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: 8.23.02
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 16:11:39 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: August 23, 2002


+editor's note+
1. rachel greene: this week

2. y-s ueda: BORDERPANIC
3. app][lick.ation][end.age: Programma augustus 2002

4. Curt Cloninger: source4_

5. t.whid: notes on PNG

6. Rainer Warrol: A letter to Josephine Bosma (on Documenta XI)
7. Josephine Bosma: final review DXI

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Date: 8.23.02
From: rachel greene (rachel AT
Subject: editor's note

Josephine Bosma's take on DXI has generated a lot of conversation on
Nettime and some on Rhizome in recent weeks. As per the logic and flow
of discourse and email exchange, this week's Digest features a 2nd
version of Bosma's text she submitted this week, as well as a comment on
the 1st version. Sorry for any confusion, but Rhizome's not about
straightforward narratives or final theories! Please check out for other posts, and feel free to chime in via
list AT or the website. -- rachel

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Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) publishes monthly issues exploring the
work of contemporary artists, scientists, developers of new media
resources, and other practitioners working at the intersection of
art,science and technology. Subscribe now at:

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Date: 08.22.02
From: y-s ueda (y-s AT

The borderpanic project brings together artists and thinkers working on
current preoccupations with geopolitical and metaphorical borders.
Borderpanic is a co-production of the Performance Space, Sydney, the
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Next Five Minutes 5, Amsterdam.

5-21 September
Performance Space
Redfern . Sydney
Wed-Sat 12 -6pm
Opening 5/9 - 6pm

Performance Space exhibits work engaged in contemporary border debates,
surveying across media and borders without attempting to catalogue the
diversity of cultural production in the field. Participants include:
Dacchi Dang, Horit Herman Peled, Kein Mensch ist Illegal (Germany),
No-one Is Illegal (Melbourne), Ruth Watson, Brook Andrew, Bonita Ely,
Jamil Yamani, Mel Donat, Bronia Iwanczak, Gordon Hookey, Guan Wei, Geert
Lovink, Stephen Best, Hossein Valamanesh, Lisa Andrew, Peter Lyssiotis,
Sodacake, Joseph Pugliese, Shafiq Munis,, Think Again,
Jassim Al Abaddy, Steve Cannane/JJJ morning show, Trebor Scholz+Carol
Flax, Borderland TV, Vivienne Dadour

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Date: 08.22.02
From: "app][lick.ation][end.age" (netwurker AT
Subject: Programma augustus 2002

Programma augustus 2002
(English version below)

The Pleasure of Language
24 augustus - 28 september 2002
opening 23 augustus 17.00 - 19.00 uur
Brandon LaBelle, Péter Frucht, MEZ (Mary Anne Breeze), Netochka
Nezvanova & Jaine Evans, Imogen Stidworthy Tijdens de opening: KKEP met
See You De populariteit van chatrooms op het internet en de snelheid van
het elektronisch mailen heeft geleid tot een enorme groei in de
communicatie en daarmee in de verandering van het taalgebruik en het
ontstaan van talloze subtalen. In de tentoonstelling spelen kunstenaars
met beeld, tekst en geluid in op een veranderend taalgebruik en
communicatieproces. In een aantal werken wordt het gedachtegoed en de
werkwijze van kunstenaars uit het begin van de vorige eeuw in een
eigentijds perspectief geplaatst. Naast de installaties wordt een aantal
historische videowerken uit eigen collectie vertoond.
Meer informatie: (

Uitmarkt 2002
24/25 augustus
Videoprojecties onder het Rijksmuseum
Programma met werk van Robert Arnold, Yeal Bartana, eddie d., Leon
Grodski & Pearl Gluck, Jeroen Kooijmans en Pia Wergius. Extra project
KKEP met See You
Doorlopend van 12.00 - 18.00 uur
Meer informatie: (

Workshop Live Art
Use of media technology in performance
26 - 31 augustus, Amsterdam
Workshop in samenwerking met de Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University.
Meer informatie: (

50% beeld
dinsdag 27 augustus 2002
Live Art practices met Blast Theory en Matthew Fuller / Graham Harwood
Toegang ? 3,- ( studenten ? 2,-)
Aanvang 20.30 uur
Deur open 20.00 uur
Meer informatie: (


Programme August 2002

The Pleasure of Language
August 24 - September 28 2002
Opening August 23, 17.00 - 19.00 hour
Brandon LaBelle, Péter Frucht, MEZ (Mary Anne Breeze), Netochka
Nezvanova & Jaine Evans, Imogen Stidworthy
At the Opening: KKEP with See You
The popularity of chatrooms on the internet and the speed of electronic
mail have led to an enormous growth in communication, and with it,
changes in the use of language and the creation of countless
vernaculars. In this exhibition the artists respond through image, text
and sound to and participate in the ways language-use as well as the
communication process are changing. A number of works reflect the body
of thought and ways of working of artists at the beginning of the last
century placing these ideas in a contemporary perspective. In addition
to the installations a few historical video works from the collection
will be shown. More information:

Uitmarkt 2002
Video projections under the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
24/25 August
Video programme with work from Robert Arnold, Yael Bartana, eddie d.,
Leon Grodsky & Pearl Gluck, Jeroen Kooijmans and Pia Wergius. Extra
project KKEP with See You
Open from 12.00 - 18.00 hour
Live Art
Use of media technology in performance
26 - 31 August Amsterdam
Workshop in collaboration with the Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer
University. More information:

50% beeld evening
Tuesday August 27
Live Art practices with Blast Theory and Matthew Fuller / Graham Harwood
Entrance ? 3,- ( students ? 2,-)
Door open 20.00 hour
Start 20.30 hour
More information:

Netherlands Media Art Institute
Montevideo/Time Based Arts
Keizersgracht 264
NL 1016 EV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 6237101
F +31(0)20 6244423
E info AT

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Date: 8.20.02
From: Curt Cloninger (curt AT
Subject: source4_

ahhh... we'll snort with pleasure
ahhh... we'll forego washing
we'll hold a holiday of love
I'm a green tree you're the air
I'll follow you there
I'll follow you

engulf me lover

ahhh... we'll take a tumble
ahhh... down in the gravel
I'll take your hand to lead me over
hang our colors in the air
I wanna follow you there
I wanna follow you

engulf me lover
and loop me into blue
enfold me lover

ahhh... we'll taste the nectar
ahhh... we'll share the bounty
I'll bear the cost of our defense
never looking back again
I'm gonna follow you in
I wanna follow you

engulf me lover
and loop me into blue
enfold me lover

enclose me lover

- edith frost

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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: 8.20.02
From: t.whid (twhid AT
Subject: notes on PNG

notes on PNG ("ping")

[ first, if you have no idea what PNG is, check this out: ]

PNG - the Portable Network Graphics format

The most important feature of PNG for web artists and designers, in my
opinion, is the alpha channel. it allows one to create graphics that
will appear anti-aliased against any background color, pattern, or other

The second interesting feature is the built-in gamma correction. This
means that those of us developing on Macs don't have to create images
which look overly light on a Mac in order look correct on a PC. Images
look good cross-platform.

I've been very excited about PNG for a few years but never used it
because one of the most important features, alpha transparency, wasn't
supported in MSIE for windows. But that changed for me today when i
found this information which explains how to use PNG with MSIE 5.5 or
later on windows: this technique
uses an .HTC file and a proprietary MSIE filter called AlphaImageLoader.
MSIE 5.x on Mac supports PNG alpha transparency, so using the method
described in the URL above we achieve a cross-platform effect on MSIE.


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Date: 8.22.02
From: Rainer Warrol (rainerwarrol AT
Subject: A letter to Josephine Bosma (on Documenta XI)

Back from Kassel

Paris, Aug 22


Before travelling to Germany I read your review of Documenta XI, and I
thought « Is it really that bad »?

Maybe I was simply lucky - the sun was shining during my stay there,
even though it were those heavy, rainstorm prone days of the end of

Yes the things you say are accurate, but they need not be interpreted in
such a negative way. One would hardly argue with you that there are too
many photo shows, too many documentaries, too much repetition of known
things, known "gestes artistiques" (done it is true by artists coming
from other - non white, non male... - perspectives). Your criticism is
often on the spot, but you neglect to take the other point of view: what
does this Documenta tell us about the world of art? Take it as a
snapshot of what is happening, even if this is not what you (and many
others) would like to see happen.

Formal creation seems to be out, new media tools no longer advertise the
pleasure of their use, the world is reflecting on things done in past
20, 30 years, as a mine to be used - re-used - to reconstruct meaning.
The content might be very didactic, but haven't many of the texts
accompanying contemporary works had the exact same ponderosity, the «
clarification » of the work taking more space than the work itself.

Maybe we are witnessing the art world equivalent of the bursting of the
Internet dream. It just got to be too much for everyone involved and for
the reality of the world. Yes there have been a lot of theoretical
advances concerning media art, contemporary art, new forms of cinema,
etc. - so many advances that in fact no one except the specialist,
writing for other specialists, could follow.

You could no longer follow the works being presented. Before moving
along, maybe it is time to revisit what have been done, to check what
has validity and what has not. And there the repetition through the
filter of different backgrounds might be a touch stone.

And if part of "la démarche artistique" is also about existing (in the
media, in the memory, in politics) then we might have to remember that
the evolution of form is not the whole of art history.

The absence of new media art? Should we call it techno fatigue, end of
bubble or something equivalent? Maybe the theory was moving faster than
the world at large. Maybe the concepts were ahead of the public (yes
this is the true meaning of avant-garde, but the ?garde³ must be able to
follow the avant-garde). This does not of course mean that we should
stop moving, simply that there might be some signs to be taken into

At Documenta, technology art (short hand for many things) is
conspicuously absent: and personally I would add, thank God there were
only a limited number of computer screens and a reasonable number of TV
sets. But technology was also there as the great enabler: quality of the
images, of the projections, of multi-screen sync, of special effects was
all dependent on the availability of cheap, usable, tools. Video is no
longer a sub TV, a sub cinema, this is more and more evident.

So maybe there is something to be learned from the confrontation between
the retrospectives and the formally quasi classical ³engagé² art shown
at Documenta: about the renewed importance of politics, even old
fashioned politics, the necessity to reabsorb the formal apertures of
the last decades, the dreams of a liveable urban environment, of
sustainable development, etc. These might be the demands of consumers of
avant garde art ­ and maybe Documenta has been listening to them.

Lots of maybes, but then the sun in Kassel helps you to look at
Documenta in other ways. No need to be a pessimist, but simply to
remember that art does not belong only to the creators of the avant
garde ­ they only exist when they are leading where the rest of the word
is ready to be led: so if we need a pause, let there be a pause ­ and
this should not prevent anyone from continuing to invent, to push
further the limits, to invent new languages,... Simply this might no
longer be the dominant game in town, for a few years.



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Date: 08.22.02
From: Josephine Bosma (jesis AT
Subject: final review DXI

Documenta XI: no laughing matter

It was as if nature decided to complete the experience the curators of
Documenta XI seemed to be creating for us. It rained and rained in
Kassel and the rest of Germany when we were there. Streets were flooded
and the temperature was way below what it should be in summer. One of
the world's most leading art events can be described with one word:
depressing. The most positive thing one can say about this Documenta
probably is its openness to artists that are not white, male and

Documenta XI is depressing for three reasons (I am not even counting the
curators' ignorance of current new media art). Firstly: the amount of
documentary works and sad contemplations on the world's current cultural
and political situation was truly over the top. There was an overkill of
(somehow disguised) preaching which made one either grow irritated or
totally uninterested after a while. Secondly, this is the Documenta of
mostly useful art, almost everything has meaning and purpose. Enwezor's
need to preach and teach then leads to the third, most poignant reason
for depression: Documenta XI is above all dead and dead serious. There
is very little humor or anything else ridiculous, useless or grotesque.
That is, if one does not count the rather kitschy dramatic effect of the
curatorial edit of this show. Individual artists and art works seemed to
be drowning in it, something they did not deserve.

Main impression

Of course it is a relief to see a major art show which somehow reflects
the way the world is opening up. It sounds cliché, but communication
technologies and mass media culture -have- brought us closer together.
Cultures have slowly started to mix and good taste is no longer defined
by one or two elites but by many. We see each others faults better too.
One of the things this Documenta seems to want to be is what its name
implies: a -document- of these changes, a confirmation even maybe. But
it does so in a highly predictable, lecturing way. As I said, this is
the Documenta of documentaries, of useful 'art' (illustrated best
probably by the words of two art tourists, who accidentally talked about
the "Documentary festival"). A video about a prison in Uganda (Zarina
Bhimji), found footage with images of aboriginals re-edited (Destiny
Beacon), a documentary about eskimo's (Igloolik Isuma Productions), so
called 'new forms of cinema' (see earlier Documenta review by Lev
Manovich) showing the situation around illegal immigrants in the USA
(Chantal Akerman), a documentary installation about the tragic death of
illegal immigrants (Multiplicity), documentaries on black communities
(Black Audio Collective) and a number of works in which artists
contemplate on themselves or their background (Pascale Marthine Tayou,
Mona Hatoum, Eija Liisa Antilla, Fiona Tan) are mixed with grim looking
pieces like an 'archive' covered in black pigment (Chohreh Feyzdjou),
dolls in colonial cloths in all kinds of sexual positions (Yinka
Shonibare), a room covered in soot (Artur Barrio), black or brown
paintings (Leon Golub, Glenn Ligon), black and white films of empty or
gloomy spaces (Stan Douglas, Jef Geys) and a labyrinth with 12 signs of
depression (Ken Lum). The relatively large number of photo collections
made the impression of Documenta as literal document of our times even

Documenta XI (DXI) is not just dominated by documentary works and
melancholy or sadness. What is rather puzzling at this Documenta is the
odd presence of certain 'old favorites' in the exhibition. One wanders
from room to room filled with what I described above and then suddenly,
slightly lost, there is a space filled with works by Louise Bourgois,
Hanne Darboven, Dieter Roth, Constant or On Kawara. Even if these
artists have made very interesting work (the unique Constant exhibition
within another exhibition was a nice surprise) seeing them here made one
wonder why specifically these artists were chosen. Also interesting
works by 'newer' artists or artist groups (Shirin Neshat, Steve McQueen,
Atlas Group, Ryuji Miyamoto, James Coleman, Mark Manders,,
Nari Ward, Simparch, maybe even John Bock, whose work was presented
outside in a park) got branded by their presence within this context.
The political brainwash of the rest of the exhibition is so strong that
it overpowers all works and leaves one with very little room for
interpretation. The question then haunts you: what makes the work of
these artists fit between the other works? One tries to think like the
curators have seemed to think, so here we go: is it because they are
somehow documentaries or analyses (, James Coleman, On
Kawara, Hanne Darboven), because the work is made of leftovers (thus a
sign of our decadence) and trash (Nari Ward, John Bock), because the
work offers new perspectives or contemplations on the spaces we live in
(Simparch, Constant, Mark Manders, Ryuji Miyamoto) or simply because the
artists who made them are not 'white' and make (again) contemplative,
melancholic pieces (Steve McQueen, Shirin Neshat)? Even if the works of
the latter two fit in this Documenta perfectly I don't think they really
benefit from it.

New media

DXI does not just suffer from its ideological molding. I can very well
imagine that somebody who actually likes the position of the curators
still would find some things lacking in the exhibition. Concerning new
media DXI's main curator is as well informed as any randomly chosen
museum director, which means he isn't. Maybe a special sub-curator for
this section would have done the trick. The DXI curators are simply
behind when it comes to knowledge about art in media and the exhibition
would have gained a lot in credibility if they had, since many issues
tackled at DXI are represented so well and abundantly in new media art.
If one tries to think from the ideological position of the curators
again there are plenty of works that actually -should have been there-
but weren't. Walking through the exhibition spaces there were numeral
instances that I thought: "Wouldn't RTMark have said this much clearer?"
"Wouldn't the Electronic Disturbance Theatre, Heath Bunting or Critical
Art Ensemble represent this more appropriately?" "Wouldn't the Old Boys
Network be able to cheer this place up in the most suitable politically
correct way?". had been a pleasant surprise (even if the
documentation could have shown a bit more in this case! After the
performance had finished there was even less action at the Tsunamii
site), but I was disappointed about the Raqs Media Collective (RMC). The
presentation of the work "Co-Ordinates: 28.28N/77.15E : : 2001/2002" was
very bland, even if it was glossy. Apparently the collective tried to
present or recreate the streets of a large Indian city at the
exhibition. A black space with a few columns covered in glossy colorful
stickers and some flat TV screens showing crowds just didn't do the
trick. On line the work looks better, but to call it a solution for
questions around authorship (see the Manovich review again) that seems
a bit farfetched. Authorship is not a purely technical matter. The work
also reminds a bit of other 'open' works on line (if one puts the focus
on authorship by RMC aside for a moment), like 10-dencies by Knowbotic
Research. Another net art work by Andreja Kuluncic (who, according to
the catalogue made the "most exposed Croatian web art today") requested
for the audience to upload files to the site, which was more or less
impossible from Documenta. This work "Distributive Justice" is a good
examply of old fashioned critical, done with better and faster
technology. Such a work depends on audience input, on collaboration, yet
it has hardly been promoted on the net itself and that weakens it. What
these three net art works share is a complexity that is often neglected
in selections of net art for large exhibitions. The works at DXI all
extend beyond the web alone, and both "Co-Ordinates: 28.28N/77.15E : :
2001/2002" and "Distributive Justice" ask for what I would call a more
intimate or deep interactivity then the simple click of a mouse.


Political guidance has never been good for art. Why do people forget
this so easily? One reason could be that part of the ideological revival
in art is more trend then strategy. The art market simply needs new
trends to survive. "New products - new art, new artists - are displayed,
new trends (video in 1992, collaboratives this year) are announced, new
players are introduced and old relationships are reinforced." writes the
New York Times about the meeting of art professionals and art dealers at
DXI. Looking at it from that perspective Enwezor just might have
succeeded in pushing a few new artists to the foreground.

Is it impossible then to have a good time in Kassel? Absolutely not.
There are still plenty of good works to see. And, as an artist said to
me, it always is inspiring to see a bad show. Maybe it would be better
to see Documenta XI as an art work itself, a project by the curators,
whose message will probably resonate for quite a while after this
Documenta has closed, no matter what the final interpretation of it will
be. It seems fairly sure that on the short term the Ars Electronica
organizers were inspired by it. Their next festival called "Unplugged"
will deal with practically the same theme (Does anyone still believe
they really don't care about connecting to the art world over there at
Ars Electronica? ;)).

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Rachel Greene (rachel AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 7, number 34. Article submissions to list AT
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