Marisa Olson
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Marisa Olson is an artist, writer, and media theorist. Her interdisciplinary work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate(s) Modern + Liverpool, the Nam June Paik Art Center, British Film Institute, Sundance Film Festival, PERFORMA Biennial; commissioned and collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122; and reviewed in Artforum, Art21, the NY Times, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere.

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.

Collectible After All: Christiane Paul on net art at the Whitney Museum

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 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.

booomerrranganggboobooomerranrang: Nancy Holt's networked video

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.

Sound and Image in Electronic Harmony

Image: Semiconductor: Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt, 200 Nanowebbers, 2005

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, 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 ...


Reappearance of the Undead


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 ...


Discussions (281) Opportunities (10) Events (4) Jobs (0)

NewFangle Closing Party (sf)

Please join us for a last look at New Fangle and an evening of
audio/visual performance. DJ's Perfect (beta lounge), Philip
Sherburne (trouble, xlr8r), and Fresh Blend (trouble) will provide
the audio backdrop for your exploration of this important annual show
while Sue Costabile & Kit Clayton (aka Sue & The Musorkians) will
share a new digital video performance project.

Where & When::
Herbst Int'l Exhibition Hall (IN THE PRESIDIO)
385 Moraga @ Montgomery, San Francisco

Thursday, 11/14, 7:30-10:30 pm,
$10 (includes beer!)


Gen Art SF's 4th annual exhibition of {technology-based} work by Bay
Area emerging artists.

Gallery Hrs ::
10/18-11/17, Weds-Sun 12-5 pm
Closed Mon-Tues

Curators ::
Amy Franceschini
Ken Goldberg
Michael Grey
Lisa Jevbratt

Artists ::
Adriane Colburn
Kota Ezawa +
Karla Milosevich
Ron Goldin
Bob Linder
Sheila A. Malone
Hayes Raffle
Shona Reed
Philip Ross
Anne-Marie Schleiner
Scott Snibbe

Gen Art Sf's Mission ::
To strengthen and empower emerging artists, to cultivate a new
generation of arts audiences, and to connect the arts community to
the community at large.

NewFangle 2002 Sponsors ::
Wired, Heineken, Banana Republic, Watermark Graphics, CMS A/V
Rentals, APG Studios, UC Berkeley > Art, Technology and Culture > Lab


Re: Membership fee?

hola, mark, et al.

just a note to agree with what most have said, here. first off, big
big bugs are creeping all over rhizome. especially after the
redesign... those need to be fixed, regardless.

i, too, voluntarily donate much more than $5 per year to the rhiz,
but i fear that requiring a subscription fee would scare folks away.
the raw_talkers of the more abrasive ilk, i think, would probably be
glad to pay $5 a year to keep up the abuse--and would defend their
right to "free speech" as a result of their equal paid-member
status... ?? just a guess...

i'd agree with eryk that a "rewards" or karma-type system would be a
good idea, in offering premium services, above the basic member
fee... rare could easily be a paid service.

i agree that access to artbase should be free. it's exposure for the
artists and i can say that i frequently use it, as a curator &
writer, to research work & contact people--though maybe you'd say i
should pay for that, it's a professional and critical opportunity for
the artists for this kind of resource to be free...

but, all in all, i think that the best scenario would be to keep
everything free and just have folks send their $5.27777+ checks to
rhizome regularly... obviously that's not happening at the level that
you need it, but i think that the hibernate or pay-sub scenario
closes you off to other compromises...


Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001



SF Camerawork's online exhibition, "net.narrative" has launched at:

The show highlights eight projects by Mark Amerika, Natalie Bookchin,
Code Zebra/Sara Diamond, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, Golan Levin, Jason
Lewis, the Radical Software Group, and Warren Sack.

In an effort to move critical discourse on net-based narratives
beyond traditional hypertext-oriented discussions of linearity,
navigation, and performative authorship, the show is thematized to
consider the site-specificity of the Internet, while also
reconsidering what it is that constitutes a "narrative."

As database aesthetics pervade contemporary art, patterns of user
behavior, the protocol of data presentation and retrieval, and the
self-reflexive visualization of data have all emerged as narrative
sources in their own right. The work in "net.narrative" exemplifies
these emergences.

Curated by Marisa S. Olson

Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001


new fangle 2002

hi, folks. it's that time of year, again, for gen art sf. here's
info on this year's new fangle. last year's show can be seen at


Gen Art SF presents its fourth annual exhibition of
"technology-based" work by the Bay Area's brightest emerging artists.

NewFangle 2002 artists include: Adriane Colburn, Kota Ezawa + Karla
Milosevich, Ron Goldin, Bob Linder, Sheila A. Malone, Hayes Raffle,
Shona Reed, Philip Ross, Anne-Marie Schleiner and Scott Snibbe.

NewFangle 2002's jurors are Amy Franceschini, Ken Goldberg, Michael
Grey, and Lisa Jevbratt. Exhibit chaired by Marisa S. Olson


NewFangle 2002, Gen Art SF's Annual Media Arts Exhibition

-->Dates: Opening Party: Thur, Oct 17, 2002, 7-10pm; Exhibition open
to the public: Oct 18 to Nov 17, 2002, Wed to Sun, noon-5pm.
Location: Herbst International Exhibition Hall, 385 Moraga (at
Montgomery), Presidio, San Francisco
Admission: $10 for opening night; free during gallery hours

-->NewFangle Artist Discussion with Scott Snibbe and Kota Ezawa and
Karla Milosevich
Date: Thurs, Oct 24, 2002, 7:30 to 9pm.
Location: Herbst International Exhibition Hall, 385 Moraga (at
Montgomery), Presidio, San Francisco
Admission: FREE

-->Evening of A/V Performance at NewFangle, curated by Philip Sherburne
Audio: Perfect (Beta Lounge), Philip Sherburne (Trouble, XLR8R),
Fresh Blend (Trouble)
Moving Pictures: Sue & the Musorkians
Date: Thurs, Nov 14, 2002, 7:30-10:30 pm
Location: Herbst International Exhibition Hall, 385 Moraga (at
Montgomery), Presidio, San Francisco
Admission: $10

marisa s. olson
director of media arts
gen art sf



If you're planning to be in sf, please come...


D A T A B A S E (D)
August 22, SFMOMA
Schwab Room
6-7pm Cash Bar
7-8:30pm Panel Discussion

{ This event is free, but people need to RSVP ASAP--by 8/19 at the
latest--to SMAC's events get overbooked quickly

As our lives revolve more and more around organizing and interpreting
data, database structure has begun to re-write the ways in which
visual artists, musicians, and writers are creating work. This, in
turn, is having an effect on the ways that audiences look for, listen
to, or read work.

The film-based work of panelists Jennifer & Kevin McCoy illustrates
this shift. The artists codify scenes from popular movies and sew
together disparate threads to construct an entirely unique narrative.
The McCoys are the young pioneers of "database cinema" and their
comments on their work will be complemented by Musician/ DJ/ Writer/
Curator Philip Sherburne discussing trends in sound-based art, from
new means of recording and playing, to major shifts in the language
of sound, following the influence of database structure.

The Kitchen's media arts curator, Christina Yang, will respond to
these panelists with a wider discussion of the nature and relevance
of "data-based" art, encompassing other performing and visual genres,
including installation art and net-based work revolving around data
visualization. Christina will underscore the art historical and
cultural significance of this work, from the perspective of a
pioneering curator in the field.

The panel will be moderated by SMAC's program chair, Marisa Olson.

Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001