Olson has served as Editor & Curator at Rhizome, the inaugural curator at Zero1, and Associate Director at SF Camerawork. She's contributed to many major journals & books and this year Cocom Press published Arte Postinternet, a Spanish translation of her texts on Postinternet Art, a movement she framed in 2006. In 2015 LINK Editions will publish a retrospective anthology of over a decade of her writings on contemporary art which have helped establish a vocabulary for the criticism of new media. Meanwhile, she has also curated programs at the Guggenheim, New Museum, SFMOMA, White Columns, Artists Space, and Bitforms Gallery. She has served on Advisory Boards for Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ISEA, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, Creative Capital, the Getty Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Olson studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, and Rhetoric & Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She has recently been a visiting artist at Yale, SAIC, Oberlin, and VCU; a Visiting Critic at Brown; and Visiting Faculty at Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and Ox-Bow. She previously taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' new media graduate program (ITP) and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase's School of Film & Media Studies. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence at Eyebeam & is currently Visiting Critic at RISD.
The Whitney Museum artport has been an important institutional presence in net art and new media since its launch in 2002. Created and curated by Christiane Paul, artport features online commissions as well as documentation of new media artworks from the museum's exhibitions and collections. This year, artport as a whole was made an official part of the Whitney Museum collection; to mark this occasion, participating artist Marisa Olson interviewed Paul about the program's history and evolution over thirteen years.
Douglas Davis, image from The World's First Collaborative Sentence (1994).
Collections like artport are a rare and valuable window onto a field of practice that, in some senses, was borne out of not being taken seriously. From mid-80s Eastern European game crackers to late-90s net artists, the first people working online were often isolated, by default or design, and were certainly marginalized by the art world, where few curators knew of their existence and fewer took them seriously, advocated for them, or worked to theorize and articulate the art historical precedents and currents flowing through the work. Help me fast-forward to the beginning of this century at one of the most important international art museums. Many of the US museums that funded new media projects did so with dot-com infusions that dried-up after 2000. Artport officially launched in 2001; the same year, you curated a section devoted to net art in the Whitney Biennial. What was the behind-the-scenes sequence of events that led to artport's founding?
I think artport's inception was emblematic of a wave of interest in net art in the US around the turn of the century and in the early 2000s. This more committed involvement with the art form interestingly coincided with or came shortly after the dot com bubble, which inflated from 1997–2000, had its climax on March 10, 2000 when NASDAQ peaked, and burst pretty much the next day. Net art, however, remained a very active practice and started appearing on the radar of more US art institutions. To some extent, their interest may have been sparked by European exhibitions that had begun to respond to the effects of the web on artistic practice earlier on. In 1997, Documenta X had already included web projects (that year the Documenta website was also famously "stolen"—that is, copied and archived—by Vuk Cosic in the project Documenta: done) and Net Condition, which took place at ZKM in 1999/2000, further acknowledged the importance of art on the web.
US museums increasingly began to take notice. Steve Dietz, who had started the Walker Art Center's New Media Initiatives early on, in 1996, was curating the online art Gallery 9 and digital art study collection. Jon Ippolito, in his role as Associate Curator of Media Arts at the Guggenheim, was commissioning net art in the early 2000s and in 2002, Benjamin Weil, with Joseph Rosa, unveiled a new version of SFMOMA's E-space, which had been created in 2000. This was the institutional netscape in which I created artport in 2001, since I felt that the Whitney, which had for the first time included net art in its 2000 Biennial, also needed a portal to online art. The original artport was much more of a satellite site and less integrated into whitney.org than it is now. Artist Yael Kanarek redesigned the site not too long after its initial launch and created version 1.1. Artport in its early days was sponsored by a backend storage company in New Jersey, which was then bought by HP, so HP appeared as the official sponsor. I think it is notable that sponsorship at that point did not come from a new tech company but a brand name that presumably wanted to appear more cutting edge.
Nancy Holt, Boomerang (1974), still from video.
In her time on this planet, Nancy Holt came to be known as a great American Land Artist, and certainly her brilliant installations, like Utah's Sun Tunnels and collaborations with her partner Robert Smithson and their peers, are profoundly significant, but it was her work in film & video that has had the greatest personal impact on me.
I somehow didn't see Boomerang, her 1974 video performance usually credited to her collaborator Richard Serra, until I was a Ph.D. student in Linda Williams's Phenomenology of Film seminar at UC Berkeley's Rhetoric program, but the time delay was more than made up for by the work's formative resonance. In the video, made during Serra's residency at a Texas television station, a young Holt is seen sitting in an anchor's chair before a staid blue background. Despite brief station ID graphic overlays and one minute of silence in the midst of the ten-minute piece (announced as audio trouble and reminding viewers of the work's live TV origin), the work is in many ways sound-centric.
On Saturday, April 11th, New York's School of Visual Arts will co-present the 2009 Visual Music Marathon with the New York Digital Salon and Northeastern University. Promising genre-bending work from fifteen countries, the lineup crams 120 works by new media artists and digital composers into 12 hours. If it's true, as is often said, that MTV killed the attention spans of Generations X and Y, this six-minute-per-piece average ought to suit most festivalgoers' minds, and the resultant shuffling on and off stage will surely be a spectacle in its own rite. In all seriousness, this annual event is a highlight of New York's already thriving electronic music scene and promises many a treat for your eyes and ears. The illustrious organizers behind the marathon know their visual music history and want to remind readers that, "The roots of the genre date back more than two hundred years to the ocular harpsichords and color-music scales of the 18th century," and "the current art form came to fruition following the emergence of film and video in the 20th century." The remarkable ten dozen artists participating in this one-day event will bring us work incorporating such diverse materials as hand-processed film, algorithmically-generated video, visual interpretations of music, and some good old fashioned music-music. From luminaries like Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter, and Steina Vasulka to emerging artists Joe Tekippe and Chiaki Watanabe, the program will be another star on the map that claims NYC as fertile territory for sonic exploration. - Marisa Olson
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 ...
In 1997, internet art hall-of-famer Olia Lialina made a "net drama" called Agatha Appears that was written for Netscape 3 and 4 in HTML 3.2. One of the main features of the interactive narrative was the travel of the eponymous avatar across the internet. Let's just say the girl got around. But the magical illusion of the piece was that she appeared to stay still, even when links in the narrative were clicked and the viewer's address bar indicated movement to another server. But in time, both the browser and code in which the story was written became defunct and the piece unraveled as the sites previously hosting the links and files upon which Agatha was dependent disappeared or cleaned house. Such a scenario is common to early internet art (and will no doubt continue to plague the field), as ours is an upgrade culture constantly driving towards new tools, platforms, and codes. Many have debated whether to let older works whither or how it might be possible to update these works, making them compatible with new systems. For those who are interested, some of the best research on the subject has been performed by the folks affiliated with the Variable Media Initiative. Meanwhile, luddites and neophiles alike are now in luck because Agatha Appears has just undergone rejuvenation. Ela Wysocka, a restorer working at Budapest's Center for Culture & Communication Foundation has worked to overcome the sound problems, code incompatibilities, and file corruption and disappearance issues, and she's written a fascinating report about the process, here. And new collaborating hosts have jumped in line to bring the piece back to life, so that like a black and white boyfriend coming home from war, Agatha now offers us a shiny new webring as a token of ...
announcements going to Raw. We experienced a temporary interruption in
the sending of these messages, but they've been restored in the course
of Patrick's many major upgrades to the Artbase.
Please stay tuned for his announcements about that in his next
quarterly Director of Technology report. We're also currently giving
some thought to the best way to manage communication about new Artbase
additions, on our lists, publications, and site.
Meanwhile, you might also note that you can subscribe to an RSS feed
for Artbase additions, here:
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Editor & Curator
Rhizome at the New Museum
Conference, please consider attending a reception on 2/16 at Foxy
Production gallery, in celebration of Rhizome's exhibition, Networked
On view until February 18th, the show was selected as this year's CAA
Annual Exhibition. It also concludes our 10th Anniversary Festival of
Art & Technology.
Networked Nature presents works that inventively explore our
understanding and representation of "nature," from the perspective of
networked culture. The artists included are C5, Futurefarmers, Shih
Chieh Huang, Philip Ross, Stephen Vitiello, and Gail Wight.
The reception will be on Friday, February 16, from 6-8pm. Foxy
Production is located in Chelsea, at 617 West 27th Street, on the
ground floor. More information can be found here:
Please join us!
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Editor & Curator
Rhizome.org at the
New Museum of Contemporary Art
From: Beryl Graham <email@example.com>
Date: Feb 6, 2007 7:07 AM
Subject: Curating New Media Art, Job and Studentships
University of Sunderland
School of Arts, Design, Media & Culture
Curating New Media Art
Since 1993 the School of Arts, Design, Media & Culture has had a
special interest in issues for exhibiting new media art (including
internet art, and interactive digital media). The CRUMB web resource
for curators http://www.crumbweb.org is now an internationally
acclaimed site, which complements the postgraduate work in Fine Art,
Curating and Informatics at the University. A recent AHRC Research
Grant enables the continued expansion of this research, with research
partners Eyebeam (New York) and Lancaster University.
Fixed-term 3 years
January-February, please visit the following exhibition, which Rhizome
has organized at Foxy Production. The show opens January 11th and it
would be great to see you there!
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Editor & Curator
Rhizome.org at the
New Museum of Contemporary Art
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Organized by RHIZOME, an affiliate of the New Museum of Contemporary Art
January 11 - February 18, 2007
Opening reception: January 11, 6-8 PM
Foxy Production presents Networked Nature, a group exhibition that
inventively explores the representation of 'nature' through the
perspective of networked culture. The exhibition includes works by C5,
Futurefarmers, Shih-Chieh Huang, Philip Ross, Stephen Vitiello, and
Gail Wight, who provocatively combine art and politics with innovative
technology, such as global positioning systems (GPS), robotics, and
In their work Perfect View, San Jose-based collective C5 reached out
to the subculture of recreational GPS users, or geo-cachers, asking
them for their recommendations of 'sublime locales.' The submitted
latitudes and longitudes provided the guide points for a thirty-three
state, thirteen-thousand mile motorcycle expedition by collective
member Jack Toolin, who photographed the terrain at the given
coordinates. The results, presented in triptychs, smartly subvert
traditional representations of landscape and notions of the sublime.
San Francisco-based collective Futurefarmers' Photosynthesis Robot is
a three-dimensional model of a possible perpetual motion machine
driven by phototropism - the movement of plants towards the direction
of the sun. Their proposal that a group plants will very slowly propel
a four wheel vehicle is a witty take on the pressing search for new
forms of energy.
New York artist Shih-Chieh Huang's inflatable installation, Din-Don I,
is inspired by everyday household electronic devices and his studies
of physical computing and robotics. In this ingenious exploration of
organic systems, he creates a dynamic circulation of electricity and
air: a living micro-environment.
San Francisco-based Philip Ross' Juniors are self-contained survival
capsules for living plants. Blown glass enclosures provide a
controlled hydroponic environment, where plants' roots are submerged
in nutrient-infused water, while LED lights supply the necessary
illumination. The artist has drawn on two culturally divergent
traditions - Chinese scholars' objects and Victorian glass
Fwd: Invitation to "Regenerative Presence: Remixing the Archives of Lynn Hershman Leeson" -- in Second Life, Thursday, Nov. 30th, 12pm PST
From: Henry Lowood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Nov 26, 2006 10:20 AM
Greetings from the Stanford Humanities Laboratory!
At 12:00pm PST (noon) on November 30th, 2006, the Stanford Humanities
Lab in collaboration with artist Lynn Hershman will present
"Regenerative Presence: Remixing the Archives of Lynn Hershman
Leeson." This will be a presentation of work from the ongoing Life
to the Second Power (L2) research project <
This event is taking place under the umbrella of the Humanities,
Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC --
http://www.hastac.org ) as part of its InFormation year, and in
conjunction with other events held in December 2006 throughout the Bay
Area. For more information, see
We are writing to invite you to this special event, which will take
place in its entirety inside the "virtual" world called Second Life.
The L2 Project seeks to regenerate and re-imagine Hershman's work
inside the 3D online world Second Life; it will re-animate Hershman's
existing archive, now housed in the Special Collections Library at
Stanford University. Converting the archive into a digital format of
hybrid genre will allow users of the content to dynamically revisit
the past while simultaneously expanding the audience for this
Hershman will give a tour of L2's work in Second Life. Her voice will
be streamed live via the web. The presentation can be experienced from
multiple viewpoints. The event will be documented as it happens and
later made available online.
An avatar access list will be imposed on the Life Squared project's
Second Life island, NEWare, for the duration of the event. To ensure
access, please RSVP to Jeff Aldrich <email@example.com> or
Henrik Bennetsen <firstname.lastname@example.org> or reply to this email at least
24 hours in advance of the event. If you do not already have an
avatar in Second Life, please ask Jeff or Henrik for guidance.
[Note: Attendance at this event in Second Life is restricted to
invited avatars. The event will be documented as it progresses and
presented in its entirety as streaming video. It will be made
available via the Life to the Second Power project, both in Second
Life and in the project wiki, and by HASTAC upon its conclusion.]
Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections;
Germanic Collections; Film & Media Collections
HRG, Green Library, Stanford University Libraries
Stanford CA 94305-6004
lowood@stanford, edu; 650-723-4602