Internet of Our Dreams

Internet of my dreams was Anthony Antonellis’ solo show at Transfer Gallery, in March 2014. At the conclusion of the exhibition, a digital panel convened around a series of topics that had informed the exhibition. Eleven panelists were invited to participate by moderators Anthony Antonellis and Arjun Ram Srivatsa.

The discussions took place online over the course of two days in the form of written submissions and video chats conducted from the gallery. Each panelist was able to address topics raised by previous panelists in a linear format similar to a comment thread.

I contributed a science fictional fabulation to proceedings, responding to the ideas generated by, and circling around, Anthony Antonellis’ exhibition. You can listen to the text below, but I urge you to go to Anthony’s website for the full digital panel and browse browse click dream browse.

Conference Panel: ‘Exaptation and the Digital Now’

College Art Association annual conference, New Media Caucus affiliated panel ‘Exaptation and the Digital Now’, with Zara Dinnen, Rob Gallagher and Alex Myers, Chicago, February 14th 2014

Artist Profile: Morehshin Allahyari

Daniel Rourke: Your ongoing project, Dark Matter, was something of a revelation for me: a collection of objects forbidden or "unwelcome" in Iran, brought together through digital modelling, meshing, and 3D printing. The results are playful and surrealistic, with the same capacity to waken the subconscious as any Dali Lobster-Telephone or Hair-Lamp. For me Dark Matter resonates as subversive not just because the dog-dildo is an affront to conservative sexual values, or because the Barbie-VHS blurs cultural boundaries (a feature of a lot of your work). Rather I was taken by how the objects spoke to the here and now; that perhaps there is something about the collapse of all commodities, forms, and ideas into the digital that promotes blurred perspectives and subversive practices. I wondered whether you saw your work as particular to the digital tools and materials you choose, or are you "just" making use of things that happen to be available to you?

Morehshin Allahyari: I was particularly interested in choosing the most relevant tools and materials for creating a new body of work about forbidden/unwelcome objects. I found the idea of "3D printing/re-creating the forbidden" a very compelling prospect, which raised paradoxical issues of limitations and boundaries—social, cultural, and political. I was also very interested in the technology of 3D printing as this "poetic technology" for resistance, for reclaiming all the things that were taken from me during my life in Iran or are currently being taken away from my sister, and mother, and my friends. There is something very special about things that you can't have access to when they are forced by law out of your life. When there are many of those objects/things, and they are the most ordinary things (dog, sex toys, neck-tie, Barbie, satellite-dish, Bart Simpson, ham/pig, alcohol, etc.), then there is something meaningful and symbolic about using a technology like 3D printing to re-create them. The combination of the objects, I think, adds a sense of humor to the work that is very similar to the ridiculousness of having these objects banned when you look at the whole picture.

Read the rest of this interview at Rhizome.org

Apophenia

I wrote an essay for the publication accompanying Alma Alloro‘s solo exhibition, Apophenia, held at Transfer Gallery, New York – January 4th through 25th, 2014.

Excerpt from my essay :

Alma Alloro’s machines reel and spin in homage to the kinds of correspondences and affects images can make. In the tradition of Oskar Fischinger’s An Optical Poem (1938), or Hans Richter’s Rhythmus series (1920s) Apophenia is ‘about’ the preponderance of images: about what takes place when images move, but also about the very substance of the static image — a thing we had no need to conceive of until motion had been thrust upon it. Her works are concerned with performing a net aesthetic apart from the rigidity of digital codes and databases, linking her machines through animated GIFs back to… the principal technologies of animation… The machines, devices and contrivances of Apophenia celebrate similar instances when the coming into being of an image traces a noticeable and long-lasting mark in physical space. To be truly confronted with an image is to become aware of one’s own construction as a thing — ‘Here where the world touches’ — something that high-bandwidth, high-resolution and optical speeds tends to camouflage in the clarity of simulation.

Download as PDF

More info : almaalloro.com and TransferGallery.com

An Ontology of Everything on the Face of the Earth

This essay was originally published as part of a special issue of Alluvium Journal on Digital Metaphors, edited by Zara Dinnen and featuring contributions from Rob Gallagher and Sophie Jones.

John Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is a claustrophobic sci-fi thriller, exhibiting many hallmarks of the horror genre. The film depicts a sinister turn for matter, where the chaos of the replicating, cancerous cell is expanded to the human scale and beyond. In The Thing we watch as an alien force terrorises an isolated Antarctic outpost. The creature exhibits an awesome ability to imitate, devouring any creature it comes across before giving birth to an exact copy in a burst of blood and protoplasm. The Thing copies cell by cell and its process is so perfect – at every level of replication  that the resultant simulacrum speaks, acts and even thinks like the original. The Thing is so relentless, its copies so perfect, that the outpost’s Doctor, Blair, is sent mad at the implications:

Blair: If a cell gets out it could imitate everything on the face of the Earth… and it’s not gonna stop!!!

Based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella, Who Goes There?, Carpenter’s film revisits a gothic trope, as numerous in its incarnations as are the forms it is capable of taking. In Campbell’s original novella, the biologically impure is co-inhabited by a different type of infection: an infection of the Antarctic inhabitants’ inner lives. Plucked from an icy grave, The Thing sits, frozen solid, in a dark corner of the outpost, drip dripping towards re-animation. Before its cells begin their interstitial jump from alien to earthly biology, it is the dreams of the men that become infected:

‘So far the only thing you have said this thing gave off that was catching was dreams. I’ll go so far as to admit that.’

An impish, slightly malignant grin crossed the little man’s seamed face.

‘I had some, too. So. It’s dream-infectious. No doubt an exceedingly dangerous malady.’ (Campbell)

The Thing From Another World

The Thing’s voracious drive to consume and imitate living beings calls to mind Freud’s uncanny: the dreadful creeping horror that dwells between homely and unhomely. According to Ernst Jentsch, whose work Freud references in his study, the uncanny is kindled, ‘when there is intellectual uncertainty whether an object is alive or not, and when an inanimate object becomes too much like an animate one’ (Grenville 233).

A body in the act of becoming: John W. Campbell’s novella depicts The Thing as a monstrous body that “swallows the world and is itself swallowed by the world”

Read the whole essay at Alluvium Journal

Glitchometry

I wrote an essay for the publication accompanying Daniel Temkin‘s solo exhibition, GLITCHOMETRY, held at Transfer Gallery, New York – November 16 through December 14, 2013. The publication also features an interview with the artist by Curt Cloninger.

Excerpt from my essay :

Glitchometry turns away from the ‘new earth’; the milieu of cyphers that constitute our contemporary audio-visual cognizance. By foregoing the simulations relied on when Photoshopping an image Temkin assumes an almost meditative patience with the will of the digital. As with Duchamp’s infra-thin – ‘the warmth of a seat which has just been left, reflection from a mirror or glass… velvet trousers, their whistling sound, is an infra-thin separation signalled’ – the one of the image and the other of the raw data is treated as a signal of meagre difference. Data is carefully bent in a sequence of sonifications that always risk falling back into the totalising violence of failure.

Download as PDF

More info : danieltemkin.com and TransferGallery.com

What makes out today’s notworking is the social glitch

GLTI.CH KaraokeFor 3 years I have collaborated on a project with Kyoung Kim. Known as GLTI.CH Karaoke, or sometimes just GLTI.CH, we’ve plotted the course of accidents, of temporal lyrical disjoints and technical out-of-syncs through a wide variety of different mediums, spaces and social conditions. This week saw what feels like the climax of our experiments, a three day – 67 hour – installation at CRYSTALLIZE, an exhibition of new media art held alongside the 2013 Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo, at Old Billingsgate, London.

GLTI.CH has played a significant part in my practice and thus my thinking over the last 3 years. Working with Kyoung has afforded me countless experiences and opportunities, and introduced me to the world of glitch, digital, net and new media arts and artists. The project is not over, but its Karaoke phase is drawing to a conclusion. I thought it would be a good time to republish this half-considered manifesto I wrote a while back.

15 Statements about Glti.ch Notworking

What makes out today’s networking is the notworking. There would be no routing if there were no problems on the line. Spam, viruses and identity theft are not accidental mistakes, mishaps on the road to techno perfection. They are constitutional elements of yesterday’s network architectures.

Lovink, Gert. (2005), The Principle of Notworking Concepts in Critical Internet Culture,” p. 10

GLTI.CH Karaoke is not a hack or some fancy programming. It’s taking the front-end of things and trying to make something else. We’ve made the mishmashed world of GLTI.CH Karaoke through play and we hope you’ll sing with us.

karaoke, glti.ch (2011), “WHAT IS GLTI.CH KARAOKE?

1. Glti.ches are more than aesthetic revelations: as software crashes, or hardware halts to a stutter, the soft underbelly of the notwork is exposed.

2. The trick is to see the glti.ch not as an abhorrence, but as a signal of noisy potential: error and noise are an implicit feature of digital materiality.

3. What Gaston Bachelard called ‘Desire Paths’, physical etchings in our surroundings drawn by the thoughtless movement of (human) feet, also exist online.

4. For those versed in the language of the glti.ch, desire equals subversion and the means of flight – a way to reverse the roles of power. The line of desire in these cases is often laid directly over the enclosed path.

5. Being buffered along by the unruly torrents of technical failure, the true semblance of the glti.ch is impossible to pin down: notwork control mechanisms have desirable unintended effects.

6. The kludge is a hands-on, makeshift solution, to an unpredictable technical or social problem: 100% of cargo cult coders, pirates, glitch artists and hackers started out as kludgers.

7. Algorithms that churn your Google search, or offer you potential meta-data with which to imbricate your image collection into the logic of the database, have themselves become actors in the play of human relations.

8. Digital formats as diverse as ePub, DivX, and GIF, and software platforms from the likes of Google, Microsoft or Apple, trace narrative arcs which are themselves transcodable relations.

9. Interruption, stutters and breaks force us into encounters with the world, exposing the circuitry that we as consumers are expected to elude into the background.

10. Digital copies, being copied, forever copying, exert an unruly behaviour that exposes the material world.

11. The most astonishing thing about the notwork is how any order can be maintained in it at all.

12. The more regulations imposed upon the notworks, the more interesting the resulting glti.ches will be in their variation/liberation.

13. Human beings are material entities, buffered by the same stops and starts as the notwork.

14. Participating in the glti.ch, in the artifact that exposes the failure, is to align oneself with material reality.

15. The glti.ch is a social phenomenon.