SECURITY AESTHETIC = SYSTEMS PANIC

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This essay originated from the anthology DATA browser 04: Creating Insecurity: art and culture in the age of security edited by Wolfgang Sützl and Geoff Cox. The book was published by Autonomedia this year and is licensed under Creative Commons.

Where does security end, and insecurity begin? Systems analysts recognise this as a classic boundary question. Its answer determines the precise deployment of any security system. But as we shall see, this particular boundary question cannot be answered under present conditions, except through the definition of a second system, a specifically interrogatory one. Drawing on the work of an American art critic of the 1960s, I’ll call this second kind of bounded entity an ‘aesthetic system’.

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Covert Channels

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A small but international group show organized by Mireille Bourgeois and Anais Lellouche, "They Told You So" takes its inspiration from the Situationists’ concept of détournement, reusing existing media to convey an opposing or alternate viewpoint. Here sound installation and video are the primary forms utilized. Purporting to address and ensnare the viewer, and using deliberate miscommunication to examine rhetoric and technologies that are oriented towards control, the works achieve varying degrees of success.

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Tagalicious

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The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens, Greece, has committed itself to curating a number of recent exhibitions of internet art. Their current show, "Tag Ties and Affective Spies," features contributions from both net vets and emerging surfers, including Christophe Bruno, Gregory Chatonsky, Paolo Cirio, JODI, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, Les Liens Invisibles, Personal Cinema and The Erasers, Ramsay Stirling, and Wayne Clements. The online exhibition takes an antagonistic approach to Web 2.0, citing a constant balance "between order and chaos, democracy and adhocracy." Curator Daphne Dragona raises the question of whether the social web is a preexisting platform on which people connect, or whether it is indeed constructed in the act of uploading, tagging, and disclosing previously private information about ourselves on sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. Dragona asks whether we are truly connecting and interacting, or merely broadcasting. While her curatorial statement doesn't address the issue directly, the show's title hints at the level of self-surveillance in play on these sites. Accordingly, many of the selected works take a critical, if not DIY, approach to the internet. The collective Les Liens Invisibles tends to create works that make an ironic mash-up of the often divergent mantras of tactical media, culture jamming, surrealism, and situationism. In their Subvertr, they encourage Flickr users to "subverTag" their posted images, creating an intentional disassociation between an image's content and its interpretion, with the aim of "breaking the strict rules of significance that characterize the mainstream collective imaginary..." JODI's work, Del.icio.us/ winning information (2008) exploits the limited stylistic parameters of the social bookmarking site. Using ASCII and Unicode page titles to form visual marks, a cryptic tag vocabulary, and a recursive taxonomy, their fun-to-follow site critiques the broader content of the web ...

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New Me, music video for Jamie Lidell (2006) - Aleksandra Domanovic

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ArtBase Update

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Image: Christian Marc Schmidt, Marketscape, 2008

Rhizome's ArtBase has been fortunate to receive some great submissions in the last few months. Cody Trepte sent Cody on Cage on Joyce, a text generator based on a series of poems by John Cage where "JAMES JOYCE" is spelled vertically through rows of horizontal text that are as difficult to read as Finnegans Wake. Cage wanted to create a form of writing free of intention, and Trepte uses software to take that idea to its logical conclusion. Tomasz Konart submitted August, the most recent in a calendar of twelve interactive animations that use faint, obscured, or distorted photographs to evoke a feeling of loss and reflection. Roch Forowicz, a Polish artist who explores issues of surveillance, contributed documentation of his installation Panopticon, two rows of eighteen CCTV cameras submerged. As viewers pass down the central aisle, they are observed from all directions, like in the eponymous eighteenth-century prison design. Marketscape by Brooklyn-based artist Christian Marc Schmidt is data visualization of the S&P 500 stock index. It's sure to provide suspenseful viewing for months to come.

Keep checking the ArtBase for more updates or subscribe via RSS, and artists should remember that we're always accepting submissions.

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See You See Me (2009) - Evan Roth

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See You See Me is a new project in which a digital camera records the moment of X-Ray in various international airports.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Removal Studies (2008) - Michael Kontopolos

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From the artist's statement:

"Removal Studies" are a series of videos made using time-lapse photography. These videos are sleep studies that observe the reaction of the unconscious body to the negative stimulus of removing the covers. The covers are removed by a machine that attaches to the bed and tugs a slight amount off in increments throughout the night. By studying the sleeping body, my aim was to capture something very honest and very animal about human beings. I was interested in this gesture of removal -- and subsequently, exposure -- and how it could function as a larger metaphor.



More work by Michael Kontopoulos

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Beacon (2009) - Chris O'Shea and Cinimod Studio

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Beacon at Lightwave 2009 from Cinimod Studio & Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

From the artist's statement:

Beacon is a kinetic light installation with a mind of its own. An array of emergency beacon lights interacts with visitors, tracking their movement through the space, creating an immersive and playful experience.

The installation exploits a transfer of technologies from existing industrial products. The beacon lights have had their internal parts replaced with custom hardware, enabling the rotation of the reflector and lamp brightness to be individually controlled. Thermal imaging cameras have been adapted to track the participants' movement through the space.

Beacon is orchestrated in real-time by a bespoke control system, which uses tracking information from the cameras to coordinate an interactive and highly responsive behaviour.

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Gaze (2009) - Pascual Sisto

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Interview with Lisi Raskin

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Now that progress is as predictable as an automatic software update or higher resolution in a camera phone, the idea that technological advancement holds the key to a better future -- and the fear that it could be abused as a tool of world domination -- seem like quaint relics of the 1950s and '60s. Lisi Raskin's exaggeratedly ragged, hand-crafted reconstructions of military command centers evoke the thrall such spaces held over the public imagination during the Cold War even as they reinforce the contemporary viewer's distance from that feeling of awe. Over the past year, Raskin's installations on this topic have surfaced in several locations as stages of an ongoing project titled Mobile Observation. This year's incarnations began with Command and Control, an installation at the Park Avenue Armory in February, and continued with Mobile Observation (Transmitting and Receiving) Station at Bard College's Hessel Museum of Art, for which she embarked on a road trip to military sites across the United States and sent back materials to be exhibited. Mobile Observation will peak on Friday with Tipping Point, a performance at the opening of "Soft Manipulation" at Casino Luxembourg, where the resulting carnage will remain on view through the exhibition's run. Here Raskin, who works at studios in Brooklyn and Oakland, California, discusses her newest work and how it represents a change in her perception of Cold War mythology.

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