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: 1.17.03
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 17:39:53 -0500

RHIZOME DIGEST: January 17, 2003


1. Jonah: Eyebeam opportunity
2. Justine Bizzocchi: Web Producer Needed
3. Taylor Nuttall: Art House / Esmee Fairbairn Artists¹ Bursary Scheme

4. Sergei Teterin: MACHINISTA 2003 [RU] - additional prizes for VJ's
5. Alexei Shulgin: read_me 2.3 software art festival
6. Michelle Deignan: Os_anm by Slateford

7. Tilman Baumgaertel: Interview with Amy Alexander

8. ryan griffis: a (contextual) review of xurban\\\'s Knit++

9. Brett Stalbaum: Database Logic(s) and Landscape Art [3/5]

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Date: 1.16.03
From: Jonah (jonah AT
Subject: Eyebeam opportunity

Eyebeam is pleased to announce an open call to apply for the Spring 2003
cycle of its Artists in Residence Program, a multidisciplinary initiative
that supports the development, creation and presentation of outstanding new
works of art made with digital tools. The AIR Program offers five-month
residencies to exceptional artists in three different areas: Education,
Emerging Fields and Moving Image. Residents receive a stipend, access to
cutting-edge tools, expert technical support from Eyebeam staff, production
help from apprentices, and the option to participate in an annual group

The wide-ranging annual AIR exhibitions mirror the interdisciplinary studio
environment by presenting a constellation of other events, including open
studios, demonstrations of research in progress, panel discussions, on-line
projects, and multimedia performances. The twelve artists who participated
in the program's '02 pilot year were featured in Beta Launch: Artist's in
Residence 2002: (

The open call for applications begins January 10th. Applications are due
February 10th. For more detail about the different residency programs,
deadlines, applications and instructions, please refer to the information on
Eyebeam web site: (

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Date: 1.15.03
From: Justine Bizzocchi (justine AT DIRECT.CA)
Subject: Web Producer Needed

The Banff New Media Institute at The Banff Centre is now hiring.
Producer, Horizon Zero -
Remuneration: $42,000-47,000/year
Application deadline: January 25, 2003
Submit a letter of intent and full CV to: Horizon Zero Hiring Committee -
The Banff Centre, 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Box 1020, Station 40 Banff, Alberta T1L 1H5
or via email: Horizon AT

This position will, provide administrative and programming leadership in
effecting the successful delivery of the Horizon Zero web publication. This
position supervises four full time contract positions, one part-time
position, as well as workstudies and freelance workers. In addition, this
position oversees the monitoring of priorities and contracts established
between The Banff Centre and The Department of Canadian Heritage and the
monitoring and priorities of the contracts established between The Banff
Centre and Horizon Zero contributors, freelance workers and service
providers. This position initiates a long term implementation plan that
relates to the overall development and delivery of the Horizon Zero web
publication within the context of The Banff New Media Institute and The
Banff Centre.


The Banff New Media Institute publishes the Horizon Zero, with funding from
the Department of Canadian Heritage. It is available in its entirety in both
French and English.

Horizon Zero is dedicated to the digital arts in Canada. The term "digital
arts" is taken to include:; cd-rom and dvd-rom art; location-based
art and interactive installations; virtual reality systems; digital
photography; digital cinema and video; digital animation; artists' software,
tools and games; electronic literature; and electronic music.

The ultimate goal of Horizon Zero is to open up the field of new media to
the larger realm of culture and promote Canadian artists in Canada and
abroad. It should foster a dialogue between Canadian new media practitioners
and their possible audiences, as well as encourage the cross-fertilization
of "other" arts and new media.


This is a senior position that requires at least 10 years experience in
producing, preferably in a web environment. The ideal candidate will
understand and have technical skills in production of new media, and in
managing production processes. They must have experience in preparing and
managing budgets and preparing funding proposals and reports. The producer
also provides direction for marketing and communications for HorizonZero.
This position requires someone with mature judgment and the ability to
provide leadership to a team, as well as work collaboratively within the
larger management structure of The Banff New Media Institute.

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Date: 1.15.03
From: Taylor Nuttall (taylor AT
Subject: Art House / Esmee Fairbairn Artists¹ Bursary Scheme

Art House / Esmee Fairbairn Artists¹ Bursary Scheme

Project Description

The Art House has secured funding for 12 artists¹ bursaries from the
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Barclays and supported by the National
Lottery through the Arts Council of England A4E scheme. The bursaries
will be offered over a three year period (2003 / 2004 / 2005).

The bursaries will be awarded primarily to visual artists and
craftspeople, working in a wide range of media including digital media,
sound, installation, sculpture and other media. Please get in touch if
you are unsure whether your work is suitable.

The Art House is an inclusive organisation and our intention is that
artists with and without disabilities will be appointed. All of the
artists will be enabled to make new work while receiving professional
development training and access support. The Art House will provide all
necessary to support to disabled artists in applying for the bursaries
and all partner venues have good access. We will provide additional
support to artists with disabilities in undertaking bursary projects.

The artists will all be at an early stage of their careers, probably
within the first three years of their professional practice.

It will be possible for collaborating artists as well as individual
artists to apply to the scheme. Six of the bursaries will be offered in
Yorkshire and six elsewhere in the country.

The bursaries will be offered in partnership with other organisations,
which will provide the artists with space in which to work and exhibit.

The brief for each residency will be different and reflect the character
of the partner organisation as well as the aspirations of The Art House.

The partners range from studio complexes such as Yorkshire Artspace
Society in Sheffield, to internationally recognised sites such as
Grizedale Arts and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. They include conventional
gallery spaces, non-art spaces and public art opportunities, ensuring a
wide range of potential projects. The briefs will be very open in many
cases, allowing for artists working in a variety of media to respond,
and for research and development within the bursary. Most are not
commissions but opportunities for artists to extend their practice.

Synergy between the residencies will be maximised, as it is important
that the scheme operates as a single project rather than as 12 isolated
residencies. This will occur through face to face contact and through a
dedicated website, which will develop throughout the project. This will
include visual and textual documentation of process, work in progress,
finished work, critical assessment of the work and issues raised during
the project, as well as being a medium for communication through a
discussion forum and webchats. There will be a conference / event at the
end of the project, which will bring together the artists, partners and
other participants in the project, showcasing the work produced and
establishing models of good practice for the future. This will be
accompanied by a publication.

How to apply To be eligible you should preferably be in the first three
years of working as a practicing professional artist. This means you
should be no more than three years out of full time education, or be no
more than three years into returning to a career as an artist after a
break, whether this was for reasons of illness, disability, economics,
childcare or any other reason. If you are unsure whether you are
eligible please contact us before applying.

Please only apply for one bursary. You will not be given more than one
award during the three years of the project. If you are unsuccessful
this year you are free to apply again in future years.

You need not necessarily apply for a bursary close to where you live, as
there is likely to be support for accommodation near to the partner
venues. We would encourage you to apply for the opportunity that most
interests you.

Please submit the following information:

* No more than two sides of A4 describing your current practice /
statement. * No more than two sides of A4 describing your approach to
the venue you are applying to work at, and a proposal for the project
you would like to undertake there. You may include sketches or other
visual material as part of your proposal. You should take into account
the nature of the venue and its audience, but most importantly you
should make a proposal which will significantly extend your artistic
practice. You should list equipment and materials you expect to use, and
if possible give a rough idea of what these would cost. Get in touch if
you want to discuss your proposal before submitting it. * Curriculum
Vitae * Samples of work. Ideally one or more of the following : 6 to 12
slides or prints and / or catalogue excerpts; CD-ROMs; list of URLs;
audio cassette tape or CD; showreel tape in VHS PAL format (no longer
than 30 mins). You may submit material in more than one format. Please
include a sheet listing any work included by medium, date produced and
title. * Copies of any press reviews of your work. * A stamped
self-addressed envelope for the return of material. We will only return
work accompanied by an SAE. * Please ensure that you submit your
application by the application deadline for the bursary you are applying
for. Late applications will not be considered.


Bursary Three Folly Gallery, Lancaster

Background: Folly promotes photographic, video, digital art and live art
from its premises close to the centre of Lancaster. Folly has
established itself as an innovative promoter of digital and media arts
through its programme of exhibitions and events, and through its
website. Further information at

The vision for Folly is: to act as a centre for excellence for emergent
contemporary arts practice

The aims of Folly are to: establish itself as a forum and melting pot to
develop dialogue & discourse around the creative use of digital media,
thereby raising the profile of contemporary art and artists in the
region; become a centre for excellence for research-based practice in
photography, film & video, digital media and live art; develop skills
and provide progressive experiences for all its participants; ensure
that the use of its resources is maximised.

Folly is developing new resources to extend its current base of a
publicly accessible darkroom, a linear video editing suite, a Linux
based media lab and good online access with broad band connection.
Current funding plans are in place to additionally provide an Apple Mac
based laptop suite.

The Bursary: The bursary will place an artist working in installation /
new media or other suitable media in residence with a number of local
artists to act as a catalyst for a broad range of interventions in non
gallery settings. It is anticipated that in addition documentation in
progress and discussion activities will take place online. The residency
will form part of Folly's ongoing ?edit/copy/paste¹ and ?unencoded¹
programme (see

To coincide with the project a one-week practical workshop will be based
within the gallery, and the commissioned artist will be invited to
participate in this workshop event and lead part of it.

Location: the artist will be in residence at Folly Gallery and in the
homes of artists local to Lancaster.

Timescale: the start point for the project will be July 4th / 5th when
Folly will be jointly hosting a film and new media festival. Current /
previous work by the commissioned artist will be presented as part of a
one day forum. The residency will run over a 2-month period from this

Fee: £4,500 including materials. Support will be available towards
expenses and accommodation costs.

Application Deadline: Applications must be received by Friday 31 January


Bursary Four
Yorkshire Artspace Society, Sheffield

Yorkshire ArtSpace exists to support visual artists and craftspeople by
offering them affordable studio space, business support services and access
to outreach opportunities. Just as importantly they aim to increase public
access to the skills of artists and every year they offer a wide range of
visual art and craft events and activities. Further information at .

Persistence Works, designed by award winning Feilden Clegg Bradley
Architects, is the UK¹s first purpose built fine art and craft studio
complex. It provides a permanent new base for Yorkshire ArtSpace with 51
studios providing workspace for 68 artists and makers including painters,
sculptors, jewellers, furniture makers and ceramicists.

The Bursary:
The bursary is for an artist working in any medium. The Public Art Space
will become the studio of the successful candidate for the duration of the
bursary and like all studios at Persistence Works is fully accessible and
designed to accommodate the various needs of artists and makers in an
atmosphere that offers privacy and security. Access to studios is 24/7.
The public art space is 14m x 10m x 5m high so very large. The space would
be suitable for a variety of working practices such as: large sculpture or
installation, projections or lightworks or any process which takes full
advantage of the space available. The studio is north facing, on ground
level, has a concrete floor and block work walls, heating, lighting, power
points, a sink with hot and cold water and extractor point. As the space is
adjacent to the public reception area it is also ideal for showing work and
is regularly used for this purpose.

Location: The artist will be in residence at Persistence Works, Yorkshire
Artspace¹s building in Sheffield.

Timescale: The artist will be in residence for approximately six weeks
between 14 April and 26 May.

Fee: £3500 including materials. Support will be available towards expenses
and accommodation costs.

Application Deadline: Applications must be received by Friday 31 January

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Date: 1.16.03
From: Sergei Teterin (teterin AT
Subject: MACHINISTA 2003 [RU] - additional prizes for VJ's

"MACHINISTA 2003" - media art festival in net, organized and coordinated in
Perm City, West Ural, Russia. Main subject of the festival is "Artificial
Intelligence in Art: Faces of Machinic Ingenuity". The focus is on the new
interaction of machinic and human in art and culture.

Categories of accepted works:
)· "Machine as the artist's co-author"
· "Machine in place of the artist"
· "VJ's vs. visualizers"

Accepted are all media art works without genre limitations: video-art, music
and sound, vj demos, multimedia installations, net-art and web-art, software
art, graphical and 3D experiments etc. Works are accepted on the festival
web site and published automatically.


1. "ArKaos Interactive Visual Technologies" company (Belgium) will
contribute special prizes for authors in the "Vj's vs. visualizers"
category: "ArKaos VJ 2.2.1" BOXES and CDs with "ArKaos Visual Art Library",
and some "ArKaos" t-shirts [:-)] URL:

2. "Electronica-Optica" is a visual distribution company that produces
"VJTV". "VJTV" is a a show featuring interviews, mix sets, and shorts of
various VJ and Visual artists around the world. "E-Optica" will be featuring
a select portion of the works in "Machinista" to be aired on "VJTV". URLs: (

All necessary information and submission form can be found on the festival
web site:

Deadline: January 31, 2003.
Director: Sergei Teterin (Perm City, Russia) (teterin AT

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Date: 1.15.03
From: Alexei Shulgin (alexei AT
Subject: read_me 2.3 software art festival

call for submissions - please, distribute

Read_me 2.3

Software Art Festival

May 30 - 31, Media Centre Lume, Helsinki, Finland

Deadline for entries: March 1

More info at:

Read_me 2.3 is a festival of software art that explores the territory
between art and software culture. Read_me 2.3 draws connections between
histories and practices in both software culture and art, and aims at
creating an extended context, against which software art may be mapped.

Read_me 2.3 is the second edition of Read_me, the first festival
dedicated entirely to the phenomena of software art (Read_me 1.2 at: ).

Read_me 2.3 continues with the open structure of Read_me: all projects
are submitted on-line to a publicly accessible database. However, the
second Read_me edition has logically developed this idea further: the
simple database / submission form has turned into the software art
repository (

All projects, submitted to up to the Read_me 2.3 deadline (1
of March) will be reviewed by a collective of "experts"
( and the best ones will be presented
on the Read_me 2.3 event.

Read_me 2.3 is not a competition in the traditional sense, and it will
not have monetary prizes. The festival event on May 30-31 will present,
discuss, and celebrate a selection of works singled out and featured
without ranking by the Read_me experts collective. Read_me 2.3 will
focus on the variety of discrete contexts and will aim at building
bridges between them.

To submit a project for Read_me 2.3 go to and follow instructions.

If you have any questions, please, contact og AT and
alexei AT


The project is a co-operation between NIFCA, The Nordic Institute for
Contemporary Art (, Lume (, and
m-cult (

Curators: Olga Goriunova, Alexei Shulgin

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See who made the list of all-time greatest digital works in the 10th
Anniversary New York Digital Salon issue of LEONARDO, Volume 35, Number
5. Curators for the issue include Christiane Paul, Steve Dietz, Benjamin
Weil, Joel Chadabe, Lev Manovich, and others. Order your copy AT

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Date: 1.6.03
From: Michelle Deignan (mdeignan AT
Subject: Os_anm by Slateford

Variablemedia is pleased to announce it's latest project, os_anm by
slateford. Started January 3rd 2003 os_anm will be hosted for three
months at

Os_anm is a lo-resolution pixel animation tool (programmed in Java). It
is partly inspired by the proto-digital media of teletext. The tool
combines drawing functions, playback and its own scripting language.
Slateford provide the tool, the visitors to variablemedia provide the
content. Animations created on os_anm are stored in an online database.
New animations can be created, existing ones viewed, added to, or

Os_anm is open source prototype software. Currently os_anm operates in
an online environment. Slateford have decided to use their residency at to develop a standalone version of the software.
Updates to os_anm will be posted to the site. The source code for each
update will be freely available, as will the final software when
complete. A development kit to help others develop their own variations
and additions to the core system will also be made available. Progress
in the project development will be reflected in changes to the Java
applet on the site. New functionality will be added to this to
demonstrate and test developments in the main software. Info on the
software development, along with source code downloads and the
developer's kit, can be found in the 'development' section of the
variablemedia project site.

Os_anm is currently suitable for: Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux, or Windows
98/NT/2000. Windows XP users will need to upgrade to the latest Service

Slateford are Simon Yuill (Scotland) and Tryggve Askildsen (Norway).
They have never met. Their work is produced through online
collaboration. It derives from their common love of old-school coding
and an interest in exploring its aesthetics through contemporary
computer media. All slateford works are black and white. Slateford are
supported by Lipparosa. Lipparosa is a code repository for speculative
software and theoretical codeworks. It was set up by Simon Yuill in
November 2002.

" - we are making old-time code - we live in a grey world - we hope for
the future but enjoy today - sometimes we do not know why we do what we
do - it works for us - we hope it works for you - "
slateford, 2002.

Variablemedia was created by artists Michelle Deignan and Simon Goodwin
as an Internet space for artists to explore place, process and
temporality. The site hosts a continuing series
of artists' "site specific" web projects. Artists occupy the site's
space for a period of between one and three months. This space is
available for them to change, update and add to during their project's

New Media Scotland are currently hosting another slateford project
called 'greylines 00-06', a series of interactive code-doodles exploring
simple graphical ideas. The project is presented as part of New Media
Scotland's HOST commissions and launched on 15th December 2002.



'greylines 00-06' at New Media Scotland:
slateford web-site:

For further Information please contact: info AT

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Date: 12.30.02
From: Tilman Baumgaertel (tilman_baumgaertel AT
Subject: Interview with Amy Alexander

Ultimatively, everything becomes video games

Interview with Amy Alexander / By Tilman Baumgärtel

Colorful letters crawl across the screen like insects or fly like birds.
American net artist Amy Alexander directs the swarms of words from the
internet with a remote control and her mighty Mattel Power glove during
her performance piece ?B0timati0n? ( In
?B0timati0n?, Cut Up writing meets Oskar Fischinger, Konkrete Poesie is
cross breeded with a psychedelic light show, and all that is turned into a
VJ set. After a performance of the piece in Berlin at Raum3, I talked with
Alexander about "B0timati0n" and her previous works.

?: You did a performance last night here in Berlin. Can you describe

Amy Alexander: "B0timati0n" is a performance search engine. I am
UeberGeek, the internet VJ. I have a program that is really a front-end to
a commercial search engine. I type in search terms, and it grabs search
results through the search engine, which than animate in psychedelic
colors. As UeberGeek I sort of conduct this thing, waving my arm. I have a
lot of geek toys, like my Mattel Power Glove, a remote control and an air

?: It almost looks like a light show. Have you performed at clubs and
discos with it?

Alexander: So far I have mostly done it at media arts festivals, but I
want to bring it more into public places. The most public places I have
performed in so far were storefronts in Munich and Los Angeles. Those were
good spots, because people were just passing by on the street, and they
didn't know what was coming up, and all of a sudden there is this weird
performance in their face.

?: The performance looked very slick and could be dismissed as eye candy?
Are you trying to make a point that goes beyond a good looking VJ-type of

Alexander: Yes, you have to be careful - you never know what someone will
sneak into eye candy nowadays! "B0timati0n" is about the juxtaposition
between geek culture and pop culture. The stereotypical geek is really
obsessed with computers, is not very interested in the rest of the world
and doesn't have very good social skills - a geek used to be this cliché,
nobody wanted to be thought of this way. But that has changed: programmers
started making a lot of money, and all of a sudden they had this cult
status. They started to appear in popular culture, with websites like
"Slashdot" and so on. So suddenly it became cool to be a programmer. Of
course, that was initially money-induced, during the dot com boom...

Even pop culture and leisure have become really geeky. Rock'n'roll used to
be about electric guitars and smashing things. Now the coolest things are
laptop techno (which is typing) and DJ-ing (which is turning knobs). The
tools of toil have become the tools of leisure. In the States, people are
going to coffee houses with their laptops, and they "relax", while doing
work on their computer. There are also gaming rooms, that are replacing
the arcades, where you see teenage boys playing computer games. But they
are sitting in this office furniture, typing away. Somehow, this
commercial, technical culture has made leisure culture really boring.
B0timati0n is the answer to the tedium of DJ-ing! (laughs)

?: Are you geek yourself?

Alexander: It is hard to say. I guess in real life, I'm a backwards geek,
because I actually started out making music and then film and realtime
video art and hating computers. But then I ended up programming my digital
media projects. I got very tired of programming, and I felt like a geek. I
was working on these art projects, but there was a lot of tedium.
Programming, even on art projects gets tedious - well a lot of ways of
working on and experiencing - digital art get tedious and geeky - at least
for somebody hyperactive like me who is used to doing things more
kinetically. So, I started looking for ways to combat that - or at least
tweak it!

?: To me it also seemed like the performance was also an attempt to
dramatize the mundane interface of the computer?

Alexander: Yeah, I am trying to dramatize, tongue-in-cheek. There is this
interface level, but there is also the content level. People used to watch
movies in cinemas on these large-scale screens, and now they are sitting
in front of their computer, watching little Quicktime-Movies and DVDs on
the laptop screen. The web is supposed to be so cool and programming is
supposed to be so cool, but the content is all mostly about commercial
content and commercial culture, of course. But it's the juxtaposition of
the two that I think creates the web's aesthetic. The crux of "B0timati0n"
is typing in these search terms, abstract concepts like "Love" and
"Safety" or sometimes more political things, like "War Games"... and what
comes back, in some authoritative way, are these commercial, "webified"
definitions of these terms. Watching how the individual searchterms come
back is important though, not just, OK, here's some arbitrary commercial
trash appropriated into something. These terms are being redefined.

?: One of the search results that appears most frequently are things like
"Copyright by"?

Alexander: Yeah. And a lot of the content we have on the web is just
things like: "You're browser doesn't support frames." And a lot of what
comes up are people trying to sell you some web-based service. The web
tends to be very self-reflexive. I am very interested in search engines,
because they are this universal, worldwide meta mass medium. It becomes a
very big propaganda tool. The way they are structured tends to be very
incestuous, despite what you read about the democracy of Google's page
ranking system. Companies that own a lot of domains can link all their
domains together, and so they come up very high in the ranking. So if
somebody looks for something, this corporate version of the answer to his
question is what comes up the highest, and individuals are ten pages out.

So it is quite interesting to me to use search engine results as material
for this performance. This is supposed to be cool culture, but what comes
back is a lot of trash. I have it animated, it looks like video games, so
there is this friction between what I - as UeberGeek - want to be cool and
the reality of the content. And the same thing happens with my geek toys.
They are very physical, but ultimately I am waving around a mouse and
controlling onscreen this horrible web texts that says: "Looking for love?
Try the love calculator!"

?: Is there also the idea to make data accessible again in a sensual
fashion, to enter into the data space?

Alexander: It is about the attempt to enter into the data world or have
data enter our world. Of course, this is a ricidulous proposition. As
UeberGeek, I continue to try, because this is the epitomy of cool for me
or her. Sometimes people ask if it's a reference to Stelarc. In some ways
it is. It is about the obsolescence of Stelarc. (laughs)

?: There is a obvious connection between the way you use text in your
performance and the Cut-Up-technique of people like William Burroughs. I
sometimes think that this kind of high art concept from 20. century
avantgarde movements have turned into pop culture by computers. A high art
concept like "cut up" can become material for a psychedelic light show
like "B0timatiOn".

Alexander: Yep, I guess it's true that everything becomes pop
culture.Ultimatively, everything becomes a video game, is another way to
look at this. All these pop culture elements are homogenizing, like the
Web homogenizes everything. In some of the remixes I am doing, I mix songs
from the 80's with sounds from video game themes. When I put in search
terms, I use words from the songs or games that often also have meaning in
another context. "Doom" is a real word, but most of the responses to a
search queries of the word "Doom" don't have anything to do with the real
meaning of "doom", but rather with the game "Doom". Thanks to search
engines, the meaning of every word gets changed into a Web-Culture-ified
or Game-ified redefinition.

?: You only use text, but technically it would also be possible to use
images. Why do you rely on text exclusively?

Alexander: That is something I thought about a lot. Not that I would never
use images, but I don't want to use them for the sake of being visual. For
now it is going to stay only text, because it is the ultimate reduction of
the content. And also it is also the best representation of nerdiness and
dryness. Low tech is the ultimate high tech, text is the ultimate cool
technology. When I was a kid, the adults used to criticize the kids,
because kids wouldn't read and would watch TV all the time. Now the new
pop culture is reading on the internet. Everything is text: the web,
instant messaging, SMS. But still the adults complain about the kids -
these text-based technologies are going to turn your brain to mush!

?: The name of your website is and a lot of your work is
about the issue of intellectual property.

Alexander: The idea of intellectual property in the digital age is that of
course when you are stealing you don't take anything away. That is one of
the tenets of Open Source. If you steal a car from someone, this person
doesn't have the car anymore. If you steal a website, they still have the
property and you have a copy too. My attitude with is that
it is a moot point.. At some point appropriation was a big deal in the
arts, but now that has become just a part of the fabric. You either
appropriate or you don't, it is just something that it is there. If I am
stealing from anyone, I am stealing from the search engines, because they
already stole it from the original authors. One has to look at it that
way. My point is that it's ridiculous to worry about these issues.

?: In fact most of your work wouldn't possible without other people's

Alexander: Yes, but it is ironic, not for shock value. "Plagiarist" on the
plagiarist website is this imaginary character, always stealing from
others and hoping to get away with it. In 1999, when there was a lot of
hoopla around the zero one group stealing other people's site, Plagiarist
decided that it would be a good chance for a plagiarist to get into the
act. Plagiarist felt this duty to settle the whole damned thing by
stealing the whole zero one site and then announcing it to the net art
scene as a Christmas gift. We wondered: would they steal it back, and in
fact they did. What was interesting and funny and sad all at the same time
was that this was a prank about how self-reflexive things have become in
the net art community. I wondered would this get a disproportionate amount
of attention, and in fact it really did. That was really sad. (laughs)

?: Do you think that this would change, if the community would open up
more to the general public? That there should be more museum shows with
net and software art?

Alexander: I don't think that's really it. The art world still wants
something that they can put into a gallery and exhibit, and not something
that is just on the net. When the "Multi-Cultural Recycler" was in gallery
shows, people would say: 'Can you make a custom version of the
"Multi-Cultural Recycler" that the rest of the world can't post to?' And
of course this was just the point that everybody could participate. There
were a lot of shows that wanted to print out the images and hang them on
the wall. And the funny thing about these images is that they are really
nothing. The user just clicks on some buttons, and it is ridiculous to
hang them on the wall. It would be the equivalent of a sound bite.

I also know some art gallery people, and they find it difficult to present
the pieces technically. Net art is a strange animal for art museums. Some
net artists are very much against art museums. I am not, because as much
as I am interested in the net as public space, I also think that art
museums are public space I wouldn't want to exhibit just in an art museum,
but if a gallery asks to show my work, I usually let them, because there
is some segment of the population that is going to the art museum, that
won't see it on the net.

As far as net art is concerned the problem is not how accepted it is in
the art world, because I think it is not such a big deal. To me it is more
important to be accessible to the public. Net art has this big advantage
of automatically exhibiting in a public space. There are a lot of artists
who are working heavily in that area, to make it publicly available, so
that the general public can see it, and it doesn't become just an art
piece and it is not just about staring into its own belly button.
Obviously the work that is about net art has a little tougher time in that
area. It doesn't mean that it shouldn't exist. I did things like the
"Interview yourself" project, that are just net art community projects. I
wouldn't want to do fifty of them, but I think it is OK to do some things
that just relate to this community.

?: You considered to be a public space for the presentation of art, but
unlike in the early days of the net, there is now so much stuff on the net
that it is so much harder to find these projects. How do you deal with
this fact?

Alexander: That still happens, projects appear in "Slashdot" and so on. Of
course, it is much harder, but then again there is a proportionally much
larger number of people looking at the projects, too. For example, I get a
lot more hits from search engines now than I used to, because people are
looking up things like "plagiarist" or "bot" or "geek". I look in my log
and I see what strange links people are coming from. And they are rarely
looking for net art, but more often for intellectual property thieves! So
actually it should be easier to reach people. Often people can use the
strategies that big corporations do to increase their rankings in the
search engines, and that can be desirable - depending on the situation.

?: There used to be these buttons inside the Netscape browser "What's
hot?" and "What's new?" that presented links to interesting and weird
sites. I would think that things like the "Multi-cultural recycler" got a
lot of exposure over these channels.

Alexander: Yeah, that was in a lot of "What's hot", "What's new" lists,
Yahoo, etcetera. I had a couple of hits like that with other projects. I
mean it's fleeting, it is fifteen minutes fame for sure, and you disappear
after that. But it is useful.

?: Then there is your project "Netsong", which is a very interesting
interface between internet data and browser. Tell me about it?

Alexander: ?Netsong? sings the web. It is the second in a series of
projects that use software bots. The first one was "The bot (One investing
the horse)". Bots are the software used by search engines to create their
indexes. They are also called spiders, and these programs are used by
search engines like Altaviasta, Google, all of them. They crawl around on
the web, they follow links from page to page and they gather all this
data, and that becomes the searchable index. So if you look for a search
word, you type in "dog", and the results for dog come back. But you never
see any of this underlying stuff - the links the bot followed to get

Sometimes artists have become interested in visualizing these process, and
not just artists, but all kinds of web geeks. They make these graphical
projects with diagrams of web spider links, which I think is interesting,
but ultimately this comes down to data visualization - you can only see
the data in an abstract and aggregate way. I am rather interested in
anti-data visualization. I am interested in making it
hyper-representational, looking very closely at the content. This happens
in "B0tmati0n" of course, where there is this over-highlighting of web
text, but also in some of the other projects.

In theBot and Netsong, I took up the stereotypical temptation to
anthropomorphize software. I have the bot being this creature that runs
around in the net and is really very excited to read all this text, and
that's why it reads it so enthusiastically. I layered speech synthesis, so
it reads web text sort of like some strange beat poetry, even though there
is this underlying boredom to it, too, as with most speech synthesis. And
there is this weird cadence while reading the URLs: http:// whatever dot
com. The bot is sort of ritualistic. It sort of creates this narrative. If
the web has a story, this is it. And the only person that gets to read
this story, is the bot - this spider.

In the second project, I collaborated with Peter Traub, who is a composer,
net artist and programmer. We decided that the bot would be now be
inspired to start singing. It works like a radio program - different
people can tune in to one another's "requests". And the music is complete
with lyric sheets in case you can't understand what it is singing.

?: These bots feel so helpless, you almost feel sorry for them.

Alexander: Yes, you can't help but feeling sorry for him. But he claims he
has a good time. In fact he must have a good time, because he has stamina
for this endlessly.

?: It seems that you use a lot of characters in your work, like
"UeberGeek", "Plagiarist", "The Bot".

Alexander: I'd love to say that this is a brilliant strategy I came up
with, but in reality I just do this. Maybe it has to do with the tendency
to anthropomorphize computers. I need to psychoanalyse myself at some
point to find out why I do that. But I do seem to do it a lot. (laughs)

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Mute, issue 25, is out this week. Conceptually and volumetrically
expanded, (involves more cartographic & artists' projects & has doubled
the pages), this new bi-annual volume is phat. Articles on: WarChalking,
the Artists' Placement Group and Ambient Culture and more.

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Date: 1.15.03
From: ryan griffis (grifray AT
Subject: a (contextual) review of xurban\\\'s Knit++

A short collection of thoughts collected with the help of xurban
collective's _Knit++_

The textile industry is where capitalism began; it was the industry the
brought the industrial revolution from England to America - and it is
the means by which capitalism is gradually conquering such places as
Pakistan, to the eternal regrets of Luddites like Bin Laden. Lewis,
Mark, _From Lowell to Islamabad, Via Greensboro_

Equipped with networks and arguments, backed up by decades of research,
a hybrid movement - wrongly labeled by the mainstream media as
_anti-globalisation_ - gained momentum. One of the particular features
of this movement lies in its apparent inability and unwillingness to
answer the question that is typical of any kind of movement on the rise
or any generation on the move: what's to be done? Lovink and Schneider,
_A Virtual World is Possible_ (posted to

After recently connecting to the xurban collective's online portion of
_Knit++_ a few relationships between _global_ social/protest movements
and the rise of networked art and culture presented themselves as
interesting for discussion. Or at least i imagined these connections
within the context of other projects and discussions on _New Media_ ,
tactical media, US aggression, and cyberfeminist practice. Not that any
of this would be new, or form a consolidated theory, but - maybe
suffering from the inability to answer _the question_ as Lovink and
Schneider argue of new social movements - the asking of questions can be
as serious a project as answering them, even if those questions may seem

_Knit++_ presents an interface that allows visitors to navigate through
narrative, pictorial, and animated information that, when seen in the
context of the project, makes connections between textiles, computer and
social networks, and institutional power. While the composition of the
interface is fairly familiar, with a screen-like field for changing
information above a control panel of sorts, the conceptual links created
are not. The control panel symbolically replicates the groups
proposition of _entanglement as opposed to intertwining_ (artists'
statement), which is what occurs conceptually when one moves through the
project's space. Various projects incorporating sewing, issues of
women's work, and global locality can be moved through by selecting from
the tangled map of virtual locations in the control panel.

Drawing connections between textile production and the WWW, especially
in terms of work, has been explored in other projects, most recently
Helen Whitehead's _Web, Warp, and Weft_ ( ). As has the Neo/Luddite
connection, though perhaps, not always adequately. The original textile
worker Luddites of 19th Century England fought to destroy the machines
that were replacing them, not just out of fear of the machines, but
because they knew (at this early stage of industrialism) that the
machinery was the evolving capital class's method for dealing with the
problem of labor. Looking at the questions and attempts at solutions
raised by _Knit++_ through the historical and contemporary rhetoric that
forms the narratives of the Neo/Luddite movement can be useful and
interesting for those interested/involved in continuing social movements
and networked communication. (see also Slacker Luddites from Electronic
Civil Disobedience by Critical Art Ensemble
for another reading of the significance of Luddism)

The work of the xurban collective takes, what many would call an
oppositional position toward the global expansion of capital and state
sponsored culture: _Civil society should be constructed outside the
State and the Capitalist sponsors network. Non-profit organizations are

Statements like this would place xurbanites into a new catagory of
Luddite for many technocrats and economists that represent libertarian
interests like Forbes or other, authoritarian yearnings ( ). Many such
technocratic pundits find it ironic that groups of people (like the
Carbon Defense League ) are using high tech to
fight so-called _progress_. But there is also irony in the rhetorical
use of _Luddite_ to describe someone like Bin Laden, someone who has
profited from modernization and construction and whose terrorist
organization isn?t exactly an international labor movement. Of course, I
feel ridiculous even having Al Queda and arts/activist groups like the
CDL and xurban in the same paragraph, for obvious reasons, but, after
looking at US Congressional hearings on _cyber protests_ and DDoS
attacks, I'm not sure the authorities would feel the same ( ). Terrorism and
attempts to form networks that operate in opposition to undemocratic
institutions are apparently the same, and it doesn't matter if the virus
is of the biological or computer variety. The line between email from
Electronic Disturbance Theater participants and envelope bombs from the
Unabomber is a fine one according to the US Congress and its business
leaders, who seem to want to draft another Frame Breaking Act-like law
governing digital information (where the DMCA doesn?t).

But all this throwing around of loaded historical terms like _Luddite_
seems to fit nicely into the, by now well-worn, discourse of _the
Other_, allowing us to easily create shells of identity based on
irrational fear and aggressive desire. While most discussion of _the
Other_ (academic or not) has focused on gender, ethnicity, and race, the
model is equally useful when looking at contemporary incidents that have
a history in the ongoing treatment of labor in the West in general.

But this nice fit is not so comfortable. As modern Western/Northern
capital is more globally expansive than ever, the models for personal
and labor relations seem to be homogenizing, so _the Other_ is adapting
to the needs of capital. Race and ethnicity become problematic as
locations of fear and anxiety in a global economy ruled by capital, but
class - and many argue gender ? is multicultural as far as economics is
concerned. At least it could seem multicultural by masking lingering
racial/ethnic fear ? since overt class oppression is apparently
acceptable (in the US anyway) while other forms aren?t. The rhetorical
power of terms and concepts like _Luddite_ to simplify both history and
the present is not easily dismissed. Such concepts may become the mask
for older fears that will allow for the popular repression of future
resistance to domination by capital, especially in a so-called global

While _Knit++_ appears to primarily function as an interactive, if
fairly static and by now conventional, artwork, one can also view it as
a document and solicitation for something else. It's obvious, as one
goes through the project that you're only getting a remnant of what's
going on - and I don't just mean the coinciding physical installation,
though that's a part too. Visualizing relationships, like that between
the struggles of women, labor, and geography can be a tool that helps us
allow for difference while forming working networks. -ryan griffis

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Date: 1.6.03
From: Brett Stalbaum (beestal AT
Subject: Database Logic(s) and Landscape Art [3/5]

Database Logic(s) and Landscape Art
Brett Stalbaum, C5 corporation

Mountainous: Semiotics, and the precession of semantic models [3/5]

To explore the issues of virtuality in a cultural context, I observe first
that the semiotic context culturally (for artists) is one in which the
precession of models is related to a supposed semiotic reversal of
syntamatic axis and paradigmatic axis within the more general cultural
logic of database. Roland Barthes (generation 68) demonstrated that symbol
systems are capable of taking on additional layers of meaning as systems
of connotation (paradigm) emerge on top of systems of denotation
(syntagm). [20] Lev Manovich (generation 89) demonstrates that one of the
cultural implications of database is that paradigm (model) becomes
increasingly visible in relation to syntagm, speculating its eventual
replacement as the explicit axis. [21] The model (name, address, phone,
email) moves to the foreground, while the story of the population of the
database (first sale, 7 billionth customer served), becomes less visible.
I say that this is the "context culturally" because this axis (in various
positions) has been apparent as an aesthetic issue since the early 20th
century. For example, consider the classic Hollywood style of narrative
film editing (tending toward emphasis of the syntagmatic axis) versus the
paradigmatic montage techniques of Vertov and Eisenstein in early 20th
century cinema. I will raise questions about this bi-axial cultural model
soon enough, but for the present time we need it to chase out those

This axial semiotic context and its supposed historical shift toward
paradigm are historically simultaneous with the precession of the model
through active digital sign systems. [22] The virtual is not a result of
computation, but rather the virtual was discovered during a two century
period when the resources making computation and model based exploration
possible were developed, including many mathematical discoveries. The
virtual (call it what you will: attractors, abstract machines) was
discovered using these resources, rather than being created by them. It
would be extremely difficult to argue against the notion that the late
axial shift noted by Manovich (somewhat simultaneously with the
postmodern), is not related to computerization and informatics;
particularly the emergence of database starting in the 1960's. And
Baudrillard, for his part, makes it quite plain that "the real is produced
from miniaturized units, from matrices, memory banks and command models"
[23] in his discussion of precession. Hence the axial shift observed in
semiotics is very likely bound to precession in some way through
information systems and the discovery of the virtual. How might we tie
these phenomena together?

A preliminary view is that the precession of models is in fact an
intermediary between the technical logics of database and its expression
culturally. For example, the design of a relational database management
system starts with semantic techniques such as entity relationship
modeling (ERM) in order to build a bridge between the cultural world of
the problem (Customer, Invoice, Order, Part number), and the technical
organization and type of data (such as tables in a RDBMS). Still, the
matter of how precession mediates between the interfacial cultural logic
of database and data as technical form is complicated by the embeddedness
of precession in a context where it can be manifest, simultaneously, as
both a cultural mediator, and within the technical logic of database. Thus
it seems that in order to escape a bad patch of tautological quicksand,
(precession mediates between technical form and database culture because
technical form is also precession which mediates database culture), we
need to distinguish between the analytic mechanics of precession, (where
Delanda's reading of Deleuze might be of help to us), and precession as
evaluative cultural analysis. To some degree, this describes the split
between science and the postmodern, and the analytic tradition and the
continental tradition in philosophy.

Artist/programmer Carmin Karasic gives a brilliant example of evaluative
cultural analysis when she observes that the long financial recession in
the United States in the early 21st century was preceded by a decline in
the stock market, rather than the decline in the stock market being
preceded by the beginning of a recession. [24] In this, we see a situation
where the complex, distributed, abstraction [25] that we refer to as
capital markets leads the rest of the economy in the dance; inflecting
other aspects of economic activity such as labor, production and consumer
confidence more so than reflecting them. Indeed, a casual look at the
general data seems very much to support the thesis. This is the profound
influence of the virtual (in this case, more in the Baudrillardian sense
than the Deleuzian), over the actual (such as jobs.) Many view this type
of analysis as representative of the triumph of precession, which as we
have seen is bound in some way to the foregrounding of the paradigmatic
axis in aesthetics. However, working with this largely metaphorical notion
of precession, as is the tradition of Baudrillard, seems inappropriate for
the kind of landscape as database practice C5 is interested in
specifically because it is largely metaphorical. Thus it is as amicable to
irony and other distractions of postmodernity (such as Baudrillard's
delightful discussions of Disneyland), as it is to insightful observations
such as Karasic's. It is hard to get a hook into the actual mechanics of
economic history through such evaluative cultural analysis. Certainly, the
provocation of the example would leave economists of different
intellectual persuasions arguing on both sides of the proposition.

The notion of precession for our purposes as database/landscape artists is
more usefully defined in a narrow technical manner, if mostly for tactical
reasons. Under this view, data and informatics inflect a powerful
influence over what happens because technical models are precession.
Precession is technical form that mediates culture through database
because we can relate data to everything actual; and "everything is
everything that happens". [26] For better or worse, this suspends the
matter of cultural analysis, (and a lot of problems with metaphor),
postponing precessive cultural analysis at least until we have a clearer
picture of actual dynamics. Another tactical reason to work with technical
models is that it is to the degree that any speculated shift toward
paradigm is expressed in a technical basis of data in database logic that
there is some space for computer artists to work as computer artists. The
models (manifolds, vector fields and phase portraits) we discuss in the
context of these tactics are (at least initially) [27] semantically
stable, thus we might name the basis of the cultural shift more
specifically: the precession of semantic models, which allow for
calculable processes of deduction to perform algorithmic prediction based
on attractors. We view this as an enhancement to the use of connotative
traits such as qualities of character, which were formerly the basis of
prediction and decision-making, in both the arts and in the political
aspect of the landscape.

In a fine example of the latter, explorer, poet and the 1856 United States
presidential candidate John C. Fremont [28] explained, "We encamped on the
shore, opposite a very remarkable rock in the lake, which had attracted
our attention for many miles... This striking feature suggested a name for
the lake, and I called it Pyramid Lake." [29] Today, decisions regarding
'where' are made very differently due to the precessive shift: place is
evaluated through technical qualities derived from data, because romantic
aesthetic analysis of character (such as "remarkable"), can not answer
many of the most important questions we have about the landscape today.
[30] Rather, the task for artists today is to explore why examples of the
sublime [31] are sublime [32] by modeling them and revealing more of their
complexity in relation to other systems. This is in addition to examining
the prowess of our human aesthetic sensibilities [33], which is still
interesting; there is no good reason to jettison the sublime just because
it is romantic. Rather, the goal is to understand the sublime as a likely
indicator of (or pointer to) the presence of attractor(s) which can
ultimately be modeled. Humans are significantly superior to computers in
regards to inferencing; possessing profound abilities of induction as
compared to the computer's profound ability of deduction. Our tact
involves utilizing the participation of people and extremely large sets of
data to enhance and even replace what was once the seemingly boundless
landscape of the 19th century, a landscape which has become suddenly
smaller in the 21st century , with a boundlessness of data relations to

The precession of semantic models extends even to naming of place, for
example, the UTM [35] system allows the naming of every square meter on
the surface of the Earth in terms that emphasize not characterization but
calculability. Thus we might infer once again that it is the calculable,
mineable, predictable relations of data that function as the primary
aspects of data that drive the real. Data and their semantics tend to
guide the way they are used, almost as cultural reflex. Are artists bound
to work through semantic models in a way dictated by the purposes for
which data is collected, such as "economic, rainfall and surveillance?"
Are the strategies of contemporary data processing (data processed into
information begets knowledge) the artistic Zeitgeist of our time, in much
the same manner that the writings of Edmund Burke [36] influenced the 19th
century romantic style in the landscape arts during that previous era?

[image: 11 286471E 4428277N]

The seeming victory of precession and the axial shift toward the
paradigmatic in the regime of active cultural processes may not be as
complete as the tradition of postmodern aesthetics leads one to believe,
because postmodernist thought may in fact be guilty of excessive focus on
emerging cultural conditions as these make the sometimes slow transition
between novelty and ubiquity. Blinded by novelty in a few dimensions, our
observations of the manifold constituting our contemporary semiotic
network culture may be lacking important vectors. The semiotic axis may be
but two dynamic dimensions/descriptors of a larger semiotic multiplicity.
A manifold of undiscovered vectors needing semantic description in order
to approach a complete semiotic model may be required to explain our
cultural conditions. Such inquiry might explain how dominantly syntagmatic
systems co-exist and interact beside dominantly paradigmatic systems.
Through this, it might be possible to explain or predict the instability
of the polar axis.

These propositions can not quite be demonstrated yet, but there are
certainly ample indications hinting that contemporary cultural conditions
do not exactly snap to the axial grid. For example, technologically
progressive cultural assumptions embedded as secondary meanings on top of
primary denotative scientific data can be viewed under the former semiotic
regime of the syntagm, while the use of a database and data mining to
unearth relations amidst large datasets can be viewed under that of a
paradigmatic order through model based processing. Thus there is at least
the appearance of quite possibly interoperable systems actively
functioning in the midst of different semiotic regimes. An even bigger
question mark can be planted in the Earth regarding subject-less
informatic relations. Such relations, if they exist, of course remain
completely uncertain relative to any axial analysis, because this semiotic
context is after all subject-oriented to begin with. We can assume, and
probably must assume, that precession plays a role here, but again,
uncertainty abounds.

These are unresolved questions best addressed in practice. This
preliminary survey of the issues is the only map we have right now. Even
though the shape of the coastline may be a little warped, and even though
we know only a little about the terrain to be discovered inland, we can
say that we are confident about the general shape of the problems that
face artists working with database and landscape. It is time to let the
unexpected modify, fill in, even transform that understanding in practice.
It is a common safety practice to leave a note, or let some friends know,
where you are going (in case you do not come back). The rest of this essay
discusses where we are planning to venture.

[next installment: Multiplicity of the local: Applications of database
logic in the landscape]

[20] Barthes, Roland, The Rhetoric of the Image, Image/Music/Text,
translated by Steven Heath, The Nooday Press, 1977
[21] Manovich, Lev, Database as Symbolic Form, 1998,,
[22] This is especially digestible if we recognize that Georges Boole,
Charles Babbage and Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace were all 19th century
figures; that Alan Turing, Grace Hopper, and Vannevar Bush are
contemporaries of the early and middle 20th; and E.F. Codd a figure of the
late 20th century and early 21st century. The simultaneity of romanticism,
modernism and the beginnings of postmodernism is noted.
[23] Baudrillard, Jean Simulacra and Simulations Stanford University
Press, ed Mark Poster 1988, page 167
[24] Paraphrased from a personal conversation, with permission.
[25] Abstract by definition, given that money is an abstraction of market
[26] Ibid. Slayton and Wittig
[27] Such models are often utilized to demonstrate or predict bifurcations
of the system, or critical singularities under which the systems behavior
takes on new forms, including new vectors requiring observation and new
[29] Ibid.
[30] For example, the insurance industry would never allow a housing
development to be built on an intermittent flood plane, which would be
predicted of course by computer models in a GIS system. That is, unless a
short, inexpensive dyke is easy to build and does not impinge on water
flow into other areas. In other words, topological and geological data
again make the decision, even if the homes to be built there would be
aesthetically pleasing, or "remarkable".
[31] I am aware that Kant's notion of the sublime involves the idea that
the amount of information available to the senses can not be processed,
and that the human ability to inference intuitively under these
circumstances (and the related feeling), define sublimity. But there is no
reason not to suspect that virtuality will not progressively impinge on
sublime, specifically because the virtual has enhanced our ability
(cybernetically) to model and posses cognitively insights into complex
systems. It is likely that the sublime will be constantly forced to
retreat into beauty, but new sublimity revealed, as we ascend a thousand
plateaus, so to speak.
[32] This is the specific area of inquiry for C5's "The Perfect View"
[33] The notion that the ability to use human aesthetic reasoning to
problem solve under circumstances of sublimity is in no way defunct.
[34] For example, it has often been said in the post 9/11/2K1 period that
the oceans no longer protect the United States. We could also refer to the
ongoing cultural debate over Globalism.
[35] USGS, (United States Geological Survey) The Universal Transverse
Mercator (UTM) Grid Fact Sheet 077-01 (August 2001)

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