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.

Art Keeps On Slipping Into the Future


Stan VanDerBeek (1927-1984) shares with artists like Josef Albers, Aldous Huxley, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Buckminster Fuller the legacy of having developed their practice at Black Mountain College, the creative mecca where these and other thinkers pushed the edges of visual art, music, literature, technology, and consciousness. His experimental films of the 1950s blurred dada collage and science fiction, and he was an early adopter of both analog processes and computer animation, establishing for him a godfather-like position in the origin-narratives surrounding new media. His often rough aesthetic anticipated glitch-fetishism by several decades and drove the surrealist aesthetic into new territory; yet this is not to say that his works didn't go down smoothly. (The internet is full of video evidence of his colorfully dreamy proliferations.) The artist is currently the subject of an exhibition at New York's Guild & Greyshkul gallery, where one can see VanDerBeek's contribution to the proto-history of digital copy-and-paste stylistics in the form of real copy-and-paste collages and his own reworkings of his early films. Much of the work in the show, including a "faux mural" he transmitted electronically to international venues, in 1970, was made in his days at MIT, where his immersion among scientists and engineers had a clear impact on his art. VanDerBeek had a futurist and almost cosmological approach to his work and was one of those artists known for spouting beautiful witticisms about finding universal modes of expression that transcended media and the confinement of traditional forms. At the end of the day, he also reminded us that "Art is the artifact of reality (not taken for granted)." - Marisa Olson

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Continually Redefining Game Art


No longer mere distractions cooked-up by programmers as a form of light relief in the early days of computers, video games have evolved into a variety of forms and have had a wide impact on multiple generations. To some extent, the same can now be said of art that addresses video games, the visual complexity and conceptual richness of which has grown with the medium. An exhibition guest-curated by artists Marcin Ramocki and Paul Slocum at Arthouse explores "the history, control mechanisms, political and art-historical implications of electronic games" by surveying both better-known and more emerging practitioners of game-related art, including Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, Mike Beradino, Brody Condon, Alex Galloway, JODI, Guthrie Lonergan, Kristin Lucas, Joe McKay, Michael Smith, Eddo Stern, and Keita Takahashi. RESET/PLAY is up through November 2nd and is accompanied by a series of public events that includes a night of video game competitions and a performance by New York-based sound artists Loud Objects. - Marisa Olson

Image: Brody Condon, Judgment Modification (After Memling), 2008 (Courtesy of the artist and Virgil de Voldère Gallery, New York, NY)


Interactive Crowd Sourcing


While the term "crowd sourcing" generally refers to a large group of people (i.e. internet users) contributing to the realization of a project, it might also apply in interesting ways to the newest installation by Jody Zellen. In "The Blackest Spot," at LA's Fringe gallery, she culls footage of crowds and corrals them into content categories which are in turn activated by visitors to the exhibition. While the crowd is usually theorized as a single entity or herd, Zellen's selections exemplify the many different means and reasons for which people choose to assemble in a single spot. When viewers step on censor-marked spots on the floor of the gallery, they trigger audio responses linked to the gatherings, ranging from quietude to cacophony. As a result, Zellen's audience is compelled to consider their own identification with those portrayed in the collected images. - Marisa Olson

Image: Jody Zellen, The Blackest Spot, 2008

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Sounding the Alarms

Jane Philbrick's "PULL" installation, at New York's Location One gallery, is definitively interactive. Not only does it require viewer participation to really make the work happen, but it invites reflection on the agency, authority, and influence of the viewer. Flanked by walls of 502 beautifully symmetrical, gridded, illuminated fire alarms, strobes, smoke detectors, siren horns, and control panels, the installation relies on (or questions) the human impulse to pull the trigger. Once a viewer does pull on an alarm handle, loud noises, flashing lights, and loud words bombard the participant's eyes and ears in a simultaneously beautiful and overwhelming cascade. The project is intended to reflect on questions of fear and control, as well as the seductive versus destructive nature of power. Philbrick's collaboration with Honeywell Labs instigates commentary on the ways in which these issues have trickled down into architectural, industrial, and consumer devices, while upping the volume on her ongoing investigations into the subjective dimensions of language and the voice. - Marisa Olson

Image: Jane Philbrick, PULL, 2008

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Taking it to the Tavern

Red76 is an artist collective who employ a variety of media, including the internet, video, photography, printed matter, and social interaction. In fact, their use of materials is more a matter of calling up the right tools for the right job, but their projects are always infused with a kind of critical repositioning of default installation techniques and didactics. When exhibiting in a museum, they are likely to eschew wall text in favor of a giant arrow directing your attention to what you are really meant to see. In part, this bravery to bend the rules gets to the heart of their work: a persistent effort to create and critique public spaces. While Portland-based artist Sam Gould founded Red76, its membership constantly rotates, and the group privileges its open source ideals over attributed authorship. In this vein, many of their projects take the shape of "how-to" instructions, such as How to... Protest Song Karaoke, in which participants are encouraged to preface public karaoke performances with comments about the supposedly unknown political content of otherwise sappy mainstream pop hits. News Blackout was a successful example of that celebrated artists' trick known as the one-liner. The piece is a video in which someone strategically blacks out newspaper text with a black marker in order to make a statement about what often gets left out of the news. Their latest project The Battery Republic, which begins this weekend, also positions itself as an intervention. The weeklong series takes the form of a mobile tavern, which will occupy a room at the Park Avenue Armory as part of Creative Time's Democracy In America exhibition, as well as various other locations around the city. The collective will use this politicized space as a site for a variety of activities, ranging from conversations with visitors ...