Posts for March 2013

Rhizome Digest: Best of Rhizome February


A Veil That Is A Network, From Metahaven, Disposable Imagecraft, 2012


Artist Profiles


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks



Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Contemporary Plotter



A collection of examples from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive on the modern adoption of an older computer output technology - the plotter.

Invented in 1953, the plotter was a vectorial drawing output device developed by Remington-Rand for the UNIVAC computer for technical drawing. As other forms of printers nor monitors were as ubiquitous as they are now, the plotter drawing became the main format for early computer art, which can be seen by the many examples produced by the Algorists.

As new approaches and availability to technical means, plotter or vector drawing has over the last ten years had a renaissance, with various projects utilizing this method for 'live' drawings. Many move away from traditional pen drawing, utilizing other media such as lasers, spray paint, and brushes. Here are a small collection of examples which take the plotter principle and apply it in new and interesting ways.

Lunar Trails

Project by Seb Lee-Delisle takes well known arcade game 'Lunar Lander', and documents every gameplay on an accompanying visual plot.

Lunar Trails is an interactive installation, first commissioned by the Dublin Science Gallery for their GAME exhibition, running from November 2012 to the end of January 2013.

It features a full size arcade cabinet running the vintage 1979 game Lunar Lander. As you play the game, the path that you take is rendered on the wall with a large hanging drawing robot.

The trails build up to produce artworks that are solely created by the game players, and is a reflection of all their individual journeys to the surface of the moon.


Businesslike: DIS Magazine's Stock Database


Shawn Maximo, from Neighboring Interests, 2013

Last month, DIS Magazine made The Suzanne Geiss Company, a gallery in downtown New York, an open photo studio. Don’t worry if you missed it. There wasn’t much to see. The first time I went, the main gallery was empty, save for some dark bags on the floor. In the office, a few people chatted and looked at a laptop. “The photographer is on break,” they told me. “Come back in an hour.” I did. It was just as deserted. (Later, I learned that Frank Benson was taking photos in the dark back room, to avoid interference from the main gallery’s skylight.) I returned a few days later, on a Sunday morning when the editors of DIS were there. One of them was polishing a prop fridge. An intern busied herself with a vacuum.

But the substance of the show wasn’t what was happening in the gallery but the result of it:, a fully functional online stock-photo database. The project received its initial funding in the 2011 cycle of Rhizome Commissions, and once DIS secured the rest of the necessary capital and set up the site’s framework, they started production at Suzanne Geiss. will continue to expand its offerings as the contributing artists finish retouching their work. For now, visitors can peruse Shawn Maximo’s surreal interiors, where domestic spaces are enclosed by planes of sky and beach; Ian Cheng’s 3D renderings of heads with the DIS Images logo mapped over their contours; and Katja Novitskova’s insertions of safari animals and Powerpoint clip art in white-cube galleries.

Katja Novitskova, from Future Growth Approximations, 2013

DIS Images marks a significant shift in the way artists approach stock photography. Onlines image databases proliferated in the ...


Artist Profile: Sascha Pohflepp


The Supertask (Yesterday's Today), installed at LEAP, Berlin, January 2013

Your work displays an interest in the interplay between narrative and identity. How do those notions inform your practice? 

My interest there mainly originates in questions around myth and reality in regard to the development of new technologies, which all tend to have their proper narratives. Any such effort requires the expense of resources and as such has to be 'sold' to society in one way or the other. In the twentieth century this often happened for political ends whereas today arguably narratives of business are more dominant again. Technologies that originated in vast government projects have transitioned into something else. The Golden Institute from 2009 which is set in an alternate history 1980s America was the first project to have the question of the technological narrative at its center and also the first piece in which I worked with an actor. This was a conscious move that aimed to give this fictitious narrative an identity – in this case the strategist of a think-tank which develops and deploys fairly radical energy technologies. The character, Douglas Arnd, is loosely based on historical figures such as Herman Kahn, who was one of the first to point out the importance of narrative in regard to technology. In Forever Future from 2010 he was joined by another character, Robert Walker, who in a sense is the disillusioned customer of the dreams of the 1950s, yet refuses to let go of his dreams of life in space. As a reaction, he constructs a sort of earth-bound spaceship, helping those unfulfilled visions to survive while also hoping that this may be a cure for his own nostalgia for the futures that he never got to live. Both men's identities are probably fairly American, but ...


Link Editions publishes new book, Best of Rhizome 2012


Link Editions publishes the Best of Rhizome 2012.


Elsewhere, After the Flood: Glitch Feminism and the Genesis of Glitch Body Politic


I first began to realize the potentiality of my glitch body at the age of thirteen. If not thirteen, maybe even a few years younger—eleven, even—when I signed up on Yahoo! under the handle of "LuvPunk12" and began fucking around online. When I say "fucking" I mean it in the literal sense. I lost my digital cherry to a person with the handle of Jephthah, ironically, while my parents made spaghetti marinara in the next room of our tiny studio apartment.

Some history: in Old Testament Jephthah led the Israelites in battle against Ammon (now known as Amman, capital of Jordan) and, after defeating the Ammonites, apparently sacrificed his own daughter, the outcome of some sort of vow he had made before the war. Other versions of the story say that Jephthah's daughter wasn't really sacrificed—as in, she wasn't killed—but that instead she was condemned to perpetual virginity, guaranteed by placing her body into solitary confinement, a veritable death in itself. I'd like to lend this daughter some more credit than she's typically given—to imagine that perhaps, when left alone, she spent her remaining years exploring the limits and freedoms of her own body, overturning the confinement by seizing the solitude as a proverbial room of her own. But history is funny that way—biblically or otherwise, all too often bodies like this, narratively identified as female, are locked away, and, as Emily Dickinson once wrote, "shut up in Prose", spoken on behalf of, and, in their sacrifice, never provided an opportunity to speak up for themselves.

I called Jephthah "Jeph"; I never knew what Jeph was—man, woman, or floating somewhere in-between these suffocating dualities. But I knew what I could be. As a kid, I could be a teenager. As a teenager, I could be a woman. As a woman, I could be a man. As a man, I could be a cyborg (thanks, Haraway). Shape-shifting between all of these projected selves, I could forget that I was a browned queering body that, in being born and ejected into the world, had had femininity forced upon it by the unforgiving mores of sociality. Trying on these different corporeal conceptions, I came to redress—and undress—the fictive illusions of sex and gender.

Years later I think back on this time as a time where I first realized that the construct of "Away From Keyboard" (AFK), pitted against "In Real Life" (IRL)—what theorist Nathan Juergenson calls "digital dualism"—was truly false. Though I hadn't yet found the language to express this, the experience kicked off a longer journey of unravelling my own liminal identity. It was via virtuality that I was able to exercise this muscle first. I use the word "virtuality" for lack of a better term, yet, I still take issue with it. That which is "virtual" is assumed to not be real, yet it needs to be asserted that what happens in these vast digital landscapes is, in fact, very real, and non-negotiably so.

So how does the "glitch" enter into all of this? And in what way is the glitch body catalyzed by—or disrupted by—the histories of feminism? Is the glitch body a [feminist] fantasy? Or is it the future of body politic, a signaling of a next chapter, an opportunity to amend the violence and divisive conservatism of normativity?

Feminism in its essential practice aspires toward attaining and defending equal rights for women. In its many strands it fingers class (anarcha-feminism), race (black and postcolonial feminism), the environment (ecofeminism), and more, as sources for amending prejudice. However, within feminism is the central problematic of difference, and this difference—the split between that which we associate as "man" versus "woman", "masculine" versus "feminine"—cannot ever be truly resolved as long as our constructions of the body remain unchanged. Feminism as we know it is codependent upon the same structures it aims to fight against; it cannot exist without accepting and acknowledging the systems that are already in place. In this acceptance and acknowledgement, true progress becomes implausible. The real problem, the core prison, is the body itself. A body identified as female will never be equal, as the permissions involved in making this so would require male-identifying bodies and those who claim masculinity as an agent of power to systematically relinquish primary aspects of their privilege and provide reparation for complex histories of institutionalized disenfranchisement and silencing. In a society that rewards a body for being born male, and equates ascendancy with masculinity, hoping for the aforementioned relinquishing is somewhat of a delusion. The body has been manipulated as a tool of coercive culture-making, and it is the desperate resistance to let go of material constructions of the body that make the aspiration toward "equality" somewhat trite, and draw attention to the fact that in order to evolve past these outdated systems, a new system needs to be put into place. Working within the systems that have failed us, with the same tools and language that have undermined us, will ultimately ruin us. The institution of the body is cancered, and it is time now to let it expire—or to kill it off ourselves.

Enter: the glitch.


The Download: Deanna Havas



Rhizome is pleased to present The Download's first free and open project, featuring Deanna Havas. Havas offers a solution to earn back your membership donation once required to access The Download. By participating in the Affiliate Program (2013) a user can set up their own affiliate website to generate traffic to its host site, As an affiliate publisher, you will be reimbursed relative to how much traffic you drive to the site, which is calculated via metrics like pay per click and cost per impression. The package includes a small website, banner ads, and media ready to use for your microsite as well as step by step instructions to create your website. Affiliate Program creates an alternative economy that enables a Rhizome member to reap rewards by participating in the program.

The Download is Rhizome's digital art collecting program which features one work per month for free download. 


Emoticon, Emoji, Text: Pt. 1, I Second That Emoticon


(This is the first in a three-part sequence to be published on Rhizome.) 

“A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of the discussion.”
 -- L. Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (trans. Peter Winch) 

“If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.” -- L. Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events

By September of 1982, the Computer Science Bulletin Board System at Carnegie Mellon University was a social hotspot, at least for certain science professors and tech geeks. Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs or bboards) pre-date the Web as such; they allowed users to dial into a local hub, through which they could send messages to and receive messages from other machines dialed into the same hub. Dating back to 1978, bboards didn’t get popular until the 80s, following the 1981 release of Hayes Communications’ cheap and effective Smartmodem, which made hosting bboards more affordable and using them less arduous, if still not entirely intuitive.

Bulletin Board Systems became popular on many college campuses, absorbing some of the discourse of the hallway and the common room, and attracting those people—like physicists and Heideggerians—predisposed to adopt hobbies with steep learning curves.

Bboards were not only localized but divided into discussion groups, each developing their own jargons, rituals, and codes of conduct. The Computer Science BBS at Carnegie Mellon was used, inter alia, for complaints about and discussions of school laboratories, the proposing of elaborate hypothetical experiments, and joking around at an advanced level about atoms and alkaloids.

Prankish posts on the CMU CS discussion group were generally taken in stride. But because threads could be hard to track—with abruptly dropped topics; shifts and stutters—context could quickly be lost and readers confused.

At around noon on September 16th, 1982, and in response to a similar scenario involving pigeons, Neil Swartz posted the following hypothetical situation to the CMU CS BBS:

There is a lit candle in an elevator mounted on a bracket attached to the middle of one wall (say, 2" from the wall). A drop of mercury is on the floor. The cable snaps and the elevator falls. What happens to the candle and the mercury?

About five hours later, and after a number of unrelated messages, Howard Gayle wrote a message with the heading, “WARNING!”:

Because of a recent physics experiment, the leftmost elevator has been contaminated with mercury. There is also some slight fire damage. Decontamination should be complete by 08:00 Friday.

Rudy Nedved tried to prevent mass hysteria:

The previous bboard message about mercury is related to the comment by Neil Swartz about Physics experiments. It is not an actual problem.

Last year parts of Doherty Hall were closed off because of spilled mercury. My high school closed down a lab because of a dropped bottle of mercury.

My apology for spoiling the joke but people were upset and yelling fire in a crowded theatre is bad are jokes on day old comments.

Neil Swartz, who posed the original question, later replied:

Apparently there has been some confusion about elevators and such. After talking to Rudy, I have discovered that there is no mercury spill in any of the Wean hall elevators.

Many people seem to have taken the notice about the physics department seriously.

Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.

Joseph Ginder liked the idea, but had his own take:

I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.

To which Anthony Stentz added:

How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes? We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad, they're funny.

“No, no, no!,” wrote Keith Wright:

Surely everyone will agree that "&" is the funniest character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!

On September 17th, user Leonard Hamey proposed, with his own somewhat elaborate justifications, that a pictogram should be used to represent joking, as opposed to a more basic cipher:

I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#} because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them. This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off. An obvious abbreviation of this sequence would be the hash character itself (which can also be read as the sharp character and suggests a quality which may be lacking in those too obtuse to appreciate the joke.)

Hamey’s idea must have caught the eye of CMU professor Scott Fahlman, because two days later, in a rather brief missive, Fahlman offered his own pictogram:

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways.

Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use


Scott Fahlman’s suggestion could have—like Niel Swartz’s, Joseph Ginder’s, Anthony Stentz’s, Keith Wright’s, and Leonard Hamey’s—been quickly forgotten. But Fahlman’s smiley garnered a peculiar reaction: people started using it as a specific basis for minor variations. Within two days, the CMU CS bboard had not just:









AD BOOK, An Interview with BFFA3AE


Badlands Unlimited’s recent e-book, AD BOOK, is a collection of ads - as it’s title suggests - stitched together by BFFA3AE, a NY based collective of artists including Daniel Chew, Micaela Durand, and Matthew Gaffney. But Lo, AD BOOK! - the title is as giving as “Untitled.” AD BOOK is not simply a book of ads with ads, it is also a book FOR ads. An interactive page-flipping object that cross and intersect the complexities and ad-anxieties that linger on fantasies and futures; realities and escapes; costs and risks; identities and aliases; representations and reps. The introduction by Knight Landesman gives a good pow-wow through the world of ads and its possibilities. Then unfolds the visceral worlds of ads, artists, arts …


From the cover of AD BOOK





BK: What is an AD BOOK?

This e-book consists entirely of advertisements by artists. Normally advertisements are the stuff you don’t want but need (to finance the thing you are reading). The book has everything from a poster of Real Fine Art’s Michael Krebber show Here Comes The Sons from 2011 to an ad for net artist Daniel Leyva’s ongoing podcast Purecast. It’s full of things that happened, content that is still happening and stuff that’s supposed to happen. It’s like buying a space on the internet that you can carry around with you. You can own this weird space and share it with whoever you want offline: on the subway, on your lunch break, in your bedroom, wherever.

While making AD BOOK, we were thinking about how similar our interactions are with a magazine as compared to a catalogue, a book of neighborhood coupons, or even the interactions we have with our own network through social media. It was our attempt at connecting these seemingly disparate experiences. It is also, taken as a whole, an advertisement of ourselves.

AD BOOK in bedroom (ads by Cody DeFranco, Alex Iezzi, Kim Asendorf)

BK: While I was “flipping” through AD BOOK I couldn’t resist following hyperlinks – whether it was simply for the sake of voyeuristic page jumping and snooping in the way I navigate through social media platforms (twitter, tumblr, and all the good stuff), I’m not so sure. But in the midst of my random jumps to and from pages, I recognized that AD BOOK is also host to multiple temporalities. As in, there are actual dates on some ads that are from the past, ads that indicate ‘coming soon,’ ads that are in the relative future, so on and so forth. Personally for me, this sense of time warp gives me a new buzz that differentiates AD BOOK from the high of, lets say, snooping through Facebook. In the process of compiling AD BOOK, how did you approach time sensitive ads, if any, in relation to its release? What is time in AD BOOK and how does it matter?

Because AD BOOK itself is time sensitive, I think having these varied temporalities in the book is useful in rooting the book in a specific moment. Words such as “coming soon” introduces an urgency and places the reader in a position where they are anticipating something, even though it may be for an event long passed. Some ads were for things that had already passed years before, but can be read as an event that is still legible in the moment that AD BOOK came out. Because we were trying to illustrate the moment of the book, we had to take into account that moment’s past and its imminent future.

BK: You mentioned that AD BOOK is one of the most democratic e-books to exist. What do you mean by that?

Any advertisement was published as long as it was paid for.

BK: In what process of the AD BOOK’s materialization does it distinguish itself from other e-books and/or artbooks?

A lot of art books order art sequentially. AD BOOK has no sequence. It has been a lot of drag n’ dropping (click-wise) as well as lots of coding to make it look and feel so fluid. It resembles a high school yearbook with ad space from your local hardware store but with art. That’s what makes it fun. The book splits pages into halves and quarters and creates particular associations in the book between the art and artists involved that made it very BFFA3AE to me. And by that I mean, it was kind of ridiculous but with very real people involved, which is how I feel about the art we make together.

Josh Kline, Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose

We hadn’t anticipated this element in advance, but the extent of pure administrative work involved (compiling contacts, promotion, drafting invoices, etc...) was so massive that it began to take on its own role in the concept. It breached the traditional image you get when considering the crafting stage in art making in this way that brought our concept into a strange present day reality - like we were planning some average networking event or writing yellow pages, but in a really great way that bled back into the concept.


Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: WebGL



A collection of examples from the Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr archive on the relatively new and impressive web technology, WebGL.

WebGL has very recently reached it's second birthday, and has transformed the browser-based experience incredibly. By utilizing the local graphical hardware on your computer, the browser can now display smooth 3D graphics, impressive when compared to the early text-based publishing nature of the internet. The technology has been used to create great examples of interactive content, from biological studies, data visualization, design services, and many web toys.

The selection is certainly not a comprehensive examination on the subject, but offers a look into some of the creative potential of the technology, from demos to services.


Online community site for hosting and sharing 3D shader examples, featuring many impressive and interactive works:

Shadertoy is the first application to allow developers all over the globe to push pixels from code to screen using WebGL since 2009.

This website is the natural evolution of that original idea. On one hand, it has been rebuilt in order to provide the computer graphics developers and hobbyists with a great platform to prototype, experiment, teach, learn, inspire and share their creations with the community. On the other, the expressiveness of the shaders has arisen by allowing different types of inputs such as video or sound.


Online portfolio service hosts your 3D models, including Kinect captures, which are both interactive and embeddable:

Sketchfab is a web service to publish interactive 3D content online in real-time without plugin. The world we live in is in 3D, but the web is still in 2D, and we want to change that. We think your 3D models deserve something better than screenshots or “showreel” videos. That’s why we created Sketchfab. We understand 3D and bring it to ...