New Media News

Video of Post Net Aesthetics is Now Online - Mon, 10/21/2013 - 11:24

Post-Net Aesthetics, a panel organized by Karen Archey and Rhizome that took place at the ICA in London last week, picks up the discussion from Rhizome's Net Aesthetics panels of 2006 and 2008, both of which sought to examine the state of contemporary art engaged with the internet. This edition was organized as a discussion of the term "postinternet," and it reflected a shared sense that the term's usefulness has perhaps run its course. By way of putting it to bed, panel participant Josephine Berry Slater suggested that the "post" was problematic, in its suggestion of sequentiality. She referred to Peter Osborne's critique of Lyotard's Postmodern Condition, in which he suggested "transmodern" as an alternative term to the equally problematic "postmodern." Likewise, Slater suggested that "transinternet" might be a useful term for artists. Ben Vickers suggested that beyond postinternet, artists have a whole range of critical stances with regard to technology available to them. These include stacktivism and the new aesthetic, as well as the radical refusal to use technology or even to make art. (We'd suggest printing this out, before signing off for good.) The full video of the panel is well worth a watch.

For those reading this in search of a definition, we offer this: the term "postinternet" has come to describe a wide range of artistic practices that engage with the internet as a ubiquitous presence in society and culture, rather than solely as an artistic medium. The panel's chair, Karen Archey, offered this definition from Frieze London's director Matthew Slotover, discussing a current trend among the fair's galleries:

There are many works that relate to new forms of communication or have images appropriated from the Internet, for instance. It's not necessarily Internet art per se—it's more dimensional media, looking at using the tools of the Internet era to make sculptures and video, for instance. But generally speaking this is very much the current trend. 

Postinternet stances assume that the creation, distribution, and reception of the work of art have all been reconfigured by network technologies. Perhaps unfortunately, postinternet art has come to be associated with certain techniques and styles more than any particular critical position. These include the blending of digital collage with digital painting in 2D prints, videos, or sculptural objects, and the appropriation or adoption of glossy commercial aesthetics, images, and products. 

Categories: New Media News

TED: Steve Howard: Let's go all-in on selling sustainability - Steve Howard (2013)

TED - Mon, 10/21/2013 - 11:02
The big blue buildings of Ikea have sprouted solar panels and wind turbines; inside, shelves are stocked with LED lighting and recycled cotton. Why? Because as Steve Howard puts it: “Sustainability has gone from a nice-to-do to a must-do.” Howard, the chief sustainability officer at the furniture megastore, talks about his quest to sell eco-friendly materials and practices -- both internally and to worldwide customers -- and lays a challenge for other global giants.
Categories: New Media News

Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 10/18/2013 - 14:28

Location unknown, possible Morcambe, 1967 - 68 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

The Science Museum in London has recently inaugurated a new Media Space. I was expecting it to be filled with photos of super computers and distant planets. Instead, i found Only in England, a retrospective of Tony Ray-Jones' photos curated by Martin Parr. Which is completely fine by me as i'd rather spend an afternoon looking at eccentric English ladies than at moons around Jupiter (no disrespect to satellites.)

In the late 1960s, Tony Ray-Jones traveled across his country in a VW camper to document the leisure and pleasures of the English. He was a man who lived by his own rules. One of them was to never take a boring photo. There are dozens of images in the exhibition and none of them is remotely insipid. It's easy to see why the photographer had such an impact on Parr's work: he had a taste for the quietly humorous, the compassionate detail, the ironic narrative.

Ray-Jones died of leukaemia in 1972. He was only 30 but in his short career, he invented a new way of looking at society.

Beauty contestants, Southport, Merseyside, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

Only in England exhibition © Kate Elliott for Media Space

Blackpool, 1968 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

Eastbourne Carnival, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

Bournemouth, 1969 © Tony Ray-Jones, Courtesy James Hyman Gallery, London

Location unknown, possibly Worthing, 1967-68 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

Strongman Contest, Mablethorpe, 1967 (James Hyman Gallery)

Windsor Horse Show, 1966-67

Windsor Horse Show, 1967

Glyndebourne, 1967

Ramsgate, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum

Brighton Beach, 1966 by Tony Ray Jones

A black and white photo series by Martin Parr, The Non-Conformists, is also part of Only in England. The work follows the religious life of the Methodist and Baptist communities in and around Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. Shot in the mid-1970s, just after Parr graduated from art school, the photos have a gentleness i wasn't expecting from Parr.

Mankinholes Methodist Chapel, Todmorden 1975 by Martin Parr © Martin Parr/ Magnum

Tom Greenwood cleaning 1976 by Martin Parr © Martin Parr/ Magnum

Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr is a the Science Museum until 16 March 2014.
You might also want to check out Another Country. Vintage Photographs of British Life by Tony Ray-Jones which is up at the James Hyman Gallery in London until 7 November.

Categories: New Media News

TED: Hetain Patel: Who am I? Think again - Hetain Patel / Yuyu Rau (2013)

TED - Fri, 10/18/2013 - 10:59
How do we decide who we are? Hetain Patel's surprising performance plays with identity, language and accent -- and challenges you to think deeper than surface appearances. A delightful meditation on self, with performer Yuyu Rau, and inspired by Bruce Lee.
Categories: New Media News

Running a Marathon - Fri, 10/18/2013 - 10:05

Douglas Coupland, I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain (2013). Pigment on lacquered apple plywood 22" x 17". Courtesy of The Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto.

With the Frieze Art Fair now in full swing, London is undeniably where the art world is at. For those not exhausted by art fairs and panel discussions about postinternet art, we encourage you to keep up the (pun intended) pace for the 89plus marathon at the Serpentine on Friday night and all day Saturday. Curated by Ben Vickers, notable vestment-wearing participant in yesterday's "Post-Net Aesthetics" panel organized by Rhizome at the ICA, and forming a part of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castet's long-term research project of the same name, the marathon focuses on concerns facing the generation born in or after 1989—those "Younger than Rihanna," as Harry Burke put it in an article for Rhizome—who have never known a world without Tim Berners-Lee's world wide web, or with the Berlin Wall.

A diverse range of performances, talks, screenings, and installations will consider the subjectivities that have emerged in this period in history and offer speculations about the future. Notable participants include Zaha Hadid, Brad Troemel, Jake Davis aka Topiary, Hito Steyerl, Smári McCarthy (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), Douglas Coupland, Harry Burke, and Le1F.

For those not in London, the event will luckily be livestreamed via the 89plus Clubhouse, beginning at 2pm EST / 7pm GMT today.

Categories: New Media News

TED: Alessandro Acquisti: Why privacy matters - Alessandro Acquisti (2013)

TED - Thu, 10/17/2013 - 11:00
The line between public and private has blurred in the past decade, both online and in real life, and Alessandro Acquisti is here to explain what this means and why it matters. In this thought-provoking, slightly chilling talk, he shares details of recent and ongoing research -- including a project that shows how easy it is to match a photograph of a stranger with their sensitive personal information.
Categories: New Media News

Heroes and Villains: Nate Hill in New York - Thu, 10/17/2013 - 10:39

Nate Hill, from the series Trophy Scarves (2013).

To the extent that people know his name, Nate Hill is a controversial figure in the internet art world. He gets into bizarre, seemingly one-sided fights with art blogs, sends fake computer viruses to his press contact list, or generally puts people off by relentlessly focusing his web projects on "white women"—the most recent example being Trophy Scarves (2013), a photo series in which Hill, who is biracial, poses wearing a tuxedo while nude white women are slung across his shoulders as if they were recently slain wild animals. Like many, I found myself turned off by some of these projects, but, nonetheless, wanted to know more: the satire was clearly there and he was prolific. I also liked how committed he was to being an artist and how thoroughly he followed his artistic voice, no matter where it took him. In a growing series of conversations with Hill, what impressed me was how consistently every project revolves around the idea of a performative "character" and how committed he is to the idea that his artistic voice is channeled through these different characters. I quickly learned that the majority of these characters aren't even internet-based, but performed in public, on the streets and subway cars of New York. Be it online or in New York City, though, these works share a common motivation to be catalysts for disruption, to interrupt Hill's daily passage through networks of various kinds. While I can't justify everything Hill does, after speaking with him regularly and engrossing myself in the work, I am convinced that he is, in a strange way, a significant artist, as well as an interesting if unacknowledged heir to David Hammons and Andy Kaufman, whose projects Hill cherishes. Because he so frequently invokes the idea of character, I thought that to write about Hill necessitated describing him as a character in a fictional style—a mode of prose that I've been experimenting with recently. What follows is an impressionistic story following a few hours in the life of Nate Hill.  It precedes two upcoming projects: a live reenactment of Trophy Scarves and "Lights: Nate Hill and Ann Hirsch," a performance event I am curating at Interstate Projects on November 2nd.

Nate stood in the doorway to the East Harlem apartment that he shared with his wife, Alex. He flashed her a big, overly happy smile when she walked up to him and held it in place as though he were posing for a picture. Alex tilted her head a little, observing Nate's face. They shared three seconds of silence, the corners of Nate's mouth feeling sore from stretching. Eventually, she gave him the look—the one with the glasses where she leans in. "What?" he said to her, laughing, "Why are you looking at me like that?"


"No, seriously, what?" he laughed. There was a redness around the corners of his mouth.

Her eyes tilted to the side. It looked like she might say something, but she just shook her head and instead mumbled something like "You know why…"

Nate said, "What was that? I didn't hear you," and ran his hand over his mouth. Alex shook her head again and said, "I'll see you later, alright?" as she moved to close the front door on him. Nate reached for it, but it was too late. Damn, he thought. Damn damn damn. She just slammed the door on me. She just did that.

He reached into his jeans pocket, but didn't find whatever he was looking for. He thought he heard two people yelling in the street. Or were they laughing? There was a scratch on the door that he hadn’t noticed before. Nate imagined what Alex would say if she was still standing there talking to him—probably something like, I can't live in a fantasy all day like you can, Nate. Something about how she has to get ready for her world, the real world with the stressful day job that allows her to have a savings account and talk with a straight face about the financial implications of parenthood—a topic they'd been actively discussing as the next stage of their lives together. Nate was interested in all of this stuff. He said that to her ten minutes earlier, when they were standing together in the kitchen…of course, he said, he was always happy to talk about any of these issues, but right then, listen, baby, he just…he had to go and do his art—his art…in the subways…he had to go and do that one project where he acts like a bum and tells people conceptual art ideas and then solicits imaginary money which won't pay for anything. Haha. Don't you understand?…It's kind of like a joke about conceptual art, Alex, as, ah, a commodity where, like—okay, New Yorkers would get this, he said to her…because of the art world in New York…and the subways…and the homeless people on the subways…and do you remember how I was telling you about this one artist named David Hammons who did projects like this…and David Hammons was black, Alex, and I'm half black…and…listen, it's art and people will appreciate it someday because it's really, truly good and it's what I want and why don't you want me to have what I want?

At that, Alex slammed her hand on kitchen counter. "I don't want you to have what you want?" she said. "Are you fucking kidding me with that right now, Nate?"

Standing at the front door, he looked at the scratch and wondered how long it had been there. He whispered, "Why don't you want me to have what I want?" one more time so that only he could hear the words. And that was it. He listened to the latch slip to the locked position and he ran his hand over his shaved head and down over his oversized glasses. His neck craned down and he looked at his clothes. There was a stain on his shirt. He felt like his pants were too small for him. He walked down the stairs, opened the door, and hit the street—116th Street; car horns, sun reflecting on garbage bags, hydrants trickling, the spice of halal trucks preparing for the lunch crowd that would arrive in a few hours. He took a breath and closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. He opened his eyes and realized that it felt good to be on the street, and that after a few seconds he'd nearly forgotten about his problems with Alex; "nearly" because she was still there, in the air, in his world, like architecture you'd never notice but nonetheless feel as a presence.

Nate walked in the direction of the subway station. He lived half a block from the 6, which he took daily to his job as a fly caretaker—yes, he took care of flies that were used in scientific experiments at a medical laboratory off 68th Street. As jobs went, it was pretty decent. It didn't pay a ton (enough to live on reasonably well), but it allowed him to keep his own hours so that during the day he had time to do what he really wanted, which was, like he just told Alex, his art. Although it's not really true that he wants to do his art. A lie, even. It's more that he has to do it. It was only when a project was over and done with that he took any joy from making it.

The stain on Nate’s shirt glistened.  From the look of it, it could have been a semen stain, but was, in fact, just cooking oil.His hands squeezed into his pockets and he thought about how he had felt better when he left the apartment building a few moments ago, but now everything seemed terrible. He kept telling himself that. I feel terrible, I feel terrible. Why didn't Alex want him to do what he wanted? I mean, God, what is wrong with her? But here he was supposedly doing it and…He walked to the train and passed some guy in a business suit talking on an iPhone about how "Bloomberg gutted" some other guy, and another guy in a purple FedEx uniform looking depressed and hunched over on his way to work. Nate heard the guy mumbling something in Spanish and then in English, "I'm so hung over yo, but that shit was awesome yo." Nate looked around. Was that guy talking to me? No, he wasn't talking to anyone. He's crazy. Everyone in this city is crazy. Nate looked back to the FedEx guy and realized that he wasn't hunched over and that he didn't even say anything, he was just going about his business like a normal, everyday person—Nate had imagined the whole thing. It wasn't the guy who was crazy, it was him—Nate. He then realized that the thing he had heard about being hung over probably came from his own mouth. Wait, was that possible? I don't speak Spanish and I'm not even hung over. Whatever, he thought. He passed a storefront and saw his reflection. The handsome guy in his mind's eye wasn't there. He was replaced by this nervous-looking tall dude with bad posture. Terrible, Nate repeated in his head, everything's just endlessly terrible. He looked at his reflection again—oh, good, there was that handsome guy again, okay, I knew you were still there. He saw these two kids without shirts cracking up laughing. They were pointing at another kid who was choking and the kid's eyes were watering until he was finally able to hack a peanut shell from his windpipe up into his mouth and out onto the street. The two kids watching him were dying laughing. One of them, Nate noticed, had a chipped tooth. There was a scream in the distance. Probably laughter. A siren blared and stopped, blared and stopped, the guys driving the ambulance were just running red lights.

Nate crossed the street to the downtown subway entrance. He looked around. This part of New York was kind of hard for him to describe. A little south was fancy—the Upper East Side. A little north was more East Harlem proper. Where he was, it was, I don't know, it was just New York. Uptown on the East side. A gentrifying Harlem. Bodegas, places to buy pizza, get your nails done, Duane Reades, Bank of America branches. There were people trudging along on their way through life. Come on, people, wake up and do something, I can't do this all on my own, he had once announced to them all, but no one heard what he said.

Before he headed down the stairs, Nate thought someone screamed again. He couldn't tell if they were laughing. He looked further uptown to see if he could figure out what was happening, but couldn't see anything. Looking up there, he remembered how in this one project he did, he had painted his face white so that it was, like, "white face" and he wore a business suit and carried an umbrella and went into Harlem. The character was called the "White Ambassador," and he would speak up for white people and tell black people not to be racist toward white people, and how his mom was white, and how he resented jokes about how white people smell like wet dogs. It was provocative material and visually intense—the White Ambassador was scary to look at. The art of the piece, though, occurred in the exchange, the dynamic that ensued between Nate's character and the people with whom he interacted. There was a lot going on. A lot of satire and sincerity and joking and boiling anger spilling in too many directions. In another project, he went downtown to the Upper East Side and he dressed up as a McDonald's employee with glasses and his McDonald's uniform tucked into a pair of dark slacks. He rode a bicycle around and threw out free cheeseburgers, singing the McDonald's jingle from the TV commercials—ba, da, ba, I'm lovin' it—and yelling "Free cheeseburgers! Free cheeseburgers!" It was all kind of adorable. The catch was that he had taken a sizeable bite out of each one of the cheeseburgers and wrapped them back up so that people would at first smile and say, "Oh, what a nice young man, so kind to pass out these free cheeseburgers like that," and then they'd open up their cheeseburger and be like "Oh!" So he was a villain. That's what he called it—a "villain." He had a whole series of villains. Heroes, too. Before I had said that the art of the White Ambassador character occurred in the exchange between people, but maybe it's more accurate to say that in all of Nate's work the art occurs on some general level, out in public space as if New York City itself was his artistic medium. The city was, visually speaking, one of the most diverse places in the world and, in turn, his work in New York often probed issues of skin color, asking unsettling questions that hit viewers the way art, as opposed to, say, an essay or a list of stats, can hit someone. He didn't just want to do theatrical performance art. He wanted to do something that he thought of as "real." This city needed him, he thought…or maybe he needed the city. Maybe he needed it to be the city of his fantasies so that he could keep on living here and making art and just keep on going. Or, no, maybe the city needed him. Or, no, maybe he just needed to keep going. Or, no; or, no; or, no.

Nate walked down the stairs to the station. Before he swiped his Metrocard, he noticed there weren't many people on the platform—an indication that he had just missed a train and the next one would be a while. He was caught at the turnstile behind a college-aged kid with a huge purple backpack who was having trouble swiping his card. Even though Nate wasn't in any particular hurry, he almost said to the kid, come on, man, just swipe it; you're not doing it fast enough. Tokens would be better for tourists, he thought. When Nate first moved to New York, you could still use tokens. That was in 2000. He was a different person then. He moved to NY wanting it to be everything that antiseptic Florida wasn't. He wanted the weird, bohemian fantasy that he'd seen in movies and the feeling that you were in a special place—a place that mattered. But it was the Giuliani/Bloomberg era. It was the post-9/11 era. A lot of money. Superficiality. Paranoid security measures. New York seemed more like an uptight, oversold luxury product than a place to live, at least for artists, at least for Nate. So he took it upon himself to be one of those crazy, provocative New York people that he imagined lived here and came up with a whole cast of characters: Bouncy Ride Dolphin, Punch Me Panda, Dropout Man, Wolfie, Death Bear, and the Milkman, not to mention all the stuff on the internet. The Milkman was an interesting one. It was something he performed on an almost daily basis—it was subtle enough to blend in, but if you let it, it could be unnerving. The Milkman wore a white suit, white milkman's hat with black rim, black bow tie and he carried a case of miniature wooden milk bottles. "Milkman, milkman," people would say. They came up to him, inspecting him to make sure that they got that it was indeed a joke costume, and then they grinned and said, "Are you supposed to be a milkman?" And he would look at them with a cutting gaze. He was a half-black man in his early thirties wearing a milkman costume and, the way he looked at you when he wore the costume, something was implied. People were shaken by the fact that it wasn't simply funny and they had to interpret what, if not laughter, it was making them feel.

 "Pardon the interruption, ladies and gentlemen…" Nate waded through bodies and an array of annoyed expressions on the downtown 6 train. In the right mood, the frustrated, disquieted cattle shoot atmosphere of the crowded 6 inspired him. People were more primed to be affected by someone causing a ruckus, someone like him, with his subway bum character—"the 6 Train Louse." Before he could get more into his memorized spiel, the car came to a screeching halt in the middle of the tunnel, hurling Nate into a large woman who gave him a dirty look. He made eye contact with her, but avoided her at the same time, almost looking through her. She smelled like she had been dousing herself in perfume. Just as quickly as the train had stopped, it picked up again, hurling him right back into the woman's beefy arms. She raised her handbag and said she'd smack him if he didn't cut it out. He had to get out of there. Get into character, he told himself. So he started over. "Pardon the interruption, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Nate. I'm an artist…" The woman's perfume wasn't letting him think straight. He thought it was settling into the pores of his face. It was overwhelming. He moved further down and took a breath. Alright, better. The rattle of the train gave his words a beat. "For spare change, I can't sing, I can't dance, but what I can do is share some art ideas I had with you today." The screech of the wheels finished his sentence with a flourish. In a mumbled rush, he announced, "Rodeo clowns, one per block, overlooking violent neighborhoods, breaking up fights with their traditional tactics. And, ah, catch a fish in the East River and run it to the Hudson before it dies." And that was it—those were his two ideas. He had hundreds of these little art projects, some of them not-so-good, but many, if not most, kind of great. He looked around at the people on the train. No one paid him attention; he was just another distraction from staring at glossy ads for Monroe College and getting where they had to be. Without missing a beat, he continued, "If you could find it in the kindness of your hearts to give a small, imaginary donation—no real money please, no real money please—for these ideas, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you." One young guy looked up at him, laughed, and shook his head. "Shit's wack" he said. It pissed Nate off; he pushed through the rest of the car and entered the next one.

He got right back into it: "Pardon the interruption, ladies and gentlemen…" Some people in the second car looked up. He'd seen one or two of them before. Good. That was part of his big idea. He wanted to become a subtly surreal recurring character in peoples' commutes the way that homeless people on the trains and busking musicians can function. By that point, he'd done this character on the 6 train nearly a hundred times.

He told the same art ideas about the rodeo clowns and the fish and then kept doing this for five more cars again and again. A couple more people recognized him. If they were with somebody, they gestured to them. Doing this was therapeutic for Nate in a way—as he got into the rhythm of it and let the cadence of his script interact with the noise of the train and the occasional positive reaction, he felt a knot in his chest that he didn't even know was there loosen a bit. By the time he'd gotten to the 59th Street stop, his delivery had become perkier and he got a few people joking with him, handing him imaginary dollar bills, playing along. He laughed a little and said, "God bless," and left. It felt good to be doing his art. I said earlier that he never enjoyed his art, but that wasn't true. When it was going well, he enjoyed it. He was working to be that guy, the subject of local lore, the one whom people had seen a couple times and then their friend says, "Yeah, I saw him once, too," and then, as Nate's fantasy continued, someone else says, "I saw him before, too, but he was dressed like a milkman." And then they trade more stories about Nate and how he made them think about things and feel things, sometimes unpleasant things, but important things, about race or New York, that they hadn't felt or thought about before. Nate realized then that everything he said to Alex about how this subway piece was conceptual art about conceptual art as a commodity or whatever was bullshit. It wasn't about any of that stuff. It felt good to be so real at that moment. This wasn't for art world people. It wasn't about art. His work wasn't so fucking small minded. Fuck art people. Fuck "art." He did things, he told himself, for the real people out there. His people. Because he was real like them.

"Pardon the interruption, ladies and gentlemen…" Nate began again, feeling really high about himself, but stopped when he noticed an actual old homeless guy in the car holding out a hat, asking for nickels. Nate looked down at his clothes. His pants didn't seem too small anymore. They seemed to fit perfectly. He rubbed his mouth and abruptly stopped doing his bit. At the next stop, he got off and sprinted a few cars ahead so that he wouldn't have to see that old man again. "I'm so full of shit," he said when he walked into the new car. All these people can tell that I'm full of shit. Actually, they couldn't tell anything. They didn't care. He decided not to be in character anymore. It was over. Someone got up and he sat down. Nice. All he wanted was to sit down. The phrase "shit's wack," kept replaying in his head. This subway piece, he thought, should stop soon. I've done it enough, it's not really meant to happen that many times. Besides, it's more interesting in an art context. Nate sat up a little straighter. He felt his spine protest. I mean I'm not just a guy on the street doing a character here, anyone could do that. In this one, I'm connecting it to capital-A art. It's about conceptual art. It's smart and funny. A real breakthrough for me. People will talk about this in the future maybe. In front of him, Nate saw two middle-aged women—tourists from, he thought, Germany, but couldn't be sure. He heard one of them speaking German or what he thought was German and then she said something about "Chris Burden" and "New Museum." Chris Burden, thought Nate. I know that name. Right. Of course, the artist Chris Burden. He shot himself or had himself shot or something. Isn't that right? Nate loved that guy. And the New Museum, that's right, someone he knew had mentioned something about a Chris Burden retrospective at the New Museum. Was that happening right now? Chris Burden, yeah, thought Nate. Guys like him. Vito Acconci, William Pope.L. I'm one of them. I'm part of a tradition. He looked at the people on the train. These people have no idea that I'm part of a great tradition, he thought. Nate looked at the stain on his shirt. He looked at a young woman furiously taking notes. He wished he had his headphones. He just wanted to listen to rap music. He thought about his work being in an art museum and that seemed fun. At the end of the day, his work wasn't about the street, he thought; it's more about art, or…he didn't know. He rubbed the corners of his mouth. One of the German women was staring at him. He made eye contact with her and she kept looking at him like he was on exhibit. He wanted to tell her to stop because it was incredibly rude, but he also took a weird pleasure in it. So fine: he would be the young, black American who was thinking young, black American thoughts. He looked at her again. The eyes of people from Europe were different than Americans' eyes. There was an oldness—not in age, but in a different way. She and her travelling companion got off the train and Nate turned around and looked at his reflection in the subway window. There was, he told himself, an oldness to me, too. Or, at least, I think so. He took a breath and imagined that at that moment he was accepting his destiny as a timeless artist or something. He almost laughed. He knew it was bullshit, but he thought maybe it was true, too. He couldn't tell. Just make your work, Nate, get better, he told himself. That seemed right. 

New plan: He was going to get off at Spring and walk over to the New Museum to see the Chris Burden retrospective. Nate imagined his own name in big letters at the New Museum, just like Chris Burden. A career retrospective. With all of his characters and all of his projects on the internet and everything. It would be called "Nate Hill: Heroes and Villains." No, that was too cheesy. He had to be cooler than that if he was going to be a real, serious artist. Well, he'd figure that part out later. He walked up the stairs onto Spring and Lafayette and walked a block in the wrong direction. He always got confused in this part of town. Everything was so expensive. He thought about how it was like twenty dollars to go to the museum and he didn't want to spend that much money. Who would? He passed by a woman who must have been a runway model. He thought about how he didn't even like Chris Burden. That's not true. Actually, he didn't know that much about the guy's work. He was an artist, he was probably good. Nate cracked his knuckles. What do I want? He thought about Alex slamming the kitchen counter when she got mad at him.

Nate went back to the Spring Street station and headed uptown. He didn't do his character or anything; he was just staring at an ad for Apex Technical School. There was a black guy in the ad who was smiling because he had just gotten his degree in Industrial Air Conditioner Repair or something like that and would now be making a real middle-class living. Nate was cracking his knuckles. Someone told him to stop, so he stopped. He got off at 116th Street and went up to his apartment. He looked into the bedroom and the kitchen and said, "Alex?" and he slammed his palm on the kitchen counter. He took out his phone and was about to start writing a text, but stopped. He threw his phone into the sink and a drop of water obscured the screen. It looked like a rainbow. He peered through the mini blinds out onto the street. He thought he heard someone yelling. It was probably laughter. 

Categories: New Media News

Morphs, the architectural creatures that behave like slime mould

We Make Money Not Art - Wed, 10/16/2013 - 13:32

A few weeks ago, i went to the graduation show of the Interactive Architecture Studio - Research Cluster 3 at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL. The unit, headed by Ruairi Glynn and Ollie Palmer, focuses on kinetic and interactive design looking at the latest robotics, material and responsive systems while at the same time borrowing from a long history of performative machines and performing arts. As you can guess, i was quite enthusiastic about many of the works developed over this one-year postgraduate course.

One of the most interesting for me was William Bondin's research project which explores the gap between digital simulation and physical prototyping in the performance of dynamic architectural systems.

Bondin's proposal involves a colony of self autonomous creature-like structures, called Morphs, which very slowly navigate public parks. Their moves are not just dictated by a set of pre-programmed rules, they also rely on their physical and social environment.

Morphs exist and wander freely as individual nuclei but they can also join together and adopt certain geometries according to their needs and circumstances.

This is still very much a work in progress but a very promising one.

Simulations for tetrahedron and octahedron nuclei were carried out. In addition, one tetrahedron nucleus was fabricated as a proof of concept in order to understand the limitations of the technology employed.

Video documenting the whole research:

The morph performing one step:

I contacted the young architect for a quick interview:

Hi William! If i understood correctly, your self autonomous creature-like structures are inspired by a species of brainless slime mould. Can you tell us what you found interesting about that type of slime and how this translated into the Morphs?

The interesting thing about slime mould, in particular Physarum polycephalum, is that its cognitive processes occurs within its environment rather than a centralised brain. It is an example of an organism which has developed a clever way of exploiting its surroundings in order to perform navigational tasks and memory-related processes. For instance, when foraging for food it deposits slime in areas which have already been explored, and then avoids the same slime so that it will not re-explore the same area twice. This simple feedback technique inspired me to develop a form of mobile architecture which, analogously to slime mould, deposits digital data into its environment in order to off load its computational processes such as path finding and spatial memory. In fact, Morphs are very low-level creatures in terms of computational abilities and their complex trajectories are a result of the complex environments in which they are placed.

Proposal for Mobile Reconfigurable Polyhedra (MORPHs) to occupy a site and encourage interaction through play

MORPHs during winter might experience neglect

Could you describe the behaviour of the Morphs?

Morphs, which stands for MObile Reconfigurable PolyHedra, have a behaviour which is dictated by the sites in which they are located and their physical morphology. They are attracted to areas with high pedestrian traffic which ensures a higher probability of engagement with the public, and they stay clear of vehicular roads due to their very slow movements. Therefore, characteristics which are embodied within a site become highly influential to their "desired" locations. Similarly, their physical composition dictates the way they perceive their environment and consequently the way they behave. For example, due to their solar powered circuitry, they avoid shaded areas and do not travel during night time or overcast weather. They are also terrified of water and do not operate in wet conditions, in order to protect their electronics. These are their basic low-level behaviours which, similarly to our primary instincts, ensure their own protection and survival in complex environments. Therefore as an end result, you have these creatures which are very playful and gather in areas where people are likely to meet, but they get scared easily and become very introvert when threatened.

Fabricated fully-actuated tetrahedral truss performing a walking action

Because Morphs move so fluidly and elegantly, i couldn't help but think of Strandbeests. But they have nothing to do with Theo Jansen's creatures, right?

I really enjoy Jansen's work and appreciate it in its context; as beautiful objects which occupy and travel across landscapes. However, as an architect, I'm not only interested in the spaces which man-made creatures inhabit but also in the spaces which they create. Morphs have the ability of joining together into complex formations to create spaces which can be occupied by people, and respond to these temporal inhabitants. Additionally, Theo Jansen's creatures are automatons which are unaware of their surroundings and the people within their "personal space". Morphs, on the other hand, are responsive spatial structures which communicate between them and their users in order to perform collective tasks. If you threaten one Morph you might send a whole community into hiding, while if one of them enjoys learning a new dance routine it might teach it to others and perform it in groups.

The Morphs move super super slowly. Can't you make them move faster? Why?

All buildings move. They do so over a very prolonged timescale, and it can take centuries for a building to move a couple of millimetres. So if we had to speculate on how buildings view time, because after-all Morphs are architectural creatures, we have to acknowledge the fact that architecture operates on a very different timescale than its users. Morphs operate on a mediated timescale, because although we perceive them as very slow movers they are lightning fast compared to their 'static' counterparts. In terms of time, they exist somewhere in between. This also gives us practical benefits, such as very low power consumption and risk mitigation.

The "Morphs rely on environmental cues and human participation in order to attain purposeful behaviour." Which kind of environmental cues and human participation are you talking about?

Morphs continuously assess light intensity and water presence in order to take informed decisions about their next steps. This ensures that they will not get trapped in ponds or under trees, and helps them to locate themselves in sunny and dry areas. However, Morphs are not completely self autonomous.

There are four classes, or sub-species, of Morphs and each of them has different purposes and degrees of control. The music-enabled units, which are finished in bright orange, are very slow and rarely change their location. They allow musicians to play music within their enclosure, and transmit the sounds they pick up via wi-fi, as a sort of a free-for-all radio station. The purple ones, which relate to dance, are very fast movers and they respond to push-pull action by their choreographers. They are able to store unique geometries in sequence and play them back when instructed to. The architectural ones, identified by their blue colour, are very slow movers but they can carry a significant amount of load. They are ideal for assembling large configurations and can be attached to different coloured units to create complex spaces. An additional class of these polyhedrons is also envisioned to cater for open-source development, whereby users can design and build bespoke components which can be plugged into existing units.

Do the machines learn in the course of their 'life'?

It is envisioned that over time these machines start to learn about their environment, participants and even themselves. This will give them the ability to take better informed decisions about their future actions. For example, if a tetrahedron breaks one of its edges it will then have to learn a new way how to roll over without using that side. In addition, it might ask for collective help from its peers to help it travel or become permanently bonded to another Morph for successful locomotion. Another suggested form of learning is the ability to predict participants' preference and behaviour. This will ensure that the right amount of units are present at the right location when needed.

However, in practice machine learning is a very complex area of research. So far we have been exploring this field in simulation, with limited degrees of success. The intention is to collaborate with robotics engineers and computer scientists in order to actualise these processes into the next generation prototypes.

Do you see applications for the Morphs? In architecture, robotics or other areas?

Morphs started out as a research project into adaptive behavioural architecture. Over the course of a year, it has developed into a semi-speculative project which brings together robotics, computer science, public art, landscape architecture and urban design.

What is next for the Morphs?

Morphs are planned to be unleashed by the end of 2015 as an autonomous but sociable reconfigurable architecture. Prototyping of a tetrahedron nucleus started in March 2013 and has resulted in one functional unit. Current research involves the programming of these nuclei, development of their digital communication and the simulation of their social behaviour. The next fully mobile, untethered, Morph is aimed to be completed by the end of 2013 before larger assembles are explored through 2014.

Thanks William!

Categories: New Media News

TED: Iwan Baan: Ingenious homes in unexpected places - Iwan Baan (2013)

TED - Wed, 10/16/2013 - 11:15
In the center of Caracas, Venezuela, stands the 45-story "Tower of David," an unfinished, abandoned skyscraper. But about eight years ago, people started moving in. Photographer Iwan Baan shows how people build homes in unlikely places, touring us through the family apartments of Torre David, a city on the water in Nigeria, and an underground village in China. Glorious images celebrate humanity's ability to survive and make a home -- anywhere.
Categories: New Media News

Required Reading: A Closer Look at JODI's 'Untitled Game' - Wed, 10/16/2013 - 10:32

Mute, Vol 1, No. 22 ("The Art Issue"), including CD-ROM of JODI, Untitled Game (1996-2001). 

Rhizome's erstwhile Conservation Fellow, Lisa Adang, has published the results of her material analysis of JODI's Untitled Game (1996-2001), and her findings are both more concrete and more nuanced than much of the extant scholarship.

By way of background, Adang points out that JODI began working with game "modding" around the same time as they began working with the web.

Although they may be best known for their web browser-based works, in this early period, JODI also experimented with the alteration of game code using two hugely popular computer game sources: Wolfenstein 3D (1993) and Quake 1 (1996), both developed by John D. Carmack, John Romero and the team at Id Software based in Richardson, Texas. Wolfenstein is widely recognized as the first fully rendered three-dimensional polygon game environment, a technique that allows objects and walls to appear to wrap around the player's perspective, realistically block the player’s sightline, and recede into a vanishing point that shifts with the main character/player's perspective. Characters within the game are also comprised of polygons, and sprite images occur on instances such as the firing of a weapon, scaling to suggest proximity and perspective.

Adang's analysis focuses on JODI's series of mods for Quake 1, collectively titled Untitled Game, using the version that was released with MUTE Magazine's "Art Issue" (pictured above) in 2001 as her case study. She delves into not only the perceptual experience of the work, but also its source code, leading her to draw conclusions that contradict my own description of the work, which was admittedly based on far less in-depth analysis, but still widely circulated. In particular, she takes issue with my assertion that the work reflects a subtractive approach, arguing that their alterations were more varied and complex than that. For example, she notes that certain aspects of the mod make visible aspects of the game which would otherwise be hidden, such as the source code. With regard to the famously minimalist "Arena" mod, in which everything onscreen is entirely white, Adang argues that:

all of the elements from Quake are present in Arena, including a fully rendered 3D space. They are invisible simply because they are devoid of value and hue.This includes the presence of polygonal walls that restrict navigation and respond perspectivally, as well as the files linked to the presence of objects and characters within the game. The sounds of Arena are also remnants from Quake.  

In addition to its value for curators, artists, and writers who want to learn more about Untitled Game, Adang's paper is also a powerful argument against "screen essentialism," suggesting that focusing only on the perceptual experience of a born-digital artwork, rather than its underlying code and its relationship with the surrounding technological environment, may result in misleading or incomplete conclusions. Mea culpa.


Categories: New Media News

#A.I.L - artists in laboratories, episode 41: Financial subversion with Brett Scott

We Make Money Not Art - Tue, 10/15/2013 - 13:39

The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired this Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

Brett Scott, a campaigner, former broker and a Fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab. Scott is the author of The Heretic's Guide to Global Finance. Hacking the Future of Money published by Pluto Press (and available on amazon USA and UK.) The book "is a friendly guide to taking on the world's most powerful system. It sets up a framework to illuminate the financial sector based on anthropology, gonzo exploration, and the hacker ethos, and helps the reader develop a diverse DIY toolbox to undertake their own adventures in guerilla finance and activist entrepreneurialism."

We'll talk about the book, the bitcoins, Brixton Pound and other radical approaches to global finance of course but also about Scott's plan to start a London-based school of financial activism.

The show will be aired this Wednesday 16th of October at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud.
Categories: New Media News

The Sixth Annual Imagine Science Film Festival - Tue, 10/15/2013 - 13:24


Forms (2012) by Memo Akten and Quayola. Image Credit: ISFF 

The Imagine Science Film Festival, now in its sixth year, has grown in the hands of organizer Alexis Gambis from a small discussion group among friends to a multi-venue mélange of screenings, discussion panels, and interactive installations taking place across New York City and New Jersey. This year's festival opening was held at Google's offices in Manhattan and debuted a line-up of short films organized around the evening's theme, "The Art of Code." The program selections were remarkably diverse, speaking in a variety of ways to both the focus of the evening and the festival's larger mission of encouraging dialog between scientists and filmmakers to bring increased awareness of the sciences to the public.

The rhythm of the program pulsed between generative visuals and more humanist takes on the code theme. The opening film, Forms (2012), by London-based artists Memo Akten and Quayola beautifully articulates both through a series of visual studies on human biomechanics. The animation's extruded lines mass together to suggest the human form in Duchampian progression through motion. Another animated film, Abbau (2013) by Masahiro Ohsuka from Japan, uses scientific formulas and diagrams as graphical elements. It is less an explication of the theorems on offer than a typographical celebration of their elegance in hand-drawn animation. Among the narrative films in the program, #PostModem (2012) stood out for its humorous mashup of visual references used to interpret futurist Ray Kurzweil's theory of technological singularity. Directors Jillian Mayer & Lucas Leyva call the film "a series of cinematic tweets" that uses science fiction imagery and pop-music videos to suggest Kurzweil's description of a time "when humans transcend biology."

If the opening night is any indication, festival-goers can expect a run of imaginative and provocative selections in this year's Imagine Science Film Festival, happening now through October 18.

See the full festival listing here.

Categories: New Media News

Seven on Seven London at the Barbican Centre, October 27 - Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:14

 David Karp (Tumblr) and artist Ryan Trecartin at Seven on Seven 2010. Image credit: Renny Gleeson. 

Rhizome's Seven on Seven conference series heads to the Barbican Centre in London on October 27. The event brings together artists and technologists to make something new together in one day, presenting to the public for the first time in the conference the following day. We're particularly proud of the lineup for our first London event, which includes luminaries who Rhizome has written about, followed or supported for some time: 

Susan Philipsz + Naveen Selvadurai (Foursquare, Oscar) 
Jonas Lund + Michelle You (Songkick) 
Mark Leckey + Daniel Williams 
Graham Harwood + Alberto Nardelli (Tweetminister) 
Aleksandra Domanović + Smári McCarthy (IMMI) 
Cécile B. Evans + Alice Bartlett (BERG) 
Haroon Mirza + Ryder Ripps (OKFocus) 

Hot on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg's assertion that London, not Silicon Valley, is New York City's biggest tech competitor (we'd like to think ally is the more appropriate word), the city seems a natural fit for the event's first international foray. In its new location, Seven on Seven's underlying goal remains the same: to bring criticality and thought to the development of technology in culture, and promote further dialogue between the two contexts. 

Tickets available from £35 on the Barbican's website

Categories: New Media News

TED: Amanda Bennett: We need a heroic narrative for death - Amanda Bennett (2013)

TED - Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:00
Amanda Bennett and her husband were passionate and full of life all throughout their lives together -- and up until the final days, too. Bennett gives a sweet yet powerful talk on why, for the loved ones of the dying, having hope for a happy ending shouldn't warrant a diagnosis of "denial." She calls for a more heroic narrative for death -- to match the ones we have in life.
Categories: New Media News

Artist Profile: Harry Sanderson - Mon, 10/14/2013 - 13:32

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.

Harry Sanderson, Human Resolution (2012). Installation view at Arcadia Missa for PAMI, London. Digital video, perspex, monitor.

Harry Burke: Your "Human Resolution" project, which you exhibited as part of PAMI last year in London, comprised of a 3D hologram projector and accompanying sound piece, which translated the body of the viewer standing before it into a glitching but uncannily faithful grayscale projection (3D object). It was an attempt to reinsert the body into ubiquitous computing environments, which are too often conceptualized as immaterial, virtual, or idealist, and to re-emphasise the corporeal within the predominantly visual regimes of these technologies. Do you think it was, in this regard, successful?

Harry Sanderson: I think that rather than reinsert the body or to attempt to repair anything, it was an attempt to exhibit a kind of a lack that occurs when something is represented in that sort of way. There is a common conception that images work on a flat plane, for example in a regular movie file, and this was an attempt to show how imaging technologies are moving beyond that into something that actually apprehends physical space. It wasn't just a grayscale projection but it had depth; it would turn and you would see that it understood the contours of your body in a way that's much more physical. 

HB: It's an attempt to materialize the space or spatiality of the image?

HS: More the increasing sophistication of cameras and surveillance technology, and that they're no longer just about recording flat planes of colours; they are now cognizant of the distance things are from each other. It goes along with more sophisticated algorithms for interpreting the movement of things which are driven forward by the need for facial recognition software to keep track of people or be able to tell more about a subject from an image of them. This ties into the stuff I'm doing with "Unified Fabric" (opening at Arcadia Missa on October 15th), which includes being able to extract someone's pulse from a regular video file using (Eulerian) video amplification software.

HB: How important do you think it is for an artist to interrogate these technologies as they're being developed in corporate or military environments? For example, the video augmentation technology is a month old, and there's an interest of yours in taking things at this nascent point and attempting to interrogate how they develop, or insert a criticality into their use before it becomes fully codified.

HS: I think when a technology is nascent you're able to see things about it that you won't be able to see when it's become fully integrated. There was an amusing moment a few years ago where one of the X-Men movies was leaked before the effects had been finished. It was this hilarious file because it was these actors acting before green screens—blocks had been filled in but the textures weren't there and there were all these gaps. And it was really interesting to watch the film in that way. It was a disaster for the film because people got to see how bad it was. That's what it's like with these technologies—they're still a bit funky, and not fully slick, so you're able to show them in a way that enables you to see what's happening. And in the flaw of that, in the fact that it doesn't totally integrate or work, there's some capacity as an artist to reclaim a little bit of agency. 

HB: This seems like a different approach to an artistic attitude towards technology that's developed in some parallel scenes—artists who hang out at tech conferences, for example—where new technology is much closer fetishized than critiqued.

HS: Personally I'm not so enamoured with the efficacy of these technologies, and their place within global power structures—often materialized as forms of interaction and surveillance. To ignore this strikes me as extremely dangerous. It's straight valorization. Tech conferences seem like a place for just shopping. I'm also shopping, but I'm looking for something beyond that process, which is why the "Unified Fabric" render farm is kind of an odd piece. It's almost like a diagram. It is an attempt to foreground the process of production, and present artworks as part of a chain of production that relies on the consumption of power and resources, rather than existing in an immaterial realm of data and thought. We're building a small supercomputer that will render videos by six artists—Hito Steyerl, Clunie Reid, Maja Cule, Takeshi Shiomitsu, and Melika Ngombe Kolongo & Daniella Russo—with the installation including an accompanying sound piece.

I suppose it's a really tricky position for anything that tries to be politically engaged—the inevitable credibility you give to the objects you take as the basis for your critique. You appropriate technology in an attempt to show it in a critical light but at the same time you reproduce those conditions.

Image: "Rare Earth Production." Published in Harry Sanderson, "Human Resolution," MUTE (4 April 2013).

HB: I think things can be beautiful at the same time as being explicitly political or critical or whatever. How you stop something from stagnating aesthetically is trying constantly to reawaken yourself to what its source is. For me, this ties back to the idea of exploring the image as a tangible, physical 3D object, an idea which also comes across in your MUTE text, also titled "Human Resolution," in which you argue for the need to recognize "the exploitation and violence required for [digital technologies'] continued production". All your works seem to involve a specific move that isn't about exploring the face value of an image but instead the different ways it instantiates meaning and relations of various kinds. In contrast with the argument you make in the article, in which the image ties us to other people, the Human Resolution installation focuses attention back on the self. When people are looking at the projected image of themsleves in Human Resolution, are they looking in a mirror, or is there a better analogy by which to think about it?

HS: I think it's an abstraction of the self that reveals the way the "self" can be so quickly annihilated by representation.

HB: How should we respond to that?

HS: Well, I don't really think it's my place to say how people should respond to that. I merely thought that it was something worth putting out there. I respond to it by attempting to make work that expresses an increasing criticality toward what it is embroiled with, and by trying to be more politically engaged in my everyday life. There is an alternate way of thinking about things, and I found that resisting apathy and an "oh well technology's always exploitative so you should just get over it" mentality was a positive thing for me—for both my work and my well-being. It's more interesting to not get over it. That's why I can't answer the "what can we do" question because I find using technology to critique a problem more interesting than having a technological solution. I'd rather be engaged in a struggle for something than have any kind of solution where we can make a better internet or a better credit card or something.

HB: It's the same process of not critiquing the problem but improving it…

HS: Yep. A nicer capitalism.

HB: We should talk about Haptics, where artist Yuri Pattison invited you to make a touchable 3D hologram within his Faraday Cage project (a Faraday cage is a 19th century invention that blocks out external electric currents, which Pattison recreated as a residency space in SPACE Studios). What's the difference between this work and Human Resolution

HS: Funnily enough, they're basically the same setup. I think that the Human Resolution show is a lot more interesting for me. Haptics was just a straight desire to reproduce this technology that I'd heard about, which was this touchable hologram, which I thought was potentially quite beautiful: that you could touch something that was a simulated object hanging in the space of a gallery that wasn't actually there. I found that more poetic and emotive and moving, in a more personal sense; something that would be touching, somehow. The promotional video for that technology contained one line that was "a floating image in mid air is no longer just a dream." There's this desire to give technology a physical form so there's at least there's something that will push back at you. I think I found that profound, in a way, because it means that people still desire each other, even if it's so mediated that they just desire to create some kind of holographic representation of something. It still speaks to a genuine desire for conjunctive social experience.

Human Resolution's a bit more negative, saying "look at you here as nothing but data". There's that Ashbery poem we were reading the other day where he says "much that is beautiful must be discarded so that we may resemble a taller impression of ourselves." There's a constant aspiration toward this image we've created of ourselves that we can't ever quite get to which is this, I suppose, want or desire: the "big other." You can't ever get it, you can't touch it. And data and Cloud computing perfectly fits into that as an ideological form because it's completely inaddressible. 

The work is also counter-narrative in a way—it's not a finished work, it requires the presence of somebody to be there; it's not a film, it's not a sculpture, it's not a thing. Even if what it's exposing is quite a dehumanizing, digitizing process, it's still an artwork that's activated by the viewer's presence. The desire to make machines instantly responsive to the body plays on a strange sort of humanism, which is so close to digital property protection. We have these swipe screens and fingerprint scans under the remit of protecting oneself against identity theft, but it's also the protection of private property, which is inseparable from force in some sense.

In terms of the image used, in both, they're again playing on these ideas of touch and communication. I find it interesting because it references what you're doing with the object as you try and get the image to come out of it. You're kind of implicated in the image as well.

Flexible Display, 2013, CSM, London. Video installation: digital video, projector, water vapor, wood, plastic.

Age: 26

Location: London 

How/when did you begin working creatively with technology? Started making websites when I was 15, because of getting an internet connection, and so taught myself HTML by copying and pasting stuff from other websites. 

Where did you go to school? What did you study? Central St Martins—Fine Art.  

What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? I've worked in shops, a petrol station, the Tate Modern, and right now in a pub. 

What does your desktop or workspace look like? I just work wherever I am / I don't have one. Right now I share one large desk with my flatmates and we have some plants which is great.

Categories: New Media News

TED: Jeff Speck: The walkable city - Jeff Speck (2013)

TED - Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:19
How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car -- which he calls "a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device" -- by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.
Categories: New Media News

Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art

We Make Money Not Art - Mon, 10/14/2013 - 08:30

And now for something completely different....

Katushika Hokusai , Diving Woman and Octopi, 1814). This woodblock print image borders on the surreal. Source: Micheal Fornitz Collection via Bloomberg

Last Thursday, i stopped at the British Museum to see Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art. I thought that Thursday would be a good day for a quiet visit. Wrong! It was the kind of crowd in which you have to stretch your neck in unnatural directions to read the descriptions of the works and wait patiently behind several people before you can actually approach a print. When finally you're in front of the work and have had a good look, you want to turn and walk to the next window but you're blocked by the people waiting and staring behind you. And no, they won't move lest they loose their spot in the queue.

My visit was thus laborious but i liked the show so much i'll have another try (a Tuesday morning when the doors open? a lunch time?)

Produced in Japan from 1600 to 1900, Shunga (or "picture of spring", spring being an euphemism for sex) are erotic paintings, prints and books that were used for personal stimulation and for the education of young lovers.

Make no mistake: this was art, not what we'd now call "pornography". In fact, the works were regarded as a suitable gift to brides on the eve of their wedding or to official foreign visitors. Unaffected by the inhibited sexual attitudes of Christianity or Islam, Shunga presented a fantasy world of sexual delight enjoyed by both sexes. The sense of sin didn't have a place in shunga. But female pleasure, tenderness and beauty did.

The genre flourished even when it was officially banned and many works were in fact produced by some of the country's most distinguished artists. The decline of shunga is attributed to the arrival of Western culture and technologies at the end of the 19th century and in particular the importation of photoreproduction techniques. How could Shunga compete with erotic photography?

In Japan, however, the influence of shunga can still be seen in manga, anime, tattoo art and other popular cultural forms.

I got the following photos from the British Museum press office. Unsurprisingly (but disappointingly), the ones i received were quite tame compared to most of what you can see in the show:

Kitagawa Utamaro; Mare ni au koi 稀ニ逢恋  (Love that Rarely Meets), c. 1793-1794  © The Trustees of the British Museum

Torii Kiyonaga, Sode no maki (Handscroll for the Sleeve), c. 1785. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Nishikawa Sukenobu, Sexual dalliance between a man and geisha, c. 1711-1716. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Kano school. Older and younger man making love, first scene from Untitled shunga handscroll. Early 17th century. The British Museum, purchase funded by Brooke Sewell bequest

Hosoda Eishi, Contest of Passion in the Four Seasons (Shiki kyo-en zu), late 1790s-early 1800s; one of a set of four hanging scrolls

Attributed to Sumiyoshi Gukei and Takenouchi Koretsune. Series title: Tale of the Brushwood Fence, 17th century

Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art is at the British Museum, until 5 January 2014.

Categories: New Media News

Collecting Contemporary Art Means Collecting Digital Art - Fri, 10/11/2013 - 11:18

Petra Cortright. RGB,D-LAY, 2011. Webcam video file. Edition of 5. 1 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. 

Last night, Rhizome was the beneficiary of the Paddles On! auction at Phillips auction house. Curated by Lindsay Howard and co-organized by Phillips and Tumblr, the auction brought together works under the banner of "digital art." While the sale of artworks that engage with digital technology is nothing new, there was something remarkable about the scene last night. Magda Sawon tweeted that it was "like parents forgot to lock the house & the kidz had a great party!" (She also added, "One day it may be their house or they burn it," but that's just typical gallerist-auction house repartee, we're sure.) Every lot was sold, and perfectly-coiffed bidders competed not only over digital prints, sculptures, and Petra Cortright's digital painting, but also over Jamie Zigelbaum's interactive installation and Rafaël Rozendaal's website. Rhizome was the grateful beneficiary of this frenzied activity; we received 20% of the proceeds, with the other 80% going to the artists, and when the last gavel fell, nearly $18,000 had been raised on our behalf, which will help us continue to expand our efforts to commission, contextualize, and conserve technologically-engaged artwork.

At the start of the evening, I hosted a panel discussion titled "Collecting Contemporary Art Means Collecting Digital Art." The title was intended to be (to borrow artist and panel participant Jenn McCoy's phrase) both generous and provocative. Generous, because it sets up quite an inclusive conversation, in which it's possible to think not only about people like Casey Reas and Rafaël Rozendaal as digital artists, but also Takashi Murakami and Andreas Gursky. But it's also provocative, because it suggests to collectors that if the work on their walls doesn't engage with digital technology and the issues that it raises, it might not be that contemporary.

For the panelists, the title was also provocative for its use of the phrase "digital art." Many artists for whom new technologies form a central part of their practice do not describe their work in these terms. On the panel, Jenn McCoy suggested that digital art is not a medium; after all, no one describes themselves as an "analog artist." Steve Sacks, owner of Bitforms Gallery, later told me that he thinks of digital code as an artistic medium rather than "digital art." But in the context of the auction, the phrase "digital art" came across as an interpretive descriptor rather than a material one. While all of the works included did involve digital code at some point in their process, so does nearly every contemporary photograph; what differentiates these works (and holds them together as a grouping) is their critical engagement with varying aspects of digital technologies.

During the panel, Sacks also argued for the alternative term "new media," as this suggests more of a continuum of practices based on artistic experimentation with new tools, encompassing not only digital artists but also electronics tinkerers of the 1970s or biotech artists who work with DNA. While "digital art" connotes engagement with a specific technology, "new media" has its own specificity, reflecting an interest in the expanded creative possibilities afforded by new tools. Panelist Rafaël Rozendaal defended the use of the term "digital art" instead of "new media," but his particular interest in it related to the potential for digital work to circulate online. This is an interesting point, because the phrase "internet art" or "net art" has often been used to describe the work of artists who use the internet as a medium, but many artists today are simply using it as a space in which to connect with an audience and circulate their work.

At Rhizome, we describe our field as "artistic practices that engage technology." This phrase, while useful for connecting various kinds of stances together, will never end up as the title of an evening sale. It seemed clear that collectors were interested in engaging with "digital art."

A few hours before the panel, Annie Werner, arts evangelist of Tumblr, published this post:


This basically summarizes the perspective that many artists have had about digital art for decades, including many whose works already circulate on the market: Peter Halley, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Lutz Bacher, Laurie Anderson, Keith Haring. The fact that digital art can be sold, and the fact that collectors have been historically resistant to it, is an old and cyclical conversation. One recent eruption took place on the pages of Rhizome in 2008, following a post about Holy Fire: Art of the Digital Age, an exhibition that presented a number of artworks that were currently available for sale. One of the more memorable contributions to that discussion came from Tom Moody:

We don't agree with Moody's characterization of digitally-derived objects as "souvenirs"—after all, digital prints and digital celluloid films were produced and circulated widely before it became convenient to display digital works on screens—but we share something of this weariness with having the same Groundhog Day-like conversations. So it's refreshing to think that we may be leaving this conversation behind and entering a strange new one. Instead of championing a field that has been somewhat neglected by collectors, we may now find ourselves addressing new levels of interest in owning technologically-engaged art. If this is the case, our task will be to continue doing what we can to raise consciousness about the history of the field and champion underrecognized and emerging practices within it.

Updated to include the fact that 80% of sales went to artists and 20% to Rhizome.

Categories: New Media News

TED: Andrew Fitzgerald: Adventures in Twitter fiction - Andrew Fitzgerald (2013)

TED - Fri, 10/11/2013 - 10:59
In the 1930s, broadcast radio introduced an entirely new form of storytelling; today, micro-blogging platforms like Twitter are changing the scene again. Andrew Fitzgerald takes a look at the (aptly) short but fascinating history of new forms of creative experimentation in fiction and storytelling.
Categories: New Media News

Games Reflexions

We Make Money Not Art - Thu, 10/10/2013 - 12:15

How much does the practice of video games affect our imagination? Are video games shaping our perception of reality or is it our perception of reality that shapes the imagination behind video games?

Robert Overweg, Stairway to the sky 2011, Mafia 2

Robert Overweg, Hotel 2011, Mafia 2

On the one hand, the move from 2D image to 3D image in video games has accelerated the race to ultra-realism. Ironically, reality has been lost in the process. By striving to mimic reality, 3D images become hyper realistic, they are slick and clean to the point of looking almost unreal. A game supposed to reflect life ends up proposing only a constructed reflect of life. This reflection, in turn, influences the way we see and imagine our surrounding.

On the other hand, we've been observing a revival of pixelated, ASCII, Cubist or simply geometric games. They give more room for imagination and reflection, as if the mind could fill the spaces between the pixels, the voids, the geometric shapes.

Games Reflexions, an exhibition that will open next week in Cergy, France, investigates how gaming is reflecting and influencing our perception of reality. And vice versa.

I found these questions of interpretation, representation and reflection interesting but then I think that it is my duty to take an interest in what Isabelle Arvers is working on. Isabelle is the curator of the exhibition, she is also a media art critic, an author and one of the most respected and most astute experts of video games in France.

I'm looking forward to visiting the exhibitions she curated in Aix-en-Provence this month. One about machinimas for the GAMERZ festival. The other, about 21st century borders. In the meantime, i asked her to talk to me about Games Reflexions.
(If you scroll down, you will also find the original version in french of Isabelle's answers.)

Christoffer Hedborg, Cathode Rays

Simogo, Year Walk. Trailer

Hi Isabelle! Why do you think that now is a good time to reflect upon gaming? And more particularly about the relationship between our perception/construction of reality and video games.

I don't know if this is the right time but it seems to me that gaming has adopted different forms and directions which allow us to approach it through a more complex lens than in the past. Games studies were developed in the 80s and they made it possible to look at gaming under various perspectives: psychoanalysis, economy, philosophy, political science, etc. The reflection about the video game issue is nothing new. However, gaming is starting to be perceived differently by the public and the media, so it seemed appropriate to support this trend by raising the issue in an exhibition located in a contemporary art space.

The issue of perception is very important to me ever since i wrote a dissertation about the virtual in the mid- 90s when I was wondering the impact that the virtual could have on our bodies and minds. I'm still asking myself this kind of question: each technique, software or language influences our way of seeing things, of approaching reality. But what about video games? One day, some students (and fans of video game) told me that they dreamt in computer-generated images, and even preferred this type of image to the ones they saw on TV, because they were more beautiful. I confess that I was deeply impressed by their remark.

I then thought that video games affect our imagination just like tales did once. Since I started creating machinima, I haven't looked at cities and the movement in the cities in the way I used to, it looks as if people are moving like in the games... Any ideas related to other realities impress me too. While thinking about this exhibition, I thought about Plato's cave, about these ideas which we perceive only through their reflection. The idea that there are parallel worlds attracts me and I 'd love to imagine them through games.

I am still waiting for computer-generated images to refer to something that is not seen, I expect them to lead me to the other side... Most games that try to mimic reality produce an image too sleek, too smooth, that seems far removed from what I would like to discover. That is why when I found the compilation Pirate Kart and the amount of games with universes so diverse, trash and funny, I wanted to go into this direction and exhibit them in a gallery. What made me particularly happy during the Pirate Kart exhibition at the ESAix gallery was that people told me that it gave them confidence, that they made this kind of games at home but didn't think it would interest anyone else. It's a bit like opening a world of possibles and extracting pearls from the game jams world and from the independent games circles to make the broader public discover them.

Titouan Millet, A Cosmic Forest - Trailer

The exhibition talks also about the quest for hyper-reality, are you already seeing interesting game experiences that use the Oculus Rift? is this something you're following or are excited about?

That's funny because this weekend, at the festival Retro no Future Games Festival at Visages du Monde - which also commissioned the exhibition Games Reflexion - the game Cosmic Forest by Evilion was presented with Oculus Rift and we're getting there!! In the game, we cross lines and columns of colors, as if we could slide between the ropes... This direction of work is interesting insofar as you get immersed inside the image, the perception of your eyes takes central stage and manages to mislead the rest of the body.

What I find particularly interesting today is this physical dimension that some games can adopt, allowing us to live different experiences with other human beings. I am thinking here of Blast Theory's pervasive games which, through games that are played both online and in public space, look at the new kinds of relationships that technology can create at the corner of a street corner. Or the game Johann Sebastian Joust which plays with the contact between players listening to the rhythm of the music. How gaming can take us to another place without it being necessarily a virtual world. I also like the approach of Florian Rivière who transforms any space into a playground and establishes the concept of game through the smallest details: objects found on the street and re-purposed to become table football, golf shoes, turnstiles... It is in this spirit that David Calvo created the game Scintillations for the Games Reflexions exhibition. It reminds us that everyone must set up their own show and that everyone can play with the content, and re-appropriate it.

Robson, YYYYYY

Atari 2600 Breakout Gameplay

Nicolas Cannasse, Evoland

The exhibition text talks about the revival for pixelated, ASCII and geometrical games in the indie game scene. Are the people who develop and play retro game the people who grew up with the games produced in the 1980s and 1990s. Or is this an entirely new generation? And by that question i guess i mean also "is this a question of nostalgia or aesthetics'?

Most of the time, it's the new generation that creates this kind of pixelated, cubic or geometric video games. Of course, some are older and have a certain nostalgia for the aesthetics of 1980s games but I think that the key is not in the nostalgia. First of all, there is a reaction to the ultra clean aesthetic of mainstream games. There is also the desire to express yourself with the new tools currently available. So I think it's mostly a matter of aesthetics, of finding your own, whether it is closer to drawing, cubism, watercolor, pixel or 3D. I feel that there is a desire to think outside the box and to offer something else. Anne Roquigny was telling me this afternoon that the same phenomenon happens in online creativity today: the comeback of the gifs animated, of neon colors and of an aesthetic more or less close to the one of 1990s Both the web are the design tools are more accessible so creativity expresses itself in all kinds of directions. And I do not think that we're speaking about nostalgia here either, mainly because this movement is unknown to new generations!

Aniwey, Candy Box

Merrit Kopas, HUGPUNX


Do you see 'arty', independent games ideas and trends (such as retogaming) filtering into the commercial gaming world?

Yes, very much. As soon as a new "niche" appears, marketing lays its hands on it. That's how the Playstation has its indie corner. Or why, for example, many complained about the excessive presence of sponsors with booths such as the Nintendo one during the last IndieCade. The "indie game" has become a new standard, an argument that sells. The success of games like Limbo and Minecraft have opened a new path. The use of old games or pixelated aesthetic is recurrent on mobile platforms. Yes, it has grown into a real business which, in this case, very often plays on nostalgia ...

Carjacked (After Barbara Kruger), Colleo, 2013

Carjacked (Racing after Hirst), Colleo, 2012

Carjacked, one of the works you selected for Games Reflexions, consists of 17 BMW cars created by Coll.eo with the Livery editor of the videogame Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360. The cars are customized 'by' famous contemporary artists. It is also a parody of the contemporary art world. But if the world of gaming is looking at the world of contemporary art, is the opposite true? Are art galleries, museums and collectors interesting in video games?

When MOMA added video games to its collection, even if it was in the department of design, it caused a stir in the contemporary art world. Gallery and museum initiatives are still relatively rare. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam produced, two years ago I think, three games co-designed by artists and game designers. Game art exhibitions are still fairly marginal in this type of cultural structures. The Arcade exhibition in France toured many national exhibition spaces. This kind of exhibition is usually initiated by independent structures such as the collective Babycastles in the United States. The Cité des Sciences in Paris is about to host a major exhibition about video games but this is not a Museum of Contemporary Art. I feel, but I could be wrong, that for the moment this kind of creation follows the same parallel logic as media art. However, some artists like Miltos Manetas, Invader and Cory Arcangel who are close to the world of video games are definitely present in the art world. It is actually becoming difficult to show their work outside that network ... ;)

Harun Farocki, Parallel (still), 2012. Two-channel video installation

I'm always completely blown away by the selection of video games that you make for the GAMERZ festival every year. I'm also obviously impressed by your knowledge and understanding of the game scene. Are there any books, websites, blogs or other resources you could recommend to people who are not so versed into the world of video game but would like to know more about it?

Thank you! I feel the same about we- make-money-not- art! More than books -even though I recommend Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, by Anna Anthropy, and The Art of Immersion, by Franck Rose, which I liked a lot- I strongly believe in the network. The network of artists, designers and game developers. They are my first resource. I follow the twitter accounts of developers, the Facebook accounts of close and not-so-close friends from the world of video game, 8 bit music or digital art. One of the best references for me is the site. For the exhibition Reflections Games, I asked Peter Corbinais of Oujevipo for a few tips and he sent me some fifty references! I am also very attentive to what is happening in schools in France and abroad. I follow the projects of the LA Game Space, the Game Department led by Eddo Stern at UCLA. Another resource that has thaught me a lot is the Scratchware manifesto written in 2000 and republished by Mike Myer one or two years ago.

Might and Delight, Shelter

And does the work of a video game curator involve daily hours of video game playing?

The preparation of an exhibition requires a lot of that. The rest of the time I do what i can, especially when I'm traveling. But my job obviously involves playing and it's been going on for a while. However, if we look at this year as an example, I spent more time working on issues of borders than playing. Even if there are two games in the antiAtlas des frontières exhibition, that's not what prevails. Playing takes time and I don't have much to spare. However, what is great is that what comes out of most game jams are mainly games that can be played quite fast, and that's brilliant for me! That said, I also spend a lot of time making machinimas during workshops and again they require me to practice. I actually dream of a residency where I'd spend several months testing every conceivable games to create the best machinimas...

Merci Isabelle!

Games Reflexions runs from 19 October until 30 November 2013 at Le Carreau in Cergy.

Isabelle Arvers has two other shows that just opened in France: Machiniglitch, at ARCADE, Festival Gamerz and The antiAtlas of Borders, at the Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence.

See also this other interview i made with her 3 years ago: Machinimas at the GAMERZ festival.

Santa Ragione and Paolo Tajé, Mirror Moon

The Fullbright Company, Gone Home


And now for the original version in french:

Bonjour Isabelle! Why do you think that now is a good time to reflect upon gaming? And more particularly about the relationship between our perception/construction of reality and video games.

Je ne sais pas si c'est le bon moment mais il me semble que le jeu a pris différentes formes et directions qui permettent de l'envisager dans une plus grande complexité qu'auparavant. Les games studies se sont développées dès les années 80 et ont permis d'appréhender le jeu sous différentes facettes : de la psychanalyse, à l'économie, en passant par la phylosophie, la science politique, etc. La réflexion liée à la question du jeu vidéo n'est donc pas nouvelle, par contre, le jeu commence à être perçu différemment par le public, les médias, il me semble donc bon d'accompagner ce mouvement en posant cette question au sein d'une exposition dans un espace d'art contemporain.

La question de la perception est pour moi très importante et ce, depuis mon mémoire sur le virtuel écrit au milieu des années 90 où je me demandais comment le virtuel pouvait influencer notre corps et notre esprit ? Je continue à me poser ce type de question : chaque technique, logiciel, langage influence notre manière de concevoir les choses et d'appréhender le réel, du coup qu'en est-il pour les jeux vidéo ? Un jour, des étudiants, fans de jeu vidéo, m'avaient dit rêver en images de synthèse et même préférer ce type d'image à celle qu'ils pouvaient voir à la télé, parce que c'était plus beau. J'avoue que cela m'a profondément marquée.

Je me suis dit alors dit que les jeux vidéo influencent notre imaginaire comme le faisaient autrefois les contes. Depuis que je fais des machinimas, je ne vois pas non plus les villes ni le mouvement dans les villes de la même manière, j'ai la sensation que les gens avancent comme dans les jeux... Toutes les idées liées à d'autres réalités me séduisent aussi. En réfléchissant à cette exposition, j'ai repensé à la caverne de Platon, à ces idées dont nous ne percevons que le reflet. L'idée qu'il y ait des mondes parallèles m'attire et j'aimerais beaucoup les imaginer à travers des jeux.

J'attends encore que des images de synthèse me renvoient à quelque chose qui ne se voit pas, j'attends qu'elles m'amènent de l'autre côté... Alors que pour la plupart des jeux qui cherchent à mimer la réalité, ils ne produisent qu'une image trop nette, trop lisse, qui me semble bien éloignée de ce que j'aimerais y découvrir. C'est pourquoi, quand j'ai découvert la compilation Pirate Kart et la quantité de jeux aux univers si divers, trash et drôles, j'ai eu envie d'aller dans cette direction et de les montrer dans le cadre d'une galerie. Lors de l'exposition de la Pirate Kart à la galerie de l'ESAix , ce qui m'a fait le plus plaisir c'est que des personnes m'ont dit que ça leur redonnait confiance, qu'ils faisaient ce genre de jeux chez eux mais ne pensaient pas que ça puisse intéresser qui que ce soit. C'est un peu l'envie d'ouvrir des possibles et de faire sortir ces perles du monde des game jams et du cercle des jeux indépendants afin de les faire découvrir au plus grand nombre.

The exhibition talks also about the quest for hyper-reality, are you already seeing interesting game experiences that use the Oculus Rift? is this something you're following or are excited about?

C'est amusant car justement ce week-end, dans le cadre du festival Retro no Future Games Festival à Visages du Monde - qui est aussi le commanditaire de l'exposition Games Reflexion - le jeu Cosmic Forest d'Evilion était présenté avec Oculus Rift et là on touche presque au but !! Dans ce jeu, on parcourt des lignes et des colonnes de couleurs, comme si on pouvait passer entre les cordes... Cette direction de travail est intéressante dans la mesure où on s'immerge dans l'image, la perception de ce que voient nos yeux devient alors prédominante et parvient à induire le reste du corps en erreur.

Ce qui m'intéresse le plus aujourd'hui c'est justement l'aspect physique que peuvent prendre certains jeux et nous permettre de vivre des expériences différentes entre êtres humains. Je pense ici aux jeux pervasifs des Blast Theory qui au travers de jeux qui se jouent en ligne et dans l'espace public, s'intéressent aux nouveaux types de relations que les technologies peuvent créer au détour d'une rue, d'un obstacle. Ou encore au jeu Johann Sebastian Joust qui joue sur le contact entre des joueurs à l'écoute du rythme de la musique. Comment le jeu peut nous emmener ailleurs sans que ce soit pour autant uniquement dans un univers virtuel. J'aime aussi beaucoup la démarche de Florian Rivière qui transforme tout espace en un terrain de jeu, qui réintègre la notion de jeu grâce au plus petit détail : des choses trouvées dans la rue détournées pour devenir des baby foot, des terrains de baskets, un tourniquet... C'est dans cet esprit que le jeu Scintillations de David Calvo a été créé pour l'exposition Games Reflexion. Il vient rappeler que chacun doit se faire sa propre exposition et que chacun peut jouer avec les contenus, les détourner se les approprier.

The exhibition text talks about the revival for pixelated, ASCII and geometrical games in the indie game scene. Are the people who develop and play retro game the people who grew up with the games produced in the 1980s and 1990s. Or is this an entirely new generation? And by that question i guess i mean also "is this a question of nostalgia or aesthetics'?

C'est très souvent la nouvelle génération qui crée ce type de jeux vidéo pixellisés, cubiques ou géométriques. Bien entendu il y en a qui sont plus âgés et qui ont une certaine nostalgie pour l'esthétique des jeux des années 80, mais je pense que l'essentiel n'est pas dans la nostalgie. Il y a tout d'abord une réaction vis à vis dune esthétique trop propre des jeux mainstream. Il y a aussi l'envie de s'exprimer avec les nouveaux outils accessibles aujourd'hui. Je pense donc que c'est surtout une question d'esthétique, de trouver la sienne en propre, qu'elle soit proche du dessin, du cubisme, de l'aquarelle, du pixel ou de la 3D, j'ai la sensation qu'il y a une envie de sortir des sentiers battus et de proposer autre chose. Anne Roquigny me faisait remarquer tout à l'heure qu'il se passe exactement la même chose dans la création en ligne aujourd'hui : c'est le grand retour des gifs animés, des couleurs fluo et d'une esthétique plus ou moins proche de celle du des années 90. Le web est plus accessible, les outils de conception le sont aussi alors la création s'exprime dans toutes les directions. Et je ne pense pas qu'il s'agisse de nostalgie là non plus, principalement parce que ce mouvement est très méconnu des nouvelles générations !

Do you see 'arty', independent games ideas and trends (such as retogaming) filtering into the commercial gaming world?

Oui, énormément. Dès qu'il y a un nouveau « créneau » le marketing s'en empare. C'est ainsi que Playstation a son carré inde, que lors du dernier Indiecade, beaucoup se sont plaint de la trop forte présence des sponsors avec des stands comme celui de Nintendo par exemple. Le « jeu indé » est devenu une nouvelle référence, un argument qui fait vendre. Les succès de jeux comme Limbo ou Minecraft ont ouvert une nouvelle voie. Le recours aux anciens jeux ou aux esthétiques pixellisées est récurrent sur les plateformes mobiles, oui c'est devenu un véritable business qui ici, joue très souvent sur la nostalgie...

Carjacked consists of 17 BMW cars created by Coll.eo with the Livery editor of the videogame Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360. The cars are customized 'by' famous contemporary artists. It is also a parody of the contemporary art world. But if the world of gaming is looking at the world of contemporary art, is the opposite true? Are art galleries, museums and collectors interesting in video games?

Lorsque le MOMA a intégré des jeux dans sa collection, même si c'est dans le département du design, cela a fait grand bruit dans le monde de l'art contemporain. Pour autant les initiatives de galeries ou musées sont encore assez rares. Le Stedelijk Museum à Amsterdam avait produit il y a deux ans je crois trois jeux conçus conjointement par des artistes et des game designers. Les expositions de game art ont encore assez peu lieu au sein de structures culturelles de ce type. L'exposition Arcade en France a tourné dans de nombreuses scènes nationales. Ce genre d'exposition est plutôt le fait d'indépendants comme le collectif Babycastle aux Etats Unis. La Cité des Sciences à Paris va bientôt accueillir une exposition importante de jeux vidéo mais on ne peut pas parler de Musée d'art contemporain. J'ai l'impression, mais je peux me tromper que pour l'instant ce type de création suit la même logique parallèle de diffusion que celle du media art. Par contre quelques artistes comme Miltos Manetas, Invader ou Cory Arcangel, que l'on peut rapprocher de l'univers des jeux vidéo sont bien présents dans le monde de l'art, il devient d'ailleurs difficile de les montrer en dehors de ce circuit... ;)

I'm always completely blown away by the selection of video games that you make for the GAMERZ festival every year. I'm also obviously impressed by your knowledge and understanding of the game scene. Are there any books, websites, blogs or other resources you could recommend to people who are not so versed into the world of video game but would like to know more about it?

Merci ! J'en aurais autant à dire de we-make-money-not-art !! Plus que des livres même si je recommande Rise of the Videogame Zinesters d'Anna Anthropy et The art of immersion de Franck Rose que j'ai beaucoup appréciés, je crois fortement au réseau. Au réseau d'artistes, de créateurs et de game developers, ce sont eux qui sont ma première ressource. Je suis les comptes twitters de développeurs, les comptes Facebook d'amis proches ou lointains du monde du jeu, de la musique 8 bit ou de l'art numérique. Une des meilleures références reste pour moi le site Pour l'exposition Games Reflexions, j'ai demandé quelques conseils à Pierre Corbinais du site Oujevipo et il m'a envoyé une cinquantaine de références ! Je suis aussi très à l'écoute de ce qui se passe dans les écoles en France et à l'étranger. Je suis ce qui sort du LA Game Space du département jeu de UCLA dirigé par Eddo Stern. Une autre ressource qui m'a beaucoup apporté est le Scratchware manifesto apparu en 2000 et republié ensuite par Mike Myer il y a un an ou deux.

And does the work of a video game curator involve daily hours of video game playing?

Pour la préparation d'une exposition ça en demande énormément, le reste du temps c'est comme je peux, surtout dans les transports. Mais c'est sûr que mon travail implique de jouer et que ça commence à faire un moment que ça dure ! Par contre, si on prend cette année en exemple, j'ai beaucoup plus travaillé sur la question des frontières que passé du temps à jouer, même si il y a deux jeux dans l'exposition antiAtlas des frontières, ce n'est pas ce qui prédomine. Jouer demande du temps et ce n'est pas ce que j'ai le plus, par contre, ce qui est génial dans la plupart des game jams c'est qu'il en ressort beaucoup de jeux qui se jouent assez vite, et ça pour moi c'est formidable ! Ceci étant dit, je passe aussi beaucoup de temps à réaliser des machinimas dans le cadre d'ateliers et là aussi il faut pratiquer, d'ailleurs je rêve d'une résidence me permettant de passer plusieurs mois à tester tous les jeux possibles et imaginables pour réaliser au mieux des machinimas...

Categories: New Media News
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