New Design and Features for the ArtBase


Rhizome is happy to announce that we have launched a new design and a big new feature for The ArtBase. In case you are not familliar with the ArtBase, it is Rhizome's archive of internet art and new media, contains over 2,000 works of art, and spans nearly two decades of history. Facing such vast size and complexity, and seeing a lack of major archives of internet art and new media that are accessible to a general audience, a major goal of ours was to afford greater to the history and context of these works, as well as improved searchability and browseability. To address the issue of education, accessability, and context we have accessibility launched a new feature: collections.

Just as a museum may provide access to their catalog through historic or thematic groupings, the ArtBase collections seek to surface trends, themes, and creative modes inherent in our collection. We are launching this feature with six initial collections: Formalism & Glitch, Code, & Hypertext, Tactical Media, Rendered Reality, and Digital Archivalism. Each collection leads off with a curatorial statement, aiming to provide context for the viewer who may not be familiar with the history of these creative practices. The content of the collections is not static, and will grow and change with the evolution of the ArtBase. As well, while these initial six collections were curated by Rhizome, subsequent collections will be curated and driven by indipendent curators and scholars.

Moving forward, we have two big projects on our to-do list for the summer. First, we are in the initial stages of migrating the back-end of the ArtBase to a new collections management platform, which will allow us to catalog works with better metadata standards, and correlate works, artists, collectives, exhibitions in ways that we currently can not ...


An Interview with READ/WRITE Curators Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito


Mitch Trale, Analog Environments, 2009

This Thursday night, March 17th, the online curatorial platform will celebrate the last year and a half of their programming with a large group exhibition involving all thirty-five of the artists who have developed special projects for the site. Opening at 319 Scholes in Brooklyn, the show, entitled "READ/WRITE," will remain on view until March 30th. Begun in October 2009 by Parker Ito and Caitlin Denny, has emerged as one of the most playful and innovative destinations for internet-based art. I interviewed Parker and Caitlin over email in January 2011. This interview appears in the catalog for "READ/WRITE," available for purchase here.

The experience of running an online platform for art, like Jstchillin, has its own set of challenges and advantages, in terms of the flexibility of display, a potential for a large, diverse audience, serendipitous reception and circulation. I’m wondering if you can talk more about your experience with Jstchillin, and how this may have lead to some of the key themes in READ/WRITE.

Caitlin Denny: JstChillin started with ambitious goals, and now we're seeing it all come together even better than we had imagined. It’s been somewhat surreal to reflect on the process, people and conditions of the project. It had originally been a Rhizome proposal that got rejected called "Cosmos" that included a small group of friends, some of whom are a part of JstChillin. I wanted to keep going with the project even after we got rejected, and it seemed Parker was the only one on the same page as me. We developed our ideas and mission for the project very loosely when we made "An Essay About Chillin'", a screen capture movie of a staged AIM conversation. After that, we started our now year and a half long exhibition on our site called "Serial Chillers In Paradise" which is what we have become most well known for. We were fans of surf clubs and the like, but wanted to do something more immersive that would almost abolish the body yet make one hyper aware of their own physicality. We chose to let the artists take over our site every two weeks instead of using a blog-like style to highlight work. We weren't interested in highlighting just any art we liked at the moment, we were interested in commissioning new works made especially for our site. This, I think, stands us apart from a lot of other online exhibition sites. We also wanted to create a seemingly naive and simple charisma to our project that over time would unfold the complexities of our digital condition. I think we've been successful so far. Reading Brian Droitcour's essay on us, first published on Rhizome's blog, made me realize that we had accomplished something, whether people liked it or not. I was somewhat blind, and probably still am, to who our audience is. I imagine it is mainly people involved in an online art community of sorts, but I frequently get hints and clues to other worlds of people who see the site. I like this ambiguity, that's what the internet is to me. I don't want to know facts or numbers, I want to keep the internet wild and mysterious… but it seems now we are getting closer and closer to the limits of the internet. I've felt these changes in my own surfing and online time - it is harder to discover the vast net terrain more than ever. Not that there isn't anything to discover, but the way I surf the net is so much different, and so much more boring, than I ever used to. I am definitely more in the Tim Berners-Lee camp than the Tim O'Reilly camp - the web was made as a read/write vehicle, a vast anonymous space for interaction and discovery. With Web 2.0, the enchantment of the net is slowly disintegrating. We need the Jim Henson of the internet to step up and tell us what's up.

Parker Ito: JstChillin is always framed as a curatorial project. I feel kind of weird saying that at times. It's more like a performance of curating. For me, it's just about hanging out online and looking at what people are doing and it's really hard to know who's seeing what, but at least with our site people can sorta respond and be like "I really like so and so's project." A lot of the Surf Club era artists used, and still use Delicious to spread stuff they're excited about, or get out the word about a new project. JstChillin in my mind is an extension of that. It is a crazy ambitious project, a year and half exhibition, that is kinda insane now that I think about. Reflecting on the project now, I don't really know what to say, it's a really overwhelming feeling. The themes for the show occurred very naturally. This show will never live up to the beauty of my daily interaction with people online, it's just an opening paragraph in a really really long essay. There's a lot of power to be harnessed.


Moving the Museum Online


Museum viewing pod. Courtesy Adobe Museum of Digital Media.

Recently, Adobe Systems Incorporated released a new product. Not an update to its existing suite, which include tools of the online trade such as Photoshop, Acrobat Reader and Flash, or some new software to fulfill ever-evolving creative needs. Instead, it is an online destination for viewing digital art entitled the Adobe Museum of Digital Media (AMDM).

After waiting for the museum to load, you are greeted by a tour guide with a peculiar accent, whose likeness resembles a cross between a jellyfish and an eyeball. The museum has one current exhibit, a specially-commissioned piece by internationally acclaimed artist Tony Oursler, who is best known for his disconcerting projection installation works. As the museum has just launched, there is a limited amount to see: plans for the “building”, a chat with the curator, Tom Eccles, more chatter from the jellyfish-eyeball, the commissioned artwork by Oursler, and a comments section.

Before getting into the details of the museum itself, it is worth interrogating why it is considered by its creators to be a museum at all. The press release states the mission of the museum to be “ interactive venue to present and preserve groundbreaking digital media works, inspire creative ideas and experimentation, and provide a forum for expert commentary on how digital media influences culture and society”. The mission is sound, but except for the word “preserve” there is little in it that specifically invokes the mantle of “museum”. As the AMDM is an obvious marketing exercise which promotes the use of digital tools (that Adobe happens to create), it’s a short leap of logic to conclude that “museum” was simply decided on as a word with greater impact than “gallery” or “showcase”.




Found image for Jibade-Khalil Huffman's project

Curated by Leah Beeferman and Matthew Harvey, Parallelograms is a new online publication. For the project, Beeferman and Harvey invite an artist or collective to creatively respond to an image found online. The featured artist changes from week to week, and so far, they've worked with seven separate artists, including Everything Studio, Stephen Vitiello, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Mary Manning, Will Shapiro, Potential Estate and Duncan Malashock.

Image from Mary Matting's project for Parallelograms

Image from Duncan Malashock's project for Parallelograms


The Complete Collection: Marian Spore


Founded by curator Michael Connor in 2009, Marian Spore was a limited-duration art space that closed on December 18, 2010. Rather than organizing group or solo shows per se, the gallery was a perpetual work in progress; Connor added pieces irregularly, leaving them on display so that repeat visitors would find an accumulation of works. Connor has put the acquisitions into storage and will continue looking for buyers, considering the works on loan until they find a permanent home. Situated in a 16,000 ft loft on the fourth floor of a building in the gargantuan Sunset Park industrial complex Industry City and named after an artist who believed she was in communication with spirits of dead artists (and who was the third wife of Industry City’s founder), I visited Marian Spore for the first time only a week before the closing. Connor looked surprised when I referred to the “current exhibition” of all thirteen works he had gathered over the past months; after all, as the collection grew, each object had been on view continuously.


Collections Department


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Alan Vega, Untitled, 1981-2010
(from Circuit Lausanne's collection on Collectionof)

Collectionof went live today, a new online platform that allows artists and art spaces to exhibit special objects that speak to their creative production. Perusing Collectionof, many of these "special objects" are not keepsakes or personal items, which one might assume from the site's title, but artworks and editions, like Alan Vega's crosses or an infinity room designed by Tauba Auerbach and Hannes Hetta. (Both very cool items, I might add.) There are a few exceptions, like Scott Ponik's section which includes some of his idiosyncratic book finds such as The Making of Kubrick's 2001 and Vicious Circles and Infinity: An Anthology of Paradoxes. Judging from the stellar list of participants so far, which range from Istanbul-based independent art space Marquise Dance Hall to Miami's Bas Fisher International to artist Cory Arcangel and musician C. Spencer Yeh, it will interesting to see how Collectionof develops.


The Postmedia Perspective


The following excerpt comes from the final chapter of my book Media, New Media, Postmedia, recently published in Italian by Postmediabooks, who kindly gave Rhizome permission to republish it in English. The book is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called “New Media Art” in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history.


Hidden Shit (2010) - Adam Cruces and Michael Ray-Von






From the PDF exhibition series Adobe PDF. These images are from File 4 "Hidden Shit" by Adam Cruces and Michael Ray-Von.


Projectors! Projectors! Everywhere! BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) NYC


BYOB NYC animated GIF by Travess Smalley

Last Friday, I popped by Spencer Brownstone Gallery for B.Y.O.B. or Bring Your Own Beamer, a one-night-only exhibition organized by artist Rafaël Rozendaal. Artists were invited to bring their own projector (or "beamer" in European parlance) and project whatever they wish - videos, animated gifs, live streams, etc. Despite some problems with electricity and short-circuiting at the space - apparently 30+ projectors and laptops all running simultaneously tested the gallery's supply - the show was a hit and very fun. My favorite work was the live lobsters in a fish tank in the back room by Hayley Silverman and Charles Broskoski. A clip lamp "projected" the tank onto the wall behind it, so it was a creative interpretation of the show's theme. I think they even named them too - Tootsie? Wootsie? I can't remember. Anyway, here are some shots from last Friday. If you live in Los Angeles, lucky you, they'll be organizing another BYOB this coming week on November 19th at USC Gayle and Ed Roski MFA Gallery, info here.


Lobster tank by Hayley Silverman and Charles Broskoski

Artist Jeremy Bailey

Jeremy Bailey's projection in situ

Projection by Rene Abythe

Projection by Dena Yago

Projection by Sarah Weis

Projection by Daniel (Luphoa) Chew

Projection by Artie Vierkant

Sea of laptops and projectors

Ryder Ripps set up a "frame shop" where he sold a projection of a frame to other artists for 25 cents, in order for them to "frame" their works on the walls

Example of Billy Rennekamp's work "framed" by Ryder Ripps

Krist Wood's alchemic sculpture in the backroom

Close-up of Krist Wood's sculpture

A drawing machine by Jesse England

The live feed from Jesse England's drawing machine projected on the wall ...


Required Reading


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Jean-Luc Godard, Voyage(s) en utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006, 2006 (Installation view of the “Aujourd’hui” section. Centre Pompidou, Paris.)

In order to explore the contradictions and the potential of time- based art, especially in its cinematic guise, I trace a number of overlapping and conflicting genealogies of film and video art. I believe that only by creating a constellation of such genealogies can the logic and structural antinomies of film and video art—and of time-based art in general—be brought into relief and related to the wider changes in the political economy of time during the past decades, during which the West has seen a gradual demise of Fordist assembly-line production and a disintegration of the strict separation between work and “free time.” The classic alternation of work and leisure can be called, with Guy Debord, a form of pseudocyclical time, an apparent return to agricultural, “mythical” cycles in a temporal regime built on irreversible, historical time—or rather, on a reified form of such historical time, that of commodity production.

“Once there was history, but not any more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which is inextricably tied to economic history, must repress every other irreversible use of time because it is directly threatened by them all. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of thingswho are themselves therefore possessed by things, is forced to link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, that is, with the preservation of a new immobility within history.7

This immobility is manifested in pseudocyclical time, a commodified temporality that is homogenous and suppresses “any qualitative dimension” or, at most, mimics such dimensions in moments of sham liberation.8 For Debord, time-based art from the 1960s could consist only of such pseudoindividual, pseudoliberatory moments ...