The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 3.3.02
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2002 20:17:35 -0500

RHIZOME DIGEST: March 3, 2002


1. Ron Goldin: Rivets+Denizens--SWITCH_Journal, Issue 17
2. honor: programme announcement--Surveillance and Control

3. Mendi Lewis Obadike: The Sour Thunder Press Release
4. dsi: the doorman [passing]

5. Jonah Brucker-Cohen: Transmediale 2002

6. Jonah Peretti: The Engineer-As-Artist

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Date: 3.3.02
From: Ron Goldin (tobiasblue AT
Subject: Rivets+Denizens--SWITCH_Journal, Issue 17

A curation of curating.
A collaboration exploring collaboration.
A collision of histories and personalities.

SWITCH,, is pleased to announce
'Rivets+Denizens', a project which will be featured in the forthcoming
issue(#17): Collaboration.

'Rivets+Denizens' concentrates on alternative curatorial models. The
participants explore the issues surrounding collaboration as they
pertain to both art practice and the curation of art-- including
identity, ephemerality, authorship, taxonomy, interactivity, group
decision-making. New models of collaboration are discussed such as open
source, public curation, and cross-disciplinary involvement in curating
and new media art-production. The structure and context of the show
itself is a study of group identity, and the emergence of ideas and
knowledge in a collaborative environment, with collaboration from two
distinct angles of a system: Rivet and Denizen.

Initial participants include:

Natalie Bookchin [CalArts, Action-Tank]
Heath Bunting []
Beryl Graham [CRUMB]
Patrick Lichty []
Lev Manovich [UCSD, author of "The Language of New Media"]
Mark Napier and Liza Sabater []
Christiane Paul [Whitney Museum of American Art]
Joel Slayton [CADRE Laboratory, C5]
Benjamin Weil [SFMOMA]
Alena Williams []

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"Even in the case of instable media, where the artwork is in perpetual
flux, and the relationship of the institution with the artist ongoing,
at least as long as the artist is willing and/or able, the artist
remains the author. The curator remains a facilitator, a dialogist, and
a translator. She or he is also the guarantor of the intellectual
integrity in the process of preservation and interpretation: the moment
one of these works enter a public art collection, the curator and the
artist become the actors of a dialogue or collaboration" - Benjamin Weil

"While some of the previously described models of "public curation"
still consist of pre-defined archives, they blur the boundaries between
public and curator, allowing for models that potentially could establish
a more direct reflection of the demands, tastes and approaches of an
audience." - Christiane Paul

"Electronic music theory brings to the table analysis of mixing,
sampling, and synthesis; academic literary theory can also make a
contribution, with its theorizations of intertext, paratext, and
hyperlinking; the scholars of visual culture can contribute their
understanding of montage, collage and appropriation. Having a critical
vocabulary that can be applied across media will help us to finally
accept these operations as legitimate cases of authorship, rather than
exceptions. " - Lev Manovich

"Collaboration is a problematic word. It implies there are two minds
working on the same level, to create an aesthetics that they agree upon.
" - Liza Sabater

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**MUTE MAGAZINE ART ISSUE** Peter Fend 10 page special, Andrew Gellatly
on selling art online, Benedict Seymour on the closure of London's Lux
Centre, Michael Corris on Conceptual art, Hari Kunzru in Las Vegas.
Reviews: Don't blow IT conference, Wizards of OS, Wolfgang Shaehle's
2001 Show

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Date: 2.28.02
From: honor (honor AT
Subject: programme announcement--Surveillance and Control


Saturday 9 March
1400 - 1830 [ GMT ]

Starr Auditorium, Level 2, Tate Modern, London, UK

Tickets: UK£10 / £5.
Ph: 020 7887 8888

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Surveillance and Control is a half day conference which will consider
widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aims to analyse how
recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses
around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance
technologies have influenced new media art practice.

We are confronted by the troubling and expanding presence of
surveillance in our daily life. Monitoring devices are used ever more to
observe physical space, while electronic space has been proven to be
likewise vulnerable to scrutiny, due to the operation of global data
interception systems. The increasing ubiquity of surveillance has
radically transformed the relation between public and private spheres,
as well as the very nature of political and technological control.

Surveillance has been a rich source of interest for artists for many
years, and in recent times monitoring and tracking technologies have
formed a major part of the arsenal of the contemporary artist.
Exhibitions such as CTRL[SPACE] at the ZKM in Germany, reveal a growing
interest in artistic surveillance tactics, drawing attention to new
interpretations of the 18th Century concept of the panopticon as an
ideal mechanism of observation and control.

Our concept of a continually observed society has moved on since Michel
Foucault seized on the panopticon as a metaphor for the oppressive use
of information in modern society. Though Foucault's observation that
control no longer requires physical domination over the body, but can be
enacted through the constant possibility of observation, still holds
true, the methods used to monitor individuals in space have changed
considerably. Surveillance and Control will not only refer to the uses
of conventional monitoring and tracking technologies, but also the
operation of 'dataveillance' - the largely invisible practice of
tracking and intercepting electronic data.

The events of September 11 and their continuous re-enactment as media
spectacle, have created a new psychological environment in which these
issues can be considered. Since this time, new surveillance and
communication interception powers for law enforcement agencies and
intelligence authorities have been proposed and enacted in many
countries. The war on terror has lead to what Goebbles once described
as, the `optimum anxiety level' which is needed to mobilise a larger
audience for a certain common cause - in this case the rehabilitation of
the authoritarian state and the expansion of the military and policing.
In this context, it becomes more problematic to speak about privacy and
threats to freedom of information. Surveillance and Control will ask if
there is a possibility to counter this meticulously maintained public
anxiety, and re-engage dialogue about the limits of freedom versus the
limits of systems of surveillance and control.

This half day conference features artists Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), Kate
Rich (Australia / UK) and Julia Scher (USA), investigative journalist,
Duncan Campbell (UK), media theorist, Eric Kluitenberg (Netherlands),
and Konrad Becker from Public Netbase (Austria). The event will also
feature an info-booth by

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<> ELO invites Rhizome subscribers to
join leading web artists, writers, critics, theorists for the seminal
e-lit event of 2002. Rhizome subscribers who register before FEB 15 2002
may register at ELO member rates ($25 discount).

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Date: 2.25.02
From: Mendi Lewis Obadike (sourthunder AT
Subject: The Sour Thunder Press Release

Keith+Mendi Obadike's net.opera The Sour Thunder will launch from Thursday Feb 28th - Saturday March 2nd
with live (real video) streams nightly from Yale Univeristy at 8:30pm
and 11:00pm EST. Mp3s from the opera will be availible for downloading.

The Sour Thunder tells a double-sided story blending autobiography and
speculative fiction. Sesom travels from a land where scent is language
to a land where language is spoken. Mendi travels from Atlanta (the US)
to Santiago (the DR). The Sour Thunder explores the role of geography in
identity and the idea of language as a technology. It will be
simultaneously performed in and webcast from the Yale Cabaret and Afro
American Cultural Center.

This net.opera features the website design and flash art of John Vega
and the hypertext eMixes of Houston Baker, Christian Campbell, Coco
Fusco, Duriel E. Harris, Nalo Hopkinson, John Keene, Ferentz Lafargue,
Wahneema Lubiano, Dawn Lundy Martin, Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky, and
Ronaldo V. Wilson. The live performance features Iona Brown, Marcus
Gardley, Peter Macon, and Laurie Woodard with set design by Torkwase
Dyson, lighting design by Tan Falkowski, costume design by Camille
Assaf, choreography by Tim Acito, and scent design by Iona Brown.

The Sour Thunder has been generously supported by Benjamin Slotznick,
David Deitch and Yale Media Services, Yale Cabaret, the Afro-American
Cultural Center at Yale, and the Yale Digital Media Center for the Arts.

For the most recent information on this project, please go to:

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IT IS necessary to buy "Not Necessarily 'English Music,'"
Leonardo Music Journal Volume 11. Not only is it curated by David Toop,
but it includes a double CD. Tune in and turn on to the LMJ website at

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Date: 2.24.02
From: dsi (dsi AT
Subject: the doorman [passing]

a new work is now online

Al you need is:

sound out loud
10 minutes of relax.


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Date: 3.3.02
From: Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah AT
Subject: Report from Transmediale 2002

Feb 5-24, 2002
Haus De Kulturen de Welt
Berlin, Germany

On Tuesday, February 5th, Berlin's Haus De Kulturen de Welt
(International House of Cultures) was transformed from a bland, concrete
convention center to a scene from Kubrick's 2001. Day-Glo orange
beanbags filled the "Media Lounge" along with multiple computers and
screening stations for projects showing at the Transmediale 2002. Neon
lights lit up the stretched nylon wrapper surrounding the lounge while
cloth banners filled the entrance hall hanging like rubber flaps of a
space-age car wash.

The opening night began with introductions from the festival's two
organizers and curators Susanne Jaschko and Andreas Broeckmann. Despite
there being a simultaneous English translation available, I found out
too late and missed most of their comments. Nevertheless, the evening
led to a trailer of the featured digital animations and video pieces
along with an introduction by Randall Packer, Secretary of the United
States Department of Art and Technology.

Mr. Packer, who started the USDAT to give international artists a voice
in an increasingly defense-focused US government, gave his first
European address modeled after Harry Truman's famous address to
congress. His cornerstone idea rests on the value of Global
Virtualization as a unifying force for arts working with technology and
their integration into the betterment of society and technological
understanding among the world population. After the proceedings, I (USA)
along with the other Ambassadors of their respective countries ratified
the Berlin Virtualization Charter by signing our names on a Palm Pilot
and beaming them to Mr. Packer's master copy.

Meanwhile downstairs, the Congress Hall of the building led into the
exhibition floor where a wide variety of international media artists
displayed their work. I was lucky enough to be included in the show with
my personal bandwidth generating project, "Crank The Web" along with
artists like Ohio State University's Ken Rinaldo with his organic
reactive sculpture, Autopoeisis, Montreal's Luc Courchesne with his 360
degree immersive interactive panorama project, Masaki Fujihata's 3D GPS
narrative, Seiko Mikami's eye tracking viewer, RobotLab's mechanized DJ
and scratching "Juke Bots," and video/webcam installations such as
Wolfgang Staehle's "Empire 24/7" and Dagmar Keller and Martin Wittwer's
eerie video pan, "Say Hello to Pease and Tranquility." Included in the
exhibition but outside the museum-like walls and on the sidewalk outside
the Haus, was Alexei Shulgin's computer installation "Busking 386 DX."
It's very uplifting to hear a 386 PC begging for money and singing
"Should I Stay or Should I Go?" followed by a medley of Beatles songs.

Although the festival award nominees were chosen before it opened,
Transmediale commissioned artist Stuart Rosenberg to create a project
for the audience to participate in the final tally. His work, "Public
Bet/Public Vote" allowed audience members to bet Euros and vote on the
projects they thought would win the awards. As the votes were tallied,
the people closest to the correct winners would split the riches. As
well as exhibition projects, there were plenty of online works in the
show including the Carnivore project and a curious work called
Tracenoizer where you input your name and it scours the web for your
information eventually building a mock-website about you.

Alongside the projects were numerous panels, discussions, workshops, and
performances, and a nightly gathering called "Club Transmediale"
consisting of DJs and live video mixing which took place in a local
abandoned factory-turned-nightclub called E-Work. Courchesne, Fujihata,
Rinaldo, Peter Frucht, RobotLab, and I began the panel proceedings with
"Concepts of Interaction" moderated by Susanne Jaschko. Each of us got a
chance to present our exhibited works along with past projects. Other
workshops included an all day long seminar on "Hacker Techniques" as
well as one on creating "Flash Comics." Thursdays panel included one on
SMS (Short Message Service) as a medium for artistic expression.

Overall it was a really good festival with a lot of work to see and many
conferences/talks to attend. This year's fest benefitted from being in
the Haus De Kulturen de Welt since it's a bigger venue and allowed for
more people and more attention spent on individual works. Hopefully,
next year it will be even a bigger success!

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Date: 2.22.2002
From: Jonah Peretti (jonah AT
Subject: The Engineer-As-Artist
Keywords: exhibition, engineering, design, art world

A Conversation between Jonah Peretti, Director of R&D and Post-Graduate
Studies at Eyebeam, and design engineer and technoartist Natalie

Part I: The Engineer-As-Artist

Eyebeam ( is a not-for-profit organization established
in 1996 to provide access, education, and support for artists, students,
and the general public in the field of art and technology. Eyebeam is in
the process of creating a research and development division, and I
recently had an extended conversation with the newest member of our R&D
advisory committee, design engineer and technoartist, Natalie
Jeremijenko ( She is in a unique position
to reflect on the role of technical innovation in the context of the art
world. Her work has been exhibited at major art institutions including
the Solomon R. Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the
New York Museum of Modern Art. She has also developed technology
projects at leading research labs, including Xerox PARC, Stanford's
design engineering program, and the Center for Advanced Technology at
New York University. She currently has an appointment at NYU's Center
for Advanced Technologies and at Yale University, where she is creating
a Product Design Studio and an exhibition incubation lab.

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JP: What is the focus of the new lab you are building at Yale?

NJ: I am calling my new initiative at Yale the Product Design Lab
precisely because I don't want to call it "digital media" or
"information technology and society" or "art and technology" or any of
that because of course ALL information technology involves social design
whether explicitly or implicitly, and the projects may or may not
involve the institutions of art. In this understanding, art is another
form of material culture with it's own norms of production, forms of
ownership, etc.

My program focuses on the transformative potential of new technology,
and on understanding how technology works. We are in the field of
engineering dealing with material culture in the very pragmatic realm of
making things work. I am making a centrist claim by calling this
"product design."

JP: But isn't critical theory very important to your work?

NJ: Yes, it is still integral to my approach. But critical social theory
and ethnographic or technographic modes of analysis are really
generative of new designs, new technologies. By contrast, the way that
product design is taught in this country usually starts with making a
"bug list." You spend very little time generating an interesting
problem, and then talk about these designers as "problem solvers." You
design to pre-existing needs but there is very little understanding
about whether you are solving the right problem or that criticism is
generative of possibilities, ideas, and products.

I am interested in technology which is always and already complicit with
social change. That is obviously why most of us work with technology or
are interested in the field. It is the front where things are changing
in predictable and unpredictable ways. I want to make the designs
accountable for the type of change they promote.

JP: In addition to the Product Design Lab, you also mentioned that you
were creating an "exhibition incubation" lab?

NJ: The thing about exhibitions is that they need to be incubated a bit.
By incubating exhibitions at my lab in Yale I can get interdisciplinary
people, political theorists, historians, critics, even engineers to
comment, to generate the discourse before the exhibits move to real
exhibition spaces in New York.

The exhibition incubation lab is both storage and display. It is one
thing to show students a picture of something once in a lecture, but it
is another thing to live with it for three months, to have it there, to
reference, to look at, to examine it. I am creating a culture of stuff
at my lab, a material culture.

JP: What are some of the exhibits you are currently incubating?

NJ: One of them is a project called Scale, which is about curating or
commissioning a series of works that can fit within a couple of square
centimeters - but not scale models of art but pieces actually designed
for that scale. For instance Paul Di Marinis does a lot of amplitude
mapping. He has got a wonderful and excruciatingly small piece called
Edison's pubic hair. It looks like a hair but it is actually the width
modulated amplitude map of his voice during one of the first recordings.

JP: You also mentioned an exhibition on street weapons.

NJ: Right. There is an exhibition called Street Weapons which is looking
at the material culture for inhabiting public space. This includes
everything from skateboards, to cell phones, to designs for bicycle
wheels that print slogans, or pvc piping with arm holds that can create
barriers of people that police can't break. This particular show is
focused on activism and the arms race between activists and the state,
an arms race for the public imagination that one side is fighting with
increasingly militarized strategies, and the other is countering with
playful and irreverent mediagenic tactics.

JP: What else is being incubated?

NJ: The Network Modeling exhibit will look at interdisciplinary ways
that complexity is envisioned and imagined. There are a lot of different
takes on how you represent complexity. There are software networks
models and social theory network models. Putting these side-by-side is
one of the ways to examine what aspects different disciplines privilege.
Particularly when we juxtapose representations of exactly the same
networks, tracing where the important nodes, vertices, and connections
match and diverge.

JP: Will any of your research on toy design end up in an exhibit?

NJ: Yes. For part of the Toy Design research, I have embedded little
cameras and mikes in interactive toys. What happens is the camera turns
on and captures a couple seconds of video every time the child interacts
with the toy. This is in contrast to user studies, where you put a kid
and a toy in a lab for an hour or two and look at what they are doing. I
am able to put these toys in real homes to capture weeks and months of
interaction. That is what I argue is the time frame of learning.

So I am incubating an exhibition that would include footage that I have
collected from the point of view of toys, which is really quite
interesting and amusing to watch. You can see from Furby's point-of-view
or Arthur's point-of-view.

JP: Are there any other exhibitions under development that you want to

NJ: Sure. The Mechanics of Information exhibition will address the
mechanical interface to information, including everything from LPs to
scratch culture. There are many fascinating mechanisms that make the
delusion of "immaterial" information possible, and artists have also
reissued these. For example, Bernie Lubell made a computer, all the
logic gates, etc., out of large wooden 2x4s!

JP: So it sounds like you are spinning off exhibitions from your work as
an engineer. You are working on toy design or street weapon design as
engineering problems but also as a form of art production. In your
professional life, are you encountering a growing number of people who
straddle these two identities and don't know whether to call themselves
artists or engineers?

NJ: This confused identity is really very interesting. At research labs,
I actually avoid the word artist because it means you are flaky and
marginal. If someone calls me creative I know it is usually an insult.
It means, your work doesn't matter, it is not important.

JP: Chris Csikszentmihalyi at MIT had the opposite problem. When he said
he was the only artist at the Media Lab, many of the other professors
were offended. They think of themselves as artists.

NJ: Well, actually, Interval had this same problem: engineers and
designers wore a lot of black and had long hair and called themselves
artists but didn't exhibit artwork. They were funded by different
institutions, such as venture capitalists, and exhibited in very
different contexts, mainly to patent attorneys. Calling themselves
artists was primarily a way of not being accountable to the [other]

JP: And meanwhile you are exhibiting and not calling yourself an artist.

NJ: Well, it is a weird thing. We all tend to use whatever title is

JP: The worst is when the same person presents himself as an artist when
he is talking to engineers and an engineer when he is talking to
artists. That way the person does not have to be accountable to either
group. Many of us played this game at the MIT Media Lab. But the best
work, which is rare, makes real contributions to multiple communities of
practice in art, science, and technology.

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[In the next exciting installment find out about why empiricism belongs
in galleries, how artists can help establish matters of fact, and why
artist collectives are as real as it gets.]

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Alex Galloway (alex AT
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