Posts for June 2012

Rhizome Commissions Rank Voting has started


Commissions Rank Voting has begun! All members can vote. Sign up for a Rhizome membership today!



Rank Voting: Sunday June 10, 2012 - Saturday June 30, 2012

In the second round, Rhizome members choose two Rhizome Commissions recipients from the pool of twenty-five or more finalists.

The results are determined by single transferable vote, also known as instant runoff voting. Each voter ranks the proposals from most favorite to least favorite. If a proposal has more than 50% of first-place votes after the initial tally, it becomes the winner. If not, the lowest-ranking proposal is removed from the list, and the votes are automatically tallied again.

Rhizome members are allowed to cast one vote per cycle, regardless of how many valid memberships they may have. We reserve the right to eliminate votes if we have reason to believe that they come from a member who is voting with more than one membership. Members who have submitted proposals are welcome to vote.

This year, Rhizome is placing a specific focus on projects geared that address social issues and/or promote individual advancement through education or participation. Our focus is not restricted to this theme, but it is a priority.

Rhizome will award ten grants: eight grants will be determined by a jury of experts in the field, and two will be determined by Rhizome’s membership through an open vote.



The Golden Age of Dutch Aerial Landscapes


Noordwijk aan Zee

The English artist Mishka Henner has collected the images of the Dutch government's censorship of aerial images showing economic, political, or military locations. Previously, in 2009, the artist Greg Allen utilized these images as subjects for a series of paintings. While most nations take steps to protect sites of interest from being seen on technologies like Google Earth, the Dutch appear to do it with unique flair. The Dutch interventions deploy strategic pixelated abstractions, presumably to more easily blend into the digitally represented landscape. Though they destroy the presumed object of interest, they also create beautiful new impossible landscapes. Says Henner:

Governments concerned about the sudden visibility of political, economic and military locations exerted considerable influence on suppliers of this imagery to censor sites deemed vital to national security. This form of censorship continues today and techniques vary from country to country with preferred methods generally including use of cloning, blurring, pixelization, and whitening out sites of interest.

Surprisingly, one of the most vociferous of all governments to enforce this form of censorship were the Dutch, hiding hundreds of significant sites including royal palaces, fuel depots and army barracks throughout their relatively small country. The Dutch method of censorship is notable for its stylistic intervention compared to other countries; imposing bold, multi-coloured polygons over sites rather than the subtler and more standard techniques employed in other countries. The result is a landscape occasionally punctuated by sharp aesthetic contrasts between secret sites and the rural and urban environments surrounding them.

The technique is reminiscent of the "micropatterns" on military camouflage, which mimic poor-resolution digital photography. "Micropatterns" are not designed to hide soldiers from direct human eyesight. Instead, they allow soldiers to blend more easily into contemporary surveillance images. Yet the Dutch process of landscape camouglage carries other ...


Assembled Texts by Harm van den Dorpel



If rationality and consistent thought are the preferred distinguishing marks of man, then even if it is admitted that man, as a whole, also has passions, the supremacy of rational thought over them may well seem an unquestionable idea. This is all the more so, since it is quite obvious that gaining some such control is a basic condition of growing up, and even, at the extreme, of sanity. But to move from that into making such control into the ideal, rules out a priori most forms of spontaneity. And this seems to be absurd.

I would suggest to find your deepest impulse, and follow that. The notion that there is something that is one's deepest impulse, that there is a discovery to be made here, rather than a decision; and the notion that one trusts what is so discovered, although unclear where it will lead—these, rather, are the point. The combination—discovery, trust, and risk—are central to my sort of outlook, as of course they are to the state of being in love.



Although this is not print, I write in a manner that facilitates transmission in other forms such as print, spoken word, and via a screen reader. So terms such as "this article" are preferable to "this website," and I avoid terms like "click here," which makes no sense when using a screen reader, for instance. In determining what language is most suitable, it is helpful to imagine I'm writing the content for print. So my work is no longer a finished corpus, some content enclosed in an object or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces. The content in these traces is a glimpse of something, an encounter ...


Rhizome at the Reasons to be Creative Conference


This Thursday, June 14th, Rhizome's Nick Hasty and Ben Fino-Radin will be speaking about digital preservation and the ArtBase at the Reasons to be Creative Festival here in NYC. Featuring a wide variety of renowned speakers, such as John Maeda, Ken Perlin, Jer Thorp, Zach Lieberman, and Amit Pitaru, the two-day conference will be hosted at the School of Visual Arts. From the website:

Reasons to be Creative is a festival for creative artists, designers and coders. The festival brings together some of the most respected and brilliant minds from the worlds of art, code, design and education to share their passion, knowledge, insights and work. Expect two days packed with talks, networking, inspiration and learning.

Tickets are available here.


Jana Euler at Real Fine Arts


Identity Forming Processes Overpainted (2012)


The German Brussels-based Jana Euler presents four new paintings developed over the last year in her eponymous, first American solo show at Real Fine Arts’ storefront. These new works strike a more personal, and immersive chord than her previous solo at Dependance, "Form Follows Information Exchange." The Dependance solo presented ecosystems of a common self caught in postmodern standards of emotion, figuring in as vignettes — press conferences, mating animals, sculpted bodies with screen posteriors, and office workers discussing themselves into bobble heads. While Euler's latest solo orients from this critical form, it coalesces as the maze that is female post-adolescence, paraphrased in space with sophisticated timing.

Incised onto the surface of a female figure, cramped into a question mark, nine eyes form a path across "The Body of the Exhibition." The stream of eyes rounding up the body are reminiscent of a jelly-bean path left to reflect on what was, amalgamated with the apparition of vinyl department store footprints directing us to a next weigh station. The body's primitivist-esque contorted limbs are apportioned by two lines standing in for the exhibition's two half-transparent screens, which bisect the space into four quadrants. Orienting the four paintings to be viewed in an individual progression, the two half-transparent walls manifest as a literal screen memory, bringing into physical fruition the kind of layers that conjoin between the liminal internal time zones etched into our psychic and corporeal selves. Wandering between the three paintings with the press release/facsimile of "The Body of the Exhibition" in hand is to be absorbed into a psychodrama, directed by the skeins of social and biological expectation.

Social Expectations Overpainted (2012)

The trio begins eyes closed with social expectations, winding into instincts, and ending on the open eyed identity forming ...


Artist Profile: Daniel Temkin


From Temkin's series Glitchometry (2011-)

You've described Entropy, an esolang you designed, as "a programming language as immersive art piece," "best experienced by a programmer working alone from home." Do you think there is a gap between new media artists and programmers--do you feel like the audience for the Entropy language is less enthusiastic about it than non-programmers who are interested in new media art? Does work like Entropy bridge this gap at all?

Esolangs, like most code art, require a knowledge of programming to use and understand; so they’ve primarily been for programmers. But the gap between programmers, non-programmers, and new media folks is closing as coding becomes a more common skill. In the Seven on Seven keynote, Douglas Rushkoff called for children to be taught programming at a young age in school, to help them resist becoming passive consumers of electronic media. I love the idea of code art in a 5th grade art class, alongside coil pot mugs.

Programming languages are logic systems, sets of rules that make up a way of thinking a programmer has to internalize to use. Esolangs take advantage of this to provide strange rule sets that play on meaning and nonsense, or otherwise construct a point of view that’s unusual. It’s in using these weird tools to solve ordinary problems that their perspectives are exposed. Brainfuck, probably the best-known esolang, is simple, clear, and functional in its definition, but requires the programmer to construct long rants of gibberish to use. It reminds me of work like Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cubes (1974), where exploring a rigid, contained system takes us on a ludicrous journey. Because brainfuck refuses to concede to the human thought process, it dramatizes its collision with computer logic.

With my language Entropy, I ...


Jed Martin's Charmed Career


Michel Houllebecq's novel The Map and the Territory (La carte et le territoire) is a future art history of the French artist Jed Martin. Martin's output is both limited and clinical: he desires, above all, to "give an objective description of the world" (27), and he creates a body of work consisting of four series made throughout his life.

Aside from the drawings produced in his youth, Martin’s first work was the series “Three Hundred Photos of Hardware.” “Avoiding emphasis on the shininess of the metals and the menacing nature of the forms, Jed had used a neutral lighting, with few contrasts, and photographed articles of hardware against a background of mid-gray velvet. Nuts, bolts, and adjusting knobs appeared like so many jewels, gleaming discreetly” (26). The series appears to be an extension of a previous project, undertaken in his high school bedroom with mostly natural light, to create “an exhaustive catalogue of the objects of human manufacturing in the Industrial Age” (20). Martin has difficulty articulating his project, and his artist's statement emphasizes the advanced aluminum engineering responsible for creating most industrial objects. It's the work Andreas Gursky would have made taking pictures of single objects.

While claiming to be done with photography, Martin’s next series returns to his technical facility with the medium. Enthralled by the beauty of Michelin Departments road maps, Martin experiences a mild attack of Stendhal syndrome after unfolding a map of the Creuse and Haute-Vienne: “This map was sublime. Overcome, he began to tremble in front of the food display. Never had he contemplated an object as magnificent, as rich in emotion and meaning” (28). The Michelin series consisted of over eight hundred photographs and was responsible for Martin’s first major show, sponsored by Michelin, titled “THE MAP IS MORE INTERESTING THAN THE TERRITORY.”

Martin’s work fits easily into a certain popular narrative of contemporary art: conceptual enough to make critics giddy, effortless enough to affirm a naysayer’s belief in the overwhelming bullshit of the gallery, and relevant without being topical. Most importantly, it's never outside complex contemporary fiscal systems: art remains a good investment. These are precisely the qualities them so believable as artworks, so easy to imagine. It is what separates the novel so completely from other narratives of faux-artworks, with their gaudy, impossibly transcendent works of beauty.

David Hockney, Mr. and Mrs. Clark Percy (1970)

Martin’s next aesthetic endeavor took him into the world of painting: his collection of sixty-five oil paintings, collectively known as the “Professions” series, depicted the various modes of employ which form a functioning society. Martin creates another taxonomy, this time a human taxonomy: with subjects ranging from Maya Dubois, Remote Maintenance Assistant to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Discussing the Future of Information Technology (subtitled The Conversation at Palo Alto). The portrait of Gates and Jobs is considered his most essential work: Martin gives “a magical glow to the forests of California pine descending toward the sea” (72). (Eventually, Steve Jobs up bought the painting for $2 million).

The Chinese essayist Wong Fu Xin maintains that Martin’s paintings from this period, which can be broken into the Series of Simple Professions and the Series of Business Compositions, represent the minimum number of professions required to recreate the productive conditions of society: they “give a relational and dialectical image of the functioning of the economy as a whole” (73). When unable to complete the final painting of the series, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons Dividing Up the Art Market, Martin destroyed it. His final painting is one of Houellebecq, which he presents to the writer as a gift.


Artist Profile: Christopher Baker


Christopher Baker,  Murmur Study, Installation View, Audi Open Space Pavilion, Frankfurt, 2011
photo: KMS Team 

In Hello World! or: How I learned to stop listening and love the noise, you compiled 5,000 online diaries and showed them on one enormous wall. Along with their accompanying audio, they all play at once; you can occasionally hear one voice above the others as the sound rises and falls. How many of the individual clips did you watch? How were they selected? Are you familiar with the people in any way (via previous knowledge, web stalking, etc.)? Do any of them know that they're in this artwork?

My original motivation was to create an experience that addressed the contrast between our greatest hopes for new communication technologies and what they actually deliver. After spending time with an earlier iteration (which was essentially 5000 randomly selected videos), I decided that I really wanted to capture the optimism and excitement of new users as they spoke directly with their audience. To that end, I generated a set of search keywords that included phrases like "my first video blog" or "my first vlog" (among others), then downloaded about 30,000 of the resulting videos. In the end I decided to choose videos that had little to no post-production (i.e. graphics, titles, edits, etc), featured a typical webcam head and shoulders shot, and were recorded in a personal or private space, like a bedroom, home, car or bathroom. Since I downloaded about 1500 hours of video, I wasn't able to watch each video from start to finish. I scanned each video and evaluated them for their visual quality and background scene as much as their spoken content. Since the videos were found via a public search, I had no connection with any of ...


The Artist's E-Book


In 1853, Karl Marx sent a dispatch from London to be published in the New York Daily Tribune. Reflecting on the role of the British in India, Marx decreed that “England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.” The pain of those material foundations, of course, merely sets the stage for the new world’s worker’s utopia. A similarly gargantuan task could describe the e-books released by Badlands Unlimited. Badlands describes itself as making “books in an expanded field,” a tall order in today’s milieu of nostalgic preservation for the printed book’s 20th century form.

The press’ latest release, How to Download a Boyfriend, features image-based contributions from 50 artists strung together by a tongue-in-cheek interactive quiz about love in the digital age. Ian Cheng offers a peek at Duchamp’s Étant donnés through a BlackBerry camera, while Sarah Chow’s tantalizing cotton candy colored, textured rock face hints at a pleasure of touch that remains unfulfilled by the flat smoothness of tablet technology. Other artists include vanguard stalwards Tony Conrad and Peggy Ahwesh, new media stars Cory Archangel and Petra Cortright, alongside Billy Rennekamp, Josh Kline, Travess Smalley, and other artists that have been previously featured on Rhizome. While the HTDLAB engages with the practice of reading and being an e-book, it's also site refreshingly free of reverence and infused with a spirit of exploration and experimentation.

Questions range from the practical (Can I use your Netflix account if we break up?) to the absurd (“What names do you scream into a car crusted pillow with OK Cupid howling on a laptop nearby?”). The interactive answering of questions to which any ...


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Plants


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

Above: Tree Studies by Nicolas Sasson  

Plant-In City

Art installation merges gardening and technology, creating Arduino-powered frames with sensors for plants to be monitored, and interacted with via smartphone app. From the project’s Kickstarter page:

We’re creating a space where a community who loves architecture, technology and plants can meet. Our mission is to integrate these disciplines into a new paradigm that changes the way we live and interact with nature. We believe that interacting with plants will improve our lives.

Plant-in City taps into the natural systems that foster plant life to give the plants themselves a voice. This revolutionary planter system contains built-in sensors that are activated by sun exposure, changes in soil moisture, humidity, temperature, and other natural cycles. Once activated, these sensors translate the environmental data into sounds or visuals, creating an imaginary vibrant wilderness.

[Project Page | PK Link]


Data Garden Quartet

A recording of abstract ambient IDM created with a band made up of living tropical plants. Sensors were placed onto the plant leaves to detect conductive biorhythms in real-time. You can hear the whole recorded piece, with spoken introduction, below:



Electric Ikebana

Corporate net-art work is an audio / visual 3D HTML5 generative piece put ...