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
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.
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’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”
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.
For 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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
15. The glti.ch is a social phenomenon.
I am very pleased to have an essay/chapter in This Mess is a Place, a collection on hoarding and clutter, edited, compiled and misfiled by Zoë Mendelson. The book is currently available from the website, with wider distribution to follow from the very wonderful AND Publishing.
This publication looks at the onset of hoarding through the voices of clinicians and expands the theme to examine how relationships to objects in space inform a number of fields in ways that can be seen to interrelate and impact upon each other. The idea behind the form of this anthology is that practice and artistic research can co-exist with more clinical and scientific research. It is hoped this will create overlaps and crises of ‘usefulness’ akin to the submersion of materials within a hoard or the pursuit of order within a collection. The publication itself is unbound – illogical and precarious as an object, containing loose leaves, pamphlets and nominal filing systems, gathered together in no particular order. The reader is ultimately responsible for the order (or dis-order) of the piece. Publication date is October 26th 2013.
It includes articles, artworks, interviews and fiction. Alongside This Mess is a Place's own collaborators from psychiatric and archival fields there are contributions of artistic projects from Jim Bay (UK); Michel Blazy (FR); Carrie M Becker (USA); Marjolijn Dijkman (NL); Nat Goodden (UK), Jefford Horrigan (UK); Dean Hughes (UK); Mierle Laderman Ukeles (USA); Robert Melee (USA); Zoë Mendelson (UK); Florence Peake (UK); Michael Samuels (UK); Kathryn Spence (USA); Tomoko Takahashi; Robin Waart (NL); Julian Walker (UK) and Laura White (UK).
The publication contains essays and documents by Dr. Colin Jones (Senior Lecturer/Researcher in Applied Health and Social Sciences, UK); Dr. Haidy Geismar (lecturer in digital anthropology and material culture, US/UK); Jeremy Gill (urban planner and theorist, AUS); Cecilie Gravesen (artist, curator and writer, UK/Den); Dr. Alberto Pertusa (consultant psychiatrist, UK); Daniel Rourke (artist and researcher, UK); Isobel Hunter (archivist and Head of Engagement at the National Archives, UK); Satwant Singh (nurse practitioner and cognitive behavourial therapist, UK); Nina Folkersma (curator and critic, NL); Alberto Duman (artist, writer, UK). A full list of essay titles can be seen here. The publication also includes documentary photography by Paula Salischiker (ARG) and an interview with an anonymous hoarder's daughter.Read more about the publication and project at thismessisaplace.co.uk
The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.
Daniel Rourke: Your recent work, You Could've Said, is described as "a Google keyword confessional for radio." I've often considered your work as having elements of the confession, partly because of the deeply personal stance you perform—addressing we, the viewer or listener, in a one-on-one confluence, but also through the way your work hijacks and exposes the unseen, often algorithmic, functions of social and network media. You allow Google keywords to parasitize your identity and in turn you apparently "confess" on Google's behalf. Are you in search of redemption for your social-media self? Or is it the soul of the algorithm you wish to save?
Erica Scourti: Or maybe the algorithm and social media soul is now so intertwined and interdependent that it makes little sense to even separate the two, in a unlikely fulfillment of Donna Haraway's cyborg? Instead of having machines built into/onto us (Google glasses notwithstanding), the algorithms which parse our email content, Facebook behaviours, Amazon spending habits, and so on, don't just read us, but shape us.
I'm interested in where agency resides when our desires, intentions and behaviours are constantly being tracked and manipulated through the media and technology that we inhabit; how can we claim to have any "authentic" desires? Facebook's "About" section actually states, "You can't be on Facebook without being your authentic self," and yet this is a self that must fit into the predetermined format and is mostly defined by its commercial choices (clothing brands, movies, ice cream, whatever). And those choices are increasingly influenced by the algorithms through the ambient, personalized advertising that surrounds us.Read the rest of this interview at Rhizome.org