MachineMachine /stream - tagged with interviews en-us LifePress <![CDATA[Resolution Disputes: A Conversation Between Rosa Menkman and Daniel Rourke]]>

Resolution Disputes: A Conversation Between Rosa Menkman and Daniel Rourke: In the lead-up to her solo show, institutions of Resolution Disputes [iRD], at Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn, Daniel Rourke caught up with Rosa Menkman over two gallons of home-brewed coffee. They talked about what the show might become, discussing a series of alternate resolutions and realities that exist parallel to our daily modes of perception.iRD was exhibited at Transfer Gallery in March & April 2015, and also functioned as host to Daniel Rourke and Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D Additivist Manifesto, on April 16th.Rosa Menkman: If I remember correctly you and Morehshin wrote an open invitation to digital artists to send in their left over 3D objects. So every object in that dark gooey ocean in The 3D Additivist Manifesto actually represents a piece of artistic digital garbage. It’s like a digital emulation of the North Pacific Gyre, which you also talked about in your lecture at Goldsmiths, but then solely consisting of Ready-Made art trash.The actual scale and form of the Gyre is hard to catch, it seems to be unimaginable even to the people devoting their research to it; it’s beyond resolution. Which is why it is still such an under acknowledged topic. We don’t really want to know what the Gyre looks or feels like; it’s just like the clutter inside my desktop folder inside my desktop folder, inside the desktop folder. It represents an amalgamation of histories that moved further away from us over time and we don’t necessarily like to revisit, or realise that we are responsible for. I think The 3D Additivist Manifesto captures that resemblance between the way we handle our digital detritus and our physical garbage in a wonderfully grimm manner.Daniel Rourke: I’m glad you sense the grimness of that image. And yes, as well as sourcing objects from friends and collaborators we also scraped a lot from online 3D object repositories. So the gyre is full of Ready-Mades divorced from their conditions of creation, use, or meaning. Like any discarded plastic bottle floating out in the middle of the pacific ocean.Eventually Additivist technologies could interface all aspects of material reality, from nanoparticles, to proprietary components, all the way through to DNA, bespoke drugs, and forms of life somewhere between the biological and the synthetic. We hope that our call to submit to The 3D Additivist Cookbook will provoke what you term ‘disputes’. Objects, software, texts and blueprints that gesture to the possibility of new political and ontological realities. It sounds far-fetched, but we need that kind of thinking.Alternate possibilities often get lost in a particular moment of resolution. A single moment of reception. But your exhibition points to the things beyond our recognition. Or perhaps more importantly, it points to the things we have refused to recognise. So, from inside the iRD technical ‘literacy’ might be considered as a limit, not a strength.

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:47:09 -0700
<![CDATA[Resolution Disputes: A Conversation Between Rosa Menkman and Daniel Rourke]]>

In the lead-up to her solo show, institutions of Resolution Disputes [iRD], at Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn, I caught up with Rosa Menkman over two gallons of home-brewed coffee. We talked about what the show might become, discussing a series of alternate resolutions and realities that exist parallel to our daily modes of perception. iRD is open to visitors on Saturdays at Transfer Gallery until April 18th, and will also function as host to my and Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D Additivist Manifesto, on Thursday April 16th. Rosa Menkman: The upcoming exhibition at Transfer is an illustration of my practice based PhD research on resolutions. It will be called ‘institutions of Resolution Disputes’, in short iRD and will be about the liminal, alternative modes of data or information representation, that are obfuscated by technological conventions. The title is a bit wonky as I wish for it to reflect that kind of ambiguity that invokes curiosity. In any case, I always feel that every person, at least once in their grown-up life, wants to start an institution. There are a few of those moments in life, like “Now I am tired of the school system, I want to start my own school!”; and “Now I am ready to become an architect!”, so this is my dream after wanting to become an architect. Daniel Rourke: To establish your own institution?

RM: First of all, I am multiplexing the term institution here. ‘institutions’ and the whole setting of iRD does mimic a (white box) institute, however the iRD does not just stand for a formal organization that you can just walk into. The institutions also revisit a slightly more compound framework that hails from late 1970s, formulated by Joseph Goguen and Rod Burstall, who dealt with the growing complexities at stake when connecting different logical systems (such as databases and programming languages) within computer sciences. A main result of these non-logical institutions is that different logical systems can be ‘glued’ together at the ‘substrata levels’, the illogical frameworks through which computation also takes place. Secondly, while the term ’resolution’ generally simply refers to a standard (measurement) embedded in the technological domain, I believe that a resolution indeed functions as a settlement (solution), but at the same time exists as a space of compromise between different actors (languages, objects, materialities) who dispute their stakes (frame rate, number of pixels and colors, etc.), following rules (protocols) within the ever growing digital territories. So to answer your question; maybe in a way the iRD is sort of an anti-protological institute or institute for anti-utopic, obfuscated or dysfunctional resolutions. DR: It makes me think of Donna Haraway’s Manifesto for Cyborgs, and especially a line that has been echoing around my head recently:

“No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language.”

By using the terms ‘obfuscation’ and ‘dysfunction’ you are invoking a will – perhaps on your part, but also on the part of the resolutions themselves – to be recognised. I love that gesture. I can hear the objects in iRD speaking out; making themselves heard, perhaps for the first time. In The 3D Additivist Manifesto we set out to imagine what the existence of Haraway’s ‘common language’ might mean for the unrealised, “the powerless to be born.” Can I take it that your institute has a similar aim in mind? A place for the ‘otherwise’ to be empowered, or at least to be recognised?

RM: The iRD indeed kind of functions as a stage for non-protocological resolutions, or radical digital materialism. I always feel like I should say here, that generally, I am not against function or efficiency. These are good qualities, they make the world move forward. On the other hand, I do believe that there is a covert, nepotist cartel of protocols that governs the flows and resolutions of data and information just for the sake of functionality and efficiency. The sole aim of this cartel is to uphold the dogma of modern computation, which is about making actors function together (resonate) as efficiently as possible, tweaking out resources to maximum capacity, without bottlenecks, clicks, hicks or cuts, etc. But this dogma also obfuscates a compromise that we never question. And this is where my problem lies: efficiency and functionality are shaping our objects. Any of these actors could also operate under lower, worse or just different resolutions. Yet we have not been taught to see, think or question any of these resolutions. They are obfuscated and we are blind to them. I want to be able to at least entertain the option of round video (strip video from its interface!), to write inside non-quadrilateral, modular text editors (no more linear reading!) or to listen to (sonify) my rainbows (gradients). Right now, the protocols in place simply do not make this possible, or even worse, they have blocked these functionalities. There is this whole alternate universe of computational objects, ways that our data would look or be used like, if the protocols and their resolutions had been tweaked differently. The iRD reflects on this, and searches, if you will, a computation of many dimensions. DR: Meaning that a desktop document could have its corners folded back, and odd, non standard tessellations would be possible, with overlapping and intersecting work spaces?

RM: Yes! Exactly! Right now in the field of imagery, all compressions are quadrilateral, ecology dependent, standard solutions (compromises) following an equation in which data flows are plotted against actors that deal with the efficiency/functionality duality in storage, processing and transmission. I am interested in creating circles, pentagons and other more organic manifolds! If we would do this, the whole machine would work differently. We could create a modular and syphoning relationships between files, and just as in jon Satroms’ 2011 QTzrk installation, video would have multiple timelines and soundtracks, it could even contain some form of layer-space! DR: So the iRD is also a place for some of those alternate ‘solutions’ that are in dispute? RM: Absolutely. However, while I am not a programmer, I also don’t believe that imagining new resolutions means to absolve of all existing resolutions and their inherent artifacts. History and ecology play a big role in the construction of a resolution, which is why I will also host some of my favorite, classic solutions and their inherent (normally obfuscated) artifacts at the iRD, such as scan lines, DCT blocks, and JPEG2000 wavelets.

The iRD could easily function as a Wunderkammer for artifacts that already exist within our current resolutions. But to me this would be a needles move towards the style of the Evil Media Distribution Center, created by YoHa (Matsuko Yokokoji and Graham Harwood) for the 2013 Transmediale. I love to visit Curiosity Cabinets, but at the same time, these places are kind of dead, celebrating objects that are often shielded behind glass (or plastic). I can imagine the man responsible for such a collection. There he sits, in the corner, smoking a pipe, looking over his conquests. But this kind of collection does not activate anything! Its just ones own private boutique collection of evil! For a dispute to take place we need action! Objects need to have – or be given – a voice! DR: …and the alternate possible resolutions can be played out, can be realised, without solidifying them as symbols of something dead and forgotten. RM: Right! It would be easy and pretty to have those objects in a Wunderkammer type of display. Or as Readymades in a Boîte-en-valise but it just feels so sad. That would not be zombie like but dead-dead. A static capture of hopelessness. DR: The Wunderkammer had a resurgence a few years ago. Lots of artists used the form as a curatorial paradigm, allowing them to enact their practice as artist and curator. A response, perhaps, to the web, the internet, and the archive. Aggregated objects, documents and other forms placed together to create essayistic exhibitions. RM: I feel right now, this could be an easy way out. It would be a great way out, however, as I said, I feel the need to do something else, something more active. I will smoke that cigar some other day.

DR: So you wouldn’t want to consider the whole of Transfer Gallery as a Wunderkammer that you were working inside of? RM: It is one possibility. But it is not my favorite. I would rather make works against the established resolutions, works that are built to break out of a pre-existing mediatic flow. Works that were built to go beyond a specific conventional use. For example, I recently did this exhibition in The Netherlands where I got to install a really big wallpaper, which I think gained me a new, alternative perspectives on digital materiality. I glitched a JPEG and zoomed in on its DCT blocks and it was sooo beautiful, but also so scalable and pokable. It became an alternative level of real to me, somehow. DR: Does it tesselate and repeat, like conventional wallpaper? RM: It does repeat in places. I would do it completely differently if I did it again. Actually, for the iRD I am considering to zoom into the JPEG2000 wavelets. I thought it would be interesting to make a psychedelic installation like this. It’s like somebody vomited onto the wall.

DR: [laughs] It does look organic, like bacteria trying to organise. RM: Yeah. It really feels like something that has its own agency somehow.

DR: That’s the thing about JPEG2000 – and the only reason I know about that format, by the way, is because of your Vernacular of File Formats - the idea that they had to come up with a non-regular block shape for the image format that didn’t contradict with the artifacts in the bones and bodies that were being imaged. It feels more organic because of that. It doesn’t look like what you expect an image format to look like, it looks like what I expect life to look like, close up. RM: It looks like ‘Game of Life’. DR: Yes! Like Game of Life. And I assume that now they don’t need to use JPEG2000 because the imaging resolution is high enough on the machines to supersede bone artifacts. I love that. I love the effect caused when you’ve blown it up here. It looks wonderful. What is the original source for this? RM: I would blow this image [the one from A Vernacular of File Formats] up to hell. Blow it up until there is no pixel anymore. It shouldn’t be too cute. These structures are built to be bigger. Have you seen the Glitch Timond (2014)? The work itself is about glitches that have gained a folkloric meaning over time, these artifact now refer to hackers, ghosts or AI. They are hung in the shape of a diamond. The images themselves are not square, and I can install them on top of the wallpaper somehow, at different depths. Maybe I could expand on that piece, by putting broken shaped photos, and shadows flying around. It could be beautiful like that.

DR: It makes me think of the spatiality of the gallery. So that the audience would feel like they were inside a broken codec or something. Inside the actual coding mechanism of the image, rather than the standardised image at the point of its visual resolution. RM: Oh! And I want to have a smoke machine! There should be something that breaks up vision and then reveals something. DR: I like that as a metaphor for how the gallery functions as well. There are heaps of curatorial standards, like placing works at line of sight, or asking the audience to travel through the space in a particular order and mode of viewing. The gallery space itself is already limited and constructed through a huge, long history of standardisations, by external influences of fashion and tradition, and others enforced by the standards of the printing press, or the screen etc. So how do you make it so that when an audience walks into the gallery they feel as though they are not in a normal, euclidean space anymore? Like they have gone outside normal space? RM: That’s what I want! Disintegrate the architecture. But now I am like, “Yo guys, I want to dream, and I want it to be real in three weeks…” DR: “Hey guys, I want to break your reality!” [laughs] RM: One step is in place, Do you remember Ryan Maguire who is responsible for The Ghost in the MP3? His research is about MP3 compressions and basically what sounds are cut away by this compression algorithm, simply put: it puts shows what sounds the MP3 compression normally cuts out as irrelevant – in a way it inverses the compression and puts the ‘irrelevant’ or deleted data on display. I asked him to rework the soundtrack to ‘Beyond Resolution’, one of the two videowork of the iRD that is accompanied by my remix of professional grin by Knalpot and Ryan said yes! And so it was done! Super exciting.   DR: Yes. I thought that was a fantastic project. I love that as a proposition too… What would the equivalent of that form of ghosting be in terms of these alternate, disputed resolutions? What’s the remainder? I don’t understand technical formats as clearly as you do, so abstract things like ‘the ghost’, ‘the remainder’ are my way into understanding them. An abstract way in to a technical concept. So what is the metaphoric equivalent of that remainder in your work? For instance, I think it depends on what this was originally an image of. I think that is important. RM: The previous image of JPEG2000 does not deal with the question of lost information. I think what you are after is an inversed Alvin Lucier ‘Sitting in a Room’ experiment, one that only shows the “generation loss” (instead of the generation left over, which is what we usually get to see or hear in art projects). I think that would be a reasonable equivalent to Ryan Maguires MP3 compression work. Or maybe Supraconductivity. I can struggle with this for… for at least two more days. In any case I want the iRD to have a soundtrack. Actually, it would like there to be a spatial soundtrack; the ghost soundtrack in the room and the original available only on a wifi access point. DR: I’m really excited by that idea of ghostly presence and absence, you know. In terms of spatiality, scan lines, euclidean space… RM: It’s a whole bundle of things! [laughs] “Come on scan lines, come to the institutions, swim with the ghosts!” DR: It makes me think of cheesy things you get in a children’s museum. Those illusion rooms, that look normal through a little window, but when you go into them they are slanted in a certain way, so that a child can look bigger than an adult through the window frame. You know what I mean? They play with perspective in a really simple way, it’s all about the framing mechanism, the way the audience’s view has been controlled, regulated and perverted. RM: I was almost at a point where I was calling people in New York and asked, “Can you produce a huge stained glass window, in 2 weeks?” I think it would be beautiful if the Institute had its own window. I would take a photo of what you could see out of the real window, and then make the resolution of that photo really crappy, and create a real stained glass window, and install that in the gallery at its original place. If I have time one day I would love to do that, working with real craftspeople on that. I think that in the future the iRD might have a window through which we interface the outside. Every group of people that share the same ideas and perspectives on obfuscation need to have a secret handshake. So that is what I am actually working on right now. Ha, You didn’t see that coming? [Laughs] DR: [Laughs] No… that’s a different angle. RM: I want people to have a patch! A secret patch. You remember Trevor Paglen’s book on the symbology of military patches?

DR: Oh yeah. Where he tries to decode the military patches? Yes, I love that. RM: Yeah, I don’t think the world will ever have enough patches. They are such an icon for secret handshakes. I have been playing around with this DCT image. I want to use it as a key to the institutions, which basically are a manifest to the reasonings behind this whole exhibition, but then encrypted in a macroblock font (I embedded an image of Institution 1 earlier). There was one of Paglen’s patches that really stood out for me; the black on black one. The iRD patch should be inspired by that.

DR: Hito Steyerl’s work How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, centres on the grid used by the military to calibrate their satellites from space. The DCT structure looks a lot like that, but I know the DCT is not about calibration. It contains all the shapes necessary to compose any image? RM: If you look up close at a badly compressed JPEG, you will notice the image consist of macroblocks. A macroblock is a block organizations, usually consisting of 8×8 pixels, that posses color (chrominance) and light (luminance) values embedded via DCT (discrete cosine transform). Basically all JPEGs you have ever seen are build out of this finite set of 64 macroblocks. Considering that JPEGs make up the vast majority of images we encounter on a daily basis, I think it is pretty amazing how simple this part of the JPEG compression really is. But the patch should of course not just be square. Do you know the TV series Battlestar Galactica, where they have the corners cut off all their books? All the paper in that world follows this weird, octagonal shape? Or Borges Library and its crimson hexagon, that holds all knowledge. I love those randomly cryptic geometric forms… DR: It reminds me of a 1987 anime film, Wings of Honneamise, that had a really wonderfully designed world. Everything is different, from paper sizes and shapes, through to their cutlery. Really detailed design from the ground up, all the standards and traditions. RM: Like this Minecraft book too. The Blockpedia. DR: Oh that’s great. I love the Minecraft style and the mythos that has arisen around it. RM: So Minecraft and Borges follow a 6 corner resolution, and Battlestar paper has 8 corners… Discrepancy! I want to reference them all! DR: So these will go into the badges? RM: I want to have a black on black embroidered patch with corners. Don’t you think this would be so pretty? This black on black. I want to drop a reference to 1984, too, Orwell or Apple, the decoder can decide. These kind of secret, underground references, I like those. DR: A crypto exhibition. RM: It’s so hot right now (and with hot I do not mean cool). Since the 90s musicians encrypt or transcode things in their sounds, from Aphex Twin, to Goodiepal and now TCF, who allegedly encrypted an image from the police riots in Athens into one of his songs. However, he is a young Scandinavian musician so that makes me wonder if the crypto design in this case is confusingly non-political. Either way, I want to rebel against this apparent new found hotness of crypto-everything, which is why I made Tacit:Blue.

Tacit:Blue uses a very basic form of encryption. Its archaic, dumb and decommissioned. Every flash shows a next line of my ‘secret message’ encrypted in masonic pigpen. When it flickers it gives a little piece of the message which really is just me ranting about secrecy. So if someone is interested in my opinion, they can decode that.

Actually, the technology behind the video is much more interesting. Do you know The Nova Drone? Its a small AV synthesizer designed by Casper Electronics. The the flickr frequency of this military RGB LED on the top of the board can be altered by turning the RGB oscillators. When I come close to the LED with the lens of my iphone, the frequencies of the LED and the iphone camera do not sync up. What happens is a rolling shutter effect. The camera has to interpret the input and something is gone, lost in translation. In fact, a Resolutional Dispute takes place right there. DR: So the dispute happens because framerate of the camera conflicts with the flicker of the LED? RM: And the sound is the actual sound of the electronics. In Tacit:Blue I do not use the NovaDrone in a ‘clean’ way, I am actually misusing it (if there is such a thing when it comes to a device of dispute). Some of the sounds and disruptions of flow are created in this patch bay, which is where you can patch the LFOs, etc. Anyway, when you disconnect the patch it flickers, but I never take it out fully so it creates this classic, noisy electric effect. What do you think about the text? Do you think this works? I like this masonic pigpen, its a very simple, nostalgic old quiff. DR: It reminds me of the title sequence for Alien. Dave Addey did a close visual, sci-fi etymological, analysis of the typography in Alien. It went viral online recently. Did you see that?

RM: No! DR: It is fantastic. Everything from the title sequence to the buttons on the control panel in the background. Full of amazing insights.

RM: Wow, inspiring!

So with any cypher you also need a key, which is why I named the video Tacit:Blue, a reference to the old Northrop Tacit Blue stealth surveillance aircraft. The aircraft was used to develop techniques against passive radar detection, but has been decommissioned now, just like the masonic pigpen encryption. DR: This reminds me of Eyal Weizman. He has written a lot on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict as a spatial phenomena. So we don’t think about territory merely as a series of lines drawn on a globe anymore, but as a stack, including everything from airspace, all the way down beneath the ground, where waste, gas and water are distributed. The mode by which water is delivered underground often cuts across conflicted territories on the surface. A stacked vision of territory brings into question the very notion of a ‘conflict’ and a ‘resolution’. I recently saw him give a lecture on the Forensic Architecture project, which engages in disputes metered against US Military activities. Military drones are now so advanced that they can target a missile through the roof of a house, and have it plunge several floors before it explodes. It means that individual people can be targeted on a particular floor. The drone strike leaves a mark in the roof which is – and this is Weizman’s terminology - ‘beneath the threshold of detectability’. And that threshold also happens to be the size of a human body: about 1 metre square. Military satellites have a pixel size that effectively translates to 1 metre square at ground level. So to be invisible, or technically undetectable, a strike needs only to fall within a single pixel of a satellite imaging system. These drone strikes are designed to work beneath that threshold. In terms of what you are talking about in Trevor Paglen’s work, and the Northrop Tacit Blue, those technologies were designed to exist beneath, or parallel to, optic thresholds, but now those thresholds are not optic as much as they are about digital standards and resolution densities. So that shares the same space as the codecs and file formats you are interested in. Your patch seems to bring that together, the analogue pixel calibration that Steyerl refers to is also part of that history. So I wonder whether there are images that cannot possibly be resolved out of DCT blocks. You know what I mean? I think your work asks that question. What images, shapes, and objects exist that are not possible to construct out of this grid? What realities are outside of the threshold of these blocks to resolve? It may even be the case that we are not capable of imagining such things, because of course these blocks have been formed in conjunction with the human visual system. The image is always already a compromise between the human perceptual limit and a separately defined technical limit. RM: Yes, well I can imagine vector graphics, or mesh based graphics where the lines are not just a connection between two points, but also a value could be what you are after. But I am not sure. At some point I thought that people entering the iRD could pay a couple of dollars for one of these patches, but if they don’t put the money down, then they would be obliged to go into the exhibition wearing earplugs. DR: [Laughs] So they’d be allowed in, but they’d have one of their senses dampened? RM: Yes, wearing earmuffs, or weird glasses or something like that. [Laughs] DR: Glasses with really fine scan lines on them that conflict with TV images or whatever. RM: [Laughs] And I was thinking, well, there should be a divide between people. To realise that what you see is just one threshold that has been lifted to only a few. There are always thresholds, you know. DR: Ways to invite the audience into the spaces and thresholds that are beneath the zones of resolutional detectability? RM: Or maybe just to show the mechanics behind objects and thresholds. DR: Absolutely. So to go back to your Tacit:Blue video, in regards the font, I like the aesthetic, but I wonder whether you could play with that zone of detectability a little more. You could have the video display at a frequency that is hard for people to concentrate on, for instance, and then put the cryptographic message at a different frequency. Having zones that do not match up, so that different elements of the work cut through different disputed spaces. Much harder to detect. And more subliminal, because video adheres to other sets of standards and processes beyond scan lines, the conflict between those standards opens up another space of possibilities. It makes me think about Takeshi Murata’s Untitled (Pink Dot). I love that work because it uses datamoshing to question more about video codecs than just I and P frames. That’s what sets this work apart, for me, from other datamoshed works. He also plays with layers, and post production in the way the pink dot is realised. As it unfolds you see the pink dot as a layer behind the Rambo footage, and then it gets datamoshed into the footage, and then it is a layer in front of it, and then the datamosh tears into it and the dot become part of the Rambo miasma, and then the dot comes back as a surface again. So all the time he is playing with the layering of the piece, and the framing is not just about one moment to the next, but it also it exposes something about Murata’s super slick production process. He must have datamoshed parts of the video, and then post-produced the dot onto the surface of that, and then exported that and datamoshed that, and then fed it back into the studio again to add more layers. So it is not one video being datamoshed, but a practice unfolding, and the pink dot remains a kind of standard that runs through the whole piece, resonating in the soundtrack, and pushing to all elements of the image. The work is spatialised and temporalised in a really interesting way, because of how Murata uses datamoshing and postproduction to question frames, and layers, by ‘glitching’ between those formal elements. And as a viewer of Pink Dot, your perception is founded by those slips between the spatial surface and the temporal layers. RM: Yeah, wow. I never looked at that work in terms of layers of editing. The vectors of these blocks that smear over the video, the movement of those macroblocks, which is what this video technologically is about, is also about time and editing. So Murata effectively emulates that datamosh technique back into the editing of the work before and after the actual datamosh. That is genius! DR: If it wasn’t for Pink Dot I probably wouldn’t sit here with you now. It’s such an important work for me and my thinking.

Working with Morehshin Allahyari on The 3D Additivist Manifesto has brought a lot of these processes into play for me. The compressed labour behind a work can often get lost, because a final digital video is just a surface, just a set of I and P frames. The way Murata uses datamoshing calls that into play. It brings back some of the temporal depth. Additivism is also about calling those processes and conflicts to account, in the move between digital and material forms. Oil is a compressed form of time, and that time and matter is extruded into plastic, and that plastic has other modes of labour compressed into it, and the layers of time and space are built on top of one another constantly – like the layers of a 3D print. When we rendered our Manifesto video we did it on computers plugged into aging electricity infrastructures that run on burnt coal and oil. Burning off one form of physical compressed time to compress another set of times and labours into a ‘digital work’. RM: But you can feel that there is more to that video than its surface! If I remember correctly you and Morehshin wrote an open invitation to digital artists to send in their left over 3D objects. So every object in that dark gooey ocean in The 3D Additivist Manifesto actually represents a piece of artistic digital garbage. It’s like a digital emulation of the North Pacific Gyre, which you also talked about in your lecture at Goldsmiths, but then solely consisting of Ready-Made art trash.

The actual scale and form of the Gyre is hard to catch, it seems to be unimaginable even to the people devoting their research to it; it’s beyond resolution. Which is why it is still such an under acknowledged topic. We don’t really want to know what the Gyre looks or feels like; it’s just like the clutter inside my desktop folder inside my desktop folder, inside the desktop folder. It represents an amalgamation of histories that moved further away from us over time and we don’t necessarily like to revisit, or realise that we are responsible for. I think The 3D Additivist Manifesto captures that resemblance between the way we handle our digital detritus and our physical garbage in a wonderfully grimm manner. DR: I’m glad you sense the grimness of that image. And yes, as well as sourcing objects from friends and collaborators we also scraped a lot from online 3D object repositories. So the gyre is full of Ready-Mades divorced from their conditions of creation, use, or meaning. Like any discarded plastic bottle floating out in the middle of the pacific ocean. Eventually Additivist technologies could interface all aspects of material reality, from nanoparticles, to proprietary components, all the way through to DNA, bespoke drugs, and forms of life somewhere between the biological and the synthetic. We hope that our call to submit to The 3D Additivist Cookbook will provoke what you term ‘disputes’. Objects, software, texts and blueprints that gesture to the possibility of new political and ontological realities. It sounds far-fetched, but we need that kind of thinking. Alternate possibilities often get lost in a particular moment of resolution. A single moment of reception. But your exhibition points to the things beyond our recognition. Or perhaps more importantly, it points to the things we have refused to recognise. So, from inside the iRD technical ‘literacy’ might be considered as a limit, not a strength. RM: Often the densities of the works we create, in terms of concept, but also collage, technology and source materials move quite far away or even beyond a fold. I suppose that’s why we make our work pretty. To draw in the people that are not technically literate or have no back knowledge. And then perhaps later they wonder about the technical aspects and the meaning behind the composition of the work and want to learn more. To me, the process of creating, but also seeing an interesting digital art work often feels like swimming inside an abyss of increments. DR: What is that? RM: I made that up. An abyss is something that goes on and on and on. Modern lines used to go on, postmodern lines are broken up as they go on. Thats how I feel we work on our computers, its a metaphor for scanlines. DR: In euclidean space two parallel lines will go on forever and not meet. But on the surface of a globe, and other, non-euclidean spaces, those lines can be made to converge or diverge. * RM: I have been trying to read up on my euclidean geometry. DR: And I am thinking now about Flatland again, A Romance in Many Dimensions. RM: Yeah, it’s funny that in the end, it is all about Flatland. That’s where this all started, so thats where it has to end; Flatland seems like an eternal ouroboros inside of digital art. DR: It makes me think too about holographic theory. You can encode on a 2D surface the information necessary to construct a 3D image. And there are theories that suggest that a black hole has holographic properties. The event horizon of a black hole can be thought of as a flat surface, and contains all the information necessary to construct the black hole. And because a black hole is a singularity, and the universe can be considered as a singularity too – in time and space – some theories suggest that the universe is a hologram encoded on its outer surface. So the future state of the universe encodes all the prior states. Or something like that. RM: I once went to a lecture by Raphael Bousso, a professor at Department of Physics, UC Berkeley. He was talking about black holes, it was super intense. I was sitting on the end of my seat and nearly felt like I was riding a dark star right towards my own event horizon. DR: [laughs] Absolutely. I suppose I came to understand art and theory through things I knew before, which is pop science and science fiction. I tend to read everything through those things. Those are my starting points. But yes, holograms are super interesting. RM: I want to be careful not to go into the wunderkammer, because if there are too many things, then each one of them turns into a fetish object; a gimmick. DR: There was a lot of talk a few years ago about holographic storage, because basically all our storage – CDs, DVDs, hard drive platters, SSD drives – are 2D. All the information spinning on your screen right now, all those rich polygons or whatever, it all begins from data stored on a two dimensional surface. But you could have a holographic storage medium with three dimensions. They have built these things in the laboratory. There goes my pop science knowledge again. RM: When I was at Transmediale last year, the Internet Yami-ichi (Internet Black Market) was on. There I sold some custom videos for self cracked LCD screens. DR: Broken on purpose? RM: Yes, and you’d be allowed to touch it so the screen would go multidimensional. Liquid crystals are such a beautiful technology. DR: Yes. And they are a 3D image medium. But they don’t get used much anymore, right? LEDS are the main image format. RM: People miss LCDS! I saw a beautiful recorded talk from the Torque event, Esther Leslie talking about Walter Benjamin who writes about snow flakes resembling white noise. Liquid crystals and flatness and flatland. I want to thank you Dan, just to talk through this stuff has been really helpful. You have no idea. Thank you so much! DR: Putting ideas in words is always helpful. RM: I never do that, in preparation, to talk about things I am still working on, semi-completed. It’s scary to open up the book of possibilities. When you say things out loud you somehow commit to them. Like, Trevor Paglen, Jon Satrom are huge inspirations, I would like to make work inspired by them, that is a scary thing to say out loud. DR: That’s good. We don’t work in a vacuum. Trevor Paglen’s stuff is often about photography as a mode of non-resolved vision. I think that does fit with your work here, but you have the understanding and wherewithal to transform these concerns into work about the digital media. Maybe you need to build a tiny model of the gallery and create it all in miniature. RM: That’s what Alma Alloro said! DR: I think it would be really helpful. You don’t have to do it in meatspace. You could render a version of the gallery space with software. RM: Haha great idea, but that would take too much time. iRD needs to open to the public in 3 weeks! * DR originally stated here that a globe was a euclidean space. This was corrected, with thanks to Matthew Austin.

Mon, 13 Apr 2015 05:50:53 -0700
<![CDATA[Interview with Domenico Quaranta]]>

Daniel Rourke: At Furtherfield on November 22nd 2014 you launched a Beta version of a networked project, 6PM Your Local Time, in collaboration with Fabio Paris, Abandon Normal Devices and Gummy Industries. #6PMYLT uses twitter hashtags as a nexus for distributed art happenings. Could you tell us more about the impetus behind the project? Domenico Quaranta: In September 2012, the Link Art Center launched the Link Point in Brescia: a small project space where, for almost two years, we presented installation projects by local and international artists. The Link Point was, since the beginning, a “dual site”: a space where to invite our local audience, but also a set for photographic documentation meant to be distributed online to a global audience. Fabio Paris’ long experience with his commercial gallery – that used the same space for more than 10 years, persuaded us that this was what we had to offer to the artists invited. So, the space was reduced to a small cube, white from floor to ceiling, with neon lights and a big logo (a kind of analogue watermark) on the back door. Thinking about this project, and the strong presence of the Link Point logo in all the documentation, we realized that the Link Point was actually not bound to that space: as an abstract, highly formalized space, it could actually be everywhere. Take a white cube and place the Link Point logo in it, and that’s the Link Point.

This realization brought us, on the one hand, to close the space in Brescia and to turn the Link Point into a nomad, erratic project, that can resurrect from time to time in other places; and, on the other hand, to conceive 6PM Your Local Time. The idea was simple: if exhibition spaces are all more or less similar; if online documentation has become so important to communicate art events to a wider audience, and if people started perceiving it as not different from primary experience, why not set up an exhibition that takes place in different locations, kept together only by documentation and by the use of the same logo? All the rest came right after, as a natural development from this starting point (and as an adaptation of this idea to reality). Of course, this is a statement as well as a provocation: watching the documentation of the UK Beta Test you can easily realize that exhibition spaces are NOT more or less the same; that attending or participating in an event is different from watching pictures on a screen; that some artworks work well in pictures but many need to be experiences. We want to stress the value of networking and of giving prominence to your network rather than to your individual identity; but if the project would work as a reminder that reality is still different from media representation, it would be successful anyway. Daniel Rourke: There is something of Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones in your proposal. The idea that geographic, economic and/or political boundaries need no longer define the limits of social collective action. We can criticise Bey’s 1991 text now, because in retrospect the Internet and its constitutive protocols have themselves become a breeding ground for corporate and political concerns, even as technology has allowed ever more distributed methods of connectivity. You foreground network identity over individual identity in the 6PM YLT vision, yet the distinction between the individuals that create a network and the corporate hierarchies that make that networkingpossible are less clear. I am of course gesturing towards the use of Twitter as the principal platform of the project, a question that Ruth Catlow brought up at the launch. Do you still believe that TAZs are possible in our hyper-connected, hyper-corporate world? Domenico Quaranta: In its first, raw conceptualization, 6PM YLT had to come with its own smartphone app, that had to be used both to participate in the project and to access the gallery. The decision to aggregate content published on different social platforms came from the realization that people already had the production and distribution tools required to participate in the action, and were already familiar with some gestures: take a photo, apply a filter, add an hashtag, etc. Of course, we could invite participants and audiences to use some specific, open source social network of our choice, but we prefer to tell them: just use the fucking platform of your choice. We want to facilitate and expand participation, not to reduce it; and we are not interested in adding another layer to the project. 6PM YLT is not a TAZ, it’s just a social game that wants to raise some awareness about the importance of documentation, the power of networks, the public availability of what we do with our phones. And it’s a parasitic tool that, as anything else happening online, implies an entire set of corporate frameworks in order to exist: social networks, browsers, operative systems, internet providers, server farms etc. That said, yes, I think TAZs are still possible. The model of TAZ has been designed for an hyper-connected, hyper-corporate world; they are temporary and nomadic; they exist in interstices for a short time. But I agree that believing in them is mostly an act of faith.

Daniel Rourke: The beta-tested, final iteration of 6pm YLT will be launched in the summer of 2015. How will you be rolling out the project in the forthcoming months? How can people get involved? Domenico Quaranta: 6PM Your Local Time has been conceived as an opportunity, for the organizing subject, to bring to visibility its network of relationships and to improve it. It’s not an exhibition with a topic, but a social network turned visible. To put it simply: our identity is defined not just by what we do, but also by the people we hang out with. After organizing 6PM Your Local Time Europe, the Link Art Center would like to take a step back and to offer the platform to other organizing subjects, to allow them to show off their network as well. So, what we are doing now is preparing a long list of institutions, galleries and artists we made love with in the past or we’d like to make love with in the future, and inviting them to participate in the project. We won’t launch an open call, but we already made the event public saying that if anyone is interested to participate, they are allowed to submit a proposal. We won’t accept anybody, but we would be happy to get in touch with people we didn’t know. After finalizing the list of participants, we will work on all the organizational stuff, basically informing them about the basic rules of the game, gathering information about the events, answering questions, etc. On the other hand, we have of course to work on the presentation. While every participant presents an event of her choice, the organizer of a 6PM Your Local Time event has to present to its local audience the platform event, as an ongoing installation / performance. We are from Brescia, Italy, and that’s where we will make our presentation. We made an agreement with MusicalZOO, a local festival of art and electronic music, in order to co-produce the presentation and have access to their audience. This is what determined the date of the event in the first place. Since the festival takes place outdoor during the summer, we are working with them on designing a temporary office where we can coordinate the event, stay in touch with the participants, discuss with the audience, and a video installation in which the live stream of pics and videos will be displayed. Since we are expecting participants from Portugal to the Russian Federation, the event will start around 5 PM, and will follow the various opening events up to late night. One potential reference for this kind of presentation may be those (amazing) telecommunication projects that took place in the Eighties: Robert Adrian’s The World in 24 Hours, organized at Ars Electronica in 1982; the Planetary Network set up in 1986 at the Venice Biennale; and even Nam June Paik’s satellite communication project Good Morning Mr Orwell (1984). Left to Right – Enrico Boccioletti, Kim Asendorf, Ryder Ripps, Kristal South, Evan Roth Daniel Rourke: Your exhibition Unoriginal Genius, featuring the work of 17 leading net and new media artists, was the last project to be hosted in the Carroll/Fletcher Project Space (closing November 22nd, 2014). Could you tell us more about the role you consider ‘genius’ plays in framing contemporary art practice? Domenico Quaranta: The idea of genius still plays an important role in Western culture, and not just in the field of art. Whether we are talking about the Macintosh, Infinite Jest, a space trip or Nymphomaniac, we are always celebrating an individual genius, even if we perfectly know that there is a team and a concerted action behind each of these things. Every art world is grounded in the idea that there are gifted people who, provided specific conditions, can produce special things that are potentially relevant for anybody. This is not a problem in itself – what’s problematic are some corollaries to our traditional idea of genius – namely “originality” and “intellectual property”. The first claims that a good work of creation is new and doesn’t depend on previous work by others; the second claims that an original work belongs to the author. In my opinion, creation never worked this way, and I’m totally unoriginal in saying this: hundreds of people, before and along to me, say that creating consists in taking chunks of available material and assembling them in ways that, in the best situation, allow us to take a small step forward from what came before. But in the meantime, entire legal systems have been built upon such bad beliefs; and what’s happening now is that, while on the one hand the digitalization of the means of production and dissemination allow us to look at this process with unprecedented clarity; on the other hand these regulations have evolved in such a way that they may eventually slow down or stop the regular evolution of culture, which is based on the exchange of ideas. We – and creators in particular – have to fight against this situation. But Unoriginal Genius shouldn’t be read in such an activist way. It is just a small attempt to show how the process of creation works today, in the shared environment of a networked computer, and to bring this in front of a gallery audience. Left to Right – Kim Asendorf, Ryder Ripps, Kristal South, Evan Roth Daniel Rourke: So much online material ‘created’ today is free-flowing and impossible to trace back to an original author, yet the tendency to attribute images, ideas or ‘works’ to an individual still persists – as it does in Unoriginal Genius. I wonder whether you consider some of the works in the show as more liberated from authorial constraints than others? That is, what are the works that appear to make themselves; floating and mutating regardless of particular human (artist) intentions? Domenico Quaranta: Probably Museum of the Internet is the one that fits best to your description. Everybody can contribute anonymously to it by just dropping images on the webpage; the authors’ names are not available on the website, and there’s no link to their homepage. It’s so simple, so necessary and so pure that one may think that it always existed out there in some way or another. And in a way it did, because the history of the internet is full of projects that invite people to do more or less the same. Left to Right – Brout & Marion, Gervais & Magal, Sara Ludy Daniel Rourke: 2014 was an exciting year for the recognition of digital art cultures, with the appointment of Dragan Espenschied as lead Digital Conservator at Rhizome, the second Paddles On! auction of digital works in London, with names like Hito Steyerl and Ryan Trecartin moving up ArtReview’s power list, and projects like Kenneth Goldsmith’s ‘Printing out the Internet’ highlighting the increasing ubiquity – and therefore arguable fragility – of web-based cultural aggregation. I wondered what you were looking forward to in 2015 – apart from 6PM YLT of course. Where would you like to see the digital/net/new media arts 12 months from now? Domenico Quaranta: On the moon, of course! Out of joke: I agree that 2014 has been a good year for the media arts community, as part of a general positive trend along the last few years. Other highlighs may include, in various order: the September 2013 issue of Artforum, on “Art and Media”, and the discussion sparked by Claire Bishop’s essay; Cory Arcangel discovering and restoring lost Andy Warhol’s digital files from floppy disks; Ben Fino-Radin becoming digital conservator at MoMA, New York; JODI winning the Prix Net Art; the Barbican doing a show on the Digital Revolution with Google. Memes like post internet, post digital and the New Aesthetic had negative side effects, but they helped establishing digital culture in the mainstream contemporary art discourse, and bringing to prominence some artists formerly known as net artists. In 2015, the New Museum Triennial will be curated by Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin, and DIS has been announced to be curator of the 9th Berlin Biennial in 2016. All this looks promising, but one thing that I learned from the past is to be careful with optimistic judgements. The XXI century started with a show called 010101. Art in Technological Times, organized by SFMoMA. The same year, net art entered the Venice Biennale, the Whitney organizedBitstreams and Data Dynamics, the Tate Art and Money Online. Later on, the internet was announced dead, and it took years for the media art community to get some prominence in the art discourse again. The situation now is very different, a lot has been done at all levels (art market, institutions, criticism), and the interest in digital culture and technologies is not (only) the result of the hype and of big money flushed by corporations unto museums. But still, where we really are? The first Paddles On! Auction belongs to history because it helped selling the first website ever on auction; the second one mainly sold digital and analogue paintings. Digital Revolution was welcomed by sentences like: “No one could fault the advances in technology on display, but the art that has emerged out of that technology? Well, on this showing, too much of it seems gimmicky, weak and overly concerned with spectacle rather than meaning, or making a comment on our culture.” (The Telegraph) The upcoming New Museum Triennial will include artists like Ed Atkins, Aleksandra Domanovic, Oliver Laric, K-HOLE, Steve Roggenbuck, but Lauren and Ryan did their best to avoid partisanship. There’s no criticism in this statement, actually I would have done exactly the same, and I’m sure it will be an amazing show that I can’t wait to see. Just, we don’t have to expect too much from this show in terms of “digital art recognition”. So, to put it short: I’m sure digital art and culture is slowly changing the arts, and that this revolution will be dramatic; but it won’t take place in 2015

Wed, 08 Apr 2015 03:57:20 -0700
<![CDATA[Artist Profile: Morehshin Allahyari]]>

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.

Morehshin Allahyari, #dog #dildo #satellite-dish from the series "Dark Matter." Work in progress. 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. While developing the project, I really fell in love with thinking about 3D printing as a "documentation tool"... you know, like when you go to historical museums, and they have this whole collection of objects or things that used to be this and that, or had whatever functionality 500 years ago. I thought, what if this could be the archive, the documentation of the life after the 1979 revolution in Iran, the life I lived, and how will it feel to look back at this collection in 20 or 30 years? Also, through combining and re-creating these objects and putting them inside a virtual word, I can re-contextualize and invite the audience to enter the historical dimension of the work... So yeah... I am directly addressing the medium of 3D printing here. Plus, there is a broad conversation of censorship built into the technology of 3D printing as a whole, which actually expands the project to other countries including the United States (I am thinking about the 3D printed, potentially functional gun as one of the first examples).

Morehshin Allahyari, virtual landscape for #dog #dildo #satellite-dish from the series "Dark Matter." Work in progress. DR: You have just collaborated on a text that shifts between registers, performing the splits, breaks and tears it indicates in the life and work of "self-exiled" people. I was struck by an image you use of "Time, memory, space, and bodies collapsing, losing composition." [1] These ideas feature heavily in your work, where one's heritage or identity can coalesce and mutate as readily as a 3D print. MA: I am struck by the idea of representation in digital art. I think about the reconstruction of memory in virtual worlds, the rebuilding of non-existent objects from the virtual world into real life… how we understand our world through representation, the dystopian, the utopian, and everything in-between. Since I have moved to the U.S. (2007), I have become more and more fascinated by the in-depth thoughts on exile and diaspora within Edward Said's text "Reflections on Exile," Mahmoud Darwish's poems, and Lorna Dee Cervantes' Palastine poem, among others. But in my own work, I wanted to simultaneously be aware of the dangers of the romanticization of exile and self-exile - as well as the whole nostalgic remembrance of the "homeland" that is inaccessible; I wanted to look for different ways that I can use digital technology to talk about my own understanding of self-exile. So I worked on a 3D animation video, a plexiglas installation, a 16mm film, a series of Facebook post-cards installation, and a creative research/writing project in the course of one year. It's interesting to step-back and think about each of these works now (after two years); to think about geographical determinism and the collective history of the young self-exiled Iranians; but also to realize that, through time, my relationship has changed with "home" and that it will continue to change. Doing this interview and thinking about my body of work "The Romantic Self-Exiles", I remembered that I haven't thought about my house in Tehran, Yousefabad and Valiasr streets, and other common places that I used to go, for a very long time. I used to do this thing almost every night, that I would close my eyes and try to imagine and remember every details of my room in Tehran… or the exact directions/streets that I would have to take to get to whatever place. I couldn't help but think that's the only way to survive the diasporic life… could this be one dimension of the mutation of identity? Is this where I forever will feel distanced, unrelated, and disconnected from home? Or have I just entered a new stage of life in diaspora? Gray areas might be the only places worth existing...delving into identity as a transparent rather than defined; homeland as belonging to nowhere and everywhere; virtual space as both real and imagined; aesthetics as perfection vs imperfection.

Morehshin Allahyari. Excerpt from The Romantic Self-Exiles I (2012). DR: The mutations you speak of also come through in the way you approached the writing of that text, stretching the critical territory you cover by fusing the essay with a voice more readily associated with fiction. I also note elements of fabulation in your gallery and video works. Both The Romantic Self-Exiles-I and Over There Is Over Here toy with reality and imagination in a broken essayistic language. Do you understand your practice as writerly? MA: My discovery of the art world has been through creative writing (since the age of 12 when I started to take part in a private creative writing class in Iran that would meet weekly, which continued until I was 18)... so writing is very dear to my heart and it's a very important part of my work. I'm interested in bridging digital technology, writing, and visual arts in an essayistic and poetic language. I think about Milan Kundera and Chris Marker as the best examples of this style of writing. As I have worked more and more with a software like Maya, I have learned that there is something very beautiful about building and creating landscapes and environments. Especially in the Romantic Self Exiles animation, it felt like creating an imagined home… a space and environment where I could perhaps belong… but another aspect of it was talking about this experience and process of modeling, animating, texturing, etc through a self-reflexive narration. In Over There Is Over Here, there is also a landscape, but the narration is more complex with ambiguity… going back and forth between a third-person narrator and myself as the narrator and an outsider… In both of these works, though, my writing process was connected to the process of designing these virtual landscapes. DR: In another text produced with collaborator Jennifer Way you discuss the representation of female identity in Iran. Could you tell us some more about how this relates to art and romanticization in particular? MA: I was really interested in doing research on women, technology, and art in Iran, because there is almost no academic research and discourse about this topic (although the art and technology scene is growing very rapidly in Iran). So I have kept an eye on the art and technology festivals, exhibitions, workshops, and lectures that have been happening in Iran in the last 4-5 years and been amazed by the lack of women and the dominance of the hyper-masculine culture. In collaboration with Jennifer Way, we interviewed Iranian artists (mostly women) who in one way or another are and have been involved in the new media art scene in Iran and asked for their comments, observations, and concerns regarding new media art or art and technology considering the recent rise of such art practices in Iran. This is especially and personally very important to me because Iranian women have been the dominant university demographic in Iran for the last decade or so. On the other hand, in my own work, I have constantly thought about and re-defined both my Middle-Eastern female identity, as well as my identity as a woman in the field of art and technology. On the one hand, I have gradually become aware of and resisted the female identity defined by—for instance—the work of artists like Shirin Neshat. This is something that comes up in my daily discussions with other female colleagues from the Middle-East: how we feel distanced from the presentation and re-presentation of women in the work of older generation artists (in this case from Iran)... That in fact, we are eager to re-define these clichés and—in most cases—one-dimensional interpretations and exoticized or stereotypical images of women of the Middle-East; thinking about ourselves more as "Glocal."

Morehshin Allahyari,#barbie #vhs from the series "Dark Matter." Work in progress. The other side of this is my relationship with technology and the fact that I am interested in a poetic and feminine voice in technological aesthetics and in ways to challenge and push whatever medium that I'm using. In the last couple of years, I have been inspired by the works of other female artists and activists such as Claudia Hart, Brenna Murphy, Jenny Vogel, Tania Bruguera, and Guerrilla Girls. I feel like I have the amazing opportunity of combining and experimenting with all these ideas… to bring together new media, politics, art, social science, and creative writing… and examine a multi-layered understanding of female identity while dealing with the complexity of being in between. DR: To bring it back to my first question then, do you think that there is something specific in the ways and means of digital technology that enables the representation of interstitial spaces, politics and identities? MA: In both the writing/narrative and the aesthetics of my work, I am interested in the idea of imperfection and the allowance of error… which makes me think about the fact that bleeding/leading edge technology has built-in flaws and imperfections in them… which also works perfectly with the broader discourse of corruption of politics, collapse of identities, the loss of space through time, etc. In the case of 3D printing technology, I like to think there is something very special about it that doesn't exist in other software/tools/material. Maybe this is a very "Eastern/Dervish" kind of way of thinking about digital technology: to think about means and ways and reasons and effects as points of departure and entrance. You know, like trying to stay away from the fetishism and consumerism that falls into the use of digital technology… so, yes! DR: Finally, what are you working on at the moment? MA: Well, as of right now, I am creating a series of virtual spaces for my 3D printed objects, and also combining more unwelcome/forbidden objects to print in the next coming months. After this, I want to broaden the conversation to other countries in an upcoming project, creating a 3D forbidden orgy (lol) installation, looking for new ways to blur these cultural boundaries and relationships. In general, in these new series of work I am taking a break from heavy, serious work which is mostly what I've been working on and creating for the last 6 years. I feel like I am exhausted from that, and I want to actually take a step back and be able to make fun of all these very serious topics. If you think about Dark Matter and these forbidden objects that we grew up with in Iran, they are actually simultaneously fucked up and ridiculous. I think as I'm growing as an artist, I am getting more and more interested about exploring humor in serious circumstances. I don't want to feel bad for myself and the life I lived in Iran. I don't want other people's sympathy. That's why I want to be able to sometimes make fun of it more than anything else. Age: 28 Location: Dallas, TX. How/when did you begin working creatively with technology? Since the very first months that I moved from Iran to Denver to study for my MA in Digital Media Studies. I remember I only knew a little bit of photoshop, and one of the first classes that I had to take was coding and CSS. It was a big jump. But after two years, I started to work constantly with different software and digital tools… At the same time, my partner (andrew blanton) has played an important role in my approach to technology, both conceptually and how I can teach myself new software and skill-sets as an artist. Where did you go to school? What did you study? During my undergrad I was in Iran and I studied Social Science and Media Studies at Tehran University. I studied Digital Media Studies for my MA at the University of Denver, where I was invited by Lynn Schofield Clark to do research with her at the Estlow Center on projects that concerned art, culture, and media (this was my initial reason to move from Iran to the United States). Then I was invited by David Stout of Noisefold to go to University of North Texas and work with him in Developing the Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts (iARTA) research cluster while studying in New Media Art for my M.F.A. What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Currently I am a visiting assistant professor at University of Texas in Dallas at the Art and Technology department. Before this I worked mostly doing adjunct positions. I lived in Chicago before Texas, and Denver before moving from Iran in 2007. When I lived in Tehran, I taught English and freelanced for different art and culture magazines and newspapers. What does your desktop or workspace look like? I don't have a studio space outside of our house right now. But I do have a room as my studio to work at, which I kind of like better than studios that I've had in the last 4 years. I mostly work on my Hackintosh for my animation projects. I make a lot of notes, both in Farsi and English depending on my headspace when I'm writing and thinking… I'm obsessed with lighting of the space that I work at. Some days both my workspace and desktop look more organized than the others, which might be a good measurement of how productive I'm being. : )

  References [1] Allahyari, Morehshin, and Jennifer Way. "Romantic Self-Exiles." Anglistica no. Issue 17 1 (2013).

Fri, 31 Jan 2014 08:00:00 -0800
<![CDATA[Maja Cule & Dora Budor Interviews for Arcadia Missa]]>

Understanding phenomena and facticity, creating an art-object for subjects within constellations of agential-realism.

There are two absolutes we can never attain. One is freedom and the other is authenticity. These have simultaneously been promised as absolutes; logos, hegemonic since the commodification of identity made it less of a thing, more of an attitude. If this is the case, how is it possible that, in the apparently end-times of socialism – where we are reckoned to feel that there is no option but to comply with hyper-resilient networks – the futurity of being a free and authentic subject still applies as an ideal?

If these ‘absolutes’ are unattainable, contingently emerging abstracts, why is the best art that which fluxes desperately in a carry-on struggle to reach both?

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 06:13:54 -0800
<![CDATA[Artist Profile: Erica Scourti]]>

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. So in You Could've Said, which is written entirely in an instrumentalised form of language, i.e. Google's AdWords tool, I'm relaying the impossibility of having an authentic feeling, or even a first-hand experience, despite the seemingly subjective, emotional content and tone. Google search stuff is often seen reflective of a kind of cute "collective self" (hey, we all want to kill our boyfriends sometimes!) but perhaps it's producing as much as reflecting us. It's not just that everything's already been said, and can be commodified but that the devices we share so much intimate time with are actively involved in shaping what we consider to be our "selves," our identities. And yet, despite being entirely mediated, my delivery is "sincere" and heartfelt; I'm really interested in the idea of sincere, but not authentic. I think it's the same reason spambots can have such unexpected pathos; they seem to "express" things in a sincere way, which suggests some kind of "soul" at work there, or some kind of agency,  and yet they totally lack interiority, or authenticity. In this and other work of mine (especially Life in AdWords) dissonance is produced by my apparent misrecognition of the algorithmically produced language as my own- mistaking the machine lingo as a true expression of my own subjectivity. Which is not to say that there is some separate, unmediated self that we could access if only we would disconnect our damn gadgets for a second, but the opposite—that autobiography, which my work clearly references, can no longer be seen as a narrative produced by some sort of autonomous subject, inseparable from the technology it interacts with. Also, autobiography often involves a confessional, affective mode, and I'm interested in how this relates to the self-exposure which the attention economy seems to encourage—TMI can secure visibility when there's not enough attention to go round. With the Google confessional, I'm enacting an exposure of my flaws and vulnerabilities and while it's potentially "bad" for me (i.e. my mediated self) since you might think I'm a loser, if you're watching, then it's worth it, since value is produced simply through attention-retention. Affective vitality doesn't so much resist commodification as actively participate within it…

DR: You mention agency. When it comes to the algorithms that drive the current attention economy I tend to think we have very little. Active participation is all well and good, but the opposite—an opting out, rather than a passivity—feels increasingly impossible. I am thinking about those reCaptcha questions we spend all our time filling in. If I want to access my account and check the recommendations it has this week, I'm required to take part in this omnipresent, undeniably clever, piece of crowd-sourcing. Alan Turing's predictions of a world filled with apparently intelligent machines has come true, except, its the machines now deciding whether we are human or not. ES: Except of course—stating the obvious here—it's just carrying out the orders another human instructed it to, a mediated form of gatekeeping that delegates responsibility to the machine, creating a distance from the entirely human, social, political etc structure that has deemed it necessary (a bit like drones then?). I'm very interested also in the notion of participation as compulsory—what Zizek calls the "You must, because you can" moral imperative of consumerism—especially online, not just at the banal level (missing out on events, job opportunities, interesting articles and so on if you're not on Facebook) but because your actions necessarily feed back into the algorithms tracking and parsing our behaviours. And even opting out becomes a choice that positions you within a particular demographic (more likely to be vegetarian, apparently). Also, this question of opting out seems to recur in conversations around art made online, in a way it doesn't for artists working with traditional media—like, if you're being critical of it, why not go make your own Facebook, why not opt out? My reasoning is that I like to work with widely used technology, out of an idea that the proximity of these media to mainstream, domestic and wider social contexts makes the work more able to reflect on its sociopolitical implications, just as some video artists working in the 80s specifically engaged with TV as the main mediator of public consciousness. Of course some say this is interpassiviity, just feebly participating in the platforms without making any real change, and I can understand that criticism. Now that coded spaces and ubiquitous computing are a reality of the world—and power structures—we inhabit, I do appreciate artists who can work with code and software (in a way that I can't) and use their deeper understanding of digital infrastructure to reflect critically on it. DR: You've been engaged in a commision for Colm Cille's Spiral, sending personal video postcards to anyone who makes a request. Your interpretation of the "confessional" mode seems in this piece to become very human-centric again, since the work is addressed specifically at one particular individual. How has this work been disseminated, and what does your approach have to do with "intimacy"? ES: I've always liked Walter Benjamin's take on the ability of mediating technologies to traverse spatial distances, bringing previously inaccessible events within touching distance. With this project, I wanted to heighten this disembodied intimacy by sending unedited videos shot on my iPhone, a device that's physically on me at all times, directly to the recipients' inbox. So it's not just "sharing" but actually "giving" them a unique video file gift, which only they see,  positioning the recipient as a captive audience of one, unlike on social media where you have no idea who is watching or who cares. But also, I asked them to "complete" the video by adding its metadata, which puts them on the spot—they have to respond, instead of having the option to ignore me—and also extracting some labor in return, which is exactly what social media does: extracting our affective and attentive labor, supposedly optionally, in exchange for the gift of the free service. The metadata—tags, title and optionally a caption—became the only viewable part of the exchange, since I used it to annotate a corresponding black, "empty" video on Instagram, also shared on Twitter and Facebook, so the original content remains private. These blank videos record the creative output of the recipient, while acting as proof of the transaction (i.e. that I sent them a video). They also act as performative objects which will continue to operate online due to their tagging, which connects them to other groups of media and renders them visible—i.e. searchable—online, since search bots cannot as yet "see" video content. I wanted to make a work which foregrounds its own connectedness, both to other images via the hashtags but also to the author-recipients through tagging them on social media. So the process of constantly producing and updating oneself within the restrictive and pre-determined formats of social media platforms, i.e. their desired user behaviours, becomes almost the content of the piece. I also like the idea that hashtag searches on all these platforms, for (let's say) Greece, will bring up these blank/ black videos (which by the way, involved a little hack, as Instagram will not allow you to upload pre-recorded content and it's impossible to record a black and silent video...). It's a tiny intervention into the regime of carefully filtered and cropped life-style depictions that Instagram is best known for. It's also a gesture of submitting oneself to the panoptical imperative to share one's experience no matter how private or banal, hence using Instagram for its associations with a certain solipsistic self-display; by willingly enacting the production of mediated self on social media I'm exploring a kind of masochistic humour which has some affinities with what Benjamin Noys identified as an accelerationist attitude of "the worse the better." And yet, by remaining hidden, and not publicly viewable, the public performance of a mediated self is denied.

DR: An accelerationist Social Media artwork would have to be loaded with sincerity, firstly, on the part of the human (artist/performer), but also, in an authentic attempt to utilise the network completely on its terms. Is there something, then, about abundance and saturation in your work? An attempt to overload the panopticon? ES: That's a very interesting way of putting it. I sometimes relate that oversaturation to the horror vacui of art that springs from a self-therapeutic need, which my work addresses, though it's less obsessive scribbles, more endless connection, output and flow and semi-ritualistic and repetitive working processes. And in terms of utilizing the network on its own terms, Geert Lovink's notion of the "natural language hack" (rather than the "deep level" hack) is one I've thought about—where your understanding of the social, rather than technical, operation of online platforms gets your work disseminated. For example my project Woman Nature Alone, where I re-enacted stock video which is freely available on my Youtube channel—some of those videos are high on the Google ranking page, so Google is effectively "marketing" my work without me doing anything.  Whether it overloads the panopticon, or just contributes more to the babble, is a pertinent question (as Jodi Dean's work around communicative capitalism has shown), since if the work is disseminated on commercial platforms like YouTube or Facebook, it operates within a system of value generation which benefits the corporation, involving, as is by now well known, a Faustian pact of personal data in exchange for "free" service. And going back to agency—the mutability of the platforms means that if the work makes use of particular features (suchas YouTube annotations) its existence is contingent on them being continued; since the content and the context are inextricable in situations like this, it would become impossible to display the original work exactly as it was first made and seen. Even then, as with Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied's One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, it would become an archive, which preserves documents from a specific point in the web's history but cannot replicate the original viewing conditions because all the infrastructure around it has changed completely. So if the platforms—the corporations—control the context and viewing conditions, then artists working within them are arguably at their mercy- and keeping the endless flow alive by adding to it. I'm more interested in working within the flows rather than, as some artists prefer, rejecting the dissemination of their work online. Particularly with moving image work,  I'm torn between feeling that artists' insistence on certain very specific, usually high quality, viewing conditions for their work bolsters, as Sven Lütticken has argued, the notion of the rarefied auratic art object whose appreciation requires a kind of hushed awe and reverence, while being aware that the opposite—the image ripped from its original location and circulated in crap-res iPhone pics/ videos—is an example of what David Joselit would call image neoliberalism, which sees images as site-less and like any other commodity, to be traded across borders and contexts with no respect for the artist's intentions. However, I also think that this circulation is becoming an inevitability and no matter how much you insist your video is viewed on zillion lumens projector (or whatever), it will most likely end up being seen by the majority of viewers on YouTube or on a phone screen; I'm interested in how artists (like Hito Steyerl) address, rather than avoid, the fact of this image velocity and spread. DR: Lastly, what have you been working on recently? What's next? ES: I recently did a series of live, improvised performance series called Other People's Problems direct to people's desktops, with Field Broadcast, where I read out streams of tags and captions off Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook, randomly jumping to other tags as I went. I'm fascinated by tags—they're often highly idiosyncratic and personal, as well as acting as connective tissue between dispersed users; but also I liked the improvisation, where something can go wrong and the awkwardness it creates. (I love awkwardness!) Future projects are going to explore some of the ideas this work generated: how to improvise online (when things can always be deleted/ rejigged afterwards), how to embrace the relinquishing of authorial control which I see as integral to the online (or at least social media) experience, and how to work with hashtags/ metadata both as text in its own right and as a tool.   Age: 33 Location: London, Athens when I can manage it How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start? 14, 15 maybe, when I started mucking around with Photoshop—I remember scanning a drawing I'd made of a skunk from a Disney tale and making it into a horrendous composition featuring a rasta flag background... I was young. And I've always been obsessed with documenting things; growing up I was usually the one in our gang who had the camera—showing my age here, imagine there being one person with a camera—which has given me plenty of blackmail leverage and a big box of tastefully weathered photos that, despite my general frustration with analogue nostalgia, I know I will be carrying around with me for life. Where did you go to school? What did you study? After doing Physics, Chemistry and Maths at school, I did one year of a Chemistry BA, until I realized I wasn't cut out for lab work (too much like cooking) or what seemed like the black-and-white nature of scientific enquiry. I then did an art and design foundation at a fashion college, followed by one year of Fine Art Textiles BA—a nonsensical course whose only redeeming feature was its grounding in feminist theory—before finally entering the second year of a Fine Art BA. For a while this patchy trajectory through art school made me paranoid, until I realised it probably made me sound more interesting than I am. And in my attempt to alleviate the suspicion that there was some vital piece of information I was missing, I also did loads of philosophy diploma courses, which actually did come in handy when back at Uni last year: I recently finished a Masters of Research in moving image art. What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way? At the moment I'm just about surviving as an artist and I've always been freelance apart from time done in bar, kitchen, shop (Londoners, remember Cyberdog?) cleaning and nightclub jobs, some of which the passage of time has rendered as amusingly risqué rather than borderline exploitative. After my B.A., I set up in business with the Prince's Trust, running projects with what are euphemistically known as hard-to-reach young people, making videos, digital art pieces and music videos until government funding was pulled from the sector. I mostly loved this work and it definitely fed into and reflects my working with members of loose groups, like the meditation community around the Insight Time app, or Freecycle, or Facebook friends. I've also been assisting artist and writer Caroline Bergvall on and off for a few years, which has been very helpful in terms of observing how an artist makes a life/ living. What does your desktop or workspace look like? I'm just settling into a new space at the moment but invariably, a bit of a mess, a cup of tea, piles of books, and both desktop and workspace are are covered in neon post-it notes. Generally I am a paradigmatic post-Fordist flexi worker though: I can and do work pretty much anywhere—to the occasional frustration of friends and family. 

Tue, 08 Oct 2013 07:30:18 -0700
<![CDATA[Artist Profile: Nick Briz]]>

Part of an ongoing series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work but may not (yet) be well known to our readers. Nick Briz is an artist/educator/organizer living in Chicago, and co-founder of the conference and festival GLI.TC/H. This interview took place via Google Drive.

Nick Briz, The Glitch Codec Tutorial (2010-2011). Screenshot from YouTube video. Daniel Rourke: You are involved in an "improvisational realtime/performance media art event" at the moment called "No Media," where participants are explicitly discouraged from preparing before they take part, or from creating documentation of any kind. I was lucky enough to see the first iteration of No-Media at GLI.TC/H 2112. I think my favourite performance involved a collaboration between Evan Kühl (of Vaudeo Signal), Curt Cloninger and yourself, scrambling to get something, anything, to work. The mania of this performance stood out because of its simplicity. At base I was watching a blindfolded anarchic poet stammering over ambient noise, but it really felt as if something important had happened. I wanted to start from this stripped-back position. Before we talk about media, why no media? Nick Briz: NO-MEDIA was initially a performance experiment proposed by Jason Soliday for GLI.TC/H 2112 >> && Jason + Jeff + I have continued organizing 'em since. The premise is this: artists w/any kind of performative discipline (realtime A/V, jazz, dance, expanded cinema, noise, comedy, spoken word, etc) sign up. They get randomly paired w/two other performers at a random point in the evening (no one knows when or who until their names show up on the screen). They perform for 10mins. You’re not allowed to prepare any material (bring what tools/gear/props you want but there's NO time set aside for preparation) and there's NO documentation.  So far they've been a lot of fun, very messy + very inspiring. Re:my performance with Curt and Evan at the first NO-MEDIA, I'm not totally sure if this is the "something" you refer too... but for me there was a point a few mins into the performance where I realized what I was trying to do (some google chrome live coding) wasn't going to work... and I stopped... and I looked over at Evan and Curt... and totally changed my game plan... I don't want to go into detail re:what I started to project on a blindfolded Curt Cloninger... cause I don’t want to break the second rule of NO-MEDIA (no documentation ;) DR: Your recent video essay, an open letter to Apple Computers, garnered a lot of support from glitch art / (new) media art communities. Can you talk about the politics of this work, and how it relates to glitch art methodologies?

Nick Briz, Apple Computers (2013). Single-channel video with sound. NB: My personal relationship w/Apple is as complicated as it is b/c of glitch >> intentionally invoking glitches is usually a kind of misuse... and when you misuse Apple technology the (often invisible) politix embedded in their systems become very clear + am forced to reconcile 'em. The video is about that impossible reconciliation between my tech dependencies && my politix. I made the video for a screening organized by jonCates of remixes of work from the Phil Morton Memorial Archive + is a [re]mix/make of his 1976 video tape General Motors, where Phil, an artist and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the time, addresses similar issues re:his + his community's relationship to && dependence on technology && tech-industries. As a professor at the same school + artist w/in the same community (nearly 40yrs later) dealing w/very similar problems w/similar industries... it seemed an appropriate issue to tackle && appropriate format to tackle it in. 

Extract from Phil Morton, General Motors (1976). Single-channel video with sound. DR: Many of your projects tap into the “democratizing” potential of digital art, from your work to crack open codecs, through to your recent New Media One-Liner on The New Aesthetic, where you programmed and openly distributed a heap of scripts and libraries for anyone and everyone to mess around with. NB: Yea, one thing those two pieces have in common is my interest in the "tutorial" as a form (+  pedagogy in general). theNewAesthetic.js is an executable-essay / open-source javascript artware-library for quick [re]production of "New Aesthetic" compositions and related new-media art tropes. So by that I mean it's literally a functional tool/utility with thorough documentation, examples and video tutorial, but it's also an essay + my comment/critique on the whole NA conversation. The source code to the library can be read as a kind of code-essay. Similarly, the Glitch Codec Tutorial is a lesson in hacking video codecs to make glitch art, but also a video essay on the assumptions/influence digital systems make/have on us + their embedded politix + glitch's potential (as a practice) to make us aware of these assumptions/influence.

Nick Briz, theNewAesthetic.Js (2012). Screenshot from online tutorial. DR: Now that "the glitch" has broken through into mainstream culture as a technical, aesthetic trope, does the glitch still have this political potential? Or is it merely a visual style? NB: As far as glitch's political/social potential specifically, sometimes folks have a hard time understanding the obvious political ramifications b/c they conflate glitch (as a concept, a moment, a break) with the aesthetic its more commonly associated with; it's becoming more important to separate these two things: glitch art && glitch aesthetics (or better: the aesthetics of digital artifacts). There's obviously a venn-diagram overlap going on here, but not everything that loox "glitchy" is actually a "glitch" (or break in a system). For example, a datamoshing filter in a title sequence of a hollywood film might render the text with digital artifacts, but nothing's actually "glitching" (technically or conceptually). Likewise, not all glitch art loox 'glitchy.' A great example is Glitchr, the online [ facebook, tumblr && twitter ] handle of artist + social media Interventionist, Laimonas Zakas. Glitchr has made it his mission to find + exploit bugs + holes w/in social media systems. His work is often formally "glitchy" but not in the compression artifact sense, but in the "zalgo" (overlapping/spilling unicode characters) sense. Though, my favorite glitchr posts aren't formally "glitchy" at all. A couple of times he's managed to post animated images on a facebook post && folks go crazy; a barrage of comments quickly follow below along the lines of "OMG how did you do that? show me show me show me" ...and shortly after facebook will "fix" the bug/work. This leaves a frozen image the comments below now functioning as testimonials, and in that moment these [often] invisible politix embedded w/in the system are brought to the fore.   Glitchr (aka Laimonas Zakas), Twitter account (ongoing). Screenshot. This is the kind of perspective/approach many of us involved in the GLI.TC/H (as in the confernece/festival/gathering, not to be confused w/ your project karaoke) are interested in. While most of us are also interested in the aesthetics of artifacts, this is different from (though it overlaps w/) our interest in the glitch as a break, a tactic, a slippage, an intervention—this is where it can become political. DR: I can read your work as a network of attempts to intervene in the course of things (for better or worse; with aesthetic, technical and/or social results). But the role of human intent in that disruption is trickier to determine. You motivate subjects to empower themselves through instigated complexities or stumbled upon accidents” [1] that are by definition beyond their control. How do you deal with this contradiction? Is there a "glitch politics"? And if so, is it more about human intervention or the intervention of the glitches themselves? NB: [ the perceived contradiction ]: can encouraging a digital practice like glitch art which compromises control still grant folks digital agency? Absolutely (we're only compromising partial control afterall). Databending101 (a la stAllio!) for example: pick the pic you wanna hack (choice) + where && by which means (choice), then see what happens (chance); while the details w/in the composition of artifacts are usually beyond our control, it's in peaking under the hood + the realizations/perspective that comes w/it that as practitioners/users/netizens we gain agency... not in the production of objects/artifacts. I like this "network of attempts to intervene," I think definitely the majority of my better projects are nodes in an "intervention network" >> I'm thinking my artwarez, tutorialz, installations (virtual+physical), courses && organizational efforts >> worx/efforts which require participation. Personally, I'm less interested in aesthetic functionalism—in producing an object/artifact which is itself an end meant to be "experienced" or contemplated for its own sake. I'm interested in adding nodes to a larger network >> participating in specific conversations [ internet culture, digital rights, intellectual property, media && digital literacy, human>computer interface/relationships, etc ]; I do this by contributing projects that are often literally meant to be "used," usually as a way to introduce/enable others to a convo + share my point/poke on/in/at a convo. Again, this is why I'm so interested in tutorials as a form, it can be a utility and an essay simultaneously. in re:to "glitch politi[x]" + human/glitch: I think glitches are human artifacts more so than digital ones. Computers don't make mistakes, People do; programmers leave memory leaks, users input bad data... the computer will "bug" out in the same predictable way given the same bad data, we only call that moment a "glitch" when it catches us off guard. That moment can then become political when we leverage it as a tactic for political use: to call out the influence of predominantly invisible systems.  Second-Half Questionnaire: Age: 27 Location:Chicago, IL ▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒   ✶  ✶  ✶  ✶ ▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒ How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start? + Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them? + Where did you go to school? What did you study? I’m lucky to have a mom who as early as I was born (I was 0yrs she was 21yrs) gave me a sketch pad + pencils but also sat me down in front of her computer, which she built (she was an amatuer painter getting her BA in computer science). My mom taught me how to use Office95 when it came out (I was 9yrs) and I started making "games" with PowerPoint's presentation mode. In middle-school/high-school I got way more into traditional media (illustration, photography and video) + went to film school (at the University of Central Florida) convinced I wanted to be a filmmaker. Even though I had been working commercially in wwweb dev since high school (with my cousin Paul Briz who taught me HTML in NotePad! O__O), it wasn't till later in college that I realized... "oh shit! this is what I should be making wurk with && about" and quickly abandoned all the romantic-notions/fetishes I had for analog materials (like film). In college I found my way to Rhizome && UbuWeb + came across rad wurk folks were making in Chicago &&thus decided that's where I needed to be >> applied to SAIC for grad-school >> moved to Chi + am wurking/living here now.   What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology? I call myself a 'new-media artist' because I use predominantly digital technologies to make wurk about digital culture. But I guess I could just as well call myself a conceptual +/or political +/or contemporary artist. I use the media which most appro[pirate]ly gets the job done... it's 2013, so these tend to be wwweb/digital media.  Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)? yea definitely, I usually refer to myself as an artist/educator/organizer, the lines between these are blurry (ex: I'm really interested in the 'web video tutorial' as a kinda essay-video form + makewurk in this form, but thesevideos I make are also simultaneously/literally tutorialz + I also simultaneously teach the same material atactualinstitutions). I mentioned before I make wurk with but also about digital culture + a major focus the last few years for me has been digital rights && digital literacy >> I make wurk about this + I teach courses on these subjects + I organize lots of events (shows/festivals/conferences) around these themes ...these are blurry distinctions. Who are your key artistic influences? ...should I list 'em? I've stolen ideas from a lot of folks >> some of them are dead: Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Stan Brakhage, some of them are alive + I follow 'em online: Joshua Davis, Cory Doctorow, jodi, Evan Roth, Squarepusher, Elisa Kreisinger, Cornelius, Mary Flanagan, Olia Lialina, Alexei Shulgin + many of them are my friends/collaborators/students: jonCates, jon.satrom, Rosa Menkman, Evan Meaney... actually imma stop there and let that list feed into the next question... Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what? Mos definitely yes!!! + my most valuable xperiences stem from these collaborations + revolve around community + this is why I moved to Chicago: to partake in these communities. For me these collaborations usually take the form of project/event-organizational ventures, the largest of which is probably the GLI.TC/H festival/conference/gathering, which I've been co-organizing (with lots of people, namely jon.satrom +Rosa Menkman) for over 3yrs now. I mentioned before the lines between artist/educator/organizer are pretty blurry >> what I mean by this is nuanced [save detailz] this is a mode of operating familiar to lots of Chicago [dirty] new-media folks which I've adopted + learned predominantly from wurking with jonCates (whose practice is much more nuanced/complex than I can get into + whose had an undeniable && guileful influence on me + many others here in Chi). I also wurk a lot w/jon.satrom [undoubtedly one of my biggest influences + one of the most brilliant artists on the planet] + currently working w/other local artists/educators/organizers like Christy LeMaster (on splitbeam) +Jason Soliday && Jeff Kolar (on NO-MEDIA) +Joseph (yyolk) Chiocchi (on + am constantly inspired by + partaking in new-media adventures w/other presently chicago-based folks: Aaron Zarzutzki, Adam Trowbridge, Alex Halbert, Alex Inglizian, Alfredo Salazar-Caro, Andrew Rosinski, Ben Baker-Smith, Ben Syverson, Beth Capper, Bryan Peterson, Dave Musgrave, Ei Jane Janet Lin, Emily Kuehn, Entro MC,  Eric Fleischauer, Evan Kühl, Grayson Bagwell, Harvey Moon, Jake Elliott, James Connolly, Jessica Westbrook, Josh Billions, Kevin Carey, Lisa Slodki, Lori Felker, Mark Beasley, Monica Panzarino, Nick Kegeyan, Patrick Lichty, Paul Hertz, Ryan T Dunn, Sam Goldstein, Shawne Holloway, Tamas Kemenczy, Theodore Darst, William Robertson... ...ok, imma stop there >> I realize this may read as an obnoxiously long list, but these are all folks w/out whom my wurk/reality would be very different, these are the folks I chat w/on a regular basis +/or collaborate w/ +/or participate w/ +/or am inspired by. I like to think the wurk I do is about larger digital issues (digital rights, digital literacy, networked culture, intellectual property, etc) accessible/applicable to a global village/community well beyond my local one... but these are folks I regularly steal all my ideas from... and happen to be local. What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way? yea I think this is always a great question, my students always want to know how new-media artists (at least in the States) make their monie$ >> for me it's pretty modular: I teach new-media && digital art/literacy courses at a couple institutions here (the Marwen Foundation && the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) + I develop miscellaneous digital projects (apps, wwweb, installations) for different clients w/ Branger_Briz (my cousin's agency, the same one who taught me HTML in high-school). I'd say it definitely relates to my practice... or rather that it is my practice in that I'd probably be doing something else entirely if I wasn't a 'new-media artist/educator/organizer' ...again, these are blurry distinctions. [imma combine these]: Do you actively study art history? + Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you? yes && yes. I'm xtreamly interested in the parallel/perpendicular + complementing/contradicting + fringe && mainstream narratives that make up the histories of the conversations I'm invested in: media art histories, computer science histories, digital folk histories, Chicago histories, activist histories, piracy histories, etc. I read lots of criticism/philosophy/theory... I'm inspired by lots of folks: lots of contemporary/mainstream digital culture folks (Lessig, Shirky, Jenkins, Benkler, Stallman) + netstream new media art folks (Lialina, Galloway, the "software studies" crowd) + academix/bloggers/podcasters I follow closely (Katie Salen, Larisa Mann, Yoani Sánchez, Anita Sarkeesian) + the writings of many of my collaborators like Rosa Menkman && jonCates. And then of course the theoretical giants that influence most of us, in particular ideas like Martin Heidegger's notion of 'enframing', that rather than looking at technologies simply as tools, we're better served by considering how they are symptomatic of our particular world view. This has been key to my understanding of technologies as indicative of prevailing ideologies >> McLuhan's perspectives too, specifically the medium-is-the-message angle, rather than getting lost in the content the media carries (and similarly the utility a technology provides) we should consider how the technology itself changes (often completely turns on its head) our relationship to each other and the world. Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about? christ... that's a can'o'worms. I've got lots of vibez here, but I'll keep it short... one thing I think a lot about (for ex) is new-media art archives. I'm a fan of bittorrent as a technology: it's distributed/redundant && (especially for small institutions/projects) xtreamly efficient. Why don't we have more new-media art archives leveraging this technology? Where can I get the ArtBase torrent? There's precedence for it (thinking Jason Scott && the Archive Team's GeoCities torrent) but it’s also been stigmatized + somehow branded as anti-artist-interest. Similarly, for as much as the new-media art wurldz likes to talk about "Open Source" conceptually, we've got a lot to learn (especially structurally) from that community. Why aren't more new-media art archives versioned like open-source projects? this would solve all kinds of exhibition headaches that arise when attempting to display new-media pieces that are 3+ yrs old (and thus require 'antiquated' technology)... again, this is a much larger convo, I’m being a little flippant... but I'm happy to have nuanced convos w/interested parties at more length elsewhere :)  cool! thnx for the chat Daniel ^__^ ../n!ck

[1] Briz, Nick. Glitch Art Historie[s]:  contextualising glitch art - a perpetual beta, in “READER[R0R], GLI.TC/H 20111”. pg. 55., 2011. 

Mon, 15 Jul 2013 07:41:17 -0700
<![CDATA[Datamoshing the Land of Ooo]]>

Screenshot of work in progress, David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. David OReilly is a 3D animator’s 3D animator. Embracing a stripped-back aesthetic that foregrounds the very processes of animation, OReilly—whose past short films include award-winning titles "The External World" (2011) and "Please Say Something" (2009)—is recognized as much for his astute grasp of dark, abstract comedy as for his unique approach to visual design. Drawing on glitch aesthetics, underground Japanese Manga and the most parasitic of Internet memes, OReilly forges original compositions from the debris of contemporary culture. On April 1, Cartoon Network aired an episode of primetime television series Adventure Time that was written and directed by OReilly. Entitled “A Glitch is a Glitch,”[1] the episode tells the story of a villain who creates a computer virus to delete all of the other characters in the show, with the exception of his love interest. The other characters must weed out and destroy this glitch in the system. “A Glitch is a Glitch” arrived a couple of weeks before a new ‘viral’ trailer for Superman reboot Man of Steel, which also used glitchy datamoshing techniques to deliver its message. It seems significant that as glitch aesthetics take root in the Hollywood mainstream, a young animator, who has creatively embraced glitches for years, would make a television cartoon devoted to weeding them out.

Screenshot of work in progress, David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. DR: How did you become involved with Adventure Time? DO: Pen (the creator of the show) was a fan of my short films and got in touch in early 2010. At the time I was making The External World and wasn't able to jump ship, so it was put on hold. About a year later I had moved to LA and we ran into each other a few times and started talking about it again. DR: At what stage did the music producer Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) become involved with the project?  DO: Steve is a friend and knew I was doing this early on. We were originally planning on doing a completely different intro that he would score, so he sent over some tracks during production. In the end we didn’t have time or money to do that intro, so the end credits sequence was born. DR: Were there any restrictions and/or stipulations on what you could do with the show? DO: Creatively, Pen really wanted me to do my own thing. The writers on the show are really good, and I would have been happy to animate one of their storyboards—but he really wanted me to do all that stuff myself. I can't think of a precedent for that. It may be the only animated show in history to let a total outsider write and direct an episode. As far as restrictions, there were a few because ultimately it's for children's TV. A few jokes were cut or toned down, which was frustrating at the time, but I'm proud of what made it to air.  

In-progress footage from David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. DR: A Glitch is a Glitch features a clip from another work of yours where a grey, doll-like woman swallows her own hair. In Adventure Time, the clip arrives through the window on a floppy disc taped to a brick. Jake and Finn watch the clip, which then seems to bring the glitch into being. There’s a couple of references here to the Japanese film, Ring (1998), in which a VHS tape must be watched, copied and passed on in order that the "original" viewer not die. Your doll woman in particular echoes and subverts a memorable motif from the Ring franchise, having the long-haired spectral figure literally eat herself like an ouroboros. DO: I think that was misinterpreted by the fans. That clip isn't an earlier work—I made it alongside the episode and released it a week before. For that scene I was kind of thinking about those shock sites you see when you're younger. Back in my day it was tubgirl or goatse; they were passed around and became these enigmatic things you had to see. Kids now are way more exposed to that stuff—and probably at a far younger age. A lot of people complained that scene was too extreme for kids' TV, but I think people don't give them credit for what they can tolerate. If they have the Internet they're pretty much exposed to the open mouth of hell at all times. 

Process images, David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. DR: The shock value of your work is often emphasised by your allegiance to cute—kawaii—figures. Adventure Time feels like a good fit for that contradiction to play out. Do you have any major influences when it comes to addressing this balance? Other than Goatse, of course.  DO: I should say the scene of the girl eating her hair wasn't about shocking the audience, it was about getting Finn & Jake to feel sick. Only a few seconds of it appears in the actual episode. In general I never think about shock value in any project because it implies there’s no meaning behind the images. Surprise might be a better word; I'm interested in using animation for ideas that it isn't typically used for. Of course, some people were shocked, but that’s mainly because they expected a regular 2D episode—and the story existed outside of the show's canon. DR: In your essay Basic Animation Aesthetics, you talk about bringing consistency and coherence to the 3D worlds you create. At a few points in the Adventure Time episode, as the glitch tears through the Land of Ooo, things get stripped back to their elements, which in this case appears to be the software interface itself . I wondered whether you could talk about restrictions in relation to 3D animation. How did you force yourself to “think outside the box” with this project?  DO: In general I try to find ideas which justify being in 3D animation. On this project, I wanted to focus on glitch as a narrative device. I had been doing that stuff a fairly long time ago, but my interests shifted to story, so I abandoned it for a while. This was a chance to really use both these interests in one project. It’s a back and forth between what works for the story and what's interesting visually; you can't structure a narrative around a bunch of interesting visual ideas and vice versa. The world being deleted allowed for a lot of visual corruption of things so that seemed to fit.

Still image from "Treehouse of Horror VI" (1995), segment entitled "Homer3. Episode of The Simpsons. DR: I was reminded of the 1995 episode of The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror VI," which featured a segment titled "Homer3." I couldn’t resist this reference I found on Wikipedia: "One of the key shots in Homer3 was where Homer steps into the 3D world and his design transitions into 3D. Bill Oakley considers the shot the 'money shot' and had a difficult time communicating his idea to the animators." I wondered whether you could think of an equivalent, troublesome "money shot" in your AT episode?  DO: There were a lot of technical hurdles. In general, doing stylistic glitch is easy compared to doing good character animation. Mixing the two gets very tricky though. One of the hardest things was corrupting the scene near the end of the entire broadcast so that the earlier clip is superimposed over Finn & Jake to give them an idea (i.e., using glitch as a kind of thought bubble). It was easy to storyboard that idea, but making it work properly took a lot of grind. DR: How much of the "stylistic" glitching came directly from "real" glitches? In other words, what processes did you use to introduce random, glitchy elements into the design process? Did you have to cheat to get the "stylistic" results you wanted? DO: It was all generated from "real" glitches—but since everything is run through compositing software and sort of controlled you could also say it was all fake. The glitches needed to begin locally—inside objects—then spread out until they became part of the scene itself. The local stuff was done by generating a ton of sprites that had random pixels move outwardly to create the colorful flourishes we associate with video compression. These had a decent amount of control—a blob of glitchy stuff could move around a scene, for example. Once the scenes were fully animated and rendered the global full-frame glitches were done. There was some jpeg corruption added on top of the battle scene at the end.

Screenshot from design process, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time.

Screenshot of work in progress, David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. DR: Some of the behind-the-scenes images you sent me are overlaid with interface elements that appear as part of the glitches that engulf Jake and Finn. This made me think again about the hand-drawn corrections made at the design stage (the scribbles repositioning Jake’s thumb, for instance). Your work merges and disguises the layers that exist between design, interface, 3D environment, characters and story. All of them are blurred via post-produced digital effects that seem to mimic the story itself (with characters having to literally swallow themselves in order reboot the glitchy world of Ooo). I wondered if you could say something about all these story arcs, design self-references and post-produced "mistakes"? DO: In every case with design, it has to be intentional. Even if there are chaotic elements, it still has to be intentional or controlled in some way—otherwise you're just showing off the tools and probably not communicating an idea. Some people might disagree but that's my feeling about it. There's a kind of back and forth between software and idea that goes on when I work in 3D, because to me it’s weird NOT to acknowledge that everything is fake and animation is basically an optical illusion - but it’s still ultimately a medium to get ideas across. I don't want style or design to be center stage—it’s just something that happens in the translation process from brain to screen. DR: To my eye some of these effects look painterly, like video codecs corrupted on purpose, or what is commonly referred to as "datamoshing." Could you let us into some of the processes you used to make that painterly aesthetic?  DO: There was a few layers of stuff going on. Some effects were applied as part of the 3D scene and others as a post-process. The painterly aspect of compression comes from the codec trying and use motion data over a static image, so that image is pushed and smudged around leaving these colorful trails and blotches. I also generated a lot of moiré patterns for the "time tunnel" sequence. I’ve wanted to use moiré effects for a while, they’re another example of the computer generating seemingly organic results from limited input. They're also really damn pretty. DR: You’ve talked in the past about viewers becoming used to 3D aesthetics over time, meaning that a technical approach "that once would stun an audience with its realism now barely has any effect." [2] I wonder whether you think glitch can become more than just another addition to the "rapidly expanding aesthetic library"? [3] DO: Glitch in its current incarnation will date like everything else. It’s a motif associated with jpeg and DivX compression, and we won’t be using those formats forever. In the 80s & 90s, there were a lot of analog errors being explored, and the errors in the 2020s will probably look a lot different.

Screenshot of work in progress, David OReilly, "A Glitch is a Glitch" (2013). Episode of the television series Adventure Time. DR: A lot of your distinctive visual style stems from the way you strip back the clutter of 3D design. Was there ever a chance you might have stuck with the 2D look of Adventure Time?  DO: I don't think so. As much as I loved getting to know those characters and trying to write for them, I also really love 3D. I still feel it's at its earliest stage and I get excited about doing ideas that only work in that medium.  DR: I'd like to move on to the question of how your work circulates on the Internet and feeds into a culture of artistic re-use. You recently released all 65 character rigs from your project The External World, allowing anyone to modify and re-use them in their own (non-commercial) projects. Have there been any surprising results from doing this?  DO: It's still early days with those, I haven't seen more than a few tests done with them. One animator has decided to use them for 51 animation exercises. I’d like to see them do interactive stuff, but that may take a while. DR: A few months ago you collated some of your creative influences for a Russian design magazine. Who inspires you at the moment? DO: The Adventure Time storyboard writers are awesome (literally all of them). In 3D I like the work of Andrew Benson and Robert Seidel. In comics I can’t get enough of Chris Ware and Jason. About 100 other people. I can't list them all off because I'd think of another 100. 

David OReilly, "Mindsploitation Timelapse" (2013). Single-channel video with sound. DR: You recently shared a video showing the design process behind your cover for Mindsploitation, a book by Vernon Chatman. What are you working on next? DO: I had been working on that book for about a year. As with every project, I never talk about it. As much as possible I try to maintain the lowest expectations from people.  DR: And finally, do you have any advice for young, aspiring visual designers? The next generation of glitchers and creators! DO: It's hard to not use clichés for questions about advice. Most people say the same thing over and over, which 99% of the time is a way to dodge it. Here is some random crap I would tell my 15 year old self: get off social networks, finish every project even if you think it's bad, be happy to have free time and use the hell out of it, do more drugs, keep a diary. This conversation between Daniel Rourke and David OReilly took place between April 10 and 24, 2013, on Google Drive.    References:

[1] The Glitch is a Glitch is not available on YouTube or Vimeo – here instead is an unofficial, unendorsed link to the episode from the darkest recesses of the web [2] David OReilly, “Basic Animation Aesthetics,” 2009, 7. 

[3] Ibid.  

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 04:00:00 -0700
<![CDATA[Artist Profile: Émilie Gervais]]>

Animated GIF from the website Parked Domain Girl Tombstone (2013) DR: On first inspection, a lot of your work appears to be rooted in the 90s, drawing on the low bandwidth aesthetics inherent in GIFs, midi plugins, embedded frames, ASCII art, and forgotten webring hyperlinks. But the 90s comes out in other ways, too. Pop-cultural undercurrents include Nintendo and Leisure Suit Larry; mixtapes and a particular flavor of Europop. How/why do these things speak to you as a contemporary (Web) artist? EG: The origin of the meaning of most collected n found elements i use in my work is rooted in the 90s. My work itself isn't rooted in the 90s. I've been dragged to use that type of stuff mostly bc i like it n its accurate w the topics im interested in rn. Still tho the source material or what it evokes isn't really important. It jst adds semantic layer/s for some people n so does the aesthetics. Everything linked to that part of my work is treated as game elements (to be inserted) in different contexts of reception w diff codes of conduct. Its about notebooks. All that content is accessory to my work. You could really jst take the whole structure/s n insert totally diff content. It'd still make sense. Maybe Im already doing that but its not linked anywhere rn. Its kinda like people who enjoy playing Canabalt but hate playing Robot Unicorn. The gameplay is literally the same. Jst the content n aesthetic is different. That changes the whole experience. Whats a contemporary web artist?

Blinking Girls Cave (2012) DR: I love the idea of interchangeable (aesthetic) content, as if Andy Warhol could have changed the contents of a "textures" subfolder and suddenly transformed a Campbell's Soup painting into a Heinz. How is play more than a structural component to your work? I'm thinking about rulemaking and breaking, especially your collaboration with Sarah Weis, Blinking Girls Cave, which the park authorities took a disliking to while it was in progress. [Ed. – Blinking Girls Cave (2012) was a part of Apache Project, a series of artworks installed at Mother Neff State Park in Moody, Texas, in a cave that was once used by the Tonkawa Indians as a shelter as well as a burial site. After an initial proposal for an installation in the cave was rejected by park management (despite having been initially approved), the project ultimately took the form of a photo shoot, in which GIFs—some of them drawn from the imagery in seduction-based adventure game Leisure Suit Larry—were displayed on tablets, smartphones and laptops that were placed within the cave and documented. This scaled-back version also proved unacceptable to park management.] EG: I think play is a structural component of life. It's related to how i conceptualize, process n think stuff. It opens space for experimentation. To me, its more related to what sociologists do than anything performance art; like how-to approach different types of social dynamics from diff point of view per example. Also, like that Andy Warhol eating a hamburger video; a partly exhibited learning process. Breaking rules wasn't really a thing in ♡ ♥ Blinking Girls ♥ ♡. What happened at Mother Neff is that our first intended installation, which involved light effects n bubble machines, was disapproved at the last minute bc of the damage it could cause to the cave walls. Blinking Girls Cave thus became about hardwares n gifs. During the documentation - that being the installation - Nate Hitchcock, the director n curator n everything at Apache Project, was interrupted by a park ranger who requested him to leave the park because taking pictures n or making videos in the cave wasn't appropriate. DR: There’s a real sense of a partly exhibited learning process in your URL works: an ever growing array of Web 1.0 motifs, exhibited as unique URLs. For me these works expose the Internet as a spatial, material thing, still begging to be explored. You spoke of sociology, is there perhaps something archaeological in your practice? EG: The internet is def abt spatiality and materiality. One can relate to these notions differently. To me, its really more abt physicality. I wasn't really thinking abt them topics when i made these. It's jst kinda there in all websites. Thats the internet. I wouldnt say that these r really web 1.0. The user in both cases isnt primarily a content consumer. Backdoor trojan girl was exhibited at Domain Gallery in a way that highlighted the urls. Under other circumstances, it'd prob be different. The archaeological in my practice is kinda superficial rn. DR: Your URL artworks, (2012) and (2013), both flicker between female and male signifiers. Do you think the Web is gendered? How would you approach gender differently in work produced for a gallery context? EG: I don't think the web is gendered. Culture is n adds gendered filter/s to it in some cases. I don't know if i would approach it; maybe i'd dig a hole for feminists/feminism or i'd do a show about postpostpostpostpostpostpost-transexualism. It'd be really fun. DR: For your ongoing collaborative online exhibition Art Object Culture (2011-), you and Lucy Chinen bring together two artists each month to create a new work based on trinkets that were purchased online. These readily available objects accrue value as they pass through the project. I could ask you about the long shadow cast by Duchamp’s readymades, about ownership, exhibition value and artistic identity as they relate to the Web. Instead, I’d really like it if you shared some AOC secrets with us. What criteria do you use to select the artists? Which is your favorite submission so far and why? EM: Art Object Culture offers a website template for artists to explore art making within one rule: create new art objects from items pre-existing in various online stores. We mainly seek artists that have the ability to bend that rule. I don't really have a favorite submission. I like some more than others but my opinion on this is not important. There is no secret. The current format is a translation of our ideas on AOC related topics from 2011. It might eventually mutate. Hopefully we'll sell all the artworks that were made for it before that n or have a show; some kinda showcase for all of them together w everyone that made stuff for it n other people too.

Émilie Gervais  Age: my age range is 7 to 77. Location: Paca/FR. How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start? Since forever. I started by playing games on some used pc and recontextualizing movies, game related stuff as improvised play based on the characters n plot/s with friends at school. I've always spent a lot of time randomly surfing the internet while chatting on microsoft comic chat, mIRC, the palace n was really into customizing anything that was customizable ie. winamp skins, mirc themes, etc... Beside that, my fav drawing thing is Lite Bright n i've been deleting, moving, opening files since ive been typing on a keyboard. I've crashed the home computer a couple of times. Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them? Where did you go to school? What did you study? Experimentation n play! My main tool is the internet or jst even information. In college, ive done a dble cursus in literature n social studies. Then, I dropped out of art school in Mtl n went to Paris. In 2010/2011, i did a dnap/bfa in 1yr at the Ecole d'Art Superieure d'Aix-en-Provence where I'm currently finishing a dnsep/master w a focus in hypermedia. My thesis text thing's title is Fuck Privacy Demo Game Over. What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology? I'm not media based. The traditional/non traditional dichotomy makes no sense to me. I jst use whatever depending on the project im working on. It's more about ideas n processes. Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)? I tweet n play music on my iphone everyday. Before that, i played ice hockey n have done some cycling as a summer training thing. I love dancing. Also, health related stuff; superfoods n other stuff, but i mostly eat pizza n candies. Thats creative. I'm involved with adrenaline, gaming, immersive as non immersive n fun everyday. I'm really concerned about open source n how it affects education/academics. But im not seriously implicated in anything, im jst personally into it rn. What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way? I worked at HMV Megastore n Liquid Nutrition in Montreal while being in college. I spent one summer selling autoportraits on the Pont Saint-Louis in Paris w a friend. I worked at some pizza place on bd de Belleville. The boss never slept, ate one fried egg a day and gave us free pizza n drinks everyday. Clients ordered one expresso and remained seated for hrs jst talking abt whatever. Total Belleville cliche. Everything influences the way i process stuff. RN im an art student. Who are your key artistic influences? Toru Iwatani, Kassia Meador, Gustav Klimt n the internet. Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what? I collaborate w Lucy Chinen on Art Object Culture n conducted the Blinking Girls project w Sarah Weis. I work/ed w friends that are mostly into painting n music. I ghostpost alot n collaborate w lots of people actively n passively everyday on everything. Its mostly passive networked collaboration/s. Do you actively study art history? Im surrounded by it. I've been into it for as long as i can remember. My dad always brought the family to museums. When i was living in San Francisco, we went to Los Angeles one time mostly jst to go n visit the Getty museum. My college art history teacher was totally awesome. Art history entertains me. Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you? I have phases in which i read alot and others in which i dont at all. Most of the time, i try not to remember the authors so it remains jst about the ideas. RN im reading Critical Play by Mary Flanagan. Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about? Yes, but no at the same time. It really depends on the whole concept of a project. I kinda hate almst everything that is JUST about representation when it comes to new media related art tho, so i'd say im concerned about that. This conversation took place between 22 March and 1 April on a Google Drive document.

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 08:00:05 -0700
<![CDATA[Artist Profile: Alex Myers]]>

Your work spans several distinct, but overlapping areas of discourse. We could start by talking through design, animation, glitch art, code, game play or the interface. I want to start right from the bottom though, and ask you about inputs and outputs. A recent work you collaborated on with Jeff Thompson, You Have Been Blinded - “a non-visual adventure game” -  takes me back to my childhood when playing a videogame often meant referring to badly sketched dungeon maps, before typing N S E or W on a clunky keyboard. Nostalgia certainly plays a part in You Have Been Blinded, but what else drives you to strip things back to their elements? I’ve always been interested in how things are built. From computers to houses to rocks to software. What makes these things stand up? What makes them work? Naturally I’ve shifted to exploring how we construct experiences. How do we know? Each one of us has a wholly unique experience of… experience, of life.. When I was a kid I was always wondering what it was like to be any of the other kids at school. Or a kid in another country. What was it like to be my cat or any of the non-people things I came across each day? These sorts of questions have driven me to peel back experience and ask it some pointed questions. I don’t know that I’m really interested in the answers. I don’t think we could really know those answers, but I think it’s enough to ask the questions. Stripping these things down to their elements shows you that no matter how hard you try, nothing you make will ever be perfect. There are always flaws and the evidence of failure to be found, no matter how small. I relish these failures. Your ongoing artgame project, Writing Things We Can No Longer Read, revels in the state of apophenia, “the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data”. [1] The title invokes Walter Benjamin for me, who argued that before we read writing we “read what was never written” [2] in star constellations, communal dances, or the entrails of sacrificed animals. From a player’s point of view the surrealistic landscapes and disfigured interactions within your (not)(art)games certainly ask, even beg, to be interpreted. But, what role does apophenia have to play in the making of your work? When I make stuff, I surround myself with lots of disparate media. Music, movies, TV shows, comics, books, games. All sorts of stuff gets thrown into the pot of my head and stews until it comes out. It might not actually come out in a recognizable form, but the associations are there. A specific example can be found in a lot of the models I use. I get most of them, or at least the seed of them, from open source models I find on 3D Warehouse. Because of the way that website works, it’s constantly showing you models it thinks are similar for whatever reason. Often I’ll follow those links and it will take me down symbolic paths that I never would have consciously decided to pursue. This allows a completely associative and emergent composition to take form. I’d like to paraphrase and link up your last two answers, if I may. How do “relishing failures” and “allowing things to take form” overlap for you? I know you have connections with the GLI.TC/H community, for instance. But your notgames Me&You, Down&Up, and your recent work/proposition Make Me Something seem to invoke experiments, slips and disasters from a more oblique angle. All are a means of encouraging surprise. In each piece it’s not about the skill involved, but about the thrill of the unknown. In all of my projects I try to construct a situation where I have very little control over the outcome. Glitch does this. But within the glitch community there’s a definite aesthetic involved. You can look at something and know that it’s glitch art. That’s not true for everything, but there is a baseline. For my notgames work I embrace the practice, not necessarily the look. I want irregularity. I want things to break. I want to be surprised. Your work in progress, the Remeshed series, appears to be toying with another irregular logic,  one you hinted at in your comments about “associative and emergent composition”; a logic that begins with the objects and works out. I hear an Object Oriented echo again in your work Make Me Something, where you align yourself more with the 3D objects produced than with the people who requested them. What can we learn from things, from objects? Has Remeshed pushed/allowed you to think beyond tools? That’s a tricky question and I’m not sure I have a satisfactory answer. Both projects owe their existence to a human curatorial eye. But in both I relinquish a lot of control over the final object or experience. I do this in the spirit of ready-to-hand things. By making experiences and objects that break expectations our attention is focused upon them. They slam into the foreground and demand our attention. Remeshed, and to an extent, Make Me Something, allows me to focus less on the craft of modeling and animation and more on pushing what those two terms mean. As Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Game Studies BSc atBellevue University you inevitably inhabit a position of authority for your students. Are there contradictions inherent in this status, especially when aiming to break design conventions, to glitch for creative and practical ends, and promote those same acts in your students? Yourecently modified Roland Barthes’ 1967 text ‘The Death of the Author’ to fit into a game criticism context. It makes me wonder whether “The Player-God” is something you are always looking to kill in yourself? Absolutely. When teaching I try break down the relationship of authority as much as possible. I prefer to think of myself as a mentor, or guide, to the students. Helping them find the right path for themselves. Doing this from within a traditional pedagogical structure is difficult, but worthwhile. Or so I tell myself. In terms of the Player-God, I think yes, I’m always trying to kill it. But at the same time, I’m trying to kill the Maker-God. There is no one place or source for a work. There’s no Truth. I reject the Platonic Ideal. Both maker and player are complicit in the act of the experience. Without either, the other wouldn’t exist.

Age: Somewhere in my third decade. Location: The Land of Wind and Grass / The Void Between Chicago and Denver How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start? Oof, for as long as I can remember. When I was 13 I killed my first computer about 4 days after getting it. I was trying to change the textures in DOOM. I had no idea what I was doing. Later, in college I was in a fairly traditional arts program learning to blow glass. At some point someone gave me a cheap Sony 8mm digital camcorder and I started filming weird things and incorporating the (terrible) video art into my glass sculptures. After that I started making overly ambitious text adventures and playing around with generative text and speech synthesizers. Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them? Where did you go to school? What did you study? I use Unity and Blender primarily right now. They’re the natural evolution of what I was trying to do way back when I was using Hammer and Maya. I did my MFA in Interactive Media and Environments at The Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen, NL. I started working in Hammer around this time making Gun-Game maps for Counter-Strike: Source. During the start of my second semester of grad school I suffered a horrible hard drive failure and lost all of my work. In a fit of depression I did pretty much nothing but play CS:S and drink beer for three months. At the end of that I made WINNING. What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology? I’m not sure how to answer this. About the most traditional thing I do anymore is make prints from the results of my digital tinkering. Object art doesn’t interest me much these days, but it definitely influenced how I first approached Non-Object art. Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)? I’m involved with a lot of local game developer and non-profit digital arts organizations. What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way? I’m an Assistant Professor of Game Studies at Bellevue University. The job and my work are inexorably bound together. I enjoy teaching in a non-arts environment because I feel it affords me freedom and resources I wouldn’t otherwise have. I actually hate the idea of walled-disciplines in education. Everyone should learn from and collaborate with everyone else. Who are your key artistic influences? Mostly people I know: Jeff Thompson, Darius Kazemi, Rosa Menkman, THERON JACOBS and some people I don’t know: Joseph Cornell, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Bosch, Brueghel the Elder, most of Vimeo. Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what? Yes. Definitely. Most recently I’ve been working with Jeff Thompson. We made You Have Been Blinded and Thrown into a Dungeon, a non-visual, haptic dungeon adventure. We’ve also been curating Games++ for the last two years. Do you actively study art history? Yep. I’m constantly looking at and referencing new and old art. I don’t limit it to art, though. I’m sick of art that references other art in a never ending strange loop. I try to cast my net further afield. Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you? Definitely. In no particular order: Dr. Seuss, Alastair Reynolds, Alan Sondheim, Dan Abnett, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Italo Calvino, Mother Goose, Jacques Lacan, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Carl Jung, H.P. Lovecraft, Jonathan Hickman, Brandon Graham, John Dewey, Umberto Eco... the list goes on and on. Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about? I think we’ve partially reached an era of the ascendant non-object. That is, an art form, distinct from performance and theatre, that places an emphasis wholly on the experience and not on the uniqueness of the object. Because of this move away from a distinct singular form, there’s no place for it in the art market. Most artists that work this way live by other means. I teach. Others move freely between the worlds of art and design. Still others do other things. The couple of times I’ve had solo exhibitions in Europe, I’ve almost always been offered a livable exhibition fee. Here in the States that’s never been the case. When I have shows stateside, I always take a loss. The organizer may cover my material costs, but there’s no way I could ever live off of it. Nor would I want to. I think the pressures of survival would limit my artistic output. I’m happier with a separation between survival and art.

[1] “Apophenia,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopaedia, March 21, 2013,

[2] Walter Benjamin, “On the Mimetic Faculty,” in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (New York: Schoclen Books, 1933), 333–336.

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 09:28:28 -0700
<![CDATA[Artifacts: A Conversation Between Hito Steyerl and Daniel Rourke at]]>

“But even if the internet is dead this doesnt mean it’s over. It is all over.”

Sat, 30 Mar 2013 15:12:00 -0700