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.

Team Spoof

In the days of DIY online publishing, what we once knew as agitprop has increasingly taken the form of parasitic media. In such projects, activists leech qualities from the web presence of the host they intend to critique and use these visual resemblances (logos, site maps, page layouts, even URLs) to mimic their opponent in parallel sites that shoot off rather rhizomatically. Like a scientific parasite, the activist lives off the host, but what really thrives is the self-referential critique enabled by this form of parody. The Italian collective, Les Liens Invisibles, excels at initiatives such as these. In their open source project, Fake is a Fake, they make it easy for internet users with access to free Word Press blogging software to mimic high profile sites like news and government agencies, while inserting their own statements. "If at one time or another in your life you wanted to speak with 'the master's voice,'" they say, "then you are ready for our brand new fake-publishing services!" Constantly updated and refined by a group of devoted developers, the list of available spoofs continues to grow. Their most recent (ironically credited to Luther Blissett, the open source nom de plume--taken from the given name of a Jamaican footballer--originated in Italy for hundreds of worldwide activists) uses the upcoming games in Beijing as a backdrop for discussing China's attitude towards human rights. In the announcement of the Peking 2008 site, they declared, "While the Olympic curtain softly falls on the Chinese repression in Tibet, the imaginary art-group Les Liens Invisibles celebrates the upcoming Olympic Games with a new fake-based hybridation between art, activism, and advertising strategies." The ubiquity and recognizability of branded messages make them particularly vulnerable to such forms of plagiarism. The artists' disclaimer for Fake is a ...


A Feast for Your Eyezz

One of the hallmarks of the current era of net art is the exhibitory display of one's consumption. While a lot of early net art was self-reflexively directed at the traits of networked environments, newer work seems to be largely about running around and exploring those environments, then generating responses. The output of the pseudonymous artists behind (Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Mr. Tamale) forms a bridge between these two eras. It incubated in the hour of the first boom's waning and waxed ahead of the current surf blog curve. As a result, (which, readers are forewarned, could very much hijack its predecessor's motto, "We Crash Your Browser With Content") marries the best qualities of these two eras. The site simultaneously evades initial detection as a blog while exploiting (in the true hacker sense of the word) all of the default structural conditions that make blogs such a performative space. The artists post heavily and skillfully manipulated videos, sound clips, images, and animations, to the order of optical poptitude; and while their individual posts stand on their own, the degree to which they harmonize with each other could finally--after so many decades--stand to illustrate the truly exquisite nature of the exquisite corpse. This is net art decadence at its richest. Now if the site sounds familiar to you, we'll admit to having covered it before, but the group's current summer marathon inspired us to remind you of its presence. This, afterall, is another trait of current net art blogs. There are no one-hit-wonders, and despite the ".tv" in the site's URL, there are no reruns here. To truly take in this collaborative artwork's beauty, one needs to resign themselves to the compulsion to repeat. - Marisa Olson

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Dancing with the Stars

This week, critic Ben Davis wrote an interesting treatise on "The Superartist." Davis uses the term to describe those artists who are super savvy at penetrating the media, and become superstars by virtue of their collaborations with big corporations and work in mainstream contexts. His argument was that so-called 'Superart' has a populist touch, and appreciation of the work tends to be an appreciation of being part of a collective, as opposed to an individual, aesthetic experience, just as the works themselves tend away from personal statements and towards blank social referents. As it turns out, this could be a very good critique of Lincoln Schatz's newest project, Esquire's Portrait of the 21st Century, in which the generative artist uses his own custom software to create an evolving portrait of those 75 people the magazine has deemed the most important people of the coming decades...Just in time for Esquire's 75th anniversary issue. Schatz has constructed a "CUBE," the white frosted glass walls of which very much resemble a Chelsea gallery facade except that the structure is studded with video cameras and Mac minis. The stars in question are invited into the cube for hour-long interviews about their personal interests, after which they are generatively collaged into an evolving constellation with other stars, according to their shared interests. In a tried and true display of the magazine's firm grasp of 21st century media, Schatz is keeping a blog in which the portraits are uploaded. So far, the footage is very beautiful and almost painterly in the ways that it overlaps and meshes together. It's easy to create corporate collaborations as sell-out projects, but harder to spend the time thinking about a work's wider resonance. The artist's bio says that his work "has focused ...


A Happy Medium

Currently on view in an off-beat neighborhood in the off-beat art city of Louisville, Kentucky, is an exhibition of nine very up-and-coming media artists: Justin Clark, Petra Cortright, Thomas Galloway, Michael Guidetti, Jacolby Satterwhite, Hayley Silverman, Will Simpson, Dan Wickerham, and Damon Zucconi. Curated by artist Ilia Ovechkin, co-founder of Loshadka--a group net art site of the "surf club" variety, the show (open at Plexus Contemporary through August 8th) includes many artists who work primarily on the internet or with web-derived materials and themes, but whose work for the show demonstrates a fluidity between online and offline forms. "The common thread between these artists is that they are all comfortable with being multidisciplinary and working across media," Ovechkin said, in Lousville's local Velocity Weekly, "but the conversation becomes even more interesting when you focus on the individual works and the topics they address." The familiar title of the Weekly piece was "The Medium is the Message," but Ovechkin seems eager to zoom further-in on the works, not prioritizing their form over their content. For instance, Jacolby Satterwhite's video, Model It, in which the artist is seen vogueing in front of the camera, might initially read as just another artist's response to YouTube culture, but the song in the piece was written by his mentally-ill mother and acts as a sort of empowerment anthem backdrop for Satterwhite's bigger commentary on "African American male patriarchy, sexuality, and material culture." Damon Zucconi's video Slow Rave (last minutes of trance energy), effects a spiritual experience on a well-lit dance floor by slowing down found footage of dancers at a rave. As the subjects gesture slowly and silently, the viewer identifies with the trance-like feeling they must be experiencing on a higher level. The binary "on" of a strobe ...


Raising the Bar in Singapore

Every two years, the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) lands in a different world city, drawing thousands of new media scholars and artists together and engaging the local community. Two rounds ago, in 2004, ISEA started on a cruise ship that sailed (ok, partied) from Helsinki to Stockholm before delivering participants in Tallin, Estonia. In 2006 ISEA came to San Jose, California, where it both gelled and collided with the Silicon Valley scene, inaugurating the annual Zero1 festival. This year the events leapt across the Pacific to Singapore, a small country with a huge media culture. From July 25th-August 3rd, the "world's premier media arts event for the critical discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in interactive and digital media" will present a range of exhibitions and public programs on five official themes: Locating media, Wiki Wiki, Ludic Interfaces, Reality Jam, and Border Transmissions. The panels and keynotes within this theme--delivered by many of the biggest names in the field--consider the current state of new media production and reception, and cast an eye toward the role of Pacific Rim participants in driving this field. A cornerstone of the festival is the main exhibition, installed at the National Museum of Singapore and called simply "ISEA2008 Juried Exhibition." This year's show provides a glimpse into contemporary media art practices not only in the work selected, but in the process of it's organization. The exhibit includes sixteen artworks, many of which were made by international collaborative teams, that were curated via a competitive open call. The selected artists were invited to Singapore for residencies, where they began to flesh-out their ideas and work in new media, technology, and science labs on the campus of the National University of Singapore. The result is a collection of works ...