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: 8.30.02
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 16:44:09 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: August 30, 2002


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

2. jaka zeleznikar: Pixxelpoint (info/call) International Computer Art
Festival, edition 2002
3. nikola tosic: njumedija 0_

4. Jim Andrews: Karl Young

5. Coco Fusco: A Modest Proposal for Josephine Bosma

6. Eric Miller (eric AT, "app][lick.ation][end.age", David
Garcia, Joseph Nechvatal: Documenta XI:no laughing matter / A letter to
Josephine Bosma (on Documenta XI)

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Date: 8.30.02
From: rachel greene (rachel AT
Subject: Editor's note

Discussion about Documenta 11 evolved on Rhizome and Nettime this week,
switching at times to reflect back on 'net.culture' on account of Coco
Fusco's parodic response to Josephine Bosma's review of the festival
(Bosma's text is archived at
Fusco, for those who don't know her extensive work as a critic, curator
or artist, brings advanced knowledge to the table, and I for one am glad
she and Martha Rosler have been active on these lists. Well established
as critical artists and writers, they have much to contribute to a
younger, though different, scene. Responses to Fusco's text vary, with
many people wanting her to be more specific about her critiques...

In other news, Rhizome is looking to expand its stable of core writers,
who cover events regionally or contribute to Rhizome email lists, to
include other voices. Writers should have familiarity with contemporary
art, analytic capabilties, and should be net savvy. One must be
reliable, observing agreed upon deadlines and parameters (e.g. for word
count and tone). Please send an email to rachel AT if you're
interested, briefly introducing yourself and your interests. Attach
writing samples if they exist. We pay.

Thanks, rachel

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Date: 8.28.02
From: jaka zeleznikar (jaka AT
Subject: Pixxelpoint (info/call) International Computer Art Festival,
edition 2002

Pixxelpoint is festival that gathers artists, students and enthusiasts
of computer art. It is based on showing illustrations, fine and pop art
made with computers. It will take place in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, from
Nov. 22 to Nov. 29 2002.

Pixxelpoint is a two way communication exhibition: it gives artists from
all around the world the opportunity to show their work and lets people
see what's happening in the world of computer art. Images are put from
screen onto the walls of the gallery, and animations are shown via video
projector. For the music section there's a separate room where the
compositions will be played.

The festival itself is accompanied with concerts and lectures.

Joining the festival is free of charge.
There are no age, nationality and thematic limitations.
You may join categories:
- static images (2D, 3D & vector)
- computer animations
- interactive art
- music
Read rules and regulations can be found on the festivlal page.

Deadline for submitting works is September 15 2002

Awards will be given by public and by the jury.

More info on

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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: 8.29.02
From: nikola tosic (nikola AT
Subject: njumedija 0_

njumedija 0_

american, english

njumedija 0_ is a new media event which will be organized on the 29th
September, 2002, in rex, jevrejska 16, belgrade. njumedija 0_ is the
first in series of events whose goal is to promote new media and
redefine standards of local public and authors. The event is appealing
to all who are interested in design, art, electronic music, digital
video, video games and other aspects of new media. The event will be
moderated by vuk cosic, and it will consist of presentations by:

vuk cosic_ net.artist, ljubljana & belgrade,
tom roope_ new media designer, london,
gordan paunovic_ DJ and editor, belgrade,
daniel jenett_ new media designer, hamburg,
corrosion_ multidisciplinary group of young authors, belgrade,
gebhard sengmuller_ inventor of vinyl video, vienna,


11:00 AM
29th September, 2002


10:55 introduction
11:00 presentations
17:30 discussion
21:30 party ( location yet to be chosen )


jevrejska 16

supported by

pro helvetia,
active design,
stamparija west,


direct practical questions to mailto:nikola AT
direct theory questions to mailto:svetlana AT

mailing list

please visit and add your email to our mailing
list so you can be updated about news and possible changes


ngo njumedija_
( dejan curcic, gordan paunovic, katarina zivanovic, marko simic, nikola
tosic, nenad arsic, slobodan markovic, svetlana jovicic, zana poliakov,
zoran pantelic )

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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: 8.29.02
From: Jim Andrews
Subject: Karl Young

Many will be familiar with Karl Young's work on the Light & Dust
anthology at , which is
very different from but similar in that much of the work is
archival of pre-web avant garde visual poetry. Karl's anthology is less
full of big names than the archive, but it also has a deeper
life in the art of the 60's-90's, with particular focus on North
American work, but certainly no shortage of work from around the world,
and the best coverage on the Web concerning, say, the Lettristes, among
other relatively little-known but scintillating phenomena.

I see he has put together an extensive site on his own work now at . This is fascinating
work in its range and commentary.


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From: coco fusco (Animas999 AT
Date: 8.25.02
Subject: A Modest Proposal for Josephine Bosma

A Modest Proposal for Josephine Bosma (jesis AT final review

Net.Art: a laughing matter?

It is as if nature decided to complete the experience that the promoters
of the internet have created for us. Video game parlors, cybercafes,
advertisements for telecommunications and pseudoerotic displays of
youthful flesh dominate the landscape of nearly every city in the
developed world, and the wealthy quarters of most third world urban
centers. Streets are flooded with neon and electronic billboards that
provide much more light than what should be available at night.

One of the world's most hyped art milieu can be described in one word:
depressing. The most positive thing to say about net.culture probably is
its openness to artists who have access to computers, and are largely
white, male and western.

Net.culture is depressing for three reasons (I am not even counting the
curators' general ignorance of current art practices other than,
which constitute the overwhelming majority of art history past and
present). First, the amount of frivolity and fatuous self-promotion and
the absence contemplation of the world's current cultural and political
situation other than generalized paranoia about surveillance and
libertarian rants about wanting freedom from any kind of control,
including rational judgement. The endless celebration of
post-structuralist theories of deterritorialization and fluidity are
truly over the top.

There is an overkill of (somehow disguised) anti-statism and
self-proclaimed avant garde status that makes one either grow irritated
or totally disinterested after a while. Second, this is the art form of
mostly R & D for the software industry and wireless communications, in
which almost everything is meaningless on purpose. That net.cultural
theorists need to preach and teach about what the avant garde supposedly
"is" leads to a third more poignant reason for depression: is
above all formalist and formally predictable. There is very little
conceptual depth or anything else substantive, intellectually
provocative or profound about it. That is, if one does not count the
rather kitschy dramatic effect of the curatorial lingo hyping most new
media shows that rivals the advertising copy of Silicon Valley.
Individual artists and art works seem to be drowning in it, something
they actually deserve.

Main Impression

Of course it is a relief to see a major art form that reflects the way
the world is closing down. It sounds clichZ?d, but communication
technologies and mass media culture are part of the economic and social
polarization of the world that reached traumatic proportions in the
1990s. Cultures that were colonized politically by Europe from the 15th
to the 20th century have slowly started to undergo new forms of
colonization called neoliberalism. As a result, older forms of
hybridization and intercultural exchange are being supplanted by the
McDonalidization of most urban cultures. Bad taste is now defined by
American companies, but is bombarded into other countries via massive
propaganda campaigns that make lousy food, technologically mediated
interaction, and obsessive consumerism seem desirable. Multinationals
and most governments do everything possible to censor information about
their faults. Most affluent people do everything possible to avoid
unmediated contact that would expose their faults as well.

One of the things that net.culture seems to want to be is what its name
implies: to be THE culture of the moment - that represents the radical
transformation of the world by digital technology, or a confirmation
even, maybe. But it does so in a highly predictable, lecturing way. As I
said, this is the art form of the internet, of radical 'art'
(illustrated best, probably, by the words of most other art curators,
who usually talk about it as "that awfully ugly stuff that never
downloads anyway"). A barrage of spam from a self-centered semi
delusional artiste, found footage with images of home made porn
re-edited, a documentary about avatars , so called 'new forms of cinema'
showcasing anti-globalization protests in Europe and North America,
numerous websites announcing non-existent governments and countries and
corporations for no apparent reason, endless webcam diaries about white
suburban people who think their lives are interesting, and a number of
works in which artists contemplate on their invented selves are mixed
with grim looking pieces about biotechnology and designer babies,
numerous "artful" porn sites with obscenities in various languages,
pages covered with code and unreadable text, lousy computer animation,
black and white streaming videos of empty or gloomy spaces and
labyrinthine MUDS and MOOS with 12 signs of depression. The relatively
large number of murky photos of outer space make the impression of as literal documentation of our times even stronger.

Net.culture is not just dominated by tepid works and frivolity and
self-aggrandizement. What is rather puzzling within this net.culture is
the odd presence of certain 'old favorites' in its aesthetic. One
wanders from site to site filled with what I described above and then
suddenly, slightly lost, there is a space filled with works that look
strangely like repeats of structuralist film, 70s femininst
autobiographical video, or neo-geo painting (even worse the second time
around). Even if these genres have yielded very interesting works seeing
them on line makes one wonder why people argue that represents a
total rupture with the past. Also interesting works by 'newer' artists
or artist groups that have nothing to do with nettime/Next Five
Minutes/Ars/ Transmediale circuit are rarely noticed by the players of
the "scene". The political brainwash of the majority of the field is so
strong that it overpowers all works and leaves one with very little room
for serious ideological and political interpretation. The question then
haunts you: what makes the work of few serious artists in net.culture
ignored by most nettimers? One tries to think like the curators seem to
have thought, so here we go: is it because they are somehow not easily
packaged as cyberhype, because the work is about the inequities of
net.culture and the world outside it (thus a sign of net.culture's
decadence) or because this work offers critical perspectives on or
contemplations of the fetishization of technology or simply because the
artists who made them are not 'white' and make (again) contemplative,
interesting pieces? Even if the works of the Electronic Disturbance
Theatre and Walid Ra'ad (who is the Atlas Group, since the group doesn't
exist as a group) fit in this scene perfectly, I don't think
they really benefit from it.

New media

Net.culture 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 Concerning
media other than the curators of new media are far less
informed as any randomly chosen museum director, which means they
aren't. Maybe a special night course for acquiring knowledge of the rest
of art history would do the trick. The curators are simply out
of it when it comes to knowledge about art in any other media, and their
projects would gain a lot in credibility if they learned more , since
many issues tackled in are represented so well and abundantly in
the rest of the media of artmaking in most of the world. If one tries to
think from the ideological position of the new media theorists and
radicals again there are plenty of good people who should be part of
their events but rarely are. Surfing from portal to portal and list to
list there were numerous instances that I thought: "Wouldn't some
intervention of refugees in all this discussion by white people with
passports about refugees make this discussion a little more grounded?
"Isn't it time to look at the absolutely horrendous labor conditions in
assembly plants where poor women go blind putting together your
computers as part of the reason why technology isn't liberating
everyone?" "Wouldn't it help to deflate the pretense of all those who
claim to have reinvented art practice if net.culture-ites actually
engaged in discussion with art historians and practitioners who have
expertise in previous waves of new media?" "Wouldn't some politicized
artists of color question whether it is enough for nettimers to collect
software designers from every corner of the planet and call that


Politics has always been part of the artistic endeavor of the West from
the didactic dramas of classical antiquity to the centuries of religious
propaganda financed and controlled by the Catholic Church, to the
deployment of Abstract Expressionism by the CIA -- Why do net.culture
people forget this so easily? One reason could be that part of the
neoformalist revival in art in the 90s was more trend then strategy. The
art market simply needs new trends to survive and was one of
them. "New products - new art, new artists - are displayed, new trends
are announced, new players are introduced and old relationships are
reinforced." Looking at it from that perspective just might have
succeeded in pushing a few new artists to the foreground.

Is it impossible then to have a good time in spaces? Absolutely
not. There are still plenty of good works to see. And, as an artist said
to me, it always is inspiring to see bad art. Maybe it would be better
to see net.culture as an art work itself, a project by the
telecommunication industry, software giants, and European and American
governments using arts funding to revive their post-industrial economies
whose message will probably resonate for quite a while after this wave
of is over, no matter what the final interpretation of it will
be. It seems fairly sure that in the short term the museums were
inspired by it. Several opened portals, and made miserly
commissions to virtually unknown artists when they were shutting down
most of the other possibilities for artists without big dealers (or
collectors backing them) to exhibit anywhere.

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Date: 8.26.02
From: Eric Miller (eric AT, "app][lick.ation][end.age"
(netwurker AT, David Garcia (davidg AT, Joseph Nechvatal
(joseph_nechvatal AT
Subject: Documenta XI:no laughing matter / A letter to Josephine Bosma (on
Documenta XI)

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>From Eric Miller:

Hi all,

A few thoughts after reading [Fusco's post]:

One, from a purely practical standpoint there's a huge challenge for the
would-be net.artist...the technology is difficult and requires full-time
devotion to learning applications, something that your average conceptual
artist isn't going to have the luxury or perhaps the mindset to accomplish.
Creating something that is visually interesting in Flash, and finding a new
way to say it, almost always requires object-oriented programming skills,
traditionally the domain of engineering types. And talented engineers with
borderline Asperger's Syndrome personalities aren't exactly known for
artistic innovation.

Given that, one can usually eyeball a project and drop it into one
of two camps: artists with strong conceptual skills who are dabbling with
technology and haven't truly grasped the medium, and developers who spend so
much time in the literal binary world of coding that their art efforts can
lack deeper meaning. The generalists in between who are capable of bridging
the gap don't often produce compelling work on either front, which doesn't
bode well for the individual artist trying to triangulate the required
technical skillsets with the conceptual skills behind powerful art. Maybe
that's why so many collectives are forming around the need a
wider skillset in this medium than most individuals can provide.

But secondly: maybe I'm missing something, but why _does_ art have to be
political? Why can't it be based on abstract aesthetic beauty, or humor, or
contemporary cultural contexts, or scatology, or whatever pleases the
artist? I don't see why the context for meaning in art is required to be
sober and politicized in order to earn the label of virtuous and worthy.
The openness of the community to judge works based on criteria other
than politicization would seem to be an asset, not a failure. To deny the
artistic validity of any work that's not soberly political is a pretty
narrow criteria for assessing value. Wasn?t that an observation being made
on the recent Documenta 11 thread? So to say that curators who lack a
formal educational background in art history are unqualified, presumably
because they wouldn't automatically contextualize all art in a rigid
political conceptual framework, smacks of art establishment elitism. When
critiquing a nascent art movement's ideological straitjacket, one might do
well to shed one's own.

And it's funny that deterritorialization should be portrayed as a conceptual
weakness, when it really acts as a functional strength. Regardless of the
virtues and failures of globalization, location really doesn?t matter as
much to Net workers and artists as it does to those who work in more
concrete spaces. Critiquing the world's grasp of the statelessness
of the medium is a bit backwards...they GET that a website is not bound to a
physical location, nor are the creators of the work or the audience. It
seems that the unfamiliarity of this statelessness sparks a certain degree
of apprehension in more traditional art circles.

Lastly, I think many net.artists might take offense at the proposition that
their work is inherently shackled to corporate motivations. I know a lot of
artists with cell phones, and I'd daresay that their work doesn't center
around shilling for Motorola and Nokia. I'd think that we could give
artists a little more credit for thinking critically.

We're still learning how to use this medium, and we're still learning how to
critique it. Forcing the critical dialogue into a conceptual framework that
can't accept certain fundamentals about the medium is flawed. Especially if
the aforementioned framework is calcified by dogma.

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"It is as if nature decided to complete the experience that the
promoters of the internet have created for us. Video game parlors,
cybercafes, advertisements for telecommunications and pseudoerotic
displays of youthful flesh dominate the landscape of nearly every city
in the developed world, and the wealthy quarters of most third world
urban centers. Streets are flooded with neon and electronic billboards
that provide much more light than what should be available at night.

One of the world's most hyped art milieu can be describe in one word:
depressing. The most positive thing to say about net.culture probably is
its openness to artists who have access to computers, and are largely
white, male and western." [From Fusco's text]

mez responded:

....its n.teresting 2 absorb how this tendency 2 polarize marks cocos
premise....utilizing such div][der][isive reductionism [m.ploying a "most
positive" benchmark] & weighted concentration [& corresponding
regurgitation of an overtly patricentric power stratification approach - ie
her assumed authority thru the negation/displacement of nuanced discourses
indicates an adherence 2 a hierarchical loading that coco _seems_ 2 b
actively rallying against] acts 2 diminish the potentialities of x.posure 4
those works that r surprisingly omitted in this t][ext][ract......wot, in
cocos opinion, r these non-male, non-western wurks + practitioners who r
only made more marginal + minimalized by their gaping absence in this
monologically-oriented text?

..this type of naive iteration of overarching dialogic advocacy structures
is surprising, & i'm n.terested 2 learn how coco cs her concentration on
the depressive state of so-labelled homogenized end-game as either
offering to x.pose or hi-lite [or n.deed reconceptualise] those she views
as x.cluded?

[aka app][lick.ation][end.age]

+ + +

regarding Fusco's comment that:

Surfing from portal to portal and list to list there were numeral
instances that I thought: "Wouldn't some intevention of refugees in all
this discussion by white people with passports about refugees make this
discussion a little more grounded?

David Garcia posted:

Hi coco, just for your future reference, at the Amsterdam tactical media
lab (part of the development process for Next 5 Minutes) we are working
closely with refugees and refugee support groups both (white and
non-white). As we are also being visited by the Publix Theater/No Border
Caravan there should be many useful moments for refugees and the local
NGO's that support them to encounter activists who see themselves as
fighting their behalf. I hope they (and you) might discover that being
white and holding a passport does not necessarily guarantee bad faith.
By the way we are particularly happy to welcome the Caravan to the
Tactical media lab after hearing (according to Brian Holmse's posting of
a week ago) that the No Border Caravan were chased away from Dokumenta,
pretty rich from (as Brian put it) "a show which counts the contemporary
capitalist border regime as one of its obsessive themes."

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Joseph Nechvatal wrote:

If the most positive thing Josephine Bosma can say in the current Rhizome
Digest about Documenta is that it opens up exhibition/catalogue space to
melancholic documentary artists ignorant or uninterested in digital realms
who are neither white, male nor western - then it is true that this
political brainwash/agenda/mix makes for better television than
mega-exhibition. However, I want to hear from these documentary artists
directly. Where is the Documenta internet chat room / bbs this time? I would
like to know if for these artists this Documenta is more about techno
fatigue or digital divides? Hence, yes, in that sense we are witnessing the
art world equivalent of the bursting of the Internet dream. So where is the
Internet reality? In this sense the show lacks a revisitation to that which
has already "been done" before ­ but one contrary to what Rainer found.
Perhaps the lack of this technological communications/art is not a "relief"
Rainer, but the contrary.

Enwezor¹s Documenta then, at least for Josephine, is simultaneously "too
much" and gravely lacking. Too much "political brainwash" coupled with a
conspicuous techno lack of the likes of Electronic Disturbance Theatre,
Heath Bunting, RTMark, Critical Art Ensemble, Old Boys Network (who do it
better). Agreed. But an indemnification of this problem requires a balance
between the "room for interpretation" (open work idea) of art and the
documentary style aimed at truth. An elegant equilibrium is required here.
Good political guidance HAS (rarely!) succeeded in fostering consequential
art (while fostering some strongly significant music). I think art still can
(rarely) do it, if the content is approached subtlety with a cleverness that
is effective in its processes of seduction. In fact, it could be the
seductiveness of this rarity which tempts so many well-meaning good people
into making crappy political art ­ a futile activity neither sufficiently
political nor adequately artistic. But then, as Rainer points out, the
evolution of form is not the whole of art history, either. There is content
to consider.

I say this having not seen Documenta XI but for its web presence. I
exclusively am commenting about the ideas of ideological revival circulation
around the show on the net. But, I admit, that hearing what I have heard on
the net, I do not intend to make the petite voyage from Paris to Kassel to
see the show this time. For I agree with Josephine that didactic political
instruction is generally bad for art. This sounds like a show for silent

Joseph Nechvatal

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Rachel Greene (rachel AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 7, number 35. Article submissions to list AT
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