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: 4.28.02
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 19:03:32 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: April 28, 2002


+editor's note+
1. beverly tang: Rhizome.LA--In Our Image: Extreme Genetics

2. Salvaggio Museum of Modern Living: "Lamination Ritual" by Ken Montgomery
3. Richard Rinehart: Announcing new genomic project

4. Impakt Production: CALL FOR ENTRIES to the Impakt Festival 2002

5. Jonah Brucker-Cohen: Report from Numer.02

6. Eryk Salvaggio: An Interview With John Klima

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Date: 4.28.02
From: beverly tang (b AT
Subject: Rhizome.LA--In Our Image: Extreme Genetics

Rhizome.LA--Sunday, May 12, 2002

In Our Image: Extreme Genetics

Featuring Natalie Bookchin, Cheryl Kerfeld, davidkremers, and Ruth West
with panel discussion led by Ruth West

Ever wonder about pigs with spinach genes, copy cats or human clones?
Current developments in genetic research and biotechnology are
undoubtedly amongst the most significant scientific advances of our
time. We will be affected socially, politically, and ethically as this
technology plays an increasingly larger part in our ability to
reconfigure Life. How can art play a role in this biological and genetic
revolution? The practices of biology have recently become the subject,
as well as the medium, of contemporary art. Whether it be about ethics
or aesthetics, biological art raises as many questions as it seeks to

The speakers at the next Rhizome.LA exist in both the art and science
worlds. They all see a significance in integrating art and
science/technology. Each has a unique approach to, and role within, the
realms of biotechnology and the arts. They will share with us current
work and what they foresee as the near future in art and genetic

Location: Rocco, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 462 8500
(just west of Vine St.)
Date: Sunday, May 12, 2002
Time: 5pm
Price: $5-10 Sliding Donation
Contact: Beverly Tang, beverly AT

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Date: 4.22.02
From: Salvaggio Museum of Modern Living (curator AT
Subject: SMOML Presents--"Lamination Ritual" by Ken Montgomery


~ presents ~

"Lamination Ritual"

a collection of found objects,
sealed in plastic laminate

~ by ~

Ken Montgomery

in his own tradition of thirteen years

~ in the spirit of ~

Transformation of the Mundane into the Realms of
the Preserved and Extraordinary

~ found ~

herein (

~ with an interview ~

also. (

"The Eryk Salvaggio Museum of Modern Living: Blind Hope and Unrepentant
Idealism since 1997"

The ESMOML Is an independantly run Museum of Historical Proportions,
existing solely on the world wide web.

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The time has arrived to pick up the new Leonardo Music Journal, (LMJ),
Volume 11, including a double CD titled "Not Necessarily 'English
Music.'" The journal and CD feature pieces from pioneering U.K.
composers and performers from the late 60s through the mid-70s. Visit the
LMJ website at

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Date: 4.22.02
From: Richard Rinehart (rinehart AT
Subject: Announcing new genomic project

I'm writing to announce a new digital/robotic/net art project now
available for participation, enjoyment, collaboration, competition, and
the occasional anxiety-producing crash. This work, Chimera Obscura
(, was commissioned for the exhibition "Gene(sis):
Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics" ( which
opened at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, on
April 5, 2002. I would like to invite you all to visit, explore the
project (literally; it's a maze), give us any type of feedback, and

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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: 4.22.02
From: Impakt Production (production AT
Subject: CALL FOR ENTRIES to the Impakt Festival 2002


Impakt is an international festival for innovative audio-visual arts.
The program offers a high-quality selection of recent audio-visual
productions. For a more complete impression of the Impakt Festival
please visit our website:

The 13th edition of the Impakt Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands,
will take place in the fall of 2002.

Impakt Festival is open for submissions of single-channel videos, films,
websites and CD-Roms, production year 2001/2002. The entry form is
available on our website Please fill out
this entry form if you wish to participate in Impakt 2002. Please
include the filled out entry form in the parcel with your video or CD.
Do NOT send us entry forms by e-mail.

The deadline for entries is May 30, 2002.

Due to the large amount of work and high costs it is unfortunately no
longer possible for us to return your submission. Artists who have
participated in the Impakt Festival in the past and artists who are
personally invited to send documentation or preview material are
excluded. The will get their preview material returned if requested.

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Date: 4.23.2002
From: Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah AT
Subject: Report from Numer.02
Keywords: internet, interface, interact, design

Report from Numer 02
April 19-21, 2002
Centre Georges Pompidou
Paris, France

On a warm, spring April weekend in Paris, the Numer 02 International
Conference on Interaction Design ( "Look Ahead" - opened
its proceedings to an international audience. Assembled from around the
globe by conference coordinator, Pierre Lavoie, participants ranged from
producers to designers to artists to musicians. The goal? Attempt to
build a framework for current practices and future directions in
interactivity and design using technology. The conference included six
design themed panels with over 40 panelists along with a audio/visual
music performance at the Insitut de Recherche et Coordination
Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a "Zapping" showcase featuring 30 local
designers flaunting their wares, as well as a design/programming
workshop by Ben Fry and Casey Reas - on their new interactive graphics
authoring tool, "Proce55ing".

The opening panel, "Process and Adequacy" centered on the creative
practices of multimedia teams working on interactive projects and the
criteria that makes this work valuable. Canadian designer, Stuart
Butterfield, (, opened the panel with severe jet lag
speaking on the poverty of the navigational metaphor for interactive
media. His talk focused on the need for context in navigating
information spaces and how getting 'lost' online is not necessarily a
negative experience. Arnaud Mercier, also on the panel and founder of posed the questions "Is web design dead?" and "How can
we define notions of 'quality' pertaining to interactivity?" These might
seem like lofty questions for a suspecting crowd, but they simply
skimmed the surface of the themes discussed.

The evening session on "Interactive Cinema" featured an eclectic mix of
pioneers in the field such as Montreal's Luc Courchesne
(, Michael Naimark (,'s Chris Hales, and 3D designer, Xavier Boissarie. The
questions focused on how the user can play a part not only in the
outcome of a narrative but also in creating the narrative itself as it
is generated through the interaction process. Hales' talk, "Why bother
with interactive movies?" was a light-hearted romp through the criteria
inherent to interactive movies including screen constraints and using
the movie itself as interface. He demonstrated these techniques with the
hilarious "Messed Up!", a mouse-based attempt at destroying some poor
guy's apartment by clicking on hotspots that spill wine on the floor and
knock over books. Naimark, on the other hand asked the audience a
rhetorical question, "How do you know I'm not a movie?" He went on to
talk about his past projects and concepts of "Movie- Mapping" spaces
along with his current work on "Camera Zapping" or neutralizing cameras
by aiming low-power laser pointers at their lenses.

Where day one focused on processes of visual interaction, day two
included the "Creativity and Formalization" panel which included the
relation of audio to interactive visual systems. Jean-Jacques Birgé
( began the session with his flocking on-screen
birds that created musical compositions in relation to the cursor. designer, Ed Burton, livened the audience when he demoed
his interactive soda constructor applet. He showed examples of projects
people have created with his software - everything from a wild animal in
a zoo to a memorial for late racecar driver, Dale Earnhardt. He is soon
launching - a space for people to build Sodaplay creatures
that race each other. Think virtual Battlebots. Proceeding speakers
included Andy Cameron of Italy's Fabrica Studio who spoke on and showed
simple examples of input/output dealing with sound and video

"Keep it simple" seemed to be an ongoing conference theme. This
continued with Golan Levin (, MIT Media Lab Aesthetics and
Computation graduate, who presented simple interfaces and interactions
using dots, lines, planes, pixels, and sound. Levin also performed his
much heralded "Audio/Visual Environment Suite" at the IRCAM the previous
evening and focused on how sound and image both have to be equally
malleable in interactive interfaces. Ben Fry and Casey Reas, also ex-ACG
students gave an explanation of their new language/system called
proce55ing ( which is similar to John Maeda's Design
By Numbers, and allows designers to learn and think about programming
from a visual perspective. Their main concept was that computers provide
a unique area of expression and how can simple tools and simple
interfaces lead to more complex tools and complex interfaces? Even so, a
question asked of them was: How can you teach complexity by hiding it?

Maybe Steve Cannon, lead programmer of, answered this best
when he opened his talk with a quote from Clement Greenberg that read,
"All profoundly original art looks ugly at first." This could be the
case, but this subjective statement really depends on your definition of
ugly. He then challenged the audience to come up with an abstract e-
commerce experience to fill his domain, Closing out
the talk was designer/programmer Peter Cho (, also ex-ACG,
who presented some interactive typography experiments.

Other panels included "Culture and Critique" which focused on the
cultural implications of computer interaction and "Beyond the Screen"
which examined the relationship of physical objects (from wearables to
tangible interfaces) to networked digital systems. Regine Halter and
Dorothee Schiesser (Shoplab) of the Hyperwerk studio (
in Basel gave a talk entitled "We like design (but we don't know if
design likes us)" where they detailed interactive projects their
students worked on ranging from fabric pattern design created by
tracking people in a space to augmented experiences in the retail
shopping world. Taking the virtual onto the street was Katherine
Moriwaki and Sabine Seymour, both Design Fellows at Parsons School of
Design in NYC. They spoke about their collaboration studio in Wearable
Technology and Fashion ( and presented
their focus on fashion and technology as the ultimate "fantasy
amplifiers" - focusing on student projects which included a camera-flash
necklace called the "Man Repellent" and a t-shirt as dynamic visual
display for activist groups. Finishing up the panel was the French duo, who presented a slick version of hybrid networked
spaces with multiple projection screens, a wearable scarf/telephone, and
a new interpretation of Internet time as the global "25th time zone".

As the conference came to a close, even more questions arose as to where
the future of interaction design is heading. Will faster computers
surpass the imagination? Are we in an epic battle between high-tech
hyperrealism and lo-tech creativity? Are metaphors of interface too
great to overcome? How can we integrate the breath and depth of human
experience into human/computer interaction? How far has this debate come
and how will it manifest itself in the future? Hopefully that's a
question that will be constantly challenged and questioned over time.
Lucky for us, events like Numer 02 exist and continue to honor this
dialogue as an integral element of technological theory and
implementation both at the individual and social levels.

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Date: 4.14.2002
From: Eryk Salvaggio (eryk AT
Subject: An Interview With John Klima
Keywords: internet, interface, design, 3D

John Klima is a 3D artist whose recent proposal, "Context Breeder," has
received one of three of this years inaugural Rhizome Grants. He has
also presented his work, "EARTH", in this years Whitney Biennial.

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ES: Tell me how you decided to go into digital art. What did you see
that interested you, what did you think it would be like?

JK: Its really quite simple. I was messing around with computers to make
art, the net "materialized" and I started putting my work online. I was
also making color photographs, totally straight without digital
processing, that looked as though they were heavily "photoshopped." So I
was thinking about the digital long before there was the net, and when
the net became available as a distribution point, I put stuff up. My
prior art practice had everything to do with my practice now. I studied
photography in school exclusively working on still life, then I designed
furniture for a living - I used the first autocad programs to design
furniture, then I started making realtime 3D, which more or less is a
combination of still life photography and furniture design.

ES: Furniture design strikes me as a natural, analog version of 3D
graphic rendering. I have no real idea why. Furniture design seems like
the most 3D of the 3D arts, more so than sculpture, where you start with
one base and reduce. Furniture assembly is the combination of parts;
much as coding itself is. Would you agree with this concept?

JK: Definitely. I mean three dimensional is three dimensional and
furniture and sculpture are the same, but if you mean 3d as in computer
3d, furniture, both design and assembly, have a great deal to do with
design and assembly of a 3d rendering. It depends on your practice, but
in sculptural forms, you are concerned less with methods of construction
and engineering than in furniture. Nobody dances on a David Smith, but
I've seen people dance on one of my coffee tables, so you are thinking
about physics, loads, etc... in 3d programming you also have to think a
lot about how the parts will function, about physics real or invented.

ES: Was there anything specific you learned from furniture making that
you apply to your practices in 3D design?

JK: When I've seen students first getting their feet wet in 3d, the
biggest problem they have is figuring out just where the hell everything
"is." When I first started build 3d models, I didn't really have this
problem. Perhaps because I've been dealing with spatial relationships as
major focus of my work since 1985, it came natural. Perhaps because
designing furniture is very much about figuring out how things get put
together conceptually, before you cut the first board. Its an economic
imperative. There's a funny phrase in the furniture making world, "I
keep cutting this board and it's STILL too short." Then, there is the
expression "measure twice, cut once." Both expressions point to a
necessity to plan in detail ahead of time, and this ability I think is
essential to working in 3d. Also, I quite literally used my furniture
skills to design and build the custom computer boxes I put the EARTH
edition into.

ES: You had mentioned the idea of video games as an inspiration before.
What generation of games were you playing? What kind of aesthetic
interested you most? I've always found video games to have a particular
aesthetic specifically to their system- the atari 2600 vs the NES, for
example. Or were you talking more about elements of gameplay and
interactivity? And how do these different models affect your work?

JK: The first "video game" I played was text based lunar lander, on
green bar paper printout. That was before pong. I actually saw pong in a
research lab before it was available to the consumer. I must have been
about 9 or 10 years old. While pong was cool, I preferred lunar lander,
even though there were no graphics. It was a thinking game not a twitch
game. The first twitch game to really grab me was galaga, not because of
the game play but because the movement and animation was so compelling.
I also really dug tempest because it was such a weird interface, though
the game play wasn't as fun as galaga. And I liked battlezone, to my
knowledge that was the original "first person shooter." I never really
"compared" the aesthetics of each of these technologies, I just focused
on what each one had that was unique to it.

ES: Can you give us an example of how this is addressed in your work?

JK: Text based lunar lander (specifically) points to concerns I have to
this day. Although it was pure text, it makes use of physical properties
and processed input to produce a dynamic output. It's not "canned," it's
not an animation, it's an algorithm. "Ecosystm" directly addresses this
notion. Battlezone was the first game (to my knowledge) that mapped a 3d
space, it was pure language used to create a complete dynamic
environment, and this still is my primary intellectual urge for using
3d. Tempest was the first game to suggest a non-real world interface,
fully informed by the unique properties of the medium, and "glasbead"
comes straight out of that. In "glasbead" from the very beginning I
wanted to throw out all references to existing musical structure and
notation, and throw out all existing metaphors.

ES: Why is your project, EARTH, Offline? Do you think this should still
be considered "" as opposed to, say, interactive art, or digital
art? Part of what makes "" is the net part. I mean, that
seems like it would be obvious, but more and more you see work that is
essentially video art, made on computers. Could you tell us about this
particular work, in particular, and how it addresses that gap?

JK: EARTH is offline because it has to be. It is such high bandwidth
that to use it without having the whole earth in cache would be
atrociously slow and painful. Originally I intended it to be online with
no cache, and indeed it can function that way. In that form the original
download is actually quite small. But because I'm using high resolution
images the cache became essential for its use. I also wanted to insure
that the net resources would be available in the future, so I had to put
them all in cache. So the way earth works is that it first loads
whatever is in cache, then it goes and grabs whatever is the newest
image from the net. As you might know, I'm not fond of the term
"," I think it geeks out the work. I just like the word art. I
think that EARTH is still very much network based art because, firstly
its a MUD of sorts, and secondly because it is still very much connected
to the net for its resources. It could not exist without the net. It
needs the net to make it alive.

ES: The interesting thing about what is happening now, is that digital
art as a website is becoming obsolete. What you see more and more are
offline installations, WAPart, and other kinds of software projects. I
noted with interest that almost every winner of the rhizome grant is a
piece of work which will not be available as a website. Do you think
there is a future for websites in digital art?

JK: Well it gets down to semantics I suppose. If it's in the browser is
that enough to make it website art? The problem with pure html and site
architecture as a medium, is that you just can't do a whole lot. Even
the best funded and developed commercial sites really only do one thing,
they show pictures and text. The visual design of html is also
incredibly limiting, you can't to column justified text for crying out
loud. Print graphic designers hate web page design. I wouldn't suggest
that its impossible to make an interesting piece of web site art, but I
don't think there is a whole lot of room left in that arena, and there
wasn't a whole lot of room left since Jodi put up their first site.
However, what I think will happen, now that pretty much every html
"trick" has been identified, is that web artists will focus on the
narrative, on the content. Yael [Kanarek -ed.] is a good example of
this, she takes competent design and html skills as the basis, and
focuses on an ever expanding story. The net becomes essential to the
work in that she can grow it endlessly, it wouldn't work on paper. I
think in the not too distant future, it won't be visual artists who make
web sites, it will be writers. Interesting to note that the early
hypertext practitioners were writers not artists. Also interesting,
Christiane Paul, the adjunct curator of new media at the whitney museum,
holds a phd in english literature, not art history.

ES: Well; what strikes me about this answer is that you view the history
of the web site as art by means of its technical limitations, rather
than its noted conceptual leeway. Web sites as art would have a very
different set of criteria than coded projects- web sites serve as a
public space, for one thing, so they are able to manipulate perception
of public spaces; an art in and of itself. When you say that the
potential for a website to be art is limited, you are in a sense saying
that technical developments take precedent over what can be said, who
can say it, and who can access it. That said, don't you think there is a
wide range of potential for "art" in this media? I mean, sculpture is
still considered valid, despite the fact that the rocks they use are
millions of years old, you know?

JK: Yeah, well, I'm something of a technologist so it stands to reason
that I view web site art in terms of what it can do. Also don't forget
I'm an artist so I look at other work in terms of its medium's
capabilities, more so than a non-artist would. I'm constantly looking
for stuff to "steal" (as artists have always done). I'm also looking at
the computer as a creative medium from the standpoint of gaming, not
only from the standpoint of art history, conceptual or otherwise. But
within my answer, I point directly to what I think the "future" of
website art is, the narrative. That is, the conceptual, the message, in
other words. We take a book for granted now, we've seen all (or most of
the) the tricks available to html, and now it's time to focus on what is
being delivered and not how its being delivered. We will shortly take
the web page for granted (if we don't already). I don't think this is at
all true about software art in general, we have only begun to see what
it can "do" what with generative algorithms, alternate interfaces etc.
This isn't to say there is no place for html to go, i'm sure it will
constantly expand its functionality. But I think that the basic premise
of what a web site is/does is more or less established and web site
artists now need to refine and explore what it is being presented, and
what is best presented within that form. Ultimately, I think this great,
and I think that pure web page art will become accepted in the
mainstream artworld far quicker than software art, because web page art
has been through its primary formalist stage. The reason I do what I do
is because I don't think "software art" ever will complete its formalist
stage, because the medium never seems to complete itself. It's in it's
nature not to. Perhaps the same can be said about web pages, but I'm not
so sure about that. But that's an essay in and of itself.

ES: Do you think html can be seen as a valid method of expression,
albeit on a different criteria than art has been traditionally

JK: Certainly. The introduction of a new medium invariably changes how
art has been evaluated. We are doing just that right now. Eventually,
the elements we have added to the conversation become the "traditional
criteria," and then a new medium comes along that adds to the
conversation. It always takes time for the new to be a part of the old,
I'm just thrilled to be around and working now and not 50 years from
now, so I'm part of the conversation early.

ES: Do you think the word "art" is relevant to what you do, or does it
not matter? Like if someone saw your work as entertainment, would you be
bothered? This is probably a dumb question, but there's a lot of people
who believe there is an important distinction between the two, I'm
curious if you are one of them.

JK: I certainly would not be bothered if someone saw my work as
entertainment, as long as they see it as art too. Many people have
suggested that contemporary art is so far removed from the experience of
the vast majority of the population that it no longer has any impact.
Natalie Jeremijenko called the art world "a prissy little thing in the
corner" and in many ways she's right. I don't think that saying a work
of art is entertainment is an indictment, rather it is a compliment
perhaps. I think the important distinction to be made, on a case by case
basis, is if a work transcends itself, if it can't be squarely placed in
either camp, and I'd like to think that my work does just that. I think
the word "art" is essential to what I do. So are the words "game" and
"interface" and "science." Throughout the course of human history,
artists have endeavored to expand the meaning of the word "art" and I
don't see that I am doing anything different. It is interesting to
speculate whether the definition will expand to the point where it is
meaningless, but I don't think that will happen, because art will always
be whatever everything else isn't. Every word is defined by "what it is
not" as much as (perhaps more so) by "what it is."

ES: What is more important to you; immediacy of an art work, or
complexity of an art work?

JK: Neither is more or less important. EARTH is both immediate and
complex. Everyone has an immediate reaction when they see an image of
the earth, more so when that image is "live." Then you have the
complexity of the various data layers, there is something to explore,
there are things to do. A simple, immediate work of art can be powerful
but 9 times out of 10, you get the joke and move on. There's not much
else to ponder than what the artist has offered up. A good "one liner"
artist will create so many "one liners" that you begin to see the
complexity of thought across all the little examples. The examples
connect and relate to each other in a myriad of complex ways, and that
keeps you coming back. But, I think it's a rare artist who can pull that
off. Normally you see one or two good one liners, and the rest are just

ES: There is something to be said that a series of one liners, done
correctly, is in and of itself a complex work, wouldn't you say? It's
also interesting that you use the term "one liners" which is a literary
term, mostly, and most of the people who pull off this task seem to be
writers, not so much visual artists. Do you know of any visual artists
who you feel make compelling work in this way?

JK: Joseph Kosuth, "The Chair and the Picture of the Chair" is a good
example, though the complexity he draws from is not only his own, its
everything around him as well. Hans Hacke, is also good, he consistently
addresses political and social issues in succinct ways, and it becomes
something of a game to guess what he's gonna look at next. Off the top
of my head, I can't really site more examples, like I said it's rare,
but I do believe the use of the one liner is very much in literary
terms, that conceptual jokes and puns in the visual arts are usually
literary in nature.

ES: So, what are you trying to convey with your own work?

JK: That's just about the hardest question to answer, I'm asked it all
the time, and I usually ask it back, "What do you think the work
conveys?" When I start a new work, I never say to myself "I want to
convey blah blah and to do so, I will execute such and such", it's much
more about "What do I want to see exist?" And I just trust that whatever
it is I want to see, conveys something. Take "The Great Game", easily
interpreted as conveying "something." But I didn't intend to convey
anything specifically. It's reportage. I wanted to take the scant info
available and make it visceral. I wanted to use the work as an excuse
for me to pay close attention to how the conflict was prosecuted
militarily. the only thing that conveys something literally is the
title, which I must admit is essential to the work, but the title
materialized on its own accord. I made the piece and the title inserted
itself all on its own. Same with glasbead, I made the piece and then I
realized what I made was something akin to "the glass bead game" as
described in Hesse's novel (of the same title in German). If I have one
grand unified theory of conveyance, it's quite simple really: look at
this medium and what it can do. Look at how this medium can invent
context, look how it allows us to look at things we never thought we
could look at.

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Rhizome Proposal:

Yael Kanarek:

Joseph Kosuth:

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Alex Galloway (alex AT
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