Trying the Hand of God (2009) - Knifeandfork

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Knifeandfork explores the media-perpetuated nature of the chance moment in Trying the Hand of God, hosting a carefully choreographed continuous reenactment of the infamous illegal, but not penalized, "Hand of God" soccer goal from the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The performance is staged on a recreation of Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, constructed within the confines of the MOCA Sculpture Plaza. A limited number of audience members have the opportunity to play the role of Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer legend who scored the controversial goal against England during the quarterfinals, eventually leading his team to win the match and the tournament.

Through live performance, Knifeandfork introduces the potential for variations on a familiar, media-repeated image. The issue of variation is particularly interesting in this case, as the controversy over the "Hand of God" goal raised complex questions of chance, skill, and fate. In their choreographed reenactments, Knifeandfork attempts to control for all possible variables, yet the possibility of a "perfect" performance inevitably remains elusive. Rather, the repetitions serve as a form of kinetic documentation, both of what was and what might have been, and they grant the audience agency over the representation of this iconic event which has been otherwise ossified by media reproduction.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM ARTIST'S SITE

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1 Question Interview with Billy Rennekamp

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Billy Rennekamp, Big Head Mode, 2010

This weekend, DIY storefront art space Cleopatra's in Brooklyn will be hosting an exhibition for Billy Rennekamp's WIN WIN. The event kicks off tonight with a talk on video games and cheats hosted by designers/writers Charles Pratt and Simon Ferrari. This exhibit is an extension of Rennekamp's BA thesis project at Bard, titled Big Head Mode. Focused on the idea of cheats in video games, and especially the agency yielded by the use and development of cheats in game play, the works in this installation comprise a 3D video game made by the artist, a prepared version of a Pokemon ROM, and a mix of hand sewn and store-bought sports balls littered throughout the space. In anticipation of the show, I conducted a one question interview with Rennekamp, à la Rafael Rozendaal's One Question Interview blog.

(Full disclosure - Billy is a former Rhizome intern extraordinaire and a member of badass internet surf club Loshadka.)



What makes cheats so satisfying?

We spend our life building up this little rule book that describes how everything works. So when we see something that defies these fundamental rules, we freak out. The unusual and unexplained are always fascinating.

Things are supposed to work a certain way. They've worked that way forever. But then they stop and the rules might bend or even break. When that happens a special energy is produced. Every time something rare occurs--something outside the ordinary--people make wishes and try to harness that power. Needless to say the power is felt. When I was three I got bitten by a Brown Recluse. My arm was swollen with pustules for weeks and the necrosis on my hand left a permanent scar. There's nothing beneficial about a scar, but I ...

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"Mark Essen Makes 8-Bit Action an Art" on Motherboard.tv

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In this clip, Motherboard.tv profile video game artist Mark Essen. It's a nice, brief overview of Essen's practice.

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Art in Your Pocket 2

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In the summer of 2009, I wrote an article here at Rhizome about the burgeoning activities of media artists creating new works or updating versions of their older interactive screen-based projects for Apple's iPhone and iTouch mobile devices. As the article made its way throughout the blogosphere, comments surfaced ranging from criticism of the "closed world of Apple's App Store and iPhone devices" to a championing of the availability of inexpensive multi-touch technology now available to artists who had been waiting for a platform that could adequately display and allow for the type of interaction their projects demanded. A year after the article came out, the draw of these devices and their potentially expansive audience has become even more irresistible to artists enough so that several more "apps" have surfaced. The following article catalogs several new iPhone works which have emerged over the past year, works that are pioneering the next generation of portable media art.

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Angry Gamers (2010) - Nia Burks

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Call for Applications

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Brighton-based interactive media artists' group Blast Theory posted a call for both their residency and internship program. Interns will have an opportunity to work in Blast Theory's studios on specific projects while residents will be given space to research and develop new work in a supportive and collaborative environment. For the residency program, Blast Theory are looking for individuals working in:

- Pervasive & location based gaming & interactive media
- Mobile & portable devices in cultural & artistic practice
- Games design and theory
- Interdisciplinary and live art practice

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2010. More information can be found on Blast Theory's site.

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Required Reading

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Gears of War depends on a conventional anti-hero/redemption narrative set in another world where it is up to a motley band of once-disgraced brigands to save what remains of humanity from a subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. Its formidable commercial success aside, the game is simply a well-executed shoot-’em-up that offers no significant expansion on that well-worn genre. Its television advertisement is of far greater interest: the emphasis on the melancholy, pathos and self-reproach communicated by ‘Mad World’ connects Gears of War to a contemporary understanding of war produced in large part as a response to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conundrum for the producers of war-based video games is a delicate one: how to craft and market a war game in an era when public opinion has turned against war as a paradigm? How, for instance, is heroism rendered in a fictional narrative when the most obvious contemporary social referents - the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan - do not, as social histories in the making, embody the kind of unambiguous moral bases easily identified, for example, in World Wars I and II? How can our period eye, in all its ambivalence, be satisfied while still offering a compelling narrative of heroism?

Those responsible for the advertisement of the juggernaut franchise that is Gears of War obviously concluded that to acknowledge the public’s ambivalence was key to eradicating it as an obstacle to the game’s commercial success. While the game’s story is not a romanticized one, the commercial relies on age-old Romantic notions of self. This is, of course, a rather insidious strategy.

-- EXCERPT FROM "MAD WORLD" BY CHRISTOPHER BEDFORD AND JENNIFER WULFFSON IN FRIEZE MAGAZINE, NOV-DEC 2009

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Turrican tune (2007) - played by Duracell

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Via Michael Bell-Smith

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WarMail (2008) - Jeremy Bailey

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Warmail is a live, collaborative software performance, led by Jeremy Bailey, commissioned by HTTP Gallery in London, UK. Warmail uses the audience's latent song and dance potential to write and send an email to my mother while simultaneously directing a space war campaign

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S DESCRIPTION

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Speaking in Third Person

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MIT Press recently published Third Person, an essay collection that follows First Person and Second Person in a series exploring how new media has changed the roles of author and audience. Third Person declares its subject to be “vast narratives,” which editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin define as cultural products that extend beyond the physical and temporal parameters usually associated with their medium. While most television detective shows devote one episode to one investigation, The Wire, for example, can stretch a case out over a season, and the continuity of characters and settings puts demands on a viewer’s memory that other shows rarely make. If the Harry Potter series of books is considered the authoritative source of that fictional world even after the release of the films, Lucasfilm delegates storytelling duties for Star Wars among books, movies, and animated series, and each addition extends the fictional universe in new directions in time and space. Vast narratives can also be generative frameworks that allow for many reconfigurations of the characters and settings over several instantiations, as in computer role-playing games and their pencil-and-paper counterparts like Dungeons & Dragons.

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