New Media News

Cyberspace, the old-fashioned way - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 15:43

Today's web browsers want to be invisible, merging with the visual environment of the desktop in an effort to convince users to treat "the cloud" as just an extension of their hard drive. In the 1990s, browser design took nearly the opposite approach, using iconography associated with travel to convey the feeling of going on a journey. Netscape Navigator, which used a ship's helm as its logo, made a very direct link with the nautical origins of the prefix cyber-, while Internet Explorer’s logo promised to take the user around the whole globe. This imagery reinforced the idea that the web was a very different kind of space from the "real world," one where the usual laws and taxes shouldn't apply.

As the browser environment has changed, users' experiences of the web have been altered in ways that are subtle but significant. This doesn't apply only to iconography, but to how users see and interact with web pages, and even to the very idea of the “web page.” HTML tags are deprecated, drop-down menus are redesigned, plugins are no longer supported; even the most well-preserved page may be subject to quite drastic change over time. (Luckily, the HTTP protocol, which serves as the foundation of the web, has been pretty much unchanged since its initial release.)

Today, Rhizome is excited to share a sneak preview of, a groundbreaking new tool developed by Ilya Kreymer in conjunction with Dragan Espenschied that allows users to browse public web archives in a recreation of a legacy browser of their choice.

On the front page, is demonstrated using Jan Robert Leegte’s [untitled]scrollbars (2000). Leegte's work is a composition for the web browser that makes use of frames, which allow multiple HTML documents to be displayed side by side in a single window. In Leegte's work, the browser window is divided into a series of frames with no content apart from background color, all of them sporting scrollbars. Visiting Leegte’s work through a range of web browsers from different time periods allows users to understand the impact that the browser environment has on the experience of the web.

Once you've done that, you can check out Yahoo's home page from October 1996, using Internet Explorer 4.01; relive the heyday of the blink tag with JODI's %20Location on Navigator 4.08 for Windows; delve into the archived hyperlinks of Heath Bunting's readme. Or just enter any a web address, select your preferred browser, and set a target date for archived content; will check sites like Internet Archive for the closest match. is in many ways similar to Rhizome's efforts with bwFLA’s Emulation as a Service, which emulates legacy computer systems on the server side. (To emulate computer software is to run other software that imitates it, often so that old programs will run on new computers. For a primer on emulation and preservation, see David Rosenthal’s Emulation & Virtualization as Preservation Strategies.) When Rhizome republished Theresa Duncan’s influential but long-neglected 1990s CD-ROM games with Emulation as a Service, each user was allocated a dedicated CPU on Google’s Compute Cloud that was running a version of Macintosh System 7.5. offers a similar experience: it also give the user on-demand access to complex software environments, and it also opens a window onto the graphical user interface of legacy computer systems. But instead of emulating entire computer systems, it uses a pared-down suite of tools to mimic the original versions of the browsers down to the exact pixel, although sound is not yet supported.

Espenschied explains the distinction as follows:

Let's start with bwFLA: This is a full-on emulation framework. It emulates old systems on the hardware level via actual emulators, and can do work with all kinds of emulated storage media like diskettes, hard disks, CD-ROMs, and so forth. There are defined interfaces in between emulators, workflows, networked "image archives", etc. It plays sound, can add CRT screen simulation, has a keyboard and network abstraction model, a derivate configuration system, it can be integrated with existing repositories… so, very powerful and accurate. We ran one emulated computer per Google CPU for the Theresa Duncan project. on the other hand is a very specialized and lightweight browser-emulation framework. It does one thing very well, connecting legacy browsers with web archives. Apart from the Macintosh Classic part, there is no real hardware emulation going on; instead, there are super-clever set-up Linux computers. Ilya has used the Wine layer for Linux, which offers win32 system calls to Windows programs and also looks remarkably close to Windows! But it is not an actual Windows 98 or Windows 2000 emulator, rather a mix of reverse engineered stuff and freely available bits and pieces that Microsoft accidentally or out of necessity released for free at some point. In our case, this doesn't matter much, it looks good enough! :) The old Linux browsers are put into legacy Window Managers—there is a wide array of options on how to use Linux with a graphical interface—and Ilya found one from the 1990s that still works. :) The Safari browser that looks like a Mac browser with the tooth-gel scrollbars is actually a Windows version Apple released in 2009 to support Safari adoption. But it looks absolutely the same as the OS X version pixel by pixel. To emulate OS X would be very difficult and use up lots of resources, if we're just interested in the web: no need to do that! :)

Since there is no need to emulate any hardware (and the Macintosh Classic emulator is super-lightweight), it is possible to run multiple sessions per CPU on the Amazon Cloud: this is more like opening several browsers at the same time on a laptop than running several laptops.

Visit to re-enact the early web in numerous, carefully staged environments.

Categories: New Media News

An art made of trust, vulnerability and connection | Marina Abramović

TED - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:17
Marina Abramović's art pushes the boundary between audience and artist in pursuit of heightened consciousness and personal change. In her groundbreaking 2010 work, "The Artist Is Present," she simply sat in a chair facing her audience, for eight hours a day ... with powerfully moving results. Her boldest work may still be yet to come -- it's taking the form of a sprawling art institute devoted to experimentation and simple acts done with mindful attention. "Nothing happens if you always do things the same way," she says. "My method is to do things I'm afraid of, the things I don't know, to go to territory that nobody's ever been."
Categories: New Media News

Zofia Rydet, the old lady who wanted to photograph the inside of every single house in Poland

We Make Money Not Art - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 08:24

Zofia Rydet was 67 years old when she set herself the herculean task of photographing the inside of every single house in Poland. From 1978 until her death in 1997, she would frantically travel by bus or foot over the country, have people sit in their interior, straight in front of her, and shoot them using a wide-angle lens and flash.

As if the self-assigned task of portraying individuals and families at home in Poland wasn’t formidable enough, Rydet also added numerous sub-categories of photos to the series. Some focused on tv sets inside the home, others on kitchen windows seen from the inside, photos and objects celebrating Pope John Paul II, women on doorsteps, disappearing professions, etc. Rydet gave a title to her obsessive catalogue of people and objects, she called it Sociological Record.

The artist was interested in the ties that connected people with objects and architecture, as well as the way individual aesthetic preferences, political and religious views manifested themselves through the arrangement of private space. “The house … is a reflection of the society, civilisation, and culture, from which it originates, there are no two similar people or two similar houses,” Rydet used to say.

When Rydet died in 1997, the series counted some 16,000 negatives, most of them had never been printed. As a result, only a modest portion of her work has been exhibited. The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw has developed these negatives, made a selection of them and exhibited the photos in what is probably the most popular show in town at the moment. Zofia Rydet. Record, 1978-1990 not only presents works never seen before, it also follows Rydet’s own ideas and suggestions on how to set up an exhibition of her works.

The curators of the show, Sebastian Cichocki and Karol Hordziej, dropped the first half of the title of the series because they believed that the work pertains less to the scientific study of social behavior or society and more the tradition of intuitive artistic atlases and catalogues.

What i found most fascinating in this exhibition is that it’s both always the same and always different It’s row after row of Polish interiors (or of women on doorsteps) but it never feels too repetitive nor trivial. Not let’s give the floor to the images…

Zofia Rydet photographs Stanisa Solocha. Photo Maciej Plewiński / Forum

View of the exhibition space

Pre-Record, 1956-1977

Tadeusz Rydet, Zofia Rydet during one of her outdoor trips 1978-1990

Zofia Rydet: Record 1978–1990 was curated by Sebastian Cichocki and Karol Hordziej. The show remains open at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw until 10 January, 2016.

Categories: New Media News

Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume | Regina Hartley

TED - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 11:19
Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the "Scrapper" a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. "Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose," she says. "Hire the Scrapper."
Categories: New Media News

On the front page: Shelley Jackson's feminist hypertext autobiography - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 14:07

On Rhizome's front page this week is Shelley Jackson's my body - a Wunderkammer (1997), a semi-autobiographical hypertext narrative that combines text and image in an exploration of a personal bodily history. Clicking on areas of a white-on-black woodcut-style portrait of a woman's body brings up pages dedicated to specific body parts—the elbow, hip, toenail, or a tattoo—with first-person anecdotes and meditations.

The work reflects a broader 1990s tendency toward feminist autobiography in hypertext literature. In her 1999 article "Wired Women Writing," for example, Laura Sullivan argued that hypertext's fragmented, multilinear qualities built on this existing literary tradition, which had the potential to "connect the feminist call to value women's personal experience with both the postmodern belief that discourse produces our understandings of our 'selves' and the materialist feminist recognition that our experiences are situated in history..."

Jackson's piece is also part of Collection: Hypertext, a curated selection of works from the Rhizome ArtBase. View the ArtBase entry for my body - A Wunderkammer here.


Categories: New Media News

My year reading a book from every country in the world | Ann Morgan

TED - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 11:22
Ann Morgan considered herself well read -- until she discovered the "massive blindspot" on her bookshelf. Amid a multitude of English and American authors, there were very few books from beyond the English-speaking world. So she set an ambitious goal: to read one book from every country in the world over the course of a year. Now she's urging other Anglophiles to read translated works so that publishers will work harder to bring foreign literary gems back to their shores. Explore interactive maps of her reading journey here:
Categories: New Media News

Drones with Desires. A machine with inbuilt human memories

We Make Money Not Art - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 08:27

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Agi Haines seems to be anesthetized to the most visceral and crude guises of the future human body. She designed hybrid organs custom-designed to overcome specific illnesses and made realistic sculptures of babies distorted to respond to threats of global warming or increase a child’s prospects to become an athlete, etc. On the one hand, Agi is unquestionably one of the most fearless and interesting creators of her generation. On the other, her works are so raw and challenging I can only look at the homepage of her website through my fingers.

Her latest project, Drones with Desires, is one of the winning works of this year’s edition of the Bio Art & Design Award. The international competition invites young artists and designers to collaborate with renowned Dutch science centers in order to develop thought-provoking art and design projects that engage directly with life sciences.

True to form, the drone she worked on doesn’t look like your usual sleek and mechanical machine. It’s a blob.

For this work, Agi Haines’ brain was scanned and the visual anatomy of the connections in her brain were translated into an artificial neural network. This network will be used to control the motion of a drone by running sensory inputs through this network to form decisions regarding movement. Over time, the drone will learn on its own, fashioning behaviours and preferences unique to its experience but anchored in the architecture of the artist’s brain connections. As the drone learns, its results may shed light on how this process happens in the human brain.

The focus of ‘Drones with desires’ is to breathe life into mechanical devices through altering their material substance. With an increased efficiency of modelling the brain for artificial intelligence or the introduction of mechanics within biomedical sciences, where are the boundaries of humanness in a world full of integrated and invasive technologies? How might we respond to a machine that characterizes human behaviors through a reconstructed sensory nervous system? This project will explore the thin line between natural and artifice, by creating a machine with inbuilt human memories.

The work was developed in collaboration with Marcel de Jeu and Jos van der Geest, Erasmus University Medical Centre, and Jack Mckay Fletcher, Christos Melidis and Vaibhav Tyagi, CogNovo Plymouth.

Drones with Desires will premiere this Friday at MU in Eindhoven. It will be part of Body of Matter which will present 10 artists and designers whose work challenges our ideas about the body. In the meantime, i got to talk with the designer:

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Hi Agi! To start off the project, a diffusion tensor MRI scan was taken of your brain and the information was translated into an artificial neural network based on the visual anatomy of the connections in your brain. Could you explain us how this worked?

Is this some basic and banal process? Are there other contexts when this kind of translation is made?

This was a fascinating and arduous process, after taking an MRI with Marcel de Jeu and Jos van der Geest at Erasmus MC the data was translated from the scan through looking at the connections between different areas in the brain, measuring the strength of these connections and translating this information to weight strength within an artificial neural network.

Its conception was the result of collaborative input from various researchers, and in fact this process is unique. It was designed by a neuroscientist Vaibhav Tyagi and computational neuroscientist Jack Mckay Fletcher specifically for this project and its interpretation into a machine was performed by roboticist Christos Melidis. It not only tells us a lot about how we generate models of the brain but may also potentially inform scientific testing tools.

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

You have a computer replication of your brain?!??! That sounds very Ray Kurzweil. How does it feel to be able to see a replication of your brain? And, based on your own research for the project, what do you think of his statements that within 15 years technology will allow human brains to be connected directly to the internet?

Although a replication of my brain it is still only a simulacrum and not actually my brain itself, yet even though I am distanced from it there is still something quite unnerving about seeing how technology can learn directly in relation to the human brain and how this may play a part in artificial intelligence

I believe that we are already hybrid creatures made of varying parts, some naturally produced and some artificial. And perhaps there may eventually come a time in which we can be directly connected to the Internet but its introduction may be so gradual that it seems no different to having a gold tooth.

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Did you learn something about the functioning of your brain by watching its replica?

Yes but perhaps more about brain function in general rather than mine specifically; in fact I was concerned we might find something abnormal about my brain function. I particularly learnt a lot regarding brain modeling, its benefits and drawbacks, purposes and problems.

With what kind of drone are you working? Could any type of drone work?

Yes technically any machine could be controlled using the network but we have produced our own drone. It is more replicative of the sensory nervous system and looks like a floating mass of tissue with wings. We wanted to imagine how such a machine might be utilized within society. If a machine could replicate your decision-making processes as well as your flesh could it become a secondary version of you? And if so what would it be used for? Medical testing? Geographical safety mapping?

The reason why we chose a drone as the machine to translate the data into was not only to probe a popular technology known for being representative of thought and action but also the fact the brain is afloat plays on the ethereal quality of thought processes.

How hand-on you were with the scientific processes? Did you delegate all the scientific manipulations to the scientists or did you manage to engage directly in the development of the work?

My attempt to engage as much as possible with these scientific processes mainly surfaced through working out new ways to integrate ideas, theories and practices from amalgamating what at first seemed like dichotomous fields. Some aspects of the work, for example the coding itself, was an extremely complex language to learn within this short time. Yet luckily all collaborators gave me extremely valuable lessons within their respective fields regarding electronics, anatomical neuroscience, computing and modeling which I have had to research and physically interact with in order to produce the final piece, as well as to comprehend significant crossovers that informed all the decisions regarding the visuals and behaviors of the drone.

So you had the idea for the project and you had your brain scanned. Where else did you apply your knowledge and particular expertise as a designer?

Beyond the obvious physical production of manufacturing, building and painting objects and generating, producing and editing film, this large collaboration consisted of a significant amount of both practical and managerial parts. My main focus was to use my role as a designer to highlight valuable questions concerning the scientific processes and research questions surrounding the topic of brain modeling, and offer space for reflection regarding the implications of such research, which in turn can have potential impact to a public as well as professional audience.

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Drones With Desires, 2015. Image courtesy of Agi Haines

Which challenges have you encountered while developing the project?

Overall this has been an intensely challenging project, particularly concerning the research and planning involved, perhaps the main challenge was marrying the artistic concept and scientific theory with the logistics of keeping an object afloat for a long period of time has been a big challenge.

What will the work look like when you show it at MU?

The drone will be moving freely within a darkened space and the public will be able to walk around and alongside it, altering its behavior and in turn learning processes as it moves. Video will also be shown of how the scan images lead to the production of connections, the data it is receiving and how this could potentially alter plasticity in the brain structure.

Thanks Agi!

Drones with Desires is part of Body of Matter. Body based bio art & design which opens at MU in Eindhoven on 27 November. The show will be running until 7 February 2016. Also part of the exhibition: The Art of Deception by Isaac Monté.

Categories: New Media News

Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe? | Genevieve von Petzinger

TED - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 11:31
Written language, the hallmark of human civilization, didn't just suddenly appear one day. Thousands of years before the first fully developed writing systems, our ancestors scrawled geometric signs across the walls of the caves they sheltered in. Paleoanthropologist, rock art researcher and TED Senior Fellow Genevieve von Petzinger has studied and codified these ancient markings in caves across Europe. The uniformity of her findings suggest that graphic communication, and the ability to preserve and transmit messages beyond a single moment in time, may be much older than we think.
Categories: New Media News

Obfuscation. A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 11:12

Obfuscation. A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, by Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University Finn Brunton and Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication and Computer Science at NYU and developer of TrackMeNot Helen Nissenbaum.

(available on amazon USA and UK)

Publisher MIT Press writes: With Obfuscation, Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum mean to start a revolution. They are calling us not to the barricades but to our computers, offering us ways to fight today’s pervasive digital surveillance—the collection of our data by governments, corporations, advertisers, and hackers. To the toolkit of privacy protecting techniques and projects, they propose adding obfuscation: the deliberate use of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection projects. Brunton and Nissenbaum provide tools and a rationale for evasion, noncompliance, refusal, even sabotage—especially for average users, those of us not in a position to opt out or exert control over data about ourselves. Obfuscation will teach users to push back, software developers to keep their user data safe, and policy makers to gather data without misusing it.

Every day, we produce gigantic volumes of data and that data stays around indefinitely even when we’ve move on. We might want to keep personal data as private as possible but that often means opting out from many forms of credit and insurance, social media, efficient search engines, cheaper prices at the shop, etc. It’s perfectly doable of course but it can often be inconvenient and/or expensive.

So Nissenbaum and Brunton see in obfuscation the means to mitigate or even defeat digital surveillance and they provide us with a brief description of it:

Obfuscation is the deliberate addition of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection.

The authors also call obfuscation the ‘weapon of the weak’ because this method and strategy of resistance is available to everyone in their everyday life. You don’t need to be rich nor tech-savvy to disobey, waste time, protest and confound.

So now we know what obfuscation is, we might want to understand how it works. At this point, the authors provide the reader with a series of historical and contemporary cases that illustrate various obfuscation techniques. Some of them can immediately be applied to your daily life (speaking in a deliberately vague language, using false tells in poker or swapping loyalty cards with other people to interfere with the analysis of shopping patterns.) Others not so much but all are inspiring. Here’s a quick selection of obfuscating actions:

Radar Jamming. Image via Steve Blank

Chaff is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns. The method was used during WWII to jam the German military radars. All the operator would see was noise, rather than airplanes.

Twitterbots can fill the conversation on a channel with noise, by using the same # as protesters for example and rendering it unusable.

– “Babble tapes” are digital files played in the background of a conversation in order to defeat audio surveillance.

AdNauseam clicks on every ad on an online page, creating the impression that someone is interested in everything. The plugin confuses the system and thus protects people from surveillance and online tracking.

Bayesian Flooding, an idea of Kevin Ludlow, consists in overwhelming Facebook with too much information (most of it false) in order to confuse the advertisers trying to profile the user and the algorithmic machines that are trying to make predictions about his/her interests.

Spartacus film (Dir. Stanley Kubrick) excerpt featuring the “I’m Spartacus” clip, a classic obfuscation moment

The other half of the book attempts to help us understand obfuscation, its role, purposes, limits and possible impact. The authors also spend a few pages exploring whether and when obfuscation is justified and compatible with the political values of society.

Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest is an important and straight to the point book that reminds us that, ultimately, we’re up against intimidating asymmetries of power and knowledge. Stronger actors -whether they are corporations, governmental bodies or influential people- have better tools at their disposal if they want to hide something. What we have is obfuscation. It might require time, money, efforts, attention but it gives us some leverage as well as some measures of resistance and dignity.

The book offers 98 pages of dense, informative and never tedious text. I’m glad a publisher as respected and as widely distributed as MIT Press chose to print it.

Categories: New Media News

What are animals thinking and feeling? | Carl Safina

TED - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:34
What's going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they're thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.
Categories: New Media News

Sheriff Software: the games that allow you to play traffic cop for real

We Make Money Not Art - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 09:08

Over the past few years, artist Dries Depoorter has been exploring issues of privacy in ways that are at times thought-provoking and at times almost comical (often both.) He started by looking into his own privacy, either through a program that was taking and sharing online one screenshot a day of his computer screen at a random time or through a website that used Google Streetview to disclose in real time the artist’s exact location and direction.

His recent works explore how other people are willing to surrender their privacy for the sake of entertainment, safety or just the prospect of a one night stand. One of the outcomes of this approach is the recently released and muchdiscussed Tinder In which puts side by side and to often surprising outcomes the profile pictures that an individual selects to represent himself or herself on two platforms that are at opposite ends of the social spectrum: LinkedIn & Tinder.

Installation view of Sheriff Software (JayWalking) at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition, part of IDFA International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Installation view of Sheriff Software (JayWalking) at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition, part of IDFA International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Depoorter’s new investigation into privacy will premiere this week at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition in Amsterdam (more practical info below.) The set of works, grouped under the name Sheriff Software, invites people to not just be the object of the attentions of the CCTV cameras that relentlessly gaze upon us but also to use them, turn the scrutiny back at the police and even play traffic cop.

The first piece in the series is JayWalking, a software that scans traffic lights at intersections in different countries, check whether the light is red or green and spots anyone braving the red light and jaywalking. Visitors of DocLab are given the opportunity to witness any infraction and decide whether or not to send to the police a screenshot that proves the transgression. The consequence of the decision of the public is made even more tangible by a counter at the bottom of the screen that shows how much the fines are for the offense in the country where it’s being committed.

Will we report the unsuspecting jaywalker? Will we click on the button that can send a screenshot of the violation to the nearest police station?

Are we going to empathize with our fellow pedestrians? Or are we going to point the finger and divulge their minor crimes? I doubt that people at DocLab will be willing to snitch on jaywalkers when there is a group of people around. But how different would it be if they were alone at the moment of taking the decision? JayWalking reminded me of an experiment that took place in 2006 when Shoreditch residents were given access to live CCTV footage of their neighbourhood on their own tv sets. People were invited to tune in the “community safety channel” and report any suspicious behaviour by text to the local police. Apparently, local CCTV cameras attracted viewing figures with an “equivalent reach of prime time, week-day broadcast programming”.

Then of course, there’s the no so minor detail of face recognition systems. I guess the JayWalking screenshots will only be showing the blurry silhouette of the offender. But what will happen if one day/when surveillance cameras are equipped with automated facial recognition technology?

While Jaywalking enables people to spy on other people, the second work in the Sheriff Software series lets people watch the watchers. Called Seattle Crime Cams, the piece relies on the Seattle Area Traffic and Cameras system which monitors city traffic.

Seattle not only shares the live stream of its CCTV network, it also share the dispatch from the Seattle Police Department radio. Depoorter’s Seattle Crime Cams will connect police calls with the live stream of the nearest webcam. The public will be able to witness incoming calls that report a traffic incident or a robbery and see how long it takes for the police to arrive at the scene.

Seattle Crime Cams turns us into ultimate long-distance disaster tourists, virtually present at the scene of the crime in Seattle. In this city, which is filled to the brim with traffic cameras, the police make the calls they receive available online. Using the latest calls, the closest live webcams are constantly zooming in on the very latest violations.

Installation view of Sheriff Software (Seattle Crime Cams) at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition, part of IDFA International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Installation view of Sheriff Software (Seattle Crime Cams) at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Installation view of Sheriff Software (Seattle Crime Cams) at the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition, part of IDFA International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Sheriff Software is premiered at IDFA DocLab, a ridiculously interesting program of screenings, performances, talks, exhibition and other events that explore the future of documentary storytelling. Think augmented reality, artificial intelligence, live cinema and interactive experiments. The installation is part of the DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition (19-29 November) and will be also be one of the highlights of DocLab Live: The Art of Artificial Intelligence (23 November.) The program is organized by IDFA (the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam) and the Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond.

DocLab: Seamless Reality exhibition, part of IDFA International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Photo credit: Nichon Glerum for IDFA DoLab

Categories: New Media News

My country will be underwater soon -- unless we work together | Anote Tong

TED - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 10:46
For the people of Kiribati, climate change isn't something to be debated, denied or legislated against -- it's an everyday reality. The low-lying Pacific island nation may soon be underwater, thanks to rising sea levels. In a personal conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, Kiribati President Anote Tong discusses his country's present climate catastrophe and its imperiled future. "In order to deal with climate change, there's got to be sacrifice. There's got to be commitment," he says. "We've got to tell people that the world has changed."
Categories: New Media News

The Block is the Successor to the Book: A publishing proposal - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 14:46

"We need a way of consistently and accurately naming every piece of human knowledge, in such a way that their name arises out of the knowledge itself, out of its textual, visual, or aural representation, where the name is inextricably coupled to what it actually is. If we have that name, and if we use that name to refer to some information, and someone tries to change the contents, then it is either impossible or completely detectable by anyone using the name."

– Hans Ulrich Obrist, "In conversation with Julian Assange," Part I, e-flux journal #25 (May, 2011).

In this text, we introduce Txtblock, a decentralized tool for publishing and distribution of digital text in a format called the block—a squarely defined, eternally immutable unit of information. The block is the successor of the book. Cryptographically bound, the block is given a name that is directly derived from its content. In this way it is made tamper-proof and resistant to censorship. We see this proposal as a small contribution to the internet renaissance.

What does the verb “to publish” mean in a society where every thought, movement, and moment is recorded and stored?

Let's say that publishing is the act of making something public and drawing attention to it. And let’s agree that the opposite of public is private. In the past, these two spheres—public and private—were clearly defined and separate. Today, they overlap, merge, and melt together. In the context of traditional publishing, the acts of printing, binding, and distributing a book delineated an unmistakable step from the private to the public sphere. The writer in her room, working on the manuscript, bringing it to the publishing house, and so on down the production line. In contrast, many current info-tools work in a gray zone in between, obfuscating where data ends up and how it is exploited.

Today, it is clear that the categories “private” and “public” need to be redefined in order to give the user the choice of where on this private/public spectrum she is communicating. Is the message meant for one person? Or for the community of all intelligent lifeforms? Should it expire after five minutes? Or persist until the last bits of information succumb to entropy?

The block exist on the extreme point of both the private/public and the temporary/permanent scale: a block is absolutely public and permanent. An inscription in stone.


Txtblock consists of three components:

1) Catalog

2) Storage

3) Interface

Decentralized catalog

The core component is a decentralized catalog containing cryptographic fingerprints, called hashes. These provide an absolute reference to the publications, uniquely based on their content. This catalog is the autonomous point of authority keeping track of what has been made public and when the publication was made.

The technology that enables this is Ethereum, a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts. This system uses a collective database called the blockchain that allows for agreement between nodes in a network without a central authority. The integrity of the system is maintained through the economically incentivized cryptographic labor of the participating machines, a digital scriptorium. Publishing is simply the operation of making an entry into this public database. The catalog functions without human gatekeepers and cannot be censored without taking down all of the nodes of the network.

In contrast with an ISBN number, a block-identifier is directly tied to the information it identifies. By using a cryptographic hashing function, a fingerprint of the information is created. Changing a single letter in the text will completely change the identifier. A modified file would, therefore, fail verification against the catalog. This allows certainty that the text you are reading is indeed the exact text that was published.


How should the actual texts be stored? We consider two possibilities:

1) The sensible, scalable solution. Recommended best practice: the catalog, on the blockchain, contains a reference to the text which is stored off the blockchain, on a content-addressed, distributed, peer-to-peer file system.

2) The more conceptually and aesthetically pleasing option: the text itself is stored directly on the blockchain. Merging the ledger and the book. Piggybacking on the piggybank. The text is kept safe as long as there is an economic incentive to perform the cryptographic work of maintaining the chain.

Writing to the blockchain is relatively expensive. One letter costs 0.00005 US dollars paid to the scriptorium, the machines who write the information to the database. Publishing the text you are reading right now would require a one-time payment of about 60 cents. This is too much for most applications, but Txtblock is meant for the very special kind of information that you want to commit to eternity. Text is compact compared to other media, so the cost, according to current market-prices on the Ethereum network, is reasonable and even perhaps a desirable feature adding a threshold you have to cross to go from private to public.

Format: limits and aesthetics

Txtblock is designed for publishing of pure text. In this sense, it exists in the lineage of the typographic book.

Why not images, video, or other rich media? There is value in limitations. It makes the creative possibilities more apparent. To avoid the slippery slope of adding features we propose a strict, minimal framework: unicode symbols displayed in a monospace font laid out in 64-character lines. In this way, we construct a strict grid where letters line up horizontally and vertically, giving the writer a rudimentary but predictable control of the layout. The block exists at the intersection of concrete poetry and code. The interface is strictly typographic with all of the design encapsulated in an open-source monospace, fixed-width font.

Current open ebook formats like ePub try to adapt the book concept to things that are not a good fit for it (interactivity, variable content), making ebooks an inferior version of already existing forms (websites, games, apps). Other formats are simply ways of commodifying information and locking it to a proprietary platform such as Apple’s iBook or Amazon’s Kindle.

We think that the fixed nature of the book serves a purpose today, and will keep on serving it in the future. This is, in contrast with many other forms of communication, as sharply defined units of information that, once published, once bound, are permanently frozen. Books are objects you can point to, discuss, and criticize. This core is what we call the block.

Conclusion: The Plan and the Network

What does the blockchain look like? A hovering, glowing network diagram? A cloud? The Google-approved material-design color scheme? Is it gold, silver, or the color of oil? A pile of coins? A tower of Babel built in Lego?

Physically, it is mining units lined up in warehouses in China or north of the Arctic circle in Sweden, or amateur machines spinning away on drying racks in repurposed guest rooms. Functionally, it is block stacked on block stacked on block, each one locking the previous one in place.

“We need to posit a collectively controlled legitimate vertical authority in addition to distributed horizontal forms of sociality, to avoid becoming the slaves of either a tyrannical totalitarian centralism or a capricious emergent order beyond our control. The  command of The Plan must be married to the improvised order of The Network.”

– Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, "#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO," 2013.

The blockchain could be the Merkle Tree that enables the rhizome, the necessary hierarchical, vertical element providing control and coordination in an open system.

The current web is based on a business model of spying on users and selling the information. We believe we are at a very interesting point where a combination of blockchain technology with peer-to-peer file systems gives us the necessary tools to reinvent the web, opening possibilities to other models beyond giant data centers, Amazon Allowance, and walled gardens. Txtblock is an experiment in this direction.

PWR is a studio for research, design and development. 

Categories: New Media News

The future of news? Virtual reality | Nonny de la Peña

TED - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:20
What if you could experience a story with your entire body, not just with your mind? Nonny de la Peña is working on a new form of journalism that combines traditional reporting with emerging virtual reality technology to put the audience inside the story. The result is an evocative experience that de la Peña hopes will help people understand the news in a brand new way.
Categories: New Media News

Can organs be objects of design?

We Make Money Not Art - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 14:51

Designer Isaac Monté has been pushing ideas of beauty and deception to their most ‘visceral’ limits using decellularization, a process which consists of removing all of the cells from an organ leaving only the extracellular matrix (the framework between the cells) intact.

In collaboration with scientist Toby Kiers from the VU University Amsterdam, the designer used a pig heart as if it were a material that can be tattooed, embroidered, covered in fur and otherwise transformed. The work aims to explore how far a ghost organ can be manipulated for its creative potential, but it also questions whether biological interventions and aesthetic manipulation can be used as tools for the transformation of inner beauty. The ghost organs in this case work as a metaphor for regenerated artificial life. The discarded dead hearts will not function as canonical organs, but rather as a representation of how far science can manipulate the human body.

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

The work is called The Art of Deception and it is part of Body of Matter which will open next week at MU in Eindhoven. The exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to discover 10 artists and designers whose work challenges our ideas about the body. The show will also premiere the three winning projects of this year’s edition of the Bio Art & Design Award. The international competition invites young artists and designers to collaborate with renowned Dutch science centers in order to develop thought-provoking –and sometimes downright provocative– art and design projects that engage directly with life sciences. Monté’s The Art of Deception is one of the winning entries of the competition. I saw a preview of his work at the Van Abbemuseum a few weeks ago and i’m gutted that i won’t be in Eindhoven to see how the project has evolved in the meantime. Fortunately, Isaac has found some time to chat with me and answer my many questions about his work:

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

Hi Isaac! As a designer, what made you want to look into decellularization?

The project started actually because I was triggered by the huge amount of food and more specifically meat, that is being thrown away in supermarkets, before it is even being sold. I am not a vegetarian and it is not my aim to turn people into vegetarians, but I find it a shame that food is being thrown away because it expires before it is being sold. Like this the animal was raised and slaughtered for no reason.

So I looked into a method to transform expired meat into a new raw material.
I figured out there was a technique called decellularization, which was being used for organ transplantation, to clean the organ from cells, DNA and all content.
What is left is extra cellular matrix, mainly collagen. This expired meat turned transparent white and I made a collection of vessels and lighting objects out of it.

Later on I decided to continue with this technique and apply it to the heart, the human’s most vital organ.

The Art of Deception. Work in progress photo by Isaac Monté

The Art of Deception. Work in progress photo by Isaac Monté

The Art of Deception. Work in progress photo by Isaac Monté

The Art of Deception. Work in progress photo by Isaac Monté

I do write regularly about art &biotech project but i was actually quite shocked when i read that you tattooed on a decellularized pig’s heart. So how much do you expect people to be scandalized by the project? Is the reaction of the viewer important?

Some people call me a design activist. I am not sure whether I like that or not and if I should be a designer or an artist. But they refer to what I am doing in my work. I am always triggered by a social or an ecological problem. A problem that we are not aware of (anymore) Something that became part of our daily life.

For example pets/animals that are being killed in traffic or cigarette waste in the streets.
Therefore I use design as a medium to create awareness for these kind of issues or even behavior change. It is never my intention to shock and the work itself is not condemnatory, but it makes the spectator think and form its personal opinion.

I the past I made birdhouses out of used cigarette filters, as a reaction against the huge amount of filters that are lying around in the streets. They pollute water and birds eat them and therefore die. On the other hand, birds use these cigarette ends in their nests because the nicotine keeps leeches and other parasites away.

Further on I also made a collection of masks out of fur from roadkill. As a reaction against the fact that a pet or animal which we consider to be so worthy and so beautiful, turns into a piece of waste the moment it is killed in traffic. And of course the whole fuzz that is going on in the fur industry. There is just free fur lying around in the streets.

With this project, The Art of Deception, I am researching how far we can go as designers. What is ethically allowed and what is not.
The idea is to challenge science by re-inventing a biomedical technique. Does the ghost organ represent a blank canvas to designers? Can organs be objects of design? Will humans be able to manipulate organs for aesthestic purposes?

The heart is the crystal cage where inner beauty is supposedly kept, the safe-deposit box of emotions and generally accepted as deep and meaningful.
Ultimately our aim is to explore ghost organs as a metaphor for regenerated, artificial life. The discarded dead hearts will not function as canonical organs, but rather as a representation of how far science can manipulate the human body.

Our project asks: how can science transform the raw, grotesque and hidden inside into a new manipulated unseen beauty? Is this inner beauty the last remaining frontier free of deception? Can inner beauty be designed?

A more beautiful heart does not improve its functionality or the survival or success rate of its owner. But it will introduce beauty in the organ we most closely associate with life itself – like introducing beauty, even if unseen, in our “source” of life. Further on it creates the possibility of customizing one’s own heart. The aesthetic transformation from grotesque to beautiful will only be visible in the in-between moments, when the heart is not yet implanted – and therefore not functional. It seems as if beauty and function cannot be enjoyed simultaneously.

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

The Art of Deception. Photo by Monica Monté

Apart from tattooing, what else will you do to these organs?

We present a collection of 21 decellularized hearts, molded and manipulated in several iterations to explore the organ’s aestheticization. Such alterations suggest deception, a behavior found across countless species to trick others to obtain survival or reproductive advantage.
We embroidered a heart with UV-sensitive yarn, we tattooed a heart, we injected the vessels with resin and dissolved the heart itself (so only the vessels remain), we managed to let the heart glow and the closer the spectator comes the brighter it glows, we managed to shrink a heart to 1 cm, we have a heart with hair growing out of it, we contracted a heart out of the yarn which is being used for surgery, we 3D printed a new aorta (square shaped) with biological tissue, we make a heart breath like a lung, we gave it ‘fur’ like a beast, we laser engraved it with the logo’s of haute couture brands (fashion victim), we made a heart of stone with golden vessels (like a piece of jewelry), we plastinated a heart, we repopulated a heart with iron filings which are constantly moving around and protecting the heart (armored heart), ….

One of the questions that your project asks is how far can science be allowed to manipulate the human body? Did you manage to elaborate an answer to that?

It is speculative, provocative design in which we don’t present answers. It is actually the project itself asking the question to the audience or the spectator how science and design are allowed to manipulate the body. The project does not give any answers but it aims to create awareness around this issue

How about designers? Do / should they have a say in the way science manipulates the human body?

I think it could be very interesting for scientists to cooperate with designers.
As we are more and more designing our own bodies and manipulating our body, we are becoming humanoids I believe there a great opportunities for collaborations.
Science is ‘designing’ the human body, so why not working together with designers

How hands-on were you with the scientific processes? Did you delegate all the scientific manipulations to the scientists or did you manage to engage directly with the development of the work?

For the Bio Art and Design Awards I was linked to Professor Toby Kiers of the VU (Free University) Amsterdam, she was my partner in crime for this project. Apart from that we managed to set up active cooperations with Dr. Renée van Amerongen of Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences, Dr. Monique Verstegen of Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Dr. Yvonne Steinvoort of Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Dr. Jos Malda of the University Medical Center Utrecht, Professor Paul van der Valk of Free University Amsterdam.

I was always very eager to work together. I did not want them to do the work for me. We always did things together or I did it myself. Of course I do not have the scientific knowledge, that is why we set up those cooperations, but they were not just executing my ideas, we worked as a team.

Which challenges have you encountered while developing the project?

Technical challenges such as the decellularization process.
The project was a lot about running experiments.

The most challenging to me was to develop the concept for each of the 21 hearts and to set up collaborations to make it possible to execute these concepts.

View of the work at the Van Abbemuseum. Photo courtesy of Isaac Monté

I saw your work at the Van Abbemuseum, it was part of the show Thing Nothing. How different will the piece be when you show it at MU?

I will show a collection of 21 pieces. All of them will be presented in glass vessels (as in the Van Abbe.) They will be categorized in 3 different themes and therefore presented on 3 long tables. The first category deals with interaction, the second are medical interventions and the 3rd one we consider to be ‘personalized.

Thanks Isaac!

Check out Isaac’s work at Body of Matter. Body based bio art & design which opens at MU in Eindhoven on 27 November. The show will be running until 7 February 2016.

Categories: New Media News

Announcing the Winner of the $10,000 Prix Net Art: Constant Dullaart - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 14:06

2015 Prix Net Art Winner Constant Dullaart. Photo by Ethan Hayes-Chute.

Rhizome and Shanghai-based Chronus Art Center and Beijing-based Tsinghua University Art and Science Media Lab (TASML) are proud to announce that Dutch artist Constant Dullaart has been awarded the second annual $10,000 Prix Net Art, an international prize for internet art. Additionally, a $5,000 Award of Distinction was granted to the Berlin-based collective Weise7.

The Prix Net Art celebrates the current moment of net art and its future. As many artists tackle technology as subject matter through different forms—sculpture, installation and painting—this prize seeks to address the relative scarcity of support for artwork that takes place primarily or exclusively online. The prizes are awarded on a no-strings-attached basis.

The winners were decided by an independent jury, comprising critic Josephine Bosma, Whitney Museum curator Chrissie Iles, and critic/curator Domenico Quaranta.

Today, the 2015 Prix Net Art is recognized with a presentation of Dullaart's work on the front page of the new Additionally, Dullaart with be celebrated in New York in January 2016, and will discuss the future of net art during a significant new Art & Tech conference co-presented by Rhizome and the New Museum that month.

Read the Full Jury Statement

Jury statement excerpt on Constant Dullaart:

“The fluidity of boundaries between artist and tech communities and questions of authorship, virtuosity, and the performativity of art in a mediated environment are an important aspect of the work of the winner of the 2015 Prix Net Art, Constant Dullaart. Dullaart’s work stays firmly yet defiantly within the realm of contemporary art, but from a position profoundly informed by the conditions of new media networks—technical as well as cultural, social, economical, and political networks. Dullaart strives for an honest, respectful, yet unembellished approach to the materials and conditions of the network. At the same time his work is full of humor, wit, and critical commentary.”

Jury statement excerpt on Weise7:

"In awarding the second distinction prize to the art collective Weise7, the jury wants to point to the growing number of hacker and maker labs internationally and the role these play in the context of net art. Weise7 is a strong representative of the return of the practical criticism of the early hacker labs of the late eighties and early nineties.... At a time when networks, from the internet to telephone networks, are increasingly unsafe and under surveillance, the sharing of knowledge about basics of technology and networks is a highly critical and sensitive act.”

See Constant Dullaart interviewed by New Rules about 3 key works:

Prix Net Art is Co-Organized by:

Additional support for Prix Net Art and Rhizome is generously provided by

Special thanks to New Rules for production support. 

Categories: New Media News

The secret sneaker market -- and why it matters | Josh Luber

TED - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 11:47
Josh Luber is a "sneakerhead," a collector of rare or limited sneakers. With their insatiable appetite for exclusive sneakers, these tastemakers drive marketing and create hype for the brands they love, specifically Nike, which absolutely dominates the multi-billion dollar secondary market for sneakers. Luber's company, Campless, collects data about this market and analyzes it for collectors and investors. In this talk, he takes us on a journey into this complicated, unregulated market and imagines how it could be a model for a stock market for commerce.
Categories: New Media News

Slaughtered caimans, threatened orangutans and other tragedies at the World Press Photo exhibition

We Make Money Not Art - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 09:54

A few days ago i popped by the The World Press Photo exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It’s a show i always look forward to visiting. The quality of the prints is often ridiculously low but the photos that win the photojournalism competition give me some time to reflect on the stories that made the news over these past few months but also to discovered under-discussed cultural or political issues.

Just like every single years, half of the winners are from Italy, Palestinians are being killed en masses in front of our very eyes, and manifestations of the anthropocene makes for powerful and dramatic photos. One of the winning photos was about animal cruelty. I’m a bit of a wimp and cried for a whole morning when i saw it. Obviously, i couldn’t add it to this post but do have a look (First prize in the Nature section), it’s a great one.

And because I love lazy and image-heavy posts, here is a quick overview of some of the most stunning awarded images, with a copy/paste of the explanation text found on the website of the exhibition:

Lu Guang, Development and Pollution. Due to the vast presence of coal mines, meadows are left devastated and no sheep or cattle can survive in Holingol City, China. In order to preserve the image of the city, the local government installed 120 sculptures of sheep and cattle on the meadow

Most factories in Hainan Industrial Park of Wuhai City in Inner Mongolia are high-energy consuming and high-pollution producing. China is now the world’s second-largest economy. Its economic development has consumed lots of energy and generated plenty of pollution. A habit of directly discharging unprocessed industrial sewage, exhaust gas and waste material has led to pollution of farmlands, grasslands and drinking water as well as the ocean and the air. Over the past 10 years, factories have been moved from the country’s east to its central and western parts, thus greatly expanding the polluted area and increasing the severity of the the situation. Although the environmental protection administration has shut down many small enterprises with serious pollution emission, some still continue to discharge contaminants illegally. Some have adopted covert operations, such as releasing the smoke and gas waste at night.

Sandra Hoyn, Indonesia’s Last Orangutans

Angelo, a 14-year-old male orangutan, lies waiting for medical examination, in the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) care center in North Sumatra, Indonesia. He was found with air-gun pellets embedded in his body, in a palm-oil plantation.

Globally, the demand for palm oil is growing rapidly, and Indonesia is a market leader. The loss of their rainforest habitat, largely to make way for palm plantations, has brought orangutans almost to extinction in Indonesia.

Paolo Marchetti, Cold Blood Colombia.Freshly slaughtered caimans lie in what workers call ‘the hall of sacrifice’, at a Caiman farm in northern Colombia

Paolo Marchetti, Cold Blood Colombia. One of two weekly meals for 250 adult caiman lies beside their tank, at a farm in northern Colombia. The animals are fed a mix of minced cattle offal with up to 20 percent caiman meat.

Production of the skin of Colombian caimans, prized for its durability and quality, has soared since the 1990s. These days, most skins are obtained from farmed animals and farmers are legally obliged to return a number of caiman to the wild to replenish natural stocks.

Anand Varma, Mindsuckers. When a male sheep crab (Loxorhynchus grandis) is infected by Heterosaccus californicus, a parasitic barnacle, it stops developing fighting claws, and its abdomen widens, providing a womb for the barnacle to fill with its brood pouch. Nurtured by the crab, the eggs hatch. Thousands of baby barnacles disperse to infect anew

Anand Varma, Mindsuckers. When spores of an Ophiocordyceps fungus land on an Amazonian ant, they penetrate its exoskeleton and enter its brain, compelling the host to leave its normal habitat on the forest floor and scale a nearby tree. Filled with the fungus, the dying ant fastens itself to a leaf or another surface. Fungal stalks burst from the ant’s husk and scatter spores onto ants below, to begin the process again

Many parasites not only feed off their hosts, but appear to manipulate the host’s behavior in a way that is advantageous to the parasite’s life cycle. Recent research indicates that this influence occurs at a genetic level—certain parasite genes seem to be able to take control of the host’s brain. Research has shown that in some cases a single parasite gene is responsible for altering the host’s behavior, though in most instances it is thought that the phenomenon is brought about by a combination of genes.

Jérôme Sessini, Crime Without Punishment. The body of a passenger lies still strapped in a seat, in a wheat field, in eastern Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at a height of 33,000 feet (10,058 meters), crashed into the countryside in eastern Ukraine, in rebel-held territory near the Russian border, on 17 July. All 298 people on board were killed. Wreckage was scattered over a radius of some two kilometers, near the villages of Rozsypne, Pelahiivka and Grabove. Evidence began to emerge that MH17 had been brought down by a missile.

Arash Khamooshi, Act of Forgiveness. Prison authorities bring Balal to the scaffold

Although exact figures are not known, Iran is thought to execute more people than any country in the world, apart from China. Hangings are frequently held in public, and sometimes a murder victim’s family may participate in the punishment by pushing the chair from under a condemned prisoner.

On 15 April, a young man identified only as Balal was due to be hanged for stabbing a friend, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, to death during a street brawl. Hosseinzadeh’s mother was present at the hanging, but at the last minute, instead of pushing the chair, she slapped Balal’s face in an act of symbolic forgiveness. Such an act puts a stop to the execution, though the victim’s family does not have a say in any subsequent jail sentence.

Liu Song, Accused

A woman suspected of being a sex worker is held for questioning, at a police station in Chongqing, southwest China.

Local residents had complained about sex-workers’ cards and leaflets being pushed under their doors. Prostitution is illegal in China.

Sergey Ponomarev, Gaza Conflict

Palestinians fleeing fighting in their neighborhood, arrive at a shelter in Khan Yunis. After weeks of rising tension following the killing of three Israeli teenagers, Israel launched a major offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Hamas had fired rockets into Israel on 7 July, after a series of Israeli air strikes in which several Hamas members had been killed. On 8 July, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, aimed at stopping the rocket attacks, and destroying Hamas capabilities, in particular the smuggling tunnels that had been built between Gaza and Egypt.

The offensive lasted seven weeks, during which more than 2,100 people were killed in Gaza, 69 percent of which, according to the UN, were civilians. In Israel, six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed. Amnesty International published a report that criticized Israel’s ‘grossly disproportionate’ responses, but suggested violations of international law on both sides.

Gianfranco Tripodo, Bosa, Bosa, Bosa! A migrant hides from the Guardia Civil in Melilla, an enclave of Spanish territory in North Africa

Three six-meter-high fences separate Melilla from Morocco, yet for decades people seeking a better life in Europe have attempted to scale the fences and reach Spanish soil. Some 6,000 such crossings were reported in Melilla and its sister enclave, Ceuta, in 2014. Very few migrants are granted political asylum; those who are not are taken to the mainland and handed an order to leave, but most cannot be deported as Spain does not have relevant treaties with their countries of origin.

Sofia Valiente, Miracle Village. Rose is the only female offender in the Miracle Village community, but says the stigma of being a sex offender no longer bothers her, and that the men look to her as a sister

Miracle Village, on the southeast corner of Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, in the midst of sugarcane fields and five miles from the nearest town, houses a community of 100 sex offenders. It was set up by an evangelical pastor, Dick Witherow, as a sanctuary for people he terms ‘modern-day lepers’—subject to lifelong restrictions on their movements, which often leave them few options of where to live. Residents of Miracle Village include people sentenced for offences such as the possession of child pornography, and a man who at the age of 18 had sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. Many are tagged with ankle monitors, must obey a nighttime curfew, and cannot own a laptop or mobile phone.

Tomas van Houtryve, Blue Sky Days. People exercising in central Philadelphia. Drone operators may consider such ‘signature behaviors’ as evidence of the existence of a training camp

Since 2002, the US has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to collect intelligence and carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The attacks have resulted in a large number of fatalities, including hundreds of civilians.

The photographer bought a small drone, fitted it with a camera, and flew it in the US over the sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for airstrikes abroad—weddings, funerals, groups of people praying or exercising. He also used it to photograph settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as oil fields, prisons, and the US-Mexico border.

Ronghui Chen, Christmas Factory

Wei works in a factory in Yiwu, eastern China, coating polystyrene snowflakes with red powder. He wears a Christmas hat to protect his hair, and goes through at least six face masks a day.

According to the Chinese government press agency, 600 factories in Yiwu produce around 60 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations. The factories are staffed largely by migrant laborers, who work 12-hour days for between 270 and 400 euros a month. Wei, who comes from rural Guizhou, 1,500 kilometers away, is not entirely sure what Christmas is, but thinks that it is a foreigners’ form of Chinese New Year.

Pete Muller, Ebola in Sierra Leone

The Kabia family mourns as the body of their one-day-old baby is removed by a member of a safe burial team, outside their home in the Hill Cut neighborhood of Freetown. While the baby was not a confirmed Ebola case, the government of Sierra Leone had mandated that all deaths in heavily Ebola-affected districts be treated as potential Ebola cases and buried in accordance with strict safety procedures.

The first cases of a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone were reported in May. There is no cure for Ebola, and the fatality rate can be as high as 90 percent. The virus causes high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as internal and external bleeding. It is highly contagious, being passed on by sweat, blood and other bodily fluids. By the end of the year, 2,758 people had died of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The disease also ravaged neighboring Guinea and Liberia, with 7,880 deaths reported across the three countries overall in 2014.

Check out the World Press Photo exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in London until 29 November 2015.

For an overview of all the winners visit the 2015 Contest image gallery. World Press Photo 15 exhibition tour.

Categories: New Media News

The chilling aftershock of a brush with death | Jean-Paul Mari

TED - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 00:00
In April 2003, just as American troops began rolling into Baghdad, a shell smashed into the building author and war correspondent Jean-Paul Mari was reporting from. There he had a face-to-face encounter with death, beginning his acquaintance with a phantom that has haunted those who have risked their lives on battlefields since ancient times. "What is this thing that can kill you without leaving any visible scars?" Mari asks. We know it as post-traumatic stress disorder -- or, as Mari describes it, an experience with the void of death. In this probing talk, he searches for answers to questions about mortality and psychosis and in the aftermath of horror and trauma.
Categories: New Media News

The Download: sorry to dump on you like - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 15:31

To go beyond browsing, downloading must be considered.

Downloading is essential to almost any kind of engagement with the www, whether code is sent into a browser window or files are delivered to a desktop. To download is to take from the network and to navigate the choreography of circulation itself; when we download, we extend the file’s narrative—its time-stamped presence spanning any number of geo-located servers—into the intimate space of the hard drive. The download is a prerequisite to more local activities, like scanning, printing, dispersing, and archiving. Downloading can transform a public post into private property; to download may be political.

The browser typically acts as our portal to “the downloadable,” extending a view out onto distant servers and directories through the hyperlink. We can (almost) always download anything we see through the browser window, regardless of an artist’s intent, but while a browser-based work is meant to remain confined—“performed” into the user's browser window for a temporal experience that is measured and dictated in certain ways by its publisher—the download allows the user's experience to play out within the more private sphere of the desktop. The download involves agency.

To shift art out of the context of the browser and onto our desktop is to borrow from publishing—“making public” by dispersing copies of files and enjoying them locally (and privately). Artists who distribute downloadable work invite us to activate the computer desktop as an intimate, performative space for engaging with art.

Building on a past program curated by Zoë Salditch, The Download is a new series of six works commissioned by Rhizome that presents posted files, the act of downloading, and the user’s desktop as the space of exhibition. Beginning in November 2015 and continuing into the next year, each artist’s contribution will be zipped up and posted for download. The Download offers the JPG, the TXT, the PDF and other file extensions by artists who view the file format itself as substrate. These works are free to own, print, share, and perform under your own conditions.

Christopher Clary
sorry to dump on you like (2015)
112 MB

do you play.jpg

Somewhere deep inside the directory of Christopher Clary’s sorry to dump on you like, the text “do you play” appears as a file name. This particular JPG is one of 1,860 images in the work: a pixelated 320 x 240 photograph of a bearded man, perhaps a profile pic, creation date February 26, 2001. Is it an invitation? Without punctuation, the phrase “do you play” reads like a provocation, a quick text message, short for “do (the two of) you play (outside of your relationship?)” Surrounding texts encourage a sexualized reading, but isolating it as a fragment suggests other takes. Are you a player? Who’s playing whom?

Consisting only of still images and their filenames, sorry to dump on you like can be read as a dramatic desktop play that takes on an almost operatic depth, with characters, dialogue, and changing scenery. Multiple voices speak the texts, including a chorus of porn actors, tumblr users, and the artist himself, but in this case I imagine the computer asking me—the user who downloads—if I play. In Clary’s work, the paratextual spaces of the operating system (file names, dates, metadata, keywords) can perform unlimited narratives, if the player is game to save, search, and sort.

you may be that man.jpg

Clary’s practice builds upon a long history of artists who appropriate, a trajectory that only recently took a sharp turn into the crowd. Artists like Penelope Umbrico, Joan Fontcuberta, and Joachim Schmid sift through the new vernaculars of picture-taking to create works that result in massive textures, rather than singular portraits. sorry to dump on you like extends this fascination by pointing the crowd’s camera toward constructions of masculinity, sexuality, and ultimately, maps the subjectivity of the artist himself.

i'll stop, im just feeling very close to you, or romantic right now, in a way i guess these are modern versions of love letters.jpg

It’s tempting to call sorry to dump on you like a pornographic work, since an actual porn collection is embedded within it—the artist’s own archive of men accumulated in fifteen years of web browsing. But these JPGs serve only as a substrate: thin scaffolding for an epic textual work that hangs loosely from the files. The numerous written narratives describe intimate exchanges between boyfriends and lovers, alternating between dramatic betrayals, breakups, and banalities. Laced through the work are heart-breaking utterances, illustrated by found images of men that have already been downloaded, stored, and used. In making them available for us to “re-use,” Clary discards them—the title of the work an apology, even, for offloading his memory onto ours.

do you, in your heart, your soul, your head, truely love IMG_359551_4350759.jpg

The voices in sorry to dump on you like vary, merge, and separate, coalescing into a linear narrative when files are sorted by date. When actually called out, characters’ identities are revealed to be file names, like BM1710667 and GBEARFUCKED1. Entangled networks. Actors switch roles to stand in during the most painful scenes, managing to reveal very little. Has anyone been protected? Not all of the images are pornographic, and some have been pixelated beyond recognition, but maybe they’ve all been loved by Clary, the way one loves a fetish or a fantasy. Or an old file. Again and again, the work asks us—now that we’ve downloaded—is it ours? Who do we decide to keep or discard through time? These stories are an offering of sorts: characters once loved, now staged as daddies and bears, cigars and cocks. The object-files of sorry to dump on you like travel through networked relations, but settle into hard drives like angry ghosts.

Before you continue, please be sure it is legal in your area for you to download images of sex and nudity. 

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Categories: New Media News
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