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: 8.29.03
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 14:24:05 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: August 29, 2003


1. Lauren Cerand: WIRED ICONS: A Conversation with David Byrne
2. Mark Garrett: New FurtherCritic - Ryan Griffis...
3. Marije Stijkel: Publication My First Recession by Geert Lovink

4. Rachel Greene: Drift: Call For Participation

5. Joy Garnett: Future of War conf., reviewed by Tom Vanderbilt
6. Dyske Suematsu: The Works of Jonah Brucker-Cohen

7. Ale [awcr] Piana: - interview .001 [10 questions to
Wilfried Agricola de Cologne]

8. Rachel Greene: Interview with David Ross

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Date: 8.23.03
From: Lauren Cerand (lcerand AT
Subject: WIRED ICONS: A Conversation with David Byrne

In conversation with Wired magazine editors, speakers in this special
series on technology and a world in transformation discuss how their
work is shaping the future. David Byrne?s most recent project is
Envisioning Epistemological Information, a book of artwork done with the
presentation software PowerPoint. Byrne explains how to take subjective,
even emotional, information and present it in a familiar audio/video
form using a medium in a way that is different and, possibly better,
than what was intended. Best known as one of the Talking Heads, Byrne
has been making visual art for more than 25 years and is represented by
Pace/MacGill Gallery, NYC. This event takes place at the 92nd Street Y,
1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street) in New York City on Monday,
September 15, at 8pm, and tickets are $25. Future guests in this series
include Barry Diller (10/28) and Lawrence Lessig of Stanford
University's Center of Internet and Society (3/23). More info is
available at

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Date: 8.26.03
From: Mark Garrett (mark.garrett AT
Subject: New FurtherCritic - Ryan Griffis...

Furtherfield welcomes Ryan Griffis who is now our current resident
critic for next year.

FurtherCritic offers regular and informative reviews of varied
explorative projects & artworks featured and hosted by furtherfield, as
well as other digital/net art works and activities in virtual space.

US based Ryan Griffis replaces Lewis LaCook as Furtherfield's current
critic in residence. His interests, professional and personal, include
activism, technology, education, skateboarding, art, loud music and
anthropology. He has produced articles, reviews and interviews on art
for print and electronic journals and zines. Ryan's most recent project,
Yougenics, is an exhibition investigating the social implications of
biotechnology. He is also a founding member of ArtOfficial Construction
Media, a collaborative effort to screw in a lightbulb. Ryan's Site

Lewis LaCook has now stepped aside, as Ryan takes on the FurtherCritic
role. Lewis will now be a regular reviewer at Furtherfield on works
featured on the site; along with Neil Jenkins, Marc Garrett and Ruth
Catlow. As FurtherCritic he has contibuted various reviews that have
offered insightful and intelligent text's, communicating beyond the
converted audience of the net art world. A warm big thank you to Lewis
for daring to join us dysfunctional 'upstarts' at Furtherfield.

If you wish to read Lewis's past reviews at furtherfield simply click on
the above link also...

for more info - info AT

(If you are wish to unsubscribe to the furtherfield mailing list or you
are not supposed to be on it, simply put unsubscribe in the 'subject
header'. And you will no longer receive any creative information by

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Date: 8.28.03
From: Marije Stijkel (marije AT
Subject: Publication My First Recession by Geert Lovink

My First Recession
Critical Internet Culture in Transition
by Geert Lovink
Published by V2_ and NAi Publishers
ISBN nummer: 90-5662-353-2

My First Recession starts after the party is over. This study maps the
transition of critical Internet culture from the mid to late 1990s
Internet craze to the dotcom crash, the subsequent meltdown of global
financial markets and 9/11. In his discussion of the dotcom
boom-and-bust cycle, Geert Lovink lays out the challenges faced by
critical Internet culture today. In a series of case studies, Lovink
meticulously describes the ambivalent attitude that artists and
activists take as they veer back and forth between euphoria and
skepticism. As a part of this process, Lovink examines the internal
dynamics of virtual communities through an analysis of the use of
moderation and "collaborative filtering" on mailing lists and weblogs.
He also confronts the practical and theoretical problems that appear as
artists join the growing number of new-media education programs. Delving
into the unexplored gold mines of list archives and weblogs, Lovink
reveals a world that is largely unknown to both the general public and
the Internet visionaries.

Geert Lovink is a Australian-based Dutch media theorist and Internet
critic, a co-founder of numerous online projects such as Nettime and
Fibreculture, and the author of Dark Fiber and Uncanny Networks.

More info on:

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Date: 8.26.03
From: Rachel Greene (rachel AT
Subject: Drift: Call For Participation

Begin forwarded message:

From: info AT
Date: Mon Aug 25, 2003 4:30:38 PM US/Eastern
To: info AT
Subject: Drift: Call For Participation

Drift: Sound Art + Experimental Music
Call For Participation

New Media Scotland calls for participation for Drift - an exploration of
sound art and experimental music which comprises live events, radio
broadcasts, moving image and publications.

The accessibility of the Internet together with new tools and methods
for digital recording, manipulation, reproduction and distribution have
changed forever the way that we think about and interact with sound,
giving us new ways to communicate our ideas. An increasing number of
artists, producers, DJ's and sonic creators, from a broad spectrum of
disciplines and varying modes of practice, are exploring streaming media
as a viable format. We want to open up this channel further.

We are offering four opportunities to take part in Drift, details
follow. Further information, guidelines and application forms available
from the Drift web site:

Drift Radio Art Commission 2003

New Media Scotland invites proposals for radio art projects for Drift.
We aim to commission a new radio art work for broadcast both online and
on-air, via audio streaming and FM transmission.

Fee - £1,000

Support - We will provide practical assistance, access to streaming
media tools, and can offer some limited technical support on a
negotiated basis. New Media Scotland will facilitate the broadcast of
the commissioned work.

Eligibility - Only artists based in Scotland can apply

We will not accept proposals for: - audio documentation of projects that
exist in another form - projects which have already been produced

Guidelines and application form available from

Drift Radio Programme Proposals

New Media Scotland invites proposals for radio art programmes. We want
to provide a platform for your ideas - one-off events, regular shows,
experimental sound projects, radio art work for broadcast both online
and on-air, via audio streaming and FM transmission.

We cannot pay a fee for this opportunity, but we will support you to
realise your programme ideas.

Support - We will provide practical assistance, access to streaming
media tools, and can offer some limited technical support on a
negotiated basis. New Media Scotland will facilitate the broadcast of
your programmes.

Eligibility - Open to artists, musicians, producers based in Scotland
and the UK

Guidelines and Programme Summary form available from

Resonant Cities: Call for Sound Works

New Media Scotland seeks sound works for 'Resonant Cities': Internet
radio streaming that explore the sonic identity of our surrounding space
and that engage with the fragmented 'noise' of the city soundscape:
people, traffic, communication intrusions, mobile phones, radio traffic,
city wildlife, buildings...

We are particularly interested in audio works which involve one or
several of the following ideas or processes:

- Acoustic Ecology - Acousmatics - Phonography - Sonic research - Radio
art, Internet radio - Microsound - Lowercase sound - Internet
communication media and audio streaming - Electronic communities -
Artists' software for sound and music - Sound work developed using open
source processes and principles - Generative sound - Sound archives -
Spoken word / oral history - Field recordings - The re-purposing /
representing of existing analogue sound recordings, such as amateur
recordings, scientific recordings, and accidental, lost or abandoned
recordings -

The works selected by the Drift team will then be curated into themed
streams that will be available via this web site.

Our intention is to expand the audience for the work, encourage
appreciation of sound art, and broaden access to a genre which is too
often labelled as esoteric and inaccessible.

We cannot pay a fee for this opportunity, but we will facilitate the
broadcast of your work.

Eligibility - Open to artists, musicians, producers in the UK and across
the globe.

Guidelines and submission form available from

Drift Touring Video Programme: Call for Moving Image Works

New Media Scotland seeks sound-based moving image works for Drift. We
plan to curate and tour a feature-length programme of short moving image
works. We are looking for films and videos which take as their starting
point sound art or experimental music. This can include experimental
moving image works by artists and films made by musicians, as well as
pieces which combine performance aesthetics with sound.

The Drift moving image programme will tour to venues in Scotland, the UK
and internationally. A specially designed brochure will be produced
featuring information on the artists and their works.

Fee - Selected artists will be paid a fee for the rights to tour the

Eligibility - Open to artists, musicians, producers based in Scotland
and the UK.

Guidelines and submission form available from


Drift organised by New Media Scotland. Supported by the Scottish Arts
Council, the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and
Technology, Liverpool School of Art & Design.

For further information, visit the Drift web site or contact New Media Scotland at the
address below.

info AT
New Media Scotland tel: +44 131 477 3774
P.O. Box 23434, Edinburgh EH7 5SZ fax: +44 131 477 3775
Scotland, UK

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Date: 8.26.2003
From: Joy Garnett (joyeria AT
Subject: Future of War conf., reviewed by Tom Vanderbilt

hey all -
this just in:

War as Architecture
by Tom Vanderbilt

[published summer 2003 in The Knowledge Circuit, Design
Institute, University of Minnesota]

NEW YORK, NY. War, as the old Clausewitzian saw goes, is the extension
of politics by other means. As we have been reminded in recent months,
there may be cause for a new dictum: War is the extension of
architecture by other means.

Apart from the obvious architectural connotations of war the need for
defensive shelter, the status of architecture as a target there is a
breadth of associative meaning between the two enterprises: both are
about the exercise of control over a territory; both involve strategic
considerations of the most apt site-specific solutions; both involve the
use of symbol, rhetoric, and cultural context.

In the Iraq campaign, the architectural connotations were legion, from
the New York Times Op-Ed writer who commented upon the fact that the
Hausmannian avenues and relatively low, dispersed skyline of Baghdad
boded well for its military penetration; to the surgical extraction of
architectural assets, shown in remarkable overhead clarity by the
satellite imagery of Evans and Sutherland, looking like the aerial
mosaics employed by urban planners (in fact, aerial warfare and urban
planning have long shared an eerie confluence of language and tactics,
and even practioners, as in the Air Forces Curtis LeMay, who studied
urban planning before overseeing the devastating aerial campaign on
Japan); to the mere fact that the rebuilding of Iraq will cost far more
than its invasion. More than a war of destruction, this is a war of
construction. The terrain itself was filled with three-dimensional
militarism; an absolutist regime produces absolutist architecture, after
all, and nowhere was that better signified than in Saddam Husseins
crossed swords monument, fashioned from the melted metal of Iraqi
weaponry, festooned with myriad helmets (some even functioned as speed
bumps) taken from some of the one million soldiers who died in the
Iran-Iraq war. Architecture, or a gesture of war itself?

Architecture, like war, is never entirely one thing, but a condition,
occasioned by culture and history, mediated by time and opinion. As
Wayne Ashley, curator of Thundergulch (the new media initiative of the
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) and organizer of "The Future of War,"
said in leading off the event, buildings can be seen as secure
environments, but also as objects to be destroyed. Is that really a
hospital, or a weapons cache? Is that an office building, or a symbol of
imperialist domination? As participants were to reiterate in different
ways, architecture can be the object of terrorism, or it can be
terrorism: Mohammed Atta was a student of urban planning; and as
cultural theorist Benjamin Bratton pointed out, a member of the "Black
September" team of terrorists at the 1976 Munich Olympics was an
architect who had worked on the complex they occupied. War can be erased
by terrorism or in some strange way constructed by terrorism; who knew
anything about the unremarkable Alfred P. Murrah building before
"Oklahoma City" as the event itself has come to be known? The entire
city has been collapsed by the metaphoric weight of the bombing, turning
the building into a shrine, more visited than any architectural landmark
known for its aesthetic merits.

One might reduce war to violence and art to aesthetics, but it is more
useful, albeit more unsettling, to explore what happens when one removes
those perceived oppositions. This was one of the underlying themes of
the "Future of War" conference, to "challenge comfortable categories" as
moderator Helen Nissenbaum phrased it at the outset of the opening
panel, "The Aesthetics and Politics of Technologized Warfare." While the
first presenter, the artist Joy Garnett, spoke while behind her on the
screen flashed images of her paintings drawn from the haunting imagery
of the military complex, stark images of contrails streaking through a
night sky ("Tracer Fire") or stealth bombers in patterned flight. Her
paintings, which seek to use a more primal medium to wrest meaning out
of an image saturated environment, evoked from one audience member a
comparison to the recent use of "satellite phones" by embedded
correspondents in Iraq. Did the shaky, pixellated images, with literal
and figurative gaps in their composition, obscure the "reality" of what
was happening or did their low-tech immediacy actually enhance the
realism? We needed a McLuhan was the satphone a "hot" or "cool" medium?

Imagery is another condition shared by war and architecture: just as
most of us do not experience war, we often do not experience
architecture; rather, we "know" a building (through its repeated
transmission) via photography. But images do not just happen, they are
created, and for a reason. Many of Garnett's paintings were drawn from
weapons effects testing in the Nevada desert in the 1950s. The hundreds
of thousands of images (still and moving) generated by this activity
were, largely, classified for many decades. These were "images as
dangerous as the isotopes that produced them," she noted. Images as
toxic waste, to be buried beneath the sand. Inherent in her work is a
questioning of the "effects" of classifying these "effects tests." What
happens when imagery is removed, left in the dark for decades? What
happens when it is returned to the light? Scratchy footage of atomic
tests from the Nevada deserts, as men in goggles look on, functions
nowadays more as historical kitsch than pure horror. It has been
sanitized by time, rendered as a strictly historical document.
"Declassification" speaks to their political and aesthetic impotence. Of
course, the weapons tests were hardly secret people gathered on predawn
Las Vegas rooftops to view them. They saw in the blasts (they never saw
the "effects") something else: perhaps a sublime beauty, felt perhaps
an awed speechless and frightened reverence towards man's ability for

Tom Keenan, director of the Human Rights project at Bard College,
presented a countervailing narrative of sorts: He wanted to explore what
he calls "the paradoxes of openness." In other words, contrary to the
idea that war is a secret activity whose violence occurs off camera,
away from the public eye, and contrary to the notion that it could thus
be fought against if people only knew what was going on "mobilizing
shame" in the words of human rights groups Keenan argued that there is
"nothing in art that resists violence." Images and exposure do not
necessarily stop war in fact they may even "lead the charge," according
to Keenan. He screened footage from the Kosovo campaign that showed
Serbian troops looting villages near Pristina. They did not seem to be
taking much, the BBC correspondent noted, they merely seemed to be
putting on a symbolic display. The fatal moment came when one militia
member, Kalishnakov rifle in hand, waved to the cameras. The casualness
of the gesture was disturbing: They were not afraid of their violence
being exposed, indeed they seemed to welcome it. Keenan followed with
another example, this time the humanitarian intervention of U.S. troops
in Somalia. He used the example of the first Marine landing, a
supposedly secret, "tactical" approach that came ashore to a cavalcade
of some 600 journalists, in full klieg light, drawn like moths to the
flame. As one Marine commander worried about the presence of the press,
a journalist chided back: "Like you didn't know we were going to be
here." The military, the media, both were joint players in a
performance, each feeling a bit awkward in the role. Later, when an
audience member decried the corporate ownership of the U.S. media and
the shortage of available imagery and information from Iraq, Keenan
begged to differ, noting the abundance of information sources made
possible by the internet and other outlets. The question was not, as he
put it, what the media was doing about the war, it was what we were
doing about it.

Art has been intricately intertwined with war at least since the days of
Leonardo da Vinci, whose drawings of siege engines and other commissions
for the Borgias rival anything in his corpus in terms of technique and
mastery. Those drawings, which in some cases presented fantastic new
visions of what war could be, are echoed in the simulation programs the
military now uses, created by partnerships involving the film and
computer programming industries. Art can even be used in the conduct of
war e.g., it was recently revealed by a Spanish historian that a group
of anarchists in Spain during the Civil War had employed specially
designed cells, outfitted with surrealist decor inspired by Dali and
Bunuel, for what they called "psychotechnic" torture; as El Pais
described, "The avant garde forms of the moment surrealism and
geometric abstraction were thus used for the aim of committing
psychological torture."

So too can architecture become a weapon, as revealed in a fascinating
presentation (part of a panel entitled "Architecture, Violence, and
Social (In)Security") by Eyal Weizman, a Tel Aviv-based architect.
Weizman, detailing the spread of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,
noted their "panopticon" like arrangement over neighboring Palestinian
villages (usually at a lower elevation) as well as their linkage, in
certain cases, by infrastructural devices (roads, tunnels) that bypass
intervening zones of Palestinian autonomy. Thus the Israeli superhighway
soars over Palestinian farmland, creating, as Weizman put it,
"sovereignty in three dimensions." The landscape as a whole, as he put
it, is "in effect an artificial arrangement of a totally synthetic
environment, as designed as any built environment, within which all
'natural' elements like streams and mountains, forest orchards, rocks
and ruins function not as the things being fought for but as the very
weapons of the conflict."

Weizman surveyed the architectural history of West Bank settlement, from
the frontier like "tower and stockade" outposts of the 1930s, in which
walled compounds were connected visually by tower reconnaissance and
Morse Code; to the energetic campaign to colonize the mountaintops (so
often containing the historical sites where Zionists hoped to return) in
1967. As Weizman noted, as there was little experience of building in
the mountains, the "battle for the hilltops" began with an intensive
aerial photography project; the West Bank became "the most photographed
terrain in the world," to the topographic groundwork for occupation and
cultivation. His photos of settlements were haunting, capturing such
bizarre imagery as the trompe l'oeil paintings of an idealized rural
scene on a looming wall dividing Israelis from Palestinians. His images
of stucco-and-tiled houses surrounded by walls and deserts eerily
replicated Las Vegas suburbia (the American gated community represents a
similar, if less overtly political, securitization of space). For
Weizman, the land-use patterns characterized by vast walls, barricades,
even the planting of pine trees to forestall the planting of olive
groves (by Palestinians) amount to a military action, and he says
architects should be prosecuted for war crimes. Weizman did not disagree
when an audience member compared the settlements (a "postmodern
diaspora," he called it, ad hoc nation-building) to some new version of
the shtetl, the Jewish ghetto so ruthlessly and architecturally
demarcated by the Nazis. The "two-state solution," Weizman conclude, "is
a design solution that doesn't work."

During the weeks of war coverage, it became typical to see a military
analyst or general standing before an aerial photograph of Baghdad,
pointer in hand, cataloging the damage done to a ministry building while
its neighbors, in most cases, appeared remarkably intact (Michael Sorkin
recently referred to this as a "good building/bad building" dichotomy)no
indication of casualties, no "on the ground" perspective. And yet how
often have we seen this same presentation by architects and planners,
this Olympian perspective of spatial rearrangement in which humans are
absent or simply a statistical "user mix"? Listening to a number of
presentations, it soon occurred to me, as I grew lost in the fog of
architectural discourse, that much of what passes for the language of
architecture icy, jargon-laden, bolstered by a reliance on dehumanized,
abstract "spatial production" and other clinical terms bears a certain
resemblance to the language of modern military planning, with its
"battlespace," "kill boxes," "network-centric warfighting operations,"
and the deck of cards depicting high ranking Iraquis as characters.

What both of these languages, and both of these practices which both
involve the physical manipulation of human relations neglect is the
human equation, the people who live and die in these theorized
constructs. When Bratton discussed the suicide bomber as the proponent
of a "counter-habitation" of space, the act of bombing a "suspension of
the premise of habitation itself," or when he described the World Trade
Center attack as a form of architectural criticism, he was, beyond
offering an implicit condonement, resorting to the spatial, strategic
primacy of military thinking itself (suicide bombing victims would thus
be "collateral damage" to act of counter-habitation), wherein there are
no crimes, no victims. Bratton's formulation was of a symbolic piece
with that influential Naval War College thesis, which bore the infamous
title "Shock and Awe," with the lesser known subtitle, "Achieving Rapid
Dominance." That document, which seeks the immediate control of the
"operational environment," articulates its mantra thus: "The goal of
Rapid Dominance will be to destroy or so confound the will to resist
that an adversary will have no alternative except to accept our
strategic aims and military objectives."

Neither war nor architecture are immune from the violence of language.


"The Future of War: Aesthetics, Politics, Technologies" took place at
The New School, New York, NY, USA, May 2-3, 2003 and was organized by
the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's new media initiative,

Tom Vanderbilt is a Brooklyn-based writer and the author of Survival
City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America (Princeton
Architectural Press, 2002.)

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Date: 8.27.03
From: Dyske Suematsu (dyske AT
Subject: The Works of Jonah Brucker-Cohen

Hi all,

I wrote a review of Jonah Brucker-Cohen's work after seeing him at
Upgrade! yesterday.

Best, Dyske

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Date: 8.27.03
From: Ale [awcr] Piana (awcr AT
Subject: - interview .001 [10 questions to Wilfried
Agricola de Cologne]

Interview in 10 questions to Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, the first of
a series of interviews with net.artist, curators, net.people.

Read the interview on at the following url:

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Date: 8.28.03
From: Rachel Greene (rachel AT
Subject: Interview with David Ross

I first heard of Radical Software in an Artforum article by David
Joselit published in May 2002. Joselit gave a history of the magazine
(of which I had never heard) and I was intrigued by how ?net culture¹
and ?mailing list¹ it seemed ­ beyond the use of the term ?software¹ in
its title, I was struck by how in Joselit¹s account the publication
seemed to yoke together different topics and stand next to the art
scene, constituting its own autonomous cultural space.

I heard rumors that the entire run of RS was going to be published
online (, and when it came out this
summer I read a number of issues front to back. It seemed, again, like
many of the mailing lists I have been involved with, to be part of a
scene and a culture, not just a publication.

I turned to longtime Rhizome member David Ross, a curator, writer and
net art enthusiast likely known to most on this list for his net art
advocacy during his tenures at the Whitney and SFMOMA (including this
interesting lecture, ) --  I wanted to talk to someone who was there
during the publication¹s original and could help give bring its
paradigms and ethics to life.

-Rachel Greene

* * *

RG: What was your connection with the publication during its run time? I
have read a bunch of issues but maybe I have missed your articles...  
were you a reader or a writer? What was its reputation? How was RS  
considered next to more official publications such as Artforum and Art  
in America?

DR: Radical Software was an inspiration for me. For sure, I was an avid
reader --not a RS writer.  When I was a student, RS represented the
inside of a world I wanted to enter and engage. The alternative media
pantheon was reflected in its pages: Buckminster Fuller, Gene
Youngblood, Nam June Paik, Jud Yalkut,  Frank Gillette, Paul Ryan,
Douglas Davis,  Raindance  the fabulous  Video Freex, Eric Siegel, and
so many more.  I imagined them all together, smoking great pot,
screening tapes and bringing on the media revolution.

RS was the only source of information about the emerging video scene,
and aligned as it was to the hip universe of the time, it had the aura
of Woodstock, theå Whole Earth Catalogue, and was ³counter-culture² writ
large.  I aspired to be in that world, rather than the straight
journalism universe I seemed headed towards. RS was anti-hip hip, to me,
it was a real art forum, a site for a radical discourse about how
changing the idea of mass media could produce a cultural revolution. It
was not some fawning art world public relations machine, but rather a
no-nonsense, how-to kind of journal, as well as a genuine space for the
expression of the hopes and (real) concerns of an emerging  generation
of media makers.

No one who read RS from my perspective (that of a 20-year-old,
pre-maturely disaffected radical media wannabe)  gave a shit about
Artforum, Art in America, Art News, or any of the  official art
magazines. We loved Avalanche, Willoughby Sharp and Liza Bear¹s
incredible, square-format, black and white, magazine of interviews with
the likes of Joseph Beuys, Yvonne Rainer, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci,
Lawrence Weiner, et al.  Artforum represented another universe, and
though the distinctions  eventually blurred, in the early 70¹s all
things video and performance  were considered weird (that is to say
interesting to a few, but  generally not of real importance to the
commercial world of art  central to their ad revenues).  Even though
some of the artists in the Artforum pantheon made video, it was seen as
a curiosity to be  acknowledged and dismissed  as boring and silly.  It
wasn¹t until the Ileana Sonnabend and Leo Castelli artists insisted that
their  galleries form a joint video unit (Castelli-Sonnabend Video, run
by  Joyce Neraux), that video received a certain art world stamp of
 approval.  Of course, Howard Wise had already transformed his gallery
into Electronic Art Intermix, and it had a stronger relationship to  the
RS universe ?though RS was strictly non-commercial and unsupported  by
the gallery advertising dollars that fueled all the mainstream art

I was strictly an avid reader until the 1973 issue that was guest-edited
by Juan Downey and Frank Gillette which included coverage of several
of the exhibitions I had produced as Curator of Video Art at the
Everson Museum.  It contained the print catalogue for ³Circuit: A
Video Invitational,² a group exhibition of videotape works by 50 artists
(actually combining the EAI, Castelli-Sonnabend, and independent
videographers I had encountered during the first two years of my
curatorial work.)  It also referred to other Everson exhibitions,
including Gillette¹s survey show, and Juan Downey¹s evolving ³Video
Trans Americas² project.  But RS was already running into financial
hard-times, as well as a change brought about by its relationship to
the science publisher Gordon and Breach, and it was clear that the
counter-culture spirit of it early issues was fading or quickly being
transformed into something else.

RG:  You note in your essay on the RS web site that it was hard to  
recognize the video/cable shift as an economic one -- can you expand on
this -- I understand that people were unaware of how centralized cable
would become, but what should they have used better judgement about?

DR: What was unclear was that cable television would succeed and fail at
the same time.  It succeeded in transforming the centralized notion of
television as a function of three broadcast networks (the economics of
scarcity at its most obvious) into an economy of apparent abundance.
Bill Viola had the great line that he had a ³seven-channel
childhood,² and cable promoters promised hundreds of channels ?surely a
sea change if not a paradigm shift!  But how naïve not to see that the
same corporations that controlled the networks would eventually find
that cable had just given them control of over vastly greater amounts of
shelf space, and that the promise of choice and  interest-specific
channels would not so much as transform the media (as we¹d imagined and
hoped) as make it a more effective and precisely  targeted selling
machine.  Richard Serra was the incredibly prescient in the video piece
he made with Carlotta Schoolman called ³Television Delivers People.²  He
got it right.

The notion of an economy of abundance didn¹t re-surface until the
mid-90¹s when it became clear that the Internet held the promise that
cable had breached ?but by then we were all too jaded to be fooled again
quite so easily.  What we see today in the attempt of the major
media-owning companies to extend their control of broadcast, print and
on-line, is a direct continuation of the war to control the minds and
purchasing power of the greatest marketing system ever devised.  Yet for
the time being, the Internet has held on to it ability to contain both
corporate media conglomerates as well as the independent voices   of
artists, poets, and people who dissent.

RG: Why did RS get reborn now? Do you think it has anything to do with  
how the genre of net art is increasing seen as in dialogue with more  
historical movements (as opposed to the early years, when net art was  
touted as being new and different)?

DR: You¹d probably best ask Davidson Gigliotti or Ira Schneider about
why RS was republished on-line.  It was not reborn, as that would
involved the re-establishment of an editorial space and mindset that no
longer exists, it was disinterred.  I hope that what you say is true,
that is, that the relationship of the idealism and remarkable focused
(as  well as free-form) intelligence found in RS bears some relationship
to the current radical media discourse taking place in the thoroughly
de-centralized world of the Internet.  And yes, I agree that we now
see that the promises of an Internet-borne revolution may have been,
in some critically important ways, vastly overstated.

RG: One of the most distinctive and interesting aspects of RS to me is  
the way the publication umbrellas topics together -- Video and Kids,  
Education, Technical information... In contrast most art publications
seem so single-minded. Why are art magazines so on the discurisve  
straight and narrow these days -- what do you make of this? Is this
generational as well as discursive?

DR: I need to re-state one thing.  RS was not an art magazine.  It had a
relationship to an emerging new art practice, but its purview was quite
different.  It was an extension of an imagined universe in which?to
paraphrase Gregory Bateson on the reason the Balinese lacked a word for
art? art was an irrelevant category since one did everything as well as
one could.  But the focused late issues of RS were the function of each
issue as the site for a new group of editors to express their specific
interests.  By the way, my favorite theme issue was the TV Environment
by Billy Adler, John Margolies and a Ilene  Segalove.  That issue was a
work of art. But you are right, the Education issue raised some profound
questions that remain unanswered still.

I can¹t tell you why so many art magazines have remained on what you
call the straight and narrow.  Probably because they are trying to
survive as businesses during an economic downturn, but perhaps because
they are just risk averse and trying to hold on to an old view of the
ßworld ?the one in which art needs to be segregated and maintained in  
its own language-protected sphere.

RG: I was really amazed to see all the highly technical information and
detail in RS... where to get the cheapest tapes, how to alter and
personalize cameras... these were gearheads of a different era. Was
video considered a technical genre akin to how net art relies on

DR: Video of the early RS/Whole earth variety, was hardly a technical
genre. It was home-made stuff. In some ways, a high-tech craft form, it
was decidedly low-tech. It was an attempt to use cheap consumer-grade
video technology to engage the well-armed world of broadcast
engineering...and (at the risk of sound like an old fart) it was really
hard.  The people who were attracted to video ?dancers, poets, painters,
print journalists, photographers, and the occasional film maker? were
all struggling to find ways to use this beautiful, grainy black and
white video.  There were no classes, no how-to books, and no grizzled
veterans. So RS played that role ?at least for a while.

The thing to remember was that video was radical not because those
making it were producing such interesting programs.  Rather, it was the
simple fact that an alternate media universe, one within our putative
control, had emerged as a viable working environment.  And, like Rhizome
today, it was the healthy evolution of that environment to which RS was

RG: I am interested in what you note above, in the response to Question
1, when you say that RS was "not some fawning art world public relations
machine, but rather a no-nonsense, how-to kind of journal, as well as a
genuine space for the expression of hopes and (real) concerns of an
emerging generation of media makers." I feel pretty simpatico with that
mission and affirmed by it -- especially since critics of Rhizome have
often cited its chatter, personal discourse and un-regimented topics as
detractions. Do you think that non-atomized forums, wherein people
discuss everything from technique to frustrations and ideals -- do you
think these are always to be small-scale and somewhat marginal projects?
I mean, I think Rhizome Raw is one of those forums, as are other mailing
lists, zines, hobbyist and online forums. I am interested in this
'scale' issue because our forms of public space seem now to be media

DR: Of course you are right. The nature of these new public spaces is
small-scale...but you have to redefine the term ³small-scale.²  What we
mean is enormous, nearly global reach in order to assemble a community
of people with ³elective affinities.²  This may produce a relatively
small gross number, but the intensity of the engagement, and the other
specific qualities of dialog that follow the shared field of interest
far outstrip the simple size of the community.

RG: Feedback. A section of RS magazines but also a defining principle.
It's so rad and funny to realize that 'feedback' was a 1960s/1970s term
as well as being an internet buzz word. I guess I tend to think of it
almost exclusively as being operative online. In a general way I wanted
to get your perspective on the history of 'feedback' within art and
related fields. In the 1960s there were much more visible protest and
'feedback' movements. We have had a few outbursts of protest in the
1990s -- but also internet feedback and activism have become really
exciting and vital fields. `

DR: Well, feedback is one of those late 40¹s Claude Shannon terms that
come from the defining moment of cybernetics as a field of inquiry...and
it means the same thing today as it did then...though for most
audiophiles it still means the painful high-pitched squeal that
accompanies a closed loop of microphone and speaker in an incorrect
connection loop.  The analog to this, early video feedback was the stuff
of dumb stoner video-play, that was used with great wit and skill by
Paik and others. And though the current social use of the term has
become dominant, it is still one of the great mid-20th-century

RG: It's amazing how when a group with decent ingredients gets together
so much can happen -- even in a very short time span. For example
Radical Software, Fluxus, the all star group (Bunting, jodi,
Lialina, etc.)... Have you seen a lot of these short bursts of
collective invention in your life in the art world? How to nurture them
is really my interest but it's a vague one. What's your take?

DR: In real time, it is hard to see how any of these groups relate to
one another. In fact, the early video scene was quite fractious and
competitive. Not only was grant money scarce, but in Nixon-era paranoia,
I always suspected that government agencies wanted to keep us from
uniting, and used grant competition to foster mistrust and to defeat
what should have been a truly harmonious moment. Ideology aside (as if
that¹s ever possible), the groups that were contemporaneous in the 60¹s
and 70¹s shared several things (anti-war sentiment being primary, the
fight against racism being more localized), but never found common
ground based in technology or aesthetics.  The attempt to foster and
nurture these types of creative cross-fertilization and mutual support
is a great romantic struggle ?one in which I continue to indulge.

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Rhizome Digest is supported by grants from The Charles Engelhard
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the Visual Arts, and with public funds from the New York State Council
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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Rachel Greene (rachel AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 8, number 35. Article submissions to list AT
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