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: 3.23.02
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 13:55:16 -0500

RHIZOME DIGEST: March 23, 2002


+editor's note+
1. beverly tang: Rhizome.LA--Sunday March 24

2. Lucia Leao: 25 Sao Paulo Biennial--Net Art
3. KOGO: *candy factory AT EDINBURGH

4. Jon Ippolito: Code As Creative Writing--An Interview with John Simon

5. anne-marie: Untitled Game and Ego Image Shooter

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Date: 3.12.2002
From: beverly tang (beverly AT
Subject: Rhizome.LA--Sunday March 24
Keywords: virtual reality, interact, installation

Rhizome.LA: Dinner with George Legrady, Bill Seaman, and Tamiko Thiel

Please join George Legrady, Bill Seaman, and Tamiko Thiel at the next
Rhizome.LA. They will each give a talk about their recent and upcoming
interactive environment/installation projects. Please come early and
enjoy some dinner before the presentations start.

Date: March 24, 2002
Time: 6pm - catered dinner
7pm - presentations
Location: Rocco
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, California

No need to RSVP, but a $5-10 sliding-scale cover will be charged at the
Dinner will be $10 per person (charged separately).

Questions? Email Beverly Tang at beverly AT

Tamiko Thiel

Bill Seaman

George Legrady

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**MUTE MAGAZINE NEW ISSUE** Coco Fusco/Ricardo Dominguez on activism and
art; JJ King on the US military's response to asymmetry and Gregor
Claude on the digital commons. Matthew Hyland on David Blunkett, Flint
Michigan and Brandon Labelle on musique concrete and 'Very Cyberfeminist

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Date: 3.22.02
From: Lucia Leao (lucleao AT
Subject: 25 Sao Paulo Biennial--Net Art

Curador: Rudolf Frieling

1) Bunting & Lialina (Inglaterra, Rússia)

2) Carol Flax & Trebor Scholz (USA)

3) CALC & Johannes Gees (Espanha, Suiça)

4) Francesca da Rimini (Itália)

5) Gruppo A12, Udo Noll & Peter Scupelli (Alemanha, Itália, USA)

6) Jody Zellen (USA)

7) Kristin Lucas (USA)

8) Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid (Eslovênia)

9) Shi Yong (China)

10) Stanza (Inglaterra)

11) Roberto Cabot (França/Brasil/Alemanha)

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Curadora: Cristine Mello

1) Kiko Goifman & Jurandir Muller

2) Lucia Leao

3) Lucas Bambozzi

4) Diana Domingues e Grupo Artecno/Universidade Caxias do Sul

5) Gilbertto Prado

6) Giselle Beiguelman

7) Artur Matuck

8) Enrica Bernardelli

9) Ricardo Barreto

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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: 3.20.02
From: KOGO (ga2750 AT
Subject: *candy factory AT EDINBURGH

*candy factory AT EDINBURGH
21st March 2002

Dear all

*candy factory projects is taking a place here at new media Scotland
from 21st March 2002 through one cultural exchange project for Japan and
Scotland, part 2 of art works in domestic spaces titled "Art in The
Home." But our works will be shown at the street from Collective Gallery
in 21-24,29-31 MARCH 2001- 7:00-0:00 even for homeless people
broadcasting non broad casting time of a TV studio in Yamaguchi Japan
titled DO Also an old department store here in Edinburgh now on

For more Art in your home, here you can check more non-broad casting
view from EBC program "WHY" from Seoul Korea. Re-installed WIN.EXE with
OLA PEHRSON, he took old icon of windows folder, Also re mixed domestic
boredom in UK about one TV program MY DAD SEDUCED MY FIANCEE

More web project will be soon here

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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: 3.12.2002
From: Jon Ippolito (JIppolito AT
Subject: Code As Creative Writing--An Interview with John Simon
Keywords: software, programming, design

This interview took place in January 2002, on the occasion of the
Guggenheim's acquisition of John Simon's Unfolding Object. More info at

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Jon Ippolito: You've been working on or near the cutting edge of digital
art since the mid-1980s, when you were programming image-processing
routines for CCD [charge-coupled device] photography. Yet you often cite
sources of inspiration from the world of pen and brush rather than the
world of pixel and browser, and I see some of these influences of
Modernism-for example, the influence of Paul Klee in your plotter
drawings [1994-95] and Sol LeWitt in Combinations [1995]. What is it
about those artists that speaks to you?

John F. Simon, Jr.: I am interested in analytical approaches to
creativity. A new technology doesn't erase a life's work of thoughtful,
creative production. The ideas are bigger than the medium. There are
many examples in art history where artistic practice could be described
as algorithmic-an approach to experimentation by rule making, including
LeWitt and Conceptual artists in the 1970s also Paul Klee in the 1920's
along with many other Bauhaus professors.

An even older example would be Dominican priest-scholar Sebastien
Truchet's 1722 work on the use of combinations in tile design. His study
uses square tiles of two colors that are divided diagonally. He assigned
a letter to each of the four possible orientations of this kind of tile.
He then made lists of letters describing the sequence and orientation
for laying out the tiles. The lists functioned like instructions or
programs for constructing the design. Craftsmen would pick a pattern out
of his book and use the lists of letters as assembly instructions.
Another even older example would be the analytical techniques used in
the design of the Alhambra and in much Islamic art.

JI: Is there a single artist or movement you can point to as an
influence on Unfolding Object? Where did the idea for this project come

JS: The idea for Unfolding Object comes from many sources. Physicist
David Bohm theorizes about a level of information below the quantum
level where all matter is interconnected. In his terminology, the object
unfolds information about itself. The outward expression of an object is
the unfolding of this potential.

I detected a similarity between Bohm's description of nature and
software objects. The potential for the Unfolding Object is contained in
the source code, which is not displayed on the screen but functions on a
different level. The expression of the code, its unfolding, is decided
by the interaction of the code with the person unfolding it.

Another source was Klee, who wrote about how a drawing is defined by its
"cosmogenic moment," when the symmetry of the blank page is broken by
the first mark-the first decision of the creator. Gilles Deleuze also
considers The Fold [1993] and its relationship to the process of

From my own thoughts about drawings as diagrammatic records of
decisions, I wanted to create a software object that would reveal its
history. I am also fascinated by the implicit potential that a software
object has in its programming.

JI: Virtual reality guru Jaron Lanier has described virtual reality as
an experiment in alternative physics. You've created an object that
appears to inhabit normal euclidean space yet has a mathematical
extensibility beyond anything in our physical environment. When you
envisioned this work, did you ever see yourself as bending the laws of
nature in the service of art?

JS: Which laws of nature? Newton's? I think that nowadays artistic
conceptions of reality can hardly keep up with the non-local, non-
euclidean, non-linear scientific theories of the natural world.

My interest is in relativist mathematics that have no concept of
infinity. I want Unfolding Object to exist in a relativist space where
it defines, as much as possible, the shape of its space. I want to avoid
the Cartesian picture plane, with a horizon and vanishing point. I don't
want to conceptualize the whole space from the beginning-I want the
object to create the space as it unfolds. Of course, this idea is
limited when you have to use a computer screen and perspective
projection to visualize the thing.

JI: Are you inspired by particular gizmos that help you avoid these
kinds of limitations? I'm thinking of the drawings executed with a
pressure-sensitive stylus and ink plotter, or your wall-mounted
sculptures made from exposed Powerbook innards, or your recent acrylic
panels cut with an industrial laser.

JS: I think it's the gizmos that create the limitations. All the works
you mention are concerned with algorithmic possibilities. There are many
technologies that can be used to explore possibilities especially if you
can program them. I switch to a new technology when I feel like it can
shed some light or offer a different perspective on a bigger idea.

JI: Yet working online requires you to settle for the most abundant
technology, like Netscape or Explorer, rather than the most specialized.

JS: Actually, I think browsers are highly specialized and limited while
Powerbooks seem abundant with a much less restricted development

JI: I guess I'm wondering whether you find it more challenging to make
an alluring work for the Internet, given that its display hardware is
mundane rather than precious.

JS: Who can say what the next display hardware will be? Maybe someone
will design a precious screen to view my online work. An undefined
context is by far the biggest obstacle for designing and experiencing
online art. Many qualities that define other artwork cannot be
considered with online work. This can be liberating but also detract
from the overall impression. There is no control of display with online
work. The best that can be done is hope that whoever views it will focus
only on the window in which your piece is displayed and not have too
many other distractions on the desktop-or surrounding the computer.
Making my LCD [liquid crystal display] panels was a reaction to this
situation, an attempt to have more control of the display environment.

What I try to do online is design an artwork that relies on a strong
concept, whose qualities as an artwork don't depend on any specific
colors or display speed or viewing environment. This takes away a lot of
decisions but puts more emphasis on understanding the limits and
refining the concept.

JI: Your work has not obeyed a strict progression, from, say, pen-and-
ink to animated paintings to Internet-based projects. Do you ever feel
like you are jumping forwards and backwards, creating art to fill in
gaps in art history?

JS: I don't think the concept of progress applies to art the way it does
to technology, so the idea of a "strict progression" may also be poorly
applied or assume too much about how or why art is made. If you look at
my art over a longer term, say the last fifteen years, I think what you
see is a continued push to visualize and activate complex ideas. I
choose whatever materials I think are appropriate to lock down an idea
or get to what I want to see.

JI: You were one of the first artists I know to have figured out new
economic models for selling digital artworks. I'm thinking particularly
of the low-cost multiples available at your "souvenir shop" , which
offers art in everyone's price range, or the edition of Unfolding Object
you've contemplated for collectors' desktops. Last year you even
published a brochure about your art that emulated the look and function
of a corporation's annual report. This approach seems at odds with the
attitude of many online artists of your generation, for whom the
Internet offered a space outside of the profit-driven art market. Do you
think every artist should have a business plan?

JS: I think every artist should have a plan for paying their expenses so
they can devote their full energies to their art.

JI: You've adapted your work Every Icon [1996] for the Web, for a
Powerbook screen, and for a Palm Pilot. The way you've re-created the
same work in different platforms has encouraged me to think that
translations from one medium to another may be the best preservation
strategy for digital art [as outlined in the Variable Media
Initiative<>]. Does the fact that you've
already sold these different formats as different artworks make it
easier or harder to imagine preserving them via a protocol like variable

JS: Easier, because what was sold in each case was a software license.
Every Icon is the simplest example because it is primarily carried by
the concept. There are no issues of processor speed/timing, color,
display size. It works most everywhere so many of the translation issues
are already solved by example. Of all my pieces, it is easiest to
imagine this piece being preserved by porting the code to whatever is
the "system du jour." It is also, by far, the simplest piece of code.

JI: Many of your works are, in fact, primarily programming code. How do
you think this work relates to the "artist software" genre, works like
the Web Stalker, FloodNet, or Auto-Illustrator ?

JS: I think what I am programming is quite different but I like those
projects and think they are important. For me, what's important is that
a piece of software can be considered an artwork, and that writing
software is as creative as it is technical, and the choices made for
language, data structure, methods, etc., are significant creative

JI: In most online artworks, the code can be separated from the visual
result. I am thinking of the difference between the Web page Netscape or
Explorer shows you and the HTML or scripting that View Source shows you.
This separation doesn't normally exist with other artworks-LeWitt being
the obvious exception. An elegant page written with a simple JavaScript
"for" loop and document.write could generate the same visual result as a
messy HTML document with loose tags that's ten times as long.

Do you see any aesthetic difference between a work elegantly coded by a
programming perfectionist versus a kludge that happens to generate the
same experience for the viewer?

JS: How important do you consider craftsmanship in fine art? There is no
right or wrong way to code. What you write and the way you write it
reveal yourself.

Whatever you see on screen and in View Source reflects the resources and
choices of the person who put the page together. Some people care more
about how the HTML and JavaScript source looks than others. I know some
people embed messages as comments in their Web pages that are not
visible in the browser. Some painters finish the sides of their canvases
and others choose to leave them raw. There is a difference in the way
each one looks. I usually only ask: is the choice appropriate to the

Personally, I don't pay much attention to the way my HTML looks. Unless
it is part of the project, I make the HTML as plain as possible or
accept whatever the default is from an editing program. I usually only
care about how the pages function in the browser.

JI: Must an artist be a programmer to make truly original online art?

JS: Truly original? You Modernist!

Whether you make art or not, understanding programming is an amazing

JI: You have said:

"Once you write a piece of software and run it on the computer, then it
is a very fluid language. Every variable that you choose in the software
becomes subject to expansion, and you can make lookup tables to vary
parameters or you can have functions that are varied by random
numbers...Sometimes you get things that look the way you expected them
to look, and sometimes they are completely different." [Interview by
Tilman Baumgaertel on Nettime]

I think you put your finger here on a common misunderstanding of both
computer-based art and the analog "Conceptual art" that you point to as
an influence on your work. Does it bother you that some people misread
algorithmic art as simply the demonstration of some mathematical
tautology, and hence a purely cerebral exercise? What, if anything,
should artists do to counteract such a misreading?

JS: I practice what I call a "creative writing" style, as opposed to a
"problem solving" style, of writing software. I can say that I have only
really been able to practice this style for a few years. I believe I am
just finding out what it means to code with this awareness so I can't
say how it should be read. There are a lot of misperceptions about code
because it varies as much as the number of people writing it. The only
way artists can improve people's understanding of software is to keep
creating and understanding it ourselves.

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Date: 3.12.2002
From: anne-marie (amschle AT
Subject: 2 Reviews--Untitled Game and Ego Image Shooter
Keywords: interface, indexicality, gender, gaming, design

Untitled Game CD by JODI
Review by Anne-Marie Schleiner

Untitled Game is a CD (and web site) containing twelve modifications of
Quake by artist ensemble JODI. The first modification, "Arena", is
blinding white. All visible architecture has been eliminated. What
remains is interface components and sound. The following mods range in
interactivity and effect, from number stats flowing upscreen to ambient
warm toned 3-D environments.

Game Engine = Artist Tool

Like other artists including Nullpointer and Retroyou, JODI have
immersed themselves in exploring game engines as art generating tools.
(Different artists have been staking out different commercial engines as
their mediums--more recently the Australian web site, "Select Parks,"
has collected artist-made mods.) JODI have become intimately familiar
with the file structure of Quake 1, its code structure and algorithms,
and its loopholes and glitches. Time++ has been logged "playing" with
the system, just as Nato addicts and V.J.s spend hours tweaking sound
and 3-D/2-D visuals, happening sometimes on interesting accidental

Unlike ID Software, the original designers of Quake, JODI search for
beautiful bugs in the system, to make glitches happen that werent
supposed to, to tweak the game, even to demolish it. When I push the
spacebar to jump in E1M1AP instead the world rotates uncontrollably. In
G-R the screen refreshes non-stop with bright RGB colors, (no navigation
at all). In Ctrl-9 and Ctrl-Space, navigation and looking about generate
undulating black and white moire patterns.

Hacker Art Aesthetic

Despite the different ways that JODI "break" Quake, their work remains
in dialogue with the original game. Hacker art tweaks a system yet
retains ontological aspects of the system from which it mutated. In
their earlier SOD mod, a mod of the classic shooter Castle Wolfenstein,
JODI replaced Wolfenstein's Nazi castle with black and white Miro-like
panels. Yet they still chose to retain the original sound bytes of dogs
barking and soldiers yelling. Similarly, in the game mods included in
Untitled Game, many of the original macho Quake grunts are still
included. These original audio samples recall indexically in the
player's minds eye the original Quake levels and characters. A ghost
image of the original flickers behind the alteration, evoked by sound
and interface artifacts.

Created not only for art aficionados but also for rabid Quake fans,
habitual Quake players can even navigate "blind" through some of the
levels included in Untitled Game. In Slipgate, (slipgates are an
original feature of Quake), small blue cubes are formidable growling

Revealing Algorithms

One aesthetic maneuver repeated in the Untitled Game collection,
reminiscent of JODI's net art, is to strip the environment of
"realistic" graphics, to reduce anti-aliased pixels and color palettes
to primary minimalist colors and shapes. Stripped of all pretense of
photorealism, game play is reduced to algorithms normally cloaked as
"representational" actions. ("Rez", a Japanese Playstation2 game, is
the only commercial 3-D game I have seen which emphasizes movement
algorithms and "cyber-representation" over "photorealistic"
representation.) And these bare algorithms can be quite stunning. My
most favorite mod on Untitled Game is "Spawn". In Spawn, shooting is
transformed into spraying showers of gray pixels over an inky black
background. Shooting becomes pixel painting, which in turn creates


Another primary component of JODI's mods is tension between user control
and program control. The relationship between user input and program
output has been tweaked. The time it takes for the program to execute a
command seems to have been elongated and refracted, so my smallest
actions become triggers of algorithms that then unfold semi-autonomously
from my input. Q-L is the most semi-automatic mod on Untitled. Once
the player views the preset level demo and actually starts to play the
game, the players movements trigger kaleidoscopic effects which
accelerate fast and taper off slowly. Similarly, in E1M1AP, when I hit
the space bar to jump, I summersault into an extended disorienting
twirl. Output far exceeds input. Or the program becomes the performer,
I am no longer player god in control--I must concede some of my agency
to the code.

Untitled Game is an exploration of the Quake system and some variable,
funny, playful, beautiful Jodiesque things it can be made to do.
Untitled Game also participates in a dialogue about 3-D gaming
environments and what they can possibly become. (Unlike recent game
inspired paintings or sculptures that speak exclusively to art
audiences.) Although singularly not every mod on Untitled Game stands
up on its own, when viewed as a complete package, (pak file ;) ), the
UG archive is impressive.

Untitled Game Site

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Ego Image Shooter by Marion Strunk and Deanna Herst
Review by Anne-Marie Schleiner

Ego Image Shooter is a new game by Marion Strunk and Deanna Herst
(concept/design) created for Gender Games, an Swiss research initiative
for exploring gender in relation to computer games. Of the five "games"
created for Gender Games, which are available from their web site, Ego
Image Shooter is certainly the most entertaining and the most "game-
like". (Others severely stretch the definition of computer game and are
more akin to hypertext net art.) Ego Image Shooter critiques the genre
of shooter games in a number of playful ways.

At game start-up, a blond American avatar with a strong hick accent
announces that he will be your guide. Reminiscent of white trash
backwoods characters in shooter games like Duke Nukem, this boyish
avatar is relatively less macho, sporting a pasty smile permanently
glued to his face. The game consists of five levels, which the player
selects by rotating the bullet chamber of a gun-like interface.
Alternately the player can click on the weapon in the bottom left of the
screen to choose a level--each level has a different weapon identified
with it, ranging from shot gun to automatic. Clearly, from the outset,
the game draws the player's conscious attention to shooters and their

Each of the five levels is an entirely new environment. In one level the
player faces a bleak hallway recalling the tunneling architecture of
shooter games. However, as s/he shoots, instead of bullets, frogs stream
out of her weapon. Eventually a frog prince appears and morphs into a
giant pair of kissing lip. In another level, in a burning apocolyptic
blaze, a hoard of translucent cybernetic mummies slowly advance toward
the player. They are truly frightening. But when they reach the player
two of the mummies turn their heads towards each other and lock
themselves into a mind altering homoerotic kiss which even melts the
environment behind them. (Very dreamy!) My favorite level is an
imitation Quake level, replete with the deep grunts and echoes common in
violent network shooter Quake. The level also uses the typical warm
desert sienna color palette common in the Quake Series. But when the
player shoots his gun, purple flowers come out instead of bullets,
covering the screen and obliterating the Quake-like environment.

Although Ego Image Shooter is created with Macromedia Director as a
Shockwave Movie, it implements the "find and replace" subversive logic
of game modifications. (game-programming: Alex Schaub). Game mods allow
players to selectively replace elements in a pre-existing game, from
architecture, to textures, weapons, characters, sounds and so on. By
consistently replacing bullets with unexpected frogs, flowers and
kisses, Ego Image Shooter seems to be critiquing the testosterone-laden
world of shooter games by inserting "feminine" signifiers which
substitute for the spray of "semen-like" weapon discharge. (An
interesting comparison is a "Sailor Moon" modification of Doom. The
Sailor Moon "wad" recolored the walls and floors in pink, replaced the
gun with a magic boomerang, and replaced the ammo littering the
environment with cupcakes and bunnies.)

But it is also undeniably fun to spray frogs and, in a different level,
soccer balls out of a gun. Shooting is painting the environment. Perhaps
another intent of Ego Image Shooter is too stretch the boundaries of the
often too rigid shooter genre--not only to critique but to mutate into a
new kind of shooter game. Often the game engine takes control away from
the player--after shooting off a few rounds of frogs, a movie of a
morphing frog prince appears. It is as if the game demands us to be
aware of the conventions of game play by working against them. It wrests
control away from the player just at the moment she is warming up to a
shooting frenzy.

The remaining levels in the game are less open to interpretation,
departing even further from the conventions of shooter game play. (They
also seem to require more development and beta-testing in terms of game
play.) In one level, the player watches passively as a pair of men kick
a soccer ball back and forth and a woman sits working alone at a
computer workstation. In another level, a string of laundry displays T-
shirts that say pride, fear, happy, shame and other emotions. The
laundry is quite an uncommon domestic signifier in computer games. In
this level a male and female jogger compete with one another and it
seems the T-shirts are intended to effect their relationship.

Ego Image Shooter is an interesting experiment. In pushing the
boundaries of a game genre it thereby assumes the risks of experimenting
with new forms of game play. If I were to view it as a beta test I would
recommend it focus in more on the effects of subverting the shooter
genre, which are quite successful in terms of game play and genderplay,
and let some of the other experimental game play interfaces go. Its main
shortcomings are what all independently funded games lack, a development
team of at least fifteen or so 3-D modelers and programmers, to push the
production value higher. Nevertheless, it simulates 3-D space
efficiently enough to get the idea across and employs some very nice
interface tricks. The use of sound and music is effective. (sound-
design: Alex Schaub) I would like to see it developed further.

Gender Game Site
Ego Image Shooter

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