popularly known as “otaku” culture partly because of this childhood familiarity.  In Chinese, “otaku” is often translated as 宅 男, which although usually spoken in the same breath, actually carries very different connotations.  宅 is short for housing (complex), or tenement (block), and 男 means male.  The term thus describes the stereotype of the otaku as a socially inept male subject walled up in his apartment.  While this is a generalization of a more complex state of affairs, I do think there is a certain truth to the suggestion that otaku culture arose, or at least thrives within a uniquely urban context.  It’s difficult to imagine an otaku pursuing his/her hobby in a log cabin in the woods.  My concern with this work then was not why otaku do what they do, but rather, what kind of space allows this to happen?  It is as if the extremely dense accumulation of cramped interior spaces that characterize many Asian cities encourages a turning inward, or a vacuum of mental space itself. 

I hesitate to use the term decadent because of ...


Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 1: The Spark


This is the first in a series of six essays, drawing on interviews with speculative thinkers finding and defining the technologies of the Future-Present.

Near Tappi Saki, Aomori (via Pink Tentacle

It is the 21st Century, and history has delivered us into a time when aerial swarms of hypertextual futurist essays sling bombshell proclamations down upon us, guided down the invisible path of a laser beam. With each new detonation our grounding worldview shakes with tectonic intensity, as what we have always known as “the future” is driven to critical fission when hitting the present. Behold, this new technology: the “Future-Present”: where our dreams collide with reality. There is no fantastical World of Tomorrow, and there is no reality in which we know the real from the imagined. There is only the waking dream of the categories’ simultaneous coexistence. In this world, cities explode, the network sings like razor wire, a caustic, aerosolized powder rises up from pavement beneath our feet, people wearing masks shout instructions over our heads. The dream is still going on, a double exposure of ideas over impact weapons. It is difficult to say whether we are excited, or terrified, or bored, or confused. But we understand this, don’t we? We must say we understand this. There is no one else that could understand this, other than us. What would it mean, if no one understood the future?


Electronic Countermeasures GPS enabled quadcopter, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today (video)



Announcing: Heather Corcoran Appointed Executive Director of Rhizome


Today, the Rhizome staff is pleased to announce Heather Corcoran as Rhizome's new Executive Director. Corcoran succeeds Lauren Cornell who has served the organization for the past seven years and will continue to be involved by joining the Rhizome Board.

Corcoran comes to Rhizome from Film and Video Umbrella in London where she has served as Deputy Director. She has previously worked as a Curator at FACT, the UK’s leading center for new media, and at SPACE, London and Interaccess Electronic Media Arts Centre in Toronto. Considered a leading figure in media art internationally, Heather has also produced large-scale projects with the Barbican Centre, AND Festival and was a contributing Curator for the 2010 Liverpool Biennial.  She will take up the new post on September 15th.

The staff is very excited to have Heather on board and look forward to working with her! It goes without saying that we will miss Lauren, but know her presence and support will still be felt through her participation on the Board of Directors and her continued work in the field!



Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Digital Graffiti


Animation clip from "BONUS ROUND: REVOK VS GIANT" by Diego Bergia [PK]

A collection of items from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive and around the web, around the theme of 'Digital Graffiti' 


Berlin-based street artist uses QR Codes in his work, such as his Graffyard project, which is part archive, part graffiti work which accesses photographs of removed graffiti:
I am using QR Codes to preserve graffiti for posterity by photographing the graffiti before it is removed. After the graffiti has been cleaned off by the local authorities or building owners i place a QR Code in the exact location which resolves to an image of the original. In that way a mobile phone with a QR-Code Reader can be used to travel back in time.

Video of artist
Artist's Website


Project invovles machine which creates images on walls by firing accurately firing paintballs onto the surface: 

The Facadeprinter is a simple robot. Its purpose: shooting out large scale graphics onto walls. Calculating movements based on digital artwork, software controlled motors position an airpressure-marker to fire thousands of colorballs and print the work on a distant surface. The artwork grows dot by dot, like the drawing of a magic pen. An inkjet-printer in architectonical dimensions.

PK Link
Project Website

Free Art Technology

F.A.T. have produced various projects merging graffiti with new technologies, such as: 

QR Code Stenciler 

" ... a free, fully-automated utility which converts QR codes into vector-based stencil patterns suitable for laser-cutting ... "

PK Link
Project Page

Graffiti Markup Language
Graffiti Markup Language (.gml) is a universal, XML based, open file format designed to store graffiti motion data (x and y coordinates and time). The format is designed to maximize readability and ease of implementation, even for hobbyist ...


Rhizome Announces Commissions 2012 Grantees


For Your Eyes Only by Adam Harvey

Rhizome is pleased to announce the ten artists/collectives awarded grants through our annual Commissions Program. This year over 300 proposals were submitted by artists from around the world. Two commissions were selected by Rhizome's membership, through an open vote, and eight by a jury including Hans Ulrich Obrist, co director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London; Jonathan Lethem, author of The Ecstasy of Influence; Caitlin Jones, Executive Director of Western Front; Renny Gleeson of Weiden + Kennedy; and Lauren Cornell, Executive Director of Rhizome. 

This year, the Rhizome staff has also selected an honorary award for Jesse Hulcher's REAL TIME MACHINE a proposal that represents his conviction, as well as a solid plan, for building functioning time machine. While we will not be awarding him a grant, we wish him the best in his endeavors.   

See below for the descriptions of each commission from the artists's proposals.

Jury Awards:

Karolina Sobecka - Persona

Persona is a game, a twist of the classic First Person Shooter (FPS) game genre: the gameplay is centered on a gun combat and experienced through the eyes of the gun-holder. The gun is a prominent feature of the composition, and in my game it fires automatically on anyone within its field of view. The player cannot drop the weapon or stop it from firing, but he can turn or hide — obstructing his vision. The object of the game is to shoot as few people as possible. The gameplay is as stimulating and intense as in the traditional FPS, but the conflict here is between the player and his own in-game persona. The off-screen player grapples for control, trapped in the body and actions of the game convention.

Dan Phiffer - is an invisible Temporary Autonomous Zone built on Internet technologies like wifi and HTML. The project seeks to build a network of independent wifi routers, each hosting local services that don't require an Internet connection. The routers have no upstream bandwidth, there is no mesh protocol. Each node of the network is a LAN island in an archipelago of affiliated websites.

Juan Obando - MUSEUM MIXTAPE (Dirty South Edition)

Composed of a series of videos, limited edition cassette copies, a website, and a downloadable album, Museum Mixtape aims to create a playful connection between hip-hop narratives and institutional art spaces. By inviting local rap artists to comment (via performance) on contemporary collections in their respective locations and presenting these collaborations as an audiovisual series, a new space is offered to reflect on the current state of cultural economies, institutional community engagement and emerging subcultural forms and their intersections.

Sarah Sweeney - The Forgetting Machine

The Forgetting Machine is a proposed iOS application that works within the field of social psychology and memory science. This project imagines a space in which the reconsolidation theory discussed by Jonah Lehrer governs not only our physical memories but the prosthetic memory objects stored in our archives. This project mimics the materiality of analog objects by destroying digital files a little bit each time they are accessed.

Brenna Murphy - Expanding Labyrinth

For the past two years, I have been steadily weaving a digital labyrinth for meditation and exploration. The labyrinth is carved into the shared netscape through a series of linked web pages that contain talismanic arrangements of images, videos and sounds. All of the work is generated from my daily creative experimentation with computer graphics programs. For me, graphics programs are spiritual tools that allow one to psychedelically engage with the fabric of reality. I'm deeply committed to pushing the innovative possibilities inherent in these contemporary folk art tools. My labyrinth of pages is an active public record of my explorations. I propose to direct a rhizome commission toward the expansion of this project over the course of the next year. I am requesting a monthly salary to support me in this full time endeavor.

Adam Harvey - Dark Objects

This project will explore the aesthetics of visual obscurity in an era of machine learning and computer vision. The result of this exploration will be the production of a series of objects for human eyes only: objects that cannot be recognized by computer vision, but can still be recognized by humans.

Kenyatta Cheese - The Project for the Study of Corporate Personhood

The Project for Corporate Personhood (aka Kenyatta Co) is a three month performance that explores the topic of identity at a moment when the language and ideas typically confined to product marketing have their way into the realm of everyday life.

Kenyatta Cheese (creator of Know Your Meme, also a person) will sell the exclusive use of his name to a corporation for a period of three months. That corporation will assume both the real world and online identity of 'Kenyatta Cheese' the person, remaining him as a brand with the help of ethnographers, lawyers, focus groups, a creative agency, and friends and acquaintances. The corporation will develop 'Kenyatta Cheese' as a product and take it to market, franchising his personhood for the remainder.  Meanwhile, Kenyatta (the person) will not be able to use his name except in the case of emergencies and air travel. 

Ann Hirsch - Playground 

I was one of these children wandering in the "pedophile’s playground", as Dr. Phil calls it. When I was thirteen I became involved online with an older, twenty seven year-old male. We would have naive versions of cyber sex and phone sex because I had no idea what masturbation or orgasms really were. He tried to teach me and eventually I got a "real world" sexual education. We also shared a level of intimacy I had never shared with anyone before. He confided in me about his muscular dystrophy, which would confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his potentially short life as well as his resulting offline social shortcomings. At the time, I knew he would be classified as a pedophile but he was also my best friend, my confidant. He also respected my real world privacy and never asked where I lived, who my parents were, what school I went to. But he would often use the intimacy we had to convince me to cross lines I wasn't comfortable with and as I grew older, I realized I needed to pull away from this unhealthy relationship.

I want to create a performance piece based on this experience. It was a complex relationship, that I am not alone in experiencing. However, because of the taboos and technologies involved it's a relationship rarely portrayed in culture. I would cast and hire a young girl as a stand in for myself, and a man in his late twenties to play my online ex-boyfriend. They will sit across from one another and over the course of about thirty minutes, type out to one another a live chat, while their voices, pre recorded, will speak the lines of chat as they type them. The chat will be projected live for the audience to see and it will be a narrative of their relationship. It will start off innocent, as my own relationship with the older man did and become more and more sexual as the younger girl becomes more comfortable with the man and more curious about what he can teach her about sex. The goal is to humanize both the man and the girl in their relationship, with both of them taking something from the other while being exploited. The performance will be documented as a video and sound piece.

Member Awards:

Jeff Thompson - Computers on Law & Order

Starting in 1990, spanning 456 episodes and 20 seasons, “Law & Order” has no peers when it comes to following cultural and political trends through popular media. Because of its particular time, one of the clearest shifts during the show’s run is our relationship to technology.

I propose to create an extensive blog documenting computer use on "Law & Order". Over the course of the series, computers begin to appear the background of offices, then actors begin actively using them onscreen. Crimes using computers, BBS systems, email, and databases start to appear. Internet and email communication become norms, and as the show closes in 2010 mobile computing is in constant use.

Jessica Parris Westbrook and Adam Trowbridge - free and open source textBook/toolKit for art foundations

We are working on a free and open source “textbook/toolkit" that addresses the need to teach, contextualize, and share a wide array of contemporary media (art + design + social practice) skills in the first year of college (or earlier) using project scenarios that integrate technology and studio practice(s) in contemporary meaningful ways.  

We believe that as companies like Apple turn from education and full operating systems to iDevice designed for consumption and as megacorporations like NBC Universal (Comcast GE) abandon support for any sort of open Internet in favor of intellectual property control, young artists should be introduced to the technologies and approaches behind the constant manipulative media stream they are subject to from birth and should have some agency in making digital art and design work free of corporate influence and constraints. 

The textbook/toolkit will address and include both technical topics (e.g. what are vectors, how can you set up an ad hoc mobile network, etc) and conceptual approaches (e.g. social networking sites as control structures, media literacy, history of the internets, new forms and materials, etc) as well as language and resources for going further with skills and ideas. This textbook can be used as a reliable point of reference for those of us who need to develop and design scalable responsive curriculum for beginners. Our goal is to design for artists and teachers, in a format that is accessible to a very wide demographic, and friendly to all levels of learning.



Artist Profile: JK Keller


Realigning My Thoughts on Jasper Johns (screenshot)  2011

You seem to be preoccupied with the viral spreading of your work (in your website, under the social media “like” count, you wrote “Seeing these numbers rise is my drug.”) Why is this such an important consideration to you?

For me, the number of likes/+'s/mentions/views are the closest thing I have to renumeration for work that is currently difficult to commodify. The means in which we are able to sell digital work is still very much loose and up in the air. I can take solace in these numbers. Know that the work is reaching people, even if the specific metrics are a fools game, an addictive comparison mechanism where the only impossible successful outcome is a continual rate of increase.

Is the possibility of the rapid spreading of your work one of the reasons you choose new media or video as a medium for most of your works?

It's less about rapidly spreading my work than about the possibility of widely spreading it. And cheaply. My technologically formative years were in the 90's when the internet was revolutionizing the idea of ubiquitous publishing and communication. We were using modems measured in baud, emailing around a tiny video of a cg dancing baby, not streaming the latest feature-length film wondering if a single service was going to have 1 billion active users. The 90's were a transitional period, and I think we're in another one (yes, yes, we're always in a transitional period). But unlike the technological idealism of the 90's led by thinkers, tinkerers, and artists, we seem to be in a confusing "what the fuck just happened" period where we're scared/uneasy/apprehensive about where technology may be leading us ...


Videos from Eyeo Festival


Eyeo Festival has uploaded a number of videos of keynotes from Casey Reas, Ben Fry, Robert Hodgin, Paola Antonelli and others:

Eyeo2012 - Casey Reas from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

Eyeo2012 - Robert Hodgin from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

Eyeo2012 - Ben Fry from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

Eyeo 2012 - Paola Antonelli from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.


“Ghosts in the Machine” at the New Museum


 “Ghosts in the Machine” Public Programs July 18–September 30, 2012

“Ghosts in the Machine” will be accompanied by a series of public programs that explore the temporal and social dimensions of the relationship between art and technology. These include a conversation between artist Otto Piene and exhibition curator Massimiliano Gioni, a series of films that elaborate on the idea of “expanded cinema” and offer a counterpoint to the immersive environment of Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome (1963–66/2012) on view in the exhibition, and a performance by choreographer Tony Orrico that will test the limits of the artist’s body as a medium for drawing. A panel discussion at the end of September will open up the concept of “technological art” as well as invite critical reflection on the exhibition itself.


Otto Piene in conversation with Massimiliano Gioni 

Wednesday July 18, 7 p.m. 

Free to New Museum members, $10 General Public 


An evening devoted to an intergenerational conversation about art and technology between artist Otto Piene and exhibition curator Massimiliano Gioni. Otto Piene (German, born 1928) is a leading figure in kinetic art and one of the founding members of the group ZERO, initiated in 1957. Central to Piene’s art practice are connections between art, technology, and nature. In 1974, he succeeded György Kepes as the director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT where Piene established MIT as an important locus internationally for furthering the union of art and technology. Massimiliano Gioni is Associate Director and Director of Special Exhibitions at the New Museum, New York. He curated “Ghosts in the Machine,” with Gary Carrion-Murayari and he is currently organizing the 55th Venice Biennale opening in summer 2013.


Get Weird: Antipop Consortium

Friday July 27, 7 p.m.

$10 New Museum members, $12 General ...