Never Alone is a clever puzzle-platforming game based on the Alaskan Iñupiat culture.
The post Never Alone Is a Harrowing Journey Into the Folklore of Alaska Natives appeared first on WIRED.
This week, i'm talking with French artist Benjamin Pothier who is currently frost-bound for an ARS BIO ARCTICA residency organized by the Finnish Bio Art Society at Kilpisjarvi Biological Station in Lapland.
Pothier is in the region to shoot videos and make sound recordings but because he a PhD researcher in Arts, Anthropology and Architecture at the CAIIA Hub of the Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth, he is also investigating nomadic architecture, drawing lessons from the way nomadic cultures live in symbiosis with the environment and more generally exploring issues of global warming which are felt so acutely in circumpolar regions.
The artist had previously attended the FIELD_NOTES laboratory at Kilpisjarvi Biological Station and last year he had been invited as an artist to participate to the Arctic Circle Residency 2013, in the international territory of Svalbard.
I'm catching up with Benjamin while he is still in the Arctic and before he flies to South Africa to show his photos of icebergs in Johannesburg....
Benjamin Pothier, 8KNOT Trailer
Hi Benjamin! The ARS BIO ARCTICA residency has an emphasis on the Arctic environment and art and science collaboration. Are you working with scientists over there? How?
Well, I am not working with scientists right now as there are no scientists at the station at the time, I mean apart from me! What is specific to my work is that I am actually an artist AND a researcher. I am a researcher in anthropology, which is usually classified as a "Social Science". But of course anthropology means much more than that for me. I have been driven to anthropology researches for intellectual and artistic reasons. I think the perspective on society one can gain through anthropological studies or research is quite similar to the position of the artist in our societies, and maybe even in traditional societies, as long as you consider the role of the shaman, which in my opinion is connected in many ways to the role of the artist in contemporary societies. But this is probably more an artist statement than an academic point of view.
As an artist i'm connecting to the site, the landscape, the nature and surroundings, through Photography and documentary film direction, but it is really a way to connect to the site. because all of this also include long walks, or staying still under snow or strong wind near an arctic lake shore, for example, to do video or sound recording. And the body is as much an interface with the landscape as the camera or the microphone.
Then as a researcher I try, and sometimes manage, to get an overview about theses experiences, mainly life in the arctic circle for this residency, in order to widen the frame of reference for my research.
Sound recording on the Shore of Kilpisjarvi's Lake 22/10/2014. -5°C strong wind
What brought you there? Because surely there must be art residency in more hospitable parts of the world?
I'm actually a PhD candidate at the CAIIA the Center for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts, in the program of the Planetary Collegium, which is supervised by the professor and artist Roy Ascott, and my research is focused on Circumpolar North Arctic and Subarctic Tribes... that's probably one of the reason! But I would love to visit... hum... Vancouver or San Francisco for example ! I am also passionate about the art and craft of the Haida people of Pacific Northwest Coast of North America for example...
Well last year I've been selected for the Arctic Circle residency, organized by The FARM,INC, a NYC based cultural organization. And we went up to 20° from the North Pole. I find this kind of residencies challenging. And I like it. For the Arctic circle residency we had to take a zodiac boat every morning to go to the shore, protected by three armed guide against potential polar bears attacks, and it's an "interesting" way to do film direction or photography. For me it was also a way to gain "field knowledge" on contemporary ways to "survive" in the arctic, through discussions with the arctic guide and a study of their gears and behavior.
As an artist I am also interested by that kind of harsh environments because it questions the place of humans on Earth... it's connected to some of my pursuits, I am quite interested by the work of Survival research laboratories, for example, or the Makrolab created by Marko Peljhan, or Angelo Vermeulen's Seeker projects. I'm honestly a die hard fan of "old school Cyberpunk", science fiction at large as well as bio-regionalism and vegan cooking... and to deal with rugged, waterproof or foldable technologies in this harsh environment, or to cook my vegan bolognaise with dried soy chunks in the station kitchen, all of these are experiences that fits with all those pursuits.
And well, of course the Arctic is NOT Antarctica, but I'm a big fan of the movies The Thing, the John Carpenter's one and the quite recent prequel as well. So some of the experiences I'm living there are materials for future art projects, who knows? Art installations, short sci-fi movies or novels, but with strong first-hand field experiences as background. And some like photographing the landscape or directing a cross media project here are very concrete art experiences with a result in the short term.
The Arctic is the perfect place to engage into those kind of life and art experiences. I like being in a place where I can feel that nature is stronger than me, even if it is always a very calculated risk, I'm very cautious and I have a kind of "preppers" mindset. But in a "philosophical" point of view, when I'm saying that "Nature is stronger than me", it's probably because "I" like when "I" becomes "Nature" and there is no more "me" for a few minutes. that's the reward. It's a Zen type experience. I am really not the first human nor artist talking about that!
Fire inside the Kota
Benjamin Pothier, Maiitsoh (open)
This is not the first time you are at the Kilpisjarvi research station. You first went there in 2011 for the Finnish Bioart Society's Field_Notes workshop. So is this residency a continuation of the previous one? Or are you working on something entirely different?
Well I was working on something quite different at that time, an interactive documentary Installation about Computer History that I presented at the Computer Art Conference #4 CAC#4 in Rio de Janeiro in September, the project is called Maiitsoh: I've interviewed various people from William Gibson to Noam Chomsky, or John Cale, about topics dealing with computer history, consciousness and creativity, and I was working on that project at the time of the Field_Notes workshop. Maiitsoh is the Navajo word or more precisely the Dineh world because the so-called "Navajo" call themselves Dineh... And it's more than time to give some recognition to the indigenous people. So it's the Dineh word for the Wolf. It's a direct homage to the code talkers during World War II, at that time the Dineh language was used by the Allies as an "analog" cyphering technique, while the Axis Countries where using a mechanical cyphering machine, the Enigma machine. The first ever modern computer ever built, Colossus, was actually built to break the Enigma machine code. It's a part of history quite well known in the computer community. There is also a not that good movie directed by John Woo about the Dineh code talkers. I used the name Maiitsoh as a tribute to the Code Talkers, but also for it's similarities with Macintosh. Maiitsoh is made of wood, like the first computer mouse or the first Apple computer... it's really a multi scalar project. It's about creativity, it's a 3 or 4 dimensional Nodal point, in the Gibsonian perspective. it's a wooden computer and it's an icon of computer recent History. Forget about plastic, the first computers owe things to the wood!
Nowadays i'm very focused on my PhD research, which is a study of the patterns of the Ainu people, the aboriginal people of North Japan. It's for me one of the most beautiful form of craft on this planet. This is a very subjective comment. As an artist, I just love the shape of their patterns.
But the subject is a bit wider. I am questioning the origins of arts and craft on this planet, basically. Why did the human species started to draw, to do sculptures, embroidery ? That is the question! I never take for granted anything that exists on this planet. Why do people wear pants made with denim fabric for example ? And why don't we embroider our clothing nowadays ? What is an object ? Why do human grow those kind of vegetables in the area, and not other ones ? To get perspective is always a good way to make a daily fresh start and enhance your human experience.
You brought a bike in the Arctic? Is it a very practical mode of moving around up there? What's the story of the bike?
Yes, I brought a foldable bike there, a Brompton. For various reasons. First, It's an artistic and activist statement, here in the Arctic which is of course one of the first region exposed to global warming. I am really pro-biking, I was even close to people from Critical Mass at a time. I am proud about that past. It's a shame to see that people are so unconscious of environmental problems. Last year in Svalbard, at 20° from the North pole, we saw styrofoam on the shore. In that incredible landscape... and of course the invisible pollution is also quite dramatic... Species are disappearing , the arctic is melting, and I guess nobody forgot Sandy Superstorm... well , I don't have a short term memory and I remember being already aware of those increasing problems in the 90ies... And you can really make eco-friendly businesses and make money. So come on! Humanity is a teenager trashing its room.
So it is in a way an homage to old friends from the activists community, to bring a bike here in the Arctic, and to use it to circulate around the station, or to go to the grocery store few kilometers from here, despite the wind and snow... But there is also something related to artistic performance, to use that quite "urban Bike" which is in a way the "Rolls Royce" of folding bikes, and to use it on hard snowy roads in the Arctic Circle. I also applied a kind of "artistic protocol" to the use of the Bike, which is a direct homage to Joseph Beuys piece I Like America and America Likes Me.
The bike never actually circulated nor touched the ground on a road before I took it out of its rugged case, here at the station. The same way Beuys didn't touch the U.S. soil before being brought to that room with a live coyote... It was an homage to the political situation of "Native Americans", and here in the North of Finland there are still Sami people, northern Europe's last hunters and gatherers. So the title could be "I like Finland and Finland Likes me", maybe ! hahaha!
I don't personally know them but I have seen some work by a collective called Suohpanterror, they do street art and art related projects dealing with the Sami identity. They are probably much more reliable than me to talk about the Sami question. What I can give as an artist is some visibility about the question. And of course for the bike performance itself, there are some unconscious parts I can't myself explain. It's like making a collage, but in 4 dimension and in real life, with an Arctic logistic, and a study of the possible ways to bring that bike to a research station. It's very useful here for me, and it's of course a bit burlesque to bring it here. I like that mix. It's a very serious and complicated project, it's suddenly completely absurd, and then it becomes really serious again.
I honestly thought that it would be a bit more challenging than that to use the bike. The Brompton works quite well on Sapmi's roads...
And then of course the Brompton itself is a very amazing object. it's manga like and also almost Steampunk . But it's quite Beat-Punk for me. It's a super contemporary object with that 1950ies or 60ies taste and quality. And I'm actually NOT paid to say that.
Drone FPV Training with the Search and Rescue Team from the Norwegian Red Cross
You've also been invited for a training session with people who use Drones for Search and rescue for the Norwegian Red Cross in the High Arctic. Can you describe the experience? Are you planning to apply to your work what you learnt there?
It was honestly a fascinating experience... As a researcher I have a kind of "classical anthropology " approach, but as an artist I am more interested by digital anthropology or the anthropology of technology. Honestly i've been baffled to meet those people in Tromsø. I was missing some spare parts to make my drone works here in the Arctic, so I looked for forums in Norway on the internet, and two days later I was in contact with those people. And they are very skill full experts on that domain. Their practices are connected to many of my pursuits. I've been invited last year by European Union's oldest program for collaboration in Science and technology to deliver a talk about the future of 3D printing. And then one year later, in Tromsø, on a rest area in a mountainous road I've met this guy who actually makes homemade and huge Octocopters, with 3D printed part that he designed himself.
I remember when there was no mobile phone, that's something I always remember when I want to get some perspectives about the mutations of western societies, or the world at large. I don't take technical progress for granted. It's an organic process in perpetual evolution. It's fascinating to realize what we can do in our ages with technology. People tend to forget about that. I never complain when Skype is slow... I'm always amazed to be able to talk in video with someone in California when i'm in Paris.
And well, for the experience of Drone and FPV, which stand for First Person View. It's way more fascinating than what I imagined. It's actually a physical experience to see through a camera which is flying 200 meters above yourself or at 1 kilometer from you... it's a bit trance-like, or even techno-shamanic like. The only similarity I can find is when i used a 360° camera during a training at the SAT Society for Arts and Technology in Montreal in 2013, and when I was able to see my recording in the 360 dome theatre at SAT, the Satosphere. I had the same weird physical experience challenging my perspective on vision, the body, etc... very impressive!
And of course there is this satisfaction to realize that this technology is used to rescue people, to bring two ways radios or first aid kit to people stuck in mountains.
FPV in the Arctic is definitely an amazing experience. There is that contrast that I really like, I talked about that previously. To be in the middle of that impressive nature, and to be able to use the most up to date technology. So, yes, I will clearly apply to my work what I have learnt there, probably in the form of an installation, might be a short movie also, but it's a bit too early now, I still have to integrate the process and the experience. I am really thankful to those people, and particularly people from FPV.no, Hi Kristian! :)
Quadcopter Flying test #1....
with aerial view of Kilpisjarvi's Research station
From what you told me by email about your residency, meeting people is an important part of your work. You're also in contact with the Sami people, for example. How do they fit into your research there?
I am actually in a region that can be defined in many ways... I'm in North Finland, i'm in the Arctic Circle, but I am much more clearly in Sapmi, which is the proper name to describe this region, usually called Lappland. I prefer to use the word Sapmi, the land of Sami people. Lappland comes from Lapp which means rag in swedish. Honestly the Sami people are not the Indigenous people I know the most, I mean in terms of anthropology or basic contemporary History. I'm mostly here to do a comparative study of their decorative patterns. Well for me the residency is much more about feeling the landscape and the ways of living in the arctic.
Next month I am invited as a visiting scholar in Anthropology at the Center for Sami studies, at the University of Tromsø, in Norway. it is actually the northernmost university on earth, and the SESAME, center for Sami studies is at the forefront of Sami and Indigenous studies. They actually deliver masters in peace studies and in indigenous studies... quite an amazing place! There, I will meet Sami people and some colleagues from various countries in order to discuss my research.
View of the Bay from TROMSØ'S Bridge
What's next, after the ARS BIO ARCTICA residency?
Well in the short term, I will exhibit my series of photographs taken at 20° from the North Pole in Svalbard last year at Kalashnikovv Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa in December. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the IFAS, the French Institute in South Africa. It's really a great opportunity for me to be able to exhibit this Arctic related work in Johannesburg. And it will be another opportunity to talk about the arctic situation and the globalized aspect of the Climate question. I am very thankful to the IFAS for their support as well as to MJ Turpin, one of the owner of the gallery for the invitation. I think he definitely understand my work, which is something rare. He is also an artist and I really like some of his printed work and performances. South Africa is a very specific country, there is a very active art scene, as far as I know through discussions with my South African colleagues, and I had a glimpse of South African creativity last year at the Gaité Lyrique in Paris.
I'm really thrilled to be given the opportunity to exhibit my work in Johannesburg. Then I'm definitely looking for other residency opportunities, as well as planning a trip to Japan in the coming to years for my PhD research.
Preparing for some underwater video recording as well as sound recording at Kilpisjarvi's lake
Reindeer in the forest near Kilpisjarvi's research station
All images by Benjamin Pothier.
Related story: Field_Notes: From Landscape to Laboratory.
A very odd promotional image for the FlexScan EV2730Q
This is Rhizome Today for Friday, November 21, 2014.
Rhizome Today is an experiment in ephemeral blogging: a series of posts that are written hastily in response to current events, and taken offline within a day or so. The latest post can always be found at http://www.rhizome.org/today.
[Editor's Note: We offer Rhizome Today contributors a variety of formats to use in writing their ephemeral post. An IM chat is one.]
Dragan Espenscheid: EIZO announces square monitor: http://www.eizoglobal.com/press/releases/htmls/ev2730q.html
Zachary Kaplan: I don't get it.DE: 1:1 ratio like a Blackberry screen
ZK: Ok, I get it, but, as we've been taught, the cinema screen is the screen above all.
ZK: or whatever.
DE: Most users don't watch video all day though.
ZK: Ah, yes, as I see on the site:
ZK: "The extended vertical space is convenient for displaying large amounts of information in long windows, reducing the need for excess scrolling and providing a more efficient view of data."
ZK: IS THIS FOR HOME USE?
DE: I want one for sure.
ZK: But Dragan
ZK: You're an artist.
DE: The cinema format is so lame because it is optimized for not moving your eyes.
ZK: Can u expand?
DE: Cinema is supposed just to fill out your whole view and to take in the "complete picture."
ZK: Whereas a square, you're like, "why is this a square?", and then u pay attention?
DE: On the square, I can let my eyes wander.
ZK: ah. hrm.
ZK: Still think this sounds like an office piece....
ZK: Are there any artworks or other media things you think would look particularly good in this format?
DE: I believe it is more interactive, gives a viewer more power.
DE: VINE BIENNAL
ZK: Ha. Yes. Any mobile phone type thing, right? Which is based on the scroll paradigm?
DE: Casio WQV10 photo exhibition. Dragan Espenschied, The Thousand Faces Of Pikachu DE: No, vine and insta just chose square because it is the same no matter how you rotate the device
ZK: Well, I don't think either rotate, tbh.
ZK: Classic Blackberry owner comment. ZK: Tho I'm starting to see the FEED use for this... but then I'm still like, "just scroll!" DE: Well, touch screens *and* device rotation weren't worth all the trouble.
ZK: (Btw, I like the kind of opiate of the masses take on cinema you're plying here. Very Kracauer.)ZK: (Very anti-authoritarian.) ZK: Is the square computer anarchist?
DE: It is not consumerist for a start.
ZK: THAT IS FOR SURE DE: The best exhibition for this format would be Olia's collection of transparent web pixels. DE: http://art.teleportacia.org/observation/clear.gif/
ZK: Nice. ZK: Oh wait, one last q
ZK: is this happening only now?
ZK: Is it hard to make a square monitor?
ZK: Or is the market so fractured, individualized, it only made sense to make one now? DE: If you read the comments on tech blogs announcing this monitor, lots of users speak up that they had enough of 16:9 or 21:9 because what they need to see expands below that format.
DE: The market for screens is actually shockingly homogeneous, with everything being 16:9 or wider.
DE: I don't think other formats are more difficult to make ZK: ZK: Well — I'm happy for people who need this. The market should meet every need! Editor's Note: During the editing process, this last minute comment was added: Scott Meisburger: LCD panels are manufactured in giant sheets and then sliced up. I've read that the recent move to 16:9 everything (which is further from the golden ratio than the original Apple Cinema 16:10) has to do with normalizing the assembly. because all the panels are really made by 1 or 2 companies in Asia.
SM: ^^ pro tip
Our first look at the trailer for Telltale Games' Game of Thrones videogames, plus a WIRED exclusive reveal of an original character -- Maester Ortengryn.
The post Your First Look at the Game of Thrones Videogame Trailer appeared first on WIRED.
Chubz: the Demonization of my Working Arse is the first book by Huw Lemmey (aka Spitzenprodukte)—a work of fanfiction inspired by young Labour party member, author, and Guardian columnist Owen Jones. First person accounts of protagonist Chubz' hookups with Jones are interspersed with depressingly funny episodes recounting UKIP leader Nigel Farage's poppers-fuelled campaign. Sex and politics—contemporary cruising, self-representation, and brand identification—have underpinned the majority of Lemmey's work prior to Chubz, including "Digital Dark Spaces" and "Devastation in Meatspace" (both The New Inquiry). A book launch for Chubz was held recently at Jupiter Woods, London (October 28), featuring readings from the book and from earlier material, including a poem by Timothy Thornton (found here as two PDFs). I spoke with Lemmey about his book in person and over email. The book can be purchased here.
LH: Over what period have you been writing Chubz, and what motivated you to use the mode of fanfiction to develop concerns about sex and politics that you'd previously expressed in journalistic fashion?
HL: I don't know when I started; I left London for a summer in 2012, during the Olympics, to live in Dublin. I guess when I was there I started putting down some ideas for what the book was going to become, but I was very much writing some sort of speculative futurist thing, trying to think about the city through a language of future branding. It felt very strange being out of the country that summer. I was sure the place would try to erupt like the year before, and worried about how that would play out given that there were literally soldiers on the street when I left in June. When I got back that autumn, and there weren't more riots, I was surprised, and now there's this point at the end of every summer where I'm still surprised they haven't happened.
It is certainly a book related to a lot of my earlier writing; it's about twin territories, an online social space and the city, and about how the two overlap, which is a preoccupation of mine. In this case it's Grindr, it's about how you can use Grindr to read the city and the city to read Grindr. They're two territories superimposed on each other, a digital augmentation of reality. I started writing fiction about it because the tools at my disposal for non-fiction just weren't sufficient, or I wasn't good enough at it. The way people use hook-up apps is too subjective, and I felt like the only way I could talk about it honestly was to talk about it partially, in both senses of the word. I talk to a lot of guys about how they use Grindr. I like to go for long walks through the city with people and it normally takes about an hour before guys stop talking about the things everyone talks about—the overt racism and homophobia, the aspects of timewasting and wanking and stuff—and start admitting to sometimes thinking quite deeply about how the whole process from download to hook-up affects the way they live in the city, and how they construct their own sexual desire within that.
As for the fanfiction; well I think Owen Jones as a public persona is kinda an interesting avatar. To be honest, he's completely instrumentalised in the book, devoid of real agency as a character, and totally 2-D. But his book [Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class (Verso, 2012)], and the way he has produced himself as a public figure from the publicity surrounding it, is for me a really interesting hook to talk about the disconnect between class, sex, and politics as a Question Time debate, and as lived experience in streets and shops and bedrooms. That's the worst thing about public gay identity today; it's total fucking Ken-doll sexuality, reasserting categories for behaviour and binaries, full of these aspirations for acceptance and assimilation with men like Sam Smith banging on about husbands and puppies. It's boring and gross and violent.
Chapter 3, 20-21:
I'd done two hours overtime; my boss was acting the cunt all afternoon
– you do realise this is the sort of thing that's linked to your bonus Andrew
– I know and
– And I'll be writing your 6 month appraisal soon. Look I know it's a pain Andy, really, but it'd be really helpful if you could
Alright alright; two hours later, no pay guaranteed, I'm sick of this job already and I push my face against the window and feel the warm vibrations of the glass and the girls in front talking who each other are fucking. We stop at lights; days like this make me dizzy, my eyes too hot, tired and in need of instant response.
My smartphone needs to be squeezed from my pockets, and I swipe through my social networks. I load Grindr, ping through my messages; no, no, would suck but no, I load the feed, a mosaic of torsos; one wears a t-shirt and I can see a dark fleck I take for nipple through the white cotton. Lips are visible, just and a blue box appears in the corner. A message from the boy; this is how I met him, early in that summer heat, face worn out from work, beads of sweat meeting in my lower back. His name was Owen, and he sent me a facepic; cute, boyish, blonde hair surfing over delicious blue eyes.
LH: Why did you decide that the Grindr profile encountered by Chubz should coincide with the official portrait the public are likely conjure when they think of Owen Jones? I also wondered if your references ("field of blue checks" (61)) to the shirt Jones wears in his press image are intended to reinforce the reader's perception of him as an establishment "straight acting" figure, or moreover to associate him with the grid of Grindr's homepage.
HL: I guess because I think one of the key themes of the book is about men with opinions. Men, and specifically white straight men, have this role within the mainstream of comment journalism which allows them to be almost disembodied with their opinions; they serve as an avatar of a political position, whether it's the muscular liberalism of men like Rod Liddle or Brendan O'Neill, the compassionate conservatism of Peter Oborne, the soft left liberalism of Dorian Lynskey and so on. But their position within society means they never have to perform their subjectivity in order to get that voice, in the way many women and trans journalists (who are often much sharper political and cultural brains) do. And I think Owen Jones fills a really interesting position on that spectrum, as an openly gay socialist, where he has to be clear and open in referring to his identity as a gay man without ever having to dip into deeper subjective reflection of his desires and desirability in print. I think the constant insistence that women have to recount themselves through this personal, subjective lens is a really abusive tool of dominance and control, so I can well understand why he steers away from it, but as the basis of a character for a novel I think it's really rich precisely because it's a public sexual image itself, totally disembodied. It's about removing sexual politics from being about the interaction of fleshy, meaty bodies contesting spaces and identities and manifest in both joyful and traumatising physicality, and making it this private, bourgeois politics of rights and contracts.
It's Jones' public avatar that's used here, because I don't know anything about him as a person. My interest is to put the flesh and fluid back into that avatar, but what better place to start than a literal avatar as the object of fantasy.
Chapter 6, 70-72.
I try to talk to him, but he's gone now, to a better place; blood is returning to his face, and his stoned eyes flicker with comprehension. I bite my lip, I love the sleaze. He smiles at me, and in that moment I know he trusts me, he trusts my ass. It could do anything to him, anything at all, he's convinced. He smiles, and I smile, and he does it, he fucking does it, he forces his head between my legs. His hair bristles against my buttcheeks but there is no pain. Just pleasure, as my butt gulps him in, and I rock forwards and back, the greatest power bottom ever bred, a prizewinner, a destroyer of the penis.
The noise of the train is quieting, my butt is finishing the job, and within minutes he is pulled deep inside me, ingested, brewed, stewed by my ass till all that is left is his trousers trailing from my arsehole, his black socks coiled lifeless like used rubbers on the floor. I pant and breathe in victory, so proud of my heroic butthole. It plans its conquest. If I had my way it'd never stop. I'd let my anal juices, that seem to make my insides so desirable to all these ball havers, these swinging-totem poles, these bureaucrats and these penised shitehawks who insist on mouthbreathing round the city like little princes, I'd let my anal juices digest his skin and bones and all this fleshy matter like a flytrap, like a serpent. And now I've ingested Owen I don't want it to stop, I'd move onto the next man with my siren's buttocks, and one by one I'd suck them in and chew them up till one by one I'd hovered them all into my ever more muscular rectal cavity and before I'd realized I've destroyed the male sex, destroyed them all, in their entirety, one by one, every man who writes and speaks and passes laws and checks documents and has an opinion, and I'd let this hot acidic anal syrup digest me from the insides and eat me up too so that no man survives, no more men, even myself, one by one, just to make sure.
LH: In comparison with Nigel Farage, who appears in humorous episodes between Grindr hookups, and the abhorrent dad of Chapter 12, Jones is really very progressive. Sex with him leads Chubz to fantasize the destruction of all men, however. What is it about Jones that made him the ideal victim of symbolic sacrifice in your book?
HL: Well I think maybe there you're implying that the anal feasting is somehow an act of sexual-political violence? I couldn't disagree more; Jones' consumption by Chubz' rectum isn't some sort of punishment, it's a generous act of gift-giving, not symbolic sacrifice but the symbolic welcoming in to a corporeal community, isn't it? I suppose that's a matter of interpretation but I think the tension between the physical and the avatar is a tension that is the only thing that humanises the Jones' characters completely dull and uninteresting identity on the page. Orgasm is a moment of transference, a ceding of masculine power...
But in many ways Jones is supposed to be dull here; what's really interesting about IRL Owen Jones' interactions with those who claim a more radical position than him is his constant willingness to engage with them, which speaks volumes about his political project as I think he sees it, one of bringing together various different political positions into a cohesive leftist challenge to a dominantly right-wing or liberal media environment. I don't think he gets enough credit for that position, to be honest, and I think a lot of people to the left of him do him a disservice by not at least tacitly acknowledging that that's his political project. That's not to say their criticisms of him are often not very valid though; the point is the tension doesn't come through the different political positions but through the different attitudes towards communicating that politics. He's been proved right about that strategy, to a certain extent; there's definitely a gap in the public discourse for a reasonably traditional, stout socialist position. But whether that reflects on political change is something very different.
So then part of the subtext of the book is really about watching this public battle played out online between these two groups, two strategies of public acceptability, engaging on the terms of public argument, or more vicious, lived experience, the practice of a sort of online witness to the obscene inhumanities and fucking snowballing injustices of the UK today. I'm horribly indecisive but coming down on the side that what's actually important is making the real, visceral cruelties of the moment legible, and even unavoidable, and highlighting the complete lack of options, the dissolution of hope in any sort of socialist redemption.
Chapter 8, 89-91
In my mind I make a composite of Faron from the photos on his profile. How his head fits his body, how the skin from one photo, distorted through a dirty mirror, blends with the skin on his torso, bleached dry from the flash and the low voltage lighting of the gym shower rooms. He's a collage of iPhone shots, a frankenstein top I'm piecing together from bits of grindr and second-hand sensations.
Whatever happens, he cannot know how much I would give to take that drop of him alive on my tongue. I'm a different boy online, I write out his fantasies, what he needs to hear to bring me over. This is how I live. I project in type the form he needs me to take. Each bright red message betrays a new falsehood to him.
I get a particular thrill from sex organized online. I measure the hookups in data involved, uploaded or downloaded. I can trace the development of our social tension and sexual thrill through datestamps, and I can count them in bytes. I have never heard this man's voice. I have never seen his flesh bristle and twitch; every hint, insinuation, every targeted pause, I can account for as data. I never do. I never run the analysis. Quantifying is not the thrill. Disembodiment is the thrill, mediation, running desire through culture. Description, narrative. His hands are coded to his body, his body coded into flesh as the front door peels open.
LH: Can you talk more about the ideas of disembodiment and writing desire expressed in the above extract, as well as in the final pages, where these ideas are framed politically? (For example: "my strategy is bodily love," "The breakdown of security for the rich and powerful in London was tied so closely to our feet and legs and chests and arseholes I could only marvel" (177), "we used [our bodies] together like a diagram, a diagram of a process all linked, how my body worked with the body of the boy I'm next to—that became our politics because that's where power was." (178)).
Though in Chubz these themes are approached from a gay perspective, they resonate with the text read at the launch by Aimee Heinemann, who entertains a moment beyond orientation, gender and even the category of human, also facilitated by the internet:
In the future nobody will ask ASL, we will ask AVM—animal, vegetable, or mineral? Spit-and-sawdust internet cafe, the beings who have decided not to be people, linguistic post-humanism, the revolutionary potential of the intersex friendly ghost, chaotic good dragon kin, deaf transatlantic mermaid, ALL GODS NO MASTERS, the post body is the most body, be a dragon and a queen. (via)
HL: I don't know. I can't speak for Aimee. But speaking for myself, my body and the bodies of lovers is not something I've begun to come to terms with. I've never felt forced to encounter my own body like I think a lot of people, especially women, are. You can just ride around in it at as a bloke. So it's only begun as a conscious process since I started to acknowledge that. And it's much easier to come to terms with bodies through mediation because there's just so much access to mediated bodies. I do dream in drop-down UIs. I do feed upon the pornographic image as a building block of my own desires. I do think the iPhone is the country's most popular sexual prosthesis. I can't theorise beyond my immediate feelings about this any more than to say that communist politics is always, has always been and will always be a politics of bodies; of the mass worker, of the body at work, of the abject body, of bodies as tools and of the utopian ideal of the body as ours to decide. And I remain a communist, albeit one unable to coherently express a single practical political vision other than that we must get there through some sort of process of bodily self-direction.
You can't forget the panic of consummation, the burning streets, the 1000 ski masks with fat penises where the eyes of the loser militia should be.
The key to a happy, healthy life and sense of wellbeing is ensuring an intelligent relationship with your key life-brands. Keep your personal portfolio of brands fresh and balanced.
The feeling of being part of a mob bears little relation to its representation. At least, that's my experience. If you want to feel like an individual who has importance, join a mob. I enjoy situations of civil disorder because I enjoy watching people trying to kill each other.
The looter and the online pirate are the subjectivities with the clearest, most intuitive comprehension of the nature of contemporary semio-capitalism; they are the brand ambassadors, and if they cannot be harnessed they will overrun and destroy it. A strategy must be had for disempowering and utilising us: and it cannot be legislative.
The strains and insults incurred through the day, the working day, that are pushed between the two of us. We can rework the social tensions of him, the white-collar yuppy, the buy-to-let landlord, the ethicist in the supermarket aisle, the profiteer and the privateer, the bastard, the nice guy, Mr Nice Guy, the nice guy who means well, and me, the 6-month let, 6-month contract, managed and manager—we can rework those tensions between thumb and forefinger when we peel off clothes, like blu-tak.
The working life of the new European millennial is not regimented according to time-and-motion studies; it is teased by the psychological rudder of management. It is nudged, silently, friendly-like.
The future extends to the end of my contract.
LH: The temporal space occupied by Chubz is very interesting, both in terms of the near future political portraits of Farage's rise juxtaposed with his backward looking policies and hand in getting the country "gripped by 1950s fever" (79), and the postscript's allusion to "No Future," (the Sex Pistols' slogan, the title of Lee Edelman's book, and a way of describing the idea of non-reproductivity that I see in your book, both in terms of refusing to rear children, and in terms of resisting a capitalist logic of culture and labor) which sets the book's concerns in a historical context of gay culture and the gay relation to futurity in different moments. Can you comment on this?
HL: I can't help but find the idea of "No Future" dispiriting, disempowering. I suppose it's how I feel right now, how I think a lot of people, especially young people feel, so within Chubz it's a rootless, disaffected, terrified sense of no future. Part of this is the lack of any coherent public political vision of alternative, something fostered by both the government and the Labour Party in order to continue the regime of austerity, of course. But I can't find it in me to buy into an aggressive queer notion of no future as being a stand against biopolitical domination. It's a powerful piece of invective, a weapon against the totalising, aggressive dominance of the family. And I've certainly bought into it in the past, especially when put up against so much "hard-working families" bullshit. But it cedes too much. What queer people (especially young queers) need to survive, I think, and have always needed, in the face of a gender and economic system which has only ever offered an injunction of no future, is the opposite: solidarity and hope. We just need to continue our work in building that. The no future of Chubz is descriptive not prescriptive.
Chubz launched on 28 October at Jupiter Woods, London, with readings from Huw Lemmey, Aimee Heinemann, Timothy Thornton, Jesse Darling, Adam Christensen and Onyeka Igwe.
Published by Montez Press.
There's a row of books on a shelf in Marc ten Bosch's living room that contains a crash course in higher dimensions. Titles like Flatland. Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc. The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art. A young-adult novel called The Boy Who Reversed Himself. They're all devoted to helping our brains break out of the three dimensions in which we exist, to aid our understanding of a universe that extends beyond our perception.
The post One Man’s Quest to Build a Mind-Warping 4-D Videogame appeared first on WIRED.
Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage
I'm just back from a few days at accès)s(, the festival of digital culture in Pau. It was packed with good ideas and i'll definitely blog more about it next week (or the one after considering that i still have to publish reports of events i attended in September!) but right now i need to decypher the grubby notes i took during the talk that artist and researcher Benjamin Gaulon gave on Sunday. It was a fun one and should provide you with some inspiration for your Christmas shopping chores.
Retail poisoning is a disruption of consumerism that injects critical actions into the market. The methods of attacks are similar to those used by anti-piracy organisations to prevent file sharing of copyrighted content.
Gaulon gave lots of examples for each strategy and you can see all of them on the video of his talk. I've selected only a couple of them for these notes:
1. Decoy insertion (or content pollution) is a method by which corrupted versions of a particular file are inserted into the network.
Cildo Meireles modified Coca-Cola glass bottles. When empty they look ordinary, but political statements printed on the glass in white are revealed as the bottles are filled with the brown liquid. They range from 'Yankees Go Home' to instructions on how to make a Molotov cocktail. The empty bottles with the messages were then recycled back into the Coca-Cola distribution system.
Cildo Miereles, Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project 1970. © Cildo Meireles
The Barbie Liberation Organization swapped the voice boxes on hundreds of talking G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls. The BLO then returned the toys to the shelves of stores, an action they refer to as shopgiving.
Barbie Liberation Organization, 1993
John Osorio-Buck buys stuffed animals in thrift stores and then dissects and reassembles them to make new creatures. The new animals are then placed back onto the shelves of the thrift store.
John Osorio-Buck, Catch and Release
Provoked by the offer of a pedometer with the Go Active! Happy Meal at McDonald's, the Meat Helmet by SWAMP Meat Helmet is an exercise machine that forces you to chew until you have consumed the amount of calories contained in your fast food meal.
SWAMP, Meat Helmet
For Urban Camouflage, Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer wore Ghillie-style camouflage suits to mimic common goods bought in supermarkets.
Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage #4
Encastrable, Résidence 11
Encastrable, Résidence 10
Benjamin Gaulon went to Apple stores, downloaded the Corrupt.desktop app and installed it on the computers to glitch the desktop image of the monitors.
Corrupt.desktop [Apple Store Chicago] @gli.tc/h festival
2. Index poisoning makes search difficult for users of the p2p network.
Banksy doctored 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut album in 42 record shops across the UK, filling it with his own remixes and changing her portraits in an action that questions the vapidity and idiocy of celebrity culture.
Banksy, The Punking of Paris Hilton, 2006
Dumb Starbucks is "a parody about the power of corporate branding" as well as an exploration of the concept of parody law. According to Nathan Fielder, the law "allows you to use trademarks and copyrighted material as long as you're making fun of them."
Nathan Fielder, Dumb Starbucks, 2014
3. Spoofing: companies that disrupt p2p file sharing on behalf of content providers build their own software in order to launch attacks.
Without asking for the store permission, Bad Beuys Entertainment shot a 'sictom' inside the IKEA showroom.
Sictom épisode 2_Bad Beuys Entertainment
Re-code.com, a collaboration between Conglomco and The Carbon Defense League, is a barcode database and web-based application that enables customers to "name their own price for the products they want to buy."
Re-code.com on CNN
A Mannequin Mob entered the 5th Avenue Gap in Manhattan dressed in white spandex Morphsuits and posed as mannequins. Gap security called 911. The police handcuffed many performers, but eventually allowed them to leave the store.
Improv' Everywhere, The Mannequin Mob
In July 2009, IOCOSE and friends offered the Søkkømb guillotine kit to the customers of IKEA.
IOCOSE and friends, Søkkømb, IKEA, Barcelona
4. Interdiction prevents distributors from serving users and thus slows P2P file sharing.
Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping performs a credit card exorcism
The Vacuum Cleaner, Whirl-Mart Ritual Resistance
Evan Roth, Available Online for Free stickers:
5. Eclipse attack (aka routing-table poisoning) targets requesting peers directly by taking over a peer's routing table so that they are unable to communicate with any other peer except the attacker.
GWEI (a system that uses google ads to eventually buy the whole company) and Amazon Noir (an automatic algorithm allowing you to download a whole book from amazon ). Two of my favourite projects ever. Both by UBERMORGEN.COM, Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio
Darius Kazemi made a bot that randomly buys items for him on Amazon. Similarly, the Random Darknet Shopper, by Mediengruppe Bitnik, is an automated online shopping bot which uses a budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week to randomly buy an item on Darknet.
Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper, 2014
Photographer Alexis Jemus multiplied himself in an IKEA in Montreal, creating an eerie army of Jemuses inside the Street View virtualization of the store.
Alexis Jemus, 2014
Seeking a YouTube lost
This is Rhizome Today for Wednesday, November 19, 2014.
Rhizome Today is an experiment in ephemeral blogging: a series of posts that are written hastily in response to current events, and taken offline within a day or so. The latest post can always be found at http://www.rhizome.org/today.
I wish that I still used YouTube like I did a few years ago. I would spend a lot of time on the site watching tutorials and general YouTube weirdness. Now it seems much of the content there is very VEVO. Revisiting channels I used to follow, many have adopted cute transitions with graphics, and maybe even have their own product lines?
I miss click-wandering without being paranoid about the value of my metadata, and in trying to rekindle that process I've listed below three compilations of YouTube videos that renew my faith in the potential of endlessly browsing related and unrelated streams of variously amateur content.
A selection of runway videos by Matthew Linde on Sang Bleu. Watching these videos made me remember that the early 2000s wasn't just pretty much like 2014, or maybe it made me realize that any video shot in a slightly lower resolution leads one to think it took place in the early 2000s. These videos traverse the highly flexible terrain of the runway responding to or being emblematic of a certain cultural moment or attitude, playing with awkward elements of staging and performance.
Hannah Black's essay Value, Measure, Love on The New Inquiry. This doesn't have videos in it, but the essay incorporates and extrapolates on the experience of looking at related videos and how they come to be related to each other. The recognizable frame of the grey bar, the time stamp, the view counts, etc., become embedded in the total quantification of the moment being represented, on YouTube, in love, and of course, under capitalism.
Hito Steyerl on the conference video, posted to the CSS Bard Red Hook Journal in 2012. Not much has changed about the general format and aesthetics of the conference/panel/lecture video, regardless of video resolution or quality. How can we access events that produce dialogue that holds less provenance or is less rigid than can be translated into an audiobook, that is more accessible than an essay, and that can't promise a speaker fluent in the performative aspect of public speaking?
Earlier this year, WIRED accompanied filmmaker Zak Penn into the New Mexico desert. The aim: Excavate a buried treasure trove of Atari videogame cartridges that were buried when the pioneering company’s fortunes went sour in 1983. The results, and the story behind the making of the infamous Atari version of E.T., are documented in […]
The post Behind the Scenes of Xbox’s New Documentary on the Rise and Fall of Atari appeared first on WIRED.
Rollers of the Realm is a brilliant idea: a mashup of pinball and RPG. And it almost works.
The post Pinball and RPGs, Together at Last in One Videogame appeared first on WIRED.
Chop Suey (1995) in its original packaging.
Rhizome is pleased to announce that, beginning in April 2015, it will preserve and present three CD-ROM works created by artist and writer Theresa Duncan (1966-2007): Chop Suey (1995, co-created with Monica Gesue), Smarty (1996), and Zero Zero (1998). These colorful, expressive adventures address young girls in a way few games did, or still do—and they've fallen into obscurity. Through its digital conservation program, Rhizome will make the original, unaltered games playable via web browser, for everyone, for free. In order to make this possible, we have launched a Kickstarter campaign.
A scene from Chop Suey (1995)
Confronting a videogame culture lacking diversity of digital experience (shoot-em-ups and fantasy adventures for boys, prom role-play and dress-up for girls), Theresa Duncan's CD-ROM work was something markedly different: uniquely personal, passionately invested in the creative possibilities of her medium, and daring (in the words of critic Jenn Frank) to "represent the criminally underrepresented: that is, the wild imagination of some girl aged 7 to 12."
Duncan drew on her childhood in the Midwest and a deep interest in literature, art, music, and children's stories for her work on Chop Suey, an offbeat, interactive daydream set in Cortland, Ohio, Smarty, an educational archaeology, and Zero Zero, an adventure set in Paris at the turn of 1900. All of these titles were intensely collaborative, involving a whole community of creators: Monica Gesue, who co-created Chop Suey, Ian Svenonious and Jeremy Blake, who contributed illustrations and more, Brendan Canty, who contributed a great deal of the music, and voice-over artists including David Sedaris.
Duncan's titles are notable for dreamlike, expressive illustration, vivid, hallucinatory colors and textured soundtracks. Their stories unfurl in sinuous, lilting vignettes, building out a world through language and atmosphere in which players are encouraged to explore freely, building connections among complex, drawn-from-life casts of characters. Her work was not about celebrities or superheroes, but the richness of a child's imagination as they react to their everyday lives in the world around them. And these games encouraged their users—particularly the young girls who would have identified with her protagonists—to be disruptive, adventurous, and whip-smart.
Videogame culture is at its best when it supports the narration and elaboration through play of a diversity of experiences. Unfortunately, as it was when Duncan made these games, this truth continues to be contested. So it remains essential that these games be widely known and played—not for the sake of the history of gaming, but for its future.
All three works will be presented via "Emulation as Service," an innovative system that Rhizome is developing with University of Freiburg, Germany. This approach involves the use of server-side software that duplicates the functions of outdated operating systems, giving users the experience of running, say, Windows98 in their normal web browser, with no additional software or plugins required on their end. For an earlier test of this approach, see the Cory Arcangel work Bomb Iraq (2005).
Additionally, Rhizome will work with its affiliate, the New Museum, to organize a public event and online exhibition celebrating Duncan's work and contextualizing it within feminist histories of gaming. Alongside this, we will commission articles and educational materials to further deepen public awareness of these CD-ROMs and the broader history of women gamemakers.
This is a significant undertaking. To enhance capacity, underwrite programming, and support this award-winning development program, Rhizome has launched a project funding campaign. Please visit this project's Kickstarter page.
Sony's name-checking of Vib-Ribbon at E3 wasn't received as a showing of solidarity, it was reopening an old wound and pouring in the salt.
The post How Sony’s Blunder Revived Vib-Ribbon, a Long-Lost Classic appeared first on WIRED.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great tactical game from Firaxis games. Its first expansion pack, Enemy Within, added so much amazing content that it made playing the game an entirely new experience. And now there’s a free—yes, free—mod that’s so good it makes the expansion pack feel like a tired retread.
A round-up of my #DL14 surveillance. (Image from Ad Nauseum)
This is Rhizome Today for Monday, November 17, 2014.
Rhizome Today is an experiment in ephemeral blogging: a series of posts that are written hastily in response to current events, and taken offline within a day or so. The latest post can always be found at http://www.rhizome.org/today.
If you were, like me, too busy writing product reviews on Mechanical Turk to attend this weekend's Digital Labor at the New School, here is what you need to catch up on the conference.
The Archived Talks
Much of the Digital Labor program can be found at New School's Livestream page.
#TakesNovember 15, 2014
While also live-blogging the conference on e-flux conversations with Karen Archey, writer Dorothy Howard provided a great survey of events by tweeting for @IDCtweets.
The launch of Ad Nauseum
"AdNauseam is a browser extension designed to obfuscate browsing data and protect users from surveillance and tracking by advertising networks. Simultaneously, AdNauseam serves as a means of amplifying users' discontent with advertising networks that disregard privacy and facilitate bulk surveillance agendas."
Trebor Scholz's expansive Storify
[&lt;a href="//storify.com/treborsch/dl14" target="_blank"&gt;View the story "#DL14" on Storify&lt;/a&gt;]
Lance Wakeling, still from Field Visits for Chelsea Manning (work in progress).
Field Visits for Chelsea Manning
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 5:45pm
Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM Rose Cinemas
As part of Migrating Forms—presented at BAM and co-organized by BAMcinématek Film Programmer Nellie Killian and Los Angeles-based writer and curator Kevin McGarry—Lance Wakeling's completed Field Visits for Chelsea Manning will be given its world premiere.
A 2014 Rhizome Commission, Field Visits is the final video in Lance Wakeling's trilogy on the physicality of the internet. This first-person travelogue maps the places that former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was held in Kuwait, Virginia, Kansas, and Maryland. Rather than telling a straightforward story of Manning's detainment, the narrative instead visits a series of what Wakeling calls "serendipitous collisions between the filmmaker and current events," including a Civil War reenactment, a barbershop quartet dressed as prisoners, and drinking coffee in a business park for national security contractors.
A Q&A with Wakeling will follow the screening.
The Rhizome Commissions program is supported, in part, by funds from Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special project support is provided by Michael Cohn and the American Chai Trust.