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:8.9.02
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 08:31:57 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: August 9, 2002


1. Bernhard Rieder: Call for Entries -digitalBIEDERMEIER

2. giselle: teleintervention egoscopio
3. Simon Biggs: Tristero

4. Katherine Moriwaki: The Future of Wearables

5. are flagan: Read_Me- H2K2 HOPE Conference, Part 3 (of 3)

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Date: 08.07.02
From: Bernhard Rieder (me AT
Subject: Call for Entries -digitalBIEDERMEIER

/// digitalBIEDERMEIER: re/producing the private ///

>From 27th November until 1st December 2002 [d]vision, the Vienna
Festival For Digital Culture presents once again a diverse cross section
of contemporary media culture. A conference, an exhibition and
filmscreenings are exploring new approaches to the topic of private and
public sphere in digital age.

::Call For Proposals With digitalBIEDERMEIER, [d]vision launches for the
first time a call for entries for the conference part of the event. From
27.11.2002 to 1.12.2002 we will ask Scholars from various disciplines to
discuss, in English or German, some of the questions imposed by the
general topic. Please visit our website for more info:

::Call For Entries - Film/Video/Multimedia [d]vision is looking for
artists, who provide digital film, video, CD-ROM or webprojects
focussing the topics of public privacy: private/public surveillance,
media-cocooning, intelligent houses and ambient technologies, new
frontiers in digital age, digital and analogous migration, etc.

Documentaries, fictions and shorts are welcome. Amateurfilm is an
important topic, too. So don't hesitate to send your video diary.

::[d]vision is an international forum for mediatheory, digital film,
video and expanded media such as CD-ROM, DVD and the Internet. [d]vision
is exploring the media void and is bringing up important issues for the
competent discourse in media society. [d]vision - Festival For Digital
Culture presents contemporary trends and issues in mediaculture in an
independent festival for young professionals and the creative class in
Vienna / Austria.

check out our digitalBIEDERMEIER website
and download the application form:

Concept and Organisation
/ Society for Mediatheory & Digital Culture
/ Verein fuer Medientheorie & digitale Kultur
Bernhard Rieder, Mirko Tobias Schaefer, Sanna Tobias

Festival For Digital Culture
A-1170 Vienna, Joergerstrasse 35/8 | Tel: +43-1-409 70 15

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Limited-time offer! Subscribe to Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA), the
leading electronic newsletter in its field, for $35 for 2002 and receive
as a bonus free electronic access to the on-line versions of Leonardo
and the Leonardo Music Journal. Subscribe now at:

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Date: 08.05.02
From: giselle (giselle AT
Subject: teleintervention egoscopio


egoscope is a mediated by media character, composed of fragments
distributed in many web sites. egoscope does not have a name, age,
neither a specific gender. It is a disembodied post-subject that can not
recognize itself in any space that it is not a telecommunication
environment. You will choose egoscope multiple identities, by the web,
and they will be revealed on two electronic panels and their web cams.

egoscope lives in the limit between art, propaganda and information,
promoting a permanent state of disorientation and hybridism of these
terms. In a phrase, egoscope is an inhabitant of the global city made of
processes of passivity and interaction, entropy and acceleration.

Transmissioons hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, From
august 5 to august 20

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Date: 08.04.02
From: Simon Biggs (simon AT
Subject: Tristero

A Film and Video Umbrella online project

A 'mail-art' project in which online artists-in-residence are creatively
're-cycling' unwanted digital material deposited by subscribers to the
Tristero website.

Thomas Pynchon's late-Sixties state-of-America novel 'The Crying of Lot
49' revolves around a phenomenon called the Tristero: a clandestine mail
system which operates under the radar of the US Postal Service, whose
initiates covertly inscribe and re-direct apparently innocent letters as
a way of sending coded messages to each other. The Tristero is a kind of
hacker underworld before the fact, a secret network of marginalised,
dissident elements who take pride in the creative re-purposing of
overlooked or discarded material, transforming dead-letters and junk
mail into multi-layered carriers of meaning.

At a time when junk email is reaching epidemic proportions, this Film
and Video Umbrella online project attempts to put some of the Tristero's
ideas into practice.

Marketing communications agency, The Big Group have developed a
customised digital image depository to which subscribers to the Tristero
website can donate waste material from their mailboxes or hard drives in
the hope that it will be transformed into ready-made, Merz-style
artworks by artists.

The first artist-in-residence, Nick Crowe has been creating work
throughout July, and will be replaced by Simon Biggs on 5th August.

Forthcoming artists include Jacqueline Donachie and Michael Landy.

A direct link to Simon Biggs' version is at:

Simon Biggs

simon AT

Research Professor
Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK
s.biggs AT

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**MUTE MAGAZINE NO. 24 OUT NOW** 'Knocking Holes in Fortress Europe',
Florian Schneider on no-border activism in the EU; Brian Holmes on
resistance to networked individualism; Alvaro de los Angeles on and Andrew Goffey on the politics of immunology. More AT

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Date: 08.02.02
From: Katherine Moriwaki (kaki AT
Subject: The Future of Wearables

With all the hype surrounding wearable technology it's hard to
distinguish fiction from fact. Companies like Charmed Technologies and
Xybernaut would have you believe the market is already cornered. Their
systems, based on work by seminal researchers like Thad Starner and
Steve Mann, are fast becoming commercial reality. Meanwhile, pioneers
such as Maggie Orth of International Fashion Machines and Philips
Research's "soft electronics" have changed how we perceive electronics
on the body. But before people start heading to the nearest CompUSA to
place their orders, there are still radical interpretations of the
field's future left unexplored.

In the art world, Stelarc and Krzysztof Wodiczko have produced
cautionary images of technology's body integration by ignoring the
expressive and aesthetic potential of wearable technology. Today, within
the interstices of fashion, technology, and art, artist/designer hybrids
are developing work that challenges disciplinary boundaries, blurs the
borders between virtual and physical, and seeks to expand our
communicative capabilities.

Taking a cross-disciplinary approach to wearables, Claudia Güdel,
founder of Basel Switzerland's Co-Lab, sees collaboration as the key. "I
launch workshops and events in the context of art, fashion and new
technology in order to find inspiring distinctions between these
fields," explains Güdel. Co-Lab's latest project, "Fab: Filters and
Blockers" is a series of fashion and technology workshops focusing on
redefining protective clothing for contemporary society. As an art and
technology collective Co-Lab produces installations, clothing, and
wearable devices. Some examples are "Paul" a skirt with built in display
capabilities and "Magic Eye", a light object that reacts to movement and
sounds in space. Here, fashion and technology contribute to a
constellation of artistic activity and output.

Working with fashion as a system for interaction, Elise Co investigates
the conceptual and aesthetic potential of computational clothing. "I am
interested in multiple-body garments or networks of garments behaving in
some related way even though they are worn by different people in
different places," explains Co, Professor of New Media at Basel School
of Art and Design in Switzerland. Focusing on the exertion of data
across corporeal mass, Co's thesis from the MIT Media Lab was titled,
"Computation and Technology as Expressive Elements in Fashion." Her
projects include "Perforation", which uses fiber optics to challenge the
materiality of the body, and "Halo", a system for reconfigurable and
programmable garments. "They are designed to provoke thinking," she
explains. With a background in architecture, Elise's work treats the
body and computational data as actors within relational structures. The
results are hauntingly beautiful mergers between physical and ethereal

While Co prompts critical thinking, Despina Papadopolous, founder of
5050 limited, encourages action. A philosopher and technologist,
Papadopolous collaborates with fashion designers and researchers to
explore the "maximum radius possibilities" of fashion and technology.
Her projects include "Courtly Bags", in collaboration with NYC designers
As Four, and "M-Bracelet", funded by NCR Knowledge Lab. 5050's latest
project, "Moi" is based on the idea of "staple technology" that starts
with a simple bright light. Through it's simplicity, "Moi" encourages
individuals to "imagine and transform an experience on their own terms".
"[Moi is] the most basic element turned into the most complex device
once it is worn," explains Papadopolous. Human, not technological
interaction is the focus.

So far wearable computers have failed to gain public acceptance. Nobody
wants to walk around looking like a character from Star Trek.
Institutions like Interaction Design Institute IVREA, Italy and Parsons
School of Design, in New York City are taking note. They now offer
courses which investigate the expressive potential of wearables. In the
artist's case, the best approach would be greater cross-disciplinary
communication through the hybridization between art, fashion,
technology, and design. With the upcoming launch of "Moi", Papadopoulus
bucks the current trends by trading technological hype for common sense
design. "The idea of a jacket with email projected on its sleeve, or a
t-shirt that reads all your vital signs is so radically foreign to our
perception of what it is to be a person, " she laments. "It is also
quite divorced from the aesthetics, social and political nuances of
clothing. If we get our way it will be about imagination,
self-expression, and most importantly, inspiration."

-Katherine Moriwaki (kaki AT

Related Links:
Claudia Güdel

Elise Co

Despina Papadopoulos

Interaction Design Institute IVREA

Parsons School of Design

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Date: 7.25.02
From: are flagan (areflagan AT
Subject: Read_Me: H2K2 HOPE Conference, Part 3 (of 3)


H2K2 ­ HOPE Conference, July 12-14, Hotel Pennsylvania, NYC, New York

Sida Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar moonlighting
as a professor at New York University, called his keynote crack at this
equation ³Life in a Distributed Age.² After collecting the usual cheers
for lamenting the loss of free speech and progressive scholarship due to
copyright and technical anti-circumvention provisions, Vaidhyanathan
returned to the roots of western civilization in ancient Greece to
outline an alternative social model based on cynicism. Derived from the
philosophy of Diogenes, cynicism maintains that virtue is the only good
and its essence lies in self-control and independence. This freedom from
convention coupled with moral zeal would, according to Diogenes, allow
for a highly practical politics that finds its expression in a
borderless polis, a decentralized, self-regulating, informed and
competent political body-at-large. Our projected cyberspace fits this
revolutionary corpus, but its realization in the Internet has of course
led to limitations that force the negotiation of more modest goals than
those inspired by the cynical mold. Returning to what brought him the
first accolade, Vaidhyanathan quoted numerous sources that seek to limit
the vast hospitality of the Internet as a decentralized and responsible
space with demonizing rhetoric. The goal is to persuade the public that
the Internet, and technology in general, is dangerous unless it is used
with the proper level of supervision and control. Statements like: ³Our
enemies are prepared to use our technologies against us,² which was made
by Richard Clarke, President Bush¹s Office of Cyber Security Director
(also known for his ³electronic Pearl Harbor² analogy), in relation to
the 9/11 tragedy are both hopelessly vague and frighteningly
encompassing. They raise the usual questions of who ³we² are and how
³technologies² became ³our[s].² Furthermore, Vaidhyanathan contested, if
the Internet helped the terrorists buy airline tickets it was box
cutters that initially performed and aided their gruesome deed.
Legislation limiting sales of sharp or pointed utensils should according
to this logic be forthcoming, but it is of course more likely to
concentrate on areas that may limit the power and profits of the few,
such as open computing and democratic networks.

A similar demonizing was noted by author Doug Rushkoff in his ³Human
Autonomous Zones: The Real Role of Hackers.² After the dot-com pyramid
schemes failed so miserably (for some) and the Internet mercifully
shrugged off business, corporations and mainstream media have
increasingly started to load it with negativity. Symptoms abound and
Rushkoff noted that as early as the Atlanta Olympics we were subjected
to what the media termed an ³Internet-style² bomb. Obviously quite
misleading from a technical point of view (the bomb was presumably not
modeled after the Internet but its construction may have been available
on the Internet, and no doubt elsewhere), the language and context
thrives on ignorance and lack of contestation to support the reporting
media¹s role in bringing ³accurate² and ³truthful² stories. Storytelling
consequently formed the locus of his talk. Stories compete for believers
and those that control the stories we live by essentially shape our
reality. Rushkoff quoted numerous examples of proprietary oral
traditions and Walter Cronkite¹s signature byline at the end of his
newscasts, ³that¹s the way it is,² summarizes most of them. Within this
closed and one-directional economy of exchanges, hackers emerged as
autonomous voices in a climate where independence was outlawed. By
breaking the spell of programming and feeding broadcasts into a feedback
loop, they demystified technology through shareware and made it
available for uses and contexts that were not supported by the
hierarchical structure whereby stories were, and still are,
disseminated. Current attempts at legislating the Internet and the
airwaves, and even hardware (see notes on the Microsoft Palladium
standard above), seek to restore the bullhorn mentality that hackers
passionately resist. As computer interfaces and operating systems have
become increasingly opaque to produce more end-users with entertainment
terminals rather than computing platforms, hackers have maintained
knowledge of computing and not lost sight of the broader social
interaction that encodes choices and spread information. Here rests the
autonomous zone that remains the real role and function of hackers.

Another panel presenting the Indymedia network of Independent Media
Centers (IMC) brought some of this philosophy to a practical solution.
Indymedia was developed as a continuation and expansion of an online
newsroom offered during the pro-democracy protests in Seattle. It
revolves around an evolving open source code that is distributed by
participating Indymedia Web sites in many countries. The code supports
the upload of rich media content such as images, and the sites
consequently offer users the ability to post their own news stories with
a local and personal flavor. Some translation and cross-posting takes
place. Links to sites on the global IMC network are available at

But pockets like the Indymedia network are unfortunately becoming
increasingly rare on the Internet as licensing restrictions and fees
limit Web casting and the forceful influx of corporate interests are
seeking to silence and dominate it. Several talks dwelled on these
developments and although the topics were different, the methods
encountered displayed a clear pattern where lawyers are replacing
individual policing of copyright and trademarks for federal legislation
intended to represent their interests. How a democratic body can become
the executive branch of select corporations has of course already been
answered by the recent revelations surrounding White House ties to

The panel titled ³Bullies on the Net,² featuring Emmanuel Goldstein,
Eric Grimm and Uzi Nissan, first covered the 30 lawsuits brought by Ford
Motor Company against virtually every domain name that could in some way
be associated with any of its own or subsidiary car models or brand
names. A Swede selling used spare parts for classic Volvo vehicles (a
company part own by Ford) was consequently sued for pursuing a modest
and entrepreneurial livelihood under Likewise,
fans of the endangered jaguar at (currently
featuring a nice big-cat drawing by Amanda, age 13) were slapped with a
suit to avoid confusion between things that purr and things that rev.
Uzi Nissan, who by the merits of his own last name claimed in
1994 to advertise a computer business, Nissan Computers, which he
started in 1991, talked about his own collision with the car industry.
Five years later after his entry in the domain name root, Nissan Motor
Company, also known as Datsun (unlike Nissan who has always been known
as Nissan), sued him for 10 million dollars. The legal back and forth is
still ongoing and Nissan, the man, is 2.2 million dollars in the red as
a result. Due process in this type of litigation involves intimidation
followed by an attempt to exhaust the opponent¹s resources, and it has
obviously established precedents that have little to do with basic
fairness under the law.

For those interested in subversive uses of media and still remain
somewhat puzzled by the contention last year that bin Laden was
inserting hidden messages in his video broadcasts (rather than
straightforward arguments that Americans should not hear), would have
enjoyed the talk Peter Wayner ( gave on steganography,
which translates as the art and science of hiding information in digital
data. Although he was hard pressed to define ³hidden,² and was shrewdly
hiding his lack of a definition behind Goedel¹s theorem that prevents us
from being logical about detection, the methods outlined were
elucidating enough to bypass such premises. Generally, to hide data in
data means that it must be inserted in places where it will not be
detectable unless you know where and how to look for it. In some
respects (and just to confuse matters further), you essentially need to
know what has taken place to describe what has happened. The Catch-22
can look like this: in a standard image file data can be replaced up to
a threshold without affecting how the image appears to the viewer.
Examining the distribution of tones, however, may indicate certain
levels of suspicious patterns, but this is not a guarantee that
something secret or evil has been embedded; it may be the work of a
benign compression algorithm, for example. Of the methods covered, the
least technical from a non-computer science point of view was the
replacement of digital noise, or redundant information, with a message.
Wayner showed illustrations of how he had written algorithms to perform
such tasks for image files. It basically involves replacing the least
significant bit in the bit plane with one that belongs to the ³hidden²
message; i.e if a value of 255 is changed to 254 in a binary notation
the result goes from 11111111 to 11111110, where the last digit
signifies the alteration of data. Without direct references or a
comparative analysis that point to this manipulation, the conundrums of
detection discussed above are obviously haunting any claims about secret
transmissions (for example in relation to the aforementioned video

Interestingly, researchers looking to embed digital watermarks in
copyrighted content have embraced steganography to turn the copying of
digital files into an ally in their protection schemes. One
not-so-secret message here is that any unauthorized use of images, for
example, can be successfully contested in a court of law, as the
steganographic content, once unveiled, can be submitted as evidence that
the offending file is indeed controlled and owned by the prosecuting
party. Uses of the same science have essentially gone from being banned
to becoming highly desirable once the rights to secrecy are reversed.

An emerging term that borrows from its hacker roots is hacktivism.
Broadly it covers activities that primarily use the Internet, although
it arguably covers technology in any form, to stage demonstrations.
Treating cyberspace as a public arena, activists turned hacktivists seek
to engage issues over the network, just like people have assembled and
marched in the streets to voice their opinions or misgivings. In a
presentation entitled ³Digital Demonstrations: DDoS attack or Cyber
Sit-in?,² Maximillian Dornseif offered a thoughtful and balanced
overview of this kind of action. The benefits of moving protest online,
as he presented them, were the increased visibility of the protest to a
larger number of people; the lack of a physical presence (anyone with
the inclination and an Internet connection can take part); increased
anonymity for those involved; and a reduced investment with regards to
time and money. Although ³demonstrators² are not easily counted online,
advertising the actions in advance can compensate for this shortcoming,
and consequently attract hungry-for-novelty media attention to these new
forms of protest. The agenda is inadvertently reported even if the
format feeds the story. Many online demonstrations have already taken
place. Dornseif gave technical beta on how demos have occurred in the
past (mainly through service overloads generated by reloading Web sites
repeatedly or seeking processing that quickly exhausts the system
resources), but he stressed that the future of online protests should
take other users into account and avoid denial of service attacks. The
point is to forcefully make a case, not to damage it. Of the technical
scenarios he offered, the prospects of ³communicating slowly² (as he
named the self-explanatory method) seemed the most promising. By
communicating with the server one character at a time, the system
resources are slowed to a painful crawl. Comparing the plan to one
where, for example, office workers ³strike² by doing their duties in
slow motion (the analogy is not applicable to certain bureaucracies, as
time will cease to exist), these protests could be explained legally
within already existing guidelines and in keeping with more traditional
forms of demonstration. Protesters would less likely become victims of
persecution and prosecution as a result.

No hacker conference is of course complete without a set of
presentations dealing with the art and craft of hacking itself. These
were usually high on entertainment value and quite intriguing with
regards to the science, but they were outnumbered by talks addressing
social and political issues concerning the hacker community. A couple of
presentations dealing with computer viruses and the security of wireless
networks are worth mentioning to expose precisely how futile ant-virus
software can be and how networking through 802.11b can, almost, be
equated with public broadcasting.

Robert Lupo, with the you-guessed-it handle of Virus, gave a PowerPoint
overview of what viruses are, i.e. self-replicating code that attaches
to a host, and how viruses may be defined, as malicious code that
executes on behalf of the user but without his or her knowledge or
approval. The number of viruses eventually accumulated in this talk and
their various methods of implementation (some spoken of with open
admiration) were enough to make any computer user feel like a
hypochondriac. Adding to the earliest virus discovered in 1981, there
are now about 71,000 known viruses (currently increasing with about 1000
³official² viruses per year), but only a handful have reached any kind
of notoriety in the wild. Working as an anti-virus programmer, Lupo
reported that the anti-virus companies receive about 400-800 viruses per
month that they have to neutralize. The offshoot of all this is that
your anti-virus software always works retroactively; it provides a cure
for an already known virus that rarely remains in circulation for very
long. Or in common cold terms: the epidemic has passed by the time you
have paid for and received your flu shot. Of course, stray strands may
still be around, but the risk of infection is dramatically reduced. The
most advanced anti-virus applications actually update their protection
files continually to reduce the risk of exposure. For common users, such
practices are of course impractical, but they are reflected in how
desktop software is starting to link their applications to servers that
update files of known viruses regularly. As for more drastic
improvements, Lupo discussed software that detects any hostile activity
in a system and alerts the user before it is able to execute. Unlike the
applications used today, this will provide more general security against
malicious code. The best protection of all, however, it to leave the
anonymous messages that say ³I love You² or ³How would you like a
million dollars?² alone before you remove them.

As far as hands-on hacking without entry goes, the ³Fun with 802.11b²
panel was a live performance with plenty of part numbers and DIY
gadgets. Pointing a network sniffer in the general direction of Midtown
Manhattan, Dragorn, Porkchop and StAtIc FuSiOn projected the findings
behind them as a streaming backdrop of data packets from hundreds of
networks in the area. Only about half actually encrypted their traffic,
and quite incredulously a quarter had maintained the default factory
settings for access (the consequences of which were not explored but
remain clear). Fun and games were also at the presenting hackers own
expense, however, as the sniffer was picking up local traffic from the
conference network and this did, of course, not go unnoticed for long by
the equipped crowd. Soon messages communicating room numbers for
explicit purposes dominated the packets. But somewhere in the audience
someone brilliantly mixed up accepted file path syntax with language and
cleverly pitted it against the crazed paranoia of secrecy, monitored
networks and criminalized hacker activity by forwarding
usr/local/bin/laden. That action appropriately and succinctly sums up

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