Melinda Rackham
Since the beginning
Works in North Adelaide Australia

Over the past fifteen years Melinda Rackham has engaged with emergent practices and hybrid artforms as a pioneering networked artist, writer, curator, media consultant and cultural producer.

Melinda was the first Curator of Networked Media at the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) and in 2002 she established -empyre-, one of the world’s leading online critical theory forums. As Director of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) - Melinda lead Australia's foremost cultural research and emerging technologies organisation to new levels of public engagement.

Currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Media and Comminications at RMIT University, Dr Rackham's interests focus on the intertwining cultural, aesthetic, technological and conceptual aspects of networked, virtual, distributed, multi-user environments, and responsive and wearable art practices.
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DISCUSSION THE BOOK - double, trace, shudder, crash.

Tempted by's promise: "we crash your browser with content"
I clicked. I waited. I hoped. I prayed . My screen stuttered and
jerked--but disappointingly the browser didn't crash.

What it does do though is get slower, allowing gaps and rips to appear in
the usual illusory fabric of the seamless internet as the space fills with
raucous and chaotic content. Appearing before me is an art work that breaks
the daily tedium of grazing over cloned and sanitised blog interface
design--those sorts of creepily nice blogs that make me shudder on the
inside with their readable, balanced, cutesy, clean, neat, artless, self
conscious, logical, and organised versions of blandness.

So, okay, I may be a bit cynical after a decade online, but is there
anything wrong with wanting to be thrilled? With craving entertainment? With
desiring to be jolted from my often near comatose screen behaviours of
browse, click, copy, delete, send. And thankfully does all
that. When the net is looking more and more like a corporately fortified
instantaneous push media, Screenfull is a timely reminder that the internet
is a public space, a theatre of disparate dialogue in multiple and
asynchronous formats, dumbed down only by lack of imagination and the
unchallenged conventions of HTML.

Our protagonists are artists jimpunk and Abe Linkoln--personas who both draw
on iconic associations with disparate and powerful US cultural historic and
animated figures. Together their strength is in working across the history
of networked art, design, aesthetics and theory in this remix of the
phenomenal blogging paradigm. The latest manifestation of is
grounded in psychedelia and code work, with the seedy cycling and stuttering
of a background colour change JavaScript, producing an atmosphere akin to
flashing broken neon of a 1970's night club. It completely refreshes with
mashed media formats -- TV grabs, print posters, Paris Hilton, Flash
animation, in-process Photoshop files of art historical imagery, and

Screenfull is completed with a radio blog--Radio Sounds--which in true
Dadaesque manner, squishes more random cut-up bytes down the internet pipe
to our desktops. But what is really fascinating here is THE
BOOK--Guns, Duchamp and Magnetic Lassos. This delightfully illogical
extension of the blog online diary format (heralded as the liberator of
journaling from the page) loops their fulsome screen content back into the
usually serene and sedate corporate .pdf-- paper page based print format.

At last, with THE BOOK, Abe and jimpunk's promise eventuated and the
multimedia content crashed my .pdf viewer. Woohoo!! But it was only alerting
me I needed a long overdue upgrade. Downloaded and upgraded I start to
explore the work.

This formatting tempts me to decode the work into a fixed liner narrative as
screen content is hermetically sealed into discrete page packets with page
numbers. No hypertextual linking here, just numerical jumps and rapid
scrolls. I now very badly need to impose meaning. Will the magnetic lasso
draw threads between this work and the Duchampian forfeiture of the Dadaist
game of art for the equally fascinating strategy of chess?

The thematic of THE BOOK revolves around the almost blasphemous possibility
of shooting our screens, killing our art and our audience, cancelling our
connection. I recommend viewing with Auto Scroll . . . however page numbers
are very helpful locators. You can catch the artists with guns blazing on
pages 20 and 21. The money shot can be viewed on pages 46 and 47. Here the
lasso traces an outline of a bullet hole in glass, the glass we have seen in
the previous few images of guns represented both on computer screens and in
front of computer keyboards. But the magnetic trace renders this image as
the memory of an event past, or the faint and unspoken desire of the present
which can never be fully realised.

This lasso aesthetic, and it continual use thought out the site and book
remind me of the lacy translucent outlines present in many paintings of the
French Symbolist Gustave Moreau. Moreau's strange fusing of human and
inanimate objects, his disregard for the conventions of size and
perspective, and his opium dream landscapes of inward sensation and
contemplation place him as a forerunner of surrealism. His use of the
spidery overlay rendered in the paint technology of the mid to late 19th
century, and Screenfull's image processing lasso overlay, give both bodies
of work a quality of simultaneous surface and depth, of being at once in
creative process and post-operative autopsy.

As well there is a lot of smirky-smart doubling and splitting in these
portrait/landscape papers/screens. The use of images from a landscape
oriented screen, split in half and placed on consecutive portrait oriented
.pdf pages, which most likely will never be printed out and read together is

Print it and you miss Screenfull's competitive soundtracks and QuickTime
content; don't print it and the images are cut in half, forcing you to
recombine the split images in your head. It's almost like an anaglyph--a 3d
red/blue overlapping split image. Different right eye image + left eye image
+ glasses = let the brain do the interpretation work. Except they are not
like that at all, they are consecutive rather than overlapping. However the
associations are flowing freely, and isn't that what successful art is all
about? It gives you an immediate hit, as well as leaving you to ponder

Linkoln's previous art curatorial works certainly do that with their
rigorous mix of simplicity and humour. A Thousand Plateaus re-examines the
mountainous graphical stats for net art sites; Those that Can't
Teach Do is a cheeky listing of well know artist/educators' course outlines.
His linear blog remix of Olia Lialina's My Boyfriend Came Back From the War
turns Manovich's prime example of a new media logic of addition and
co-existence replacing the cinematic logic of replacement (p 324), back into
a logic of temporal replacement plus (rather than instead of) co-existence.
Recently Linkoln's curation of Pop Up at, complete with a Pop
Up Manifesto exuding self-evident gems like: "4. Pop up windows neither pop,
nor up.", displays an intelligent and maturing engagement with the unique
qualities of net worked art.

Our co-author, jimpunk, is a talented and elegant artist who capitalises on
the Rococo potentialities of HTML, JavaScript and Flash to create sites of
infinite variability, detail and unending surprise. His works have been
perfectly described by Tricia Fragnito as "a web version of a roller coaster
ride: scary and fun and at the end you want to go again." In true networked
style, jimpunk often works collaboratively across geographical space, and
produces sites which exploit the unique experience of net browsing. He
embraces the pixel and what some would call "bad web design" using web safe
colour, pop up and flashing graphics in works like
www.-reverse.-flash-.-.back-; and in one of my favourites the now offline Although his breed of network art may have had an
early Jodi-esque influence, we can see from the intimate and poetic musing
of 1n-0ut [meditation], it has grown up to be distinctively "jimpunk."

Scrolling around the Screenfull site, with Radio Sounds open in another
window, I am reminded that even though THE BOOK is a tightly thematic
curatorial collection, the bastard space of the network from which it is
comes is a chaotic, asynchronous, competitive, market place. It babbles with
recombinant, disjunctive, atmospheric content - designed not to be seen not
from a single authoritative cinematic perspective, but to be engaged with at
many levels.

It is for this reason web will emerge as the dominant media of the 21st
century, and as cinema did in the 20th century, it both builds upon and
differs from all that has come before. Networked space's most immediate
lineage is in what Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark call "Distance Art."
The activities of telecommunication art--from mail art, sound and radio art,
telematic art, assemblings and Fluxus as well as distributed textual
authorship. Artists and authors working in these distance fields challenged
the stability of the art production and distribution models of the 1960's
and 1970s, so that when the net emerged, new aesthetics were already in

Authoring art in symbiosis with an evolving electronic communications
systems, means working with an as yet largely unknown language. Right now
artists are connecting half visible dots to form a rapidly shifting template
of the future.

In less than a decade aesthetic sensibility has radically altered--7 years
ago, in 1998, when net.artist's were universally obsessed with making tiny
fast clean files and web pages with no more than 4 text lines of text on
screen, the now deceased Estonian web artist Tiia Johannson was making
massive web works of sometimes single images. Puzzled, I asked her why, and
her reply (made even more dramatic by her fabulous Marlene Dietrich accent)
was the foretelling "I like to make them wait."

If jimpunk & Linkoln want to make us wait while they stuff our browsers with
content, we will wait. It is in small shudders of expectation; those sudden
shocks; those intimate reminders of packet rhythms, that make Screenfull, in
all its format manifestations, succeed. It is both flexible and fixed;
distributable and located; doubled and traced; embracing full content and
empty potentiality. For me the characteristics of risk taking and shape
shifting, together with the rigours of knowing ones medium and a sense of
larrikin humour, define networked art. In the words of Johannson--on the
Network "you have to be plastic to survive."

Abe Linkoln:

Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark (eds), At a Distance: Precursors to Art
and Activism on the Internet, MIT Press, 2005:

1n-0ut [meditation]:


Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media, MIT Press, 2001:


ICOLS Strategy Defense and Arms Fair opening at TPS

love to see you at:

ICOLS Strategy Defense and Arms Fair
at TPS, Sydney, April 29 - May 21 2005
Opening 5.30 -7.30 pm Thursday 28 April

Drawing on the long & constantly evolving relationships between art &
technology, & specifically art & military technology, this dual projection
installation presents a model trade fair of defense strategies & weaponry
development as refigured within the conceptual & representational models of
contemporary art & theory.

Produced by ICOLS Directors Bronia Iwanczak & Suzanne Treister, with works by:

Samuel Blum, Varda Blum, Rosalind Brodsky, Alan Cholodenko, Alice Crawford,
Rebecca Cummins, Nina Czegledy, Carina Diepens, Richard Grayson, Nigel Helyer,
Bronia Iwanczak, Derek Kreckler, Maria Miranda and Norie Neumark, Pat Naldi, Tim
Nohe, Melinda Rackham, Monica Ross, Johannes S. Sistermanns , Janos Sugar,
Suzanne Treister, Angus Trumble, and Julian Walker.

The International Corporation of Lost Structures (ICOLS), founded in 2000, is an
artist-driven, international cross-cultural collaborative organization whose
members/contributors include artists, writers, filmmakers, scientists, poets,
anthropologists, theorists, activists & art historians. -

ICOLS STRATEGY DEFENSE & ARMS FAIR is the second installment of Who's Afraid
of the Avant-Garde? - a four part installation and performance series curated by
Blair French. Each project presents work that engages with avant-gardism in
manners suggesting its reinscription as a paradigm for art & social action in
the 21st century.

The Performance Space199 Cleveland Street Redfern
TEL: +61 (0)2 9698 7235 FAX: +61 (0)2 9699 1503

Melinda Rackham
artist | curator


SymbioticA Biotech Art Workshop and Seminar At University of Wollongong,,

SymbioticA Biotech Art Workshop
20-24 June 2005
At University of Wollongong, Faculty of Creative Arts and
School of Biological Sciences.

A five day intensive workshop dealing with hands on exploration of biological
technologies and issues stemming from their use. Through the arts, SymbioticA
seeks to take science beyond the laboratory and help the public develop a
critical awareness of science and new biological technologies. The workshop will
introduce participants to issues, concepts and techniques relating to
contemporary art practices dealing with the manipulation of life. Emphasis is
placed on developing critical thought, ethical issues and cross-disciplinary
experimentation in art. Current and historical practices dealing with the
manipulation of living systems will be traced through exploring art, culture and
biotech. The tools of modern biology will be demonstrated and perfomed through
artistic engagement, which in turn will open discussion about the broader
philosophical and ethical implications into the extent of human intervention
with other living things. The practical components include DNA extraction and
fingerprinting, genetic engineering, selective breeding, plant and animal tissue
culture and basic tissue engineering techniques.

Please note that a public seminar around bioart and ethics will be held on Day 4
of the workshop, which will be open to the public. For further information
please check UOW website closer to the date.

Places are limited to 20.

Cost $150/ 100 (concess) (including GST) for the five day intensive including
tutorials, lab space, consumables.

Tea and Coffee provided.

Prepared and presented by Oron Catts and Gary Cass, SymbioticA, School of
Anatomy & Human Biology and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, The
University of Western Australia.

For all information, please contact:
Catherine Fargher email:
Phone: + 61 02 93145121.

To register contact:
Sarah Powell:
Phone +61 02 4221 5853.

Information on workshop, seminar can also be found at the UOW website:, accommodation at and maps at

Day 1: lab 10-11am Registration and introductions
11-11:30pm Morning tea
11:30-12pm Bioart: Art/Science collaboration
12-12.30pm Lab safety
12.30-1.30pm Lunch
1.30-4pm Bacteria; plating from body and
Fungi; culture, identification,
structure and slide prep

Day 2: lab 9-10.30am DNA extraction
10.30-11am Morning tea
11:30-1pm Set-up Restriction Enzyme digest of
1-2pm Lunch
2-5pm Genetic transformation of pBADgfp
Gel electrophoresis of R.E. digest of

Day 3: lab 10-11am Analysis Gel electrophoresis and discuss Fields of
Results of the pBADgfpuv transformation.
11-11:30am Morning tea
11:30-1pm Tissue Culture, Tissue Engineering and
Stem Cells; discuss
1-2pm Lunch
2-5pm Mammalian tissue culture and tissue
engineering practical

Day 4: lab 10-11am Seminar: Ethics in biological research and in bioart;
11-11:30am Morning tea
11:30-1pm Seminar: Discussion continued
1-2pm Lunch, Discussion, ideas and possible
2-5pm Plant tissue culture; embryo rescue

Day 5: (optional) Field day visiting one of the following; zoo, botanical
gardens, selective breeding farm
(plant/animals), GMO research.


Remember this

Remember this?

Several years ago I was on a jury for a Networked art

While sifting through endless days of sites I came
across jimpunk's "" . How refreshing to sit
back, feel out of control and to be driven along by the
browser. Somewhere in the midst of the work was a section
where the Twin Towers.. ( the square NYC World Trade Towers
variety not the beautiful circular Petronas Towers in KL )
made from empty pop-up grey vertically rectangular browser
windows on a plain grey horizontal background, appeared.
Then with a strike of thunderous sound, one by one they fell
down.. or in more technical terms compacted towards the
bottom of the screen.

A short, powerful, simple sequence. Beautiful I thought.
Fantastic use of pop-ups. jimpunk goes on my top 10
favourite artists list. I put a link to it on my web site
entitled 'best twin towers at jimpunk". The net equivalent
perhaps to Sean Penn's moving September 11 short film on
death and transformation when the grief and denial of an
elderly man (Ernest Borgnine) is healed when light streams
into his dark apartment as the Twin Towers collapse.

Funnily enough the work didn't make it into the net art
show, as I discovered the other juror had completely
opposite aesthetic sense to myself , and didn't share my
enthusiasm for jimpunk's work, nor I for the works he liked.
After much negotiation we settled for works we both though
were good rather than ones we individually loved [ah the
joys of the jury process].

I have wanted to view this fragment of work again, and to
show it in lectures, however I was never able to find it. I
thought perhaps it was an Easter egg, a little gift for the
adventurous user hidden within the site, and it was just
eluding me. However recently jimpunk has told me the
sequence I recall didn't ever exist.

I dont quiet believe him - but is offline
now so I can't check
for myself. He directed me to 9/11 Memorial, which has a
similar use of pop-ups. But the towers are stable, the back
ground is animated and they just disappear rather than
collapse. It is much more formal, and to my mind a less
powerful work than the apparently non-existent one I recall.

So perhaps I was the only recipient of that random
combination of windows that became such a potent artwork in
my memory. Perhaps it was the optical hallucinatory affect
of massively moving pop-ups. Perhaps it illustrates
networked art is a truly individual experience. Perhaps it
was an illusion - the art equivalent of false memory
syndrome - created by mediated tower terror pattern
recognition. The only certainty is that the reality of
memory bears no relation to truth or falsity.

Melinda Rackham

9/11 memorial REMEMBER

Petronas Towers

Dr Melinda Rackham
artist | curator | producer
-empyre- media forum


webcast: new media arts funding & Australia Council restructure

for those who are interested in the demise of new media arts funding
globally the Australia Council restructure meeting is being webcast
tonight.. or tomorrow morning in some time zones.

Meeting on Monday January 24, 6 - 8pm
(Australian Eastern Daylight Time, GMT + 11)

ANAT and dLux Media Arts are pleased to announce that the meeting (in
Sydney) about the Australia Council restructure will be webcast. The meeting
will discuss the proposed abolition of the New Media Arts Board as well as
other proposed restructuring of the Australia Council.

If you can't get there and want to tune in, you'll need a QuickTime player
installed on your Mac or Windows PC. The URL is:

Details of the meeting are:

When: MONDAY JANUARY 24, 2005
Where: Paddington RSL, 220-232 Oxford Street, (Opposite Paddington Town
Hall), Sydney
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Admission: FREE

This meeting has been convened by dLux Media Arts and ANAT in
association with Realtime, Performance Space, Experimenta, BEAP and MAAP.
The webcast is organised by Virtual Artists and enabled by unwired.

Melinda Rackham
artist | curator | producer
-empyre- media forum