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: 10.10.03
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 20:43:21 -0400

RHIZOME DIGEST: October 10, 2003


1. Joy Garnett: Future of War Conference Proceedings Archive
2. Nat Muller: Argosfestival: Coded Interference
3. Honor: an exhibition of critical games by artists
4. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Amodal Suspension AT YCAM

5. Dyske Suematsu: Unique Visits

6. Trebor Scholz: New Media Education and Its Discontent

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Date: 10.06.03
From: Joy Garnett (joyeria AT
Subject: Future of War Conference Proceedings Archive

THE FUTURE OF WAR - May 2003 Coference Proceedings
Transcripts of all panel + media presentations, images, links and
streamed recordings are now archived on the Thundergulch [LMCC] site:

Matt Adams
Kadambari Baxi
Benjamin Bratton
James Der Derian
Peter J. Dombrowski
Keller Easterling
Allen Feldman
Alex Galloway
Joy Garnett
J. C. Herz
Natalie Jeremijenko
Thomas Keenan
John Klima
Laura Kurgan
Thomas Y. Levin
Helen Nissenbaum
Michael Shapiro
Carl Skelton
Eddo Stern
Kenzie Wark
Eyal Weizman
Lebbeus Woods

The Future of War was organized by Wayne Ashley, LMCC's curator of
New Media and public programs.


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Date: 10.09.03
From: Nat Muller (nat AT
Subject: Argosfestival: Coded Interference

Each year the argos festival offers a stage forms of artistic expression
within the domain of audio-visual media. In 2003 the festival will
unravel its web throughout the Belgian capital once again. Seven
cultural locations in the city - Cinema Nova, the Filmmuseum, Recyclart,
Kaaitheaterstudio's, ?tablissements d'en face projects, Kanal 20
-/FoAM/tmp/ and argos - offer room to film and video, concerts,
exhibitions, lectures and debates, performances and encounters.

Coded Interference

More than a mere sequence of ones and zeroes, new media and electronic
arts garble the conventional codes - a generic term for various forms of
prearranged expressions - into a new mode of producing and reading
artworks. The new media segment of the argosfestival Coded Interference,
curated by Nat Muller, investigates, through discourse as well as
through presentation, precisely those moments when something goes wrong
with that 'code', when the system is inhibited by (external)
circumstances. This area of tension is elucidated by artists, scientists
and designers with a symposium in the Kaaitheaterstudio's. Navigating
between being committed and keeping critical distance, they discuss,
refute and question theory as well as practice. With the audio-visual
Life's A User Manual by Michelle Teran and the performance installation
Little Solar System by Icelandic Haraldur Karlsson, Coded Interference
comprises multimedia performances as well. In conclusion Dutch Edwin van
der Heide presents his new installation Sound Modulated Light #1 at
Kanal 20 - /foam/tmp/, a monumental interactive audiovisual work
consisting of, among other things, dozens of (fluorescent) lights and a
seething soundscape.

Kaaitheaterstudio's, 25 October: symposium Coded Interference (with
Edwin van der Heide, Kristina Andersen, Mark Hansen, Michelle Teran, Nat

Recyclart, 23 and 24 October: performances with Michelle Teran en
Haraldur Karlsson

Kanal 20 - /foam/tmp/, 17 October - 2 November: installation Edwin van
der Heide

Kanal 20 - /foam/tmp/, 24 October: Code 31, Code Communication's Camp

Information about the interdisciplinary program, dates, venues and
much more can be found on

argos, werfstraat 13 rue du chantier, b-1000 brussels
t +32 2 229 00 03 f +32 2 223 73 31
(mailto:info AT

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Date: 10.08.03
From: Honor (honor AT by Rachel Greene (rachel AT
Subject: an exhibition of critical games by artists

hi rhizomes,

i wanted to let you know about the exhibition r a d i o q u a l i a have
put together in cape town, south africa. it is about political computer
games made by artists and is called (re:Play).

hope this is of interest to some of you.




r a d i o q u a l i a + the Institute for Contemporary Art, Cape Town
an exhibition of critical games by artists:



08.10.03 - 01.11.03


The Lounge at Jo'Burg Bar
222 Long Street
Cape Town 8001
South Africa


(re:Play) explores the world of the computer game. It features an
exhibition of artists' computer games and a programme of workshops and
lectures, given by the curators and artists in the exhibition.

One of the most popular forms of entertainment in contemporary culture
is the computer game. (re:Play) considers how gaming has affected the
development of new forms of technological creativity and new modes of
interaction and communication between people. It introduces techniques
and strategies employed by artists and technicians working with games,
and asks how can the hardware and software used to distribute and
present games be subverted, re-purposed or even enriched through the
intervention of artists or maverick technicians.

(re:Play) presents projects created by artists which use game formats to
make political observations. While some of the games presented are
entirely new creations (such as Antiwargame by Josh On + Futurefarmers),
others are ironic, often slightly humourous recreations of existing
lo-fi arcade games (such as Space Invaders Act 1732 by Andy Deck). While
the original arcade games such as Space Invaders, Quick Draw and
Backlash encouraged users to engage in acts of violence, the artistic
recreations of these games are infused with a political dimension that
critiques the original violent character of the games, and also invites
a slightly more meditative approach to the subject matter being
presented in the games.


The games in the exhibition are:

Space Invaders Act 1732 by Andy Deck
Blacklash by Mongrel
Antiwargame by Josh On + Futurefarmers
The Intruder by Natalie Bookchin
Escape from Woomera by selectparks
NationStates by Max Barry

These games have a strong political dimension, and explore how play,
interaction and competition can be utilised in an artistic context.


The advent of digital technology is arguably the most important recent
development in contemporary art. Computers, the internet, digital video
and audio, as well as other technological tools, have become as integral
to artistic expression as they have to other fields of human activity.
As a result new forms of artistic practice are emerging.

Although computers, the internet, and interactive games technologies
have the potential to level the playing fields within culture, and
offers previously marginalised artists the opportunity to participate
equally within a global mainstream, the unequal distribution of
technology and a continuing lack of access to knowledge pools has led to
a situation where only a small number of artists in South Africa are
ready and able to use digital technology effectively as a form and
medium of expression. This exhibition and related education programmes
will offer South African audiences and people interested in visual
culture, the opportunity to experience current practices within art
which exists on the internet or within computer games.


The project includes a programme of workshops and lectures

The workshops will be lead by Graham Harwood from Mongrel, and will
introduce people to the technologies and concepts used by artists who
work with digital media.


A collaboration between the Institute for Contemporary Art, Cape Town
and r a d i o q u a l i a and realised with the support of the the
British Council, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Pro
Helvetia, digicape and Jo'burg Bar.


r a d i o q u a l i a
Email: radioqualia AT

Institute for Contemporary Art, Cape Town
Email: i.c.a AT

L/B's: the lounge at Jo'burg Bar
Address: 222 Long Street, Cape Town, 8001
Ph: +27 21 422 0142
Email: info AT

honor AT

r a d i o q u a l i a:


present location: cape town, .za


current research:

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Date: 10.09.03
From: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (rafael AT
Subject: Amodal Suspension AT YCAM

::::::::::: Please excuse cross-postings :::::::::::::


>From the 1st to the 24th of November 2003, short text messages sent by
people over the Internet or by cell phone will be converted into
patterns of flashing lights in the sky, turning the Japanese city of
Yamaguchi into a giant communication switchboard. The piece will be
located in the public space around the new YCAM Center and will be
accessible through address


"Amodal Suspension" will be a large-scale interactive installation where
people may send short text messages to each other using a cell phone or
web browser connected to address However, rather than
being sent directly, the messages will be encoded as unique sequences of
flashes and sent to the sky with a network of robotically-controlled
lights. The signaling will be similar to Morse code or the flashing of
fireflies, --the lights will modulate their intensity to represent
different Japanese and Western characters. Each message, once encoded,
will be "suspended" in the sky of Yamaguchi, bouncing around the center
of the city, relayed from one searchlight to another. Each light
sequence will continue to circulate until somebody "catches" the message
and reads it. To catch a text, participants must again use the cell
phone or computer programs provided at To highlight the
irony of globalization, the piece will use an automatic translation
engine between Japanese and English, --this will produce inaccurate but
charming results.

"Amodal Suspension" will create an interactive mesh of light over the
city, a floating cloud of data that can be written on and read. The
piece will provide a connective platform in which local residents and
remote participants from different regions and countries can establish
ad hoc relationships. While visualizing the traffic of information on an
urban scale, the piece is also intended as a deviation from the assumed
transparency of electronic communication.

PERIOD: November 1-24, 2003 every night from dusk to dawn
VENUE: YCAM and the central park of Yamaguchi-city
ACCESS: Computers, mobile phones and local access kiosks connected to
the web address Special ³Access Pods² will be installed
in several Art and Science centers around the world, these Pods will
feature an enhanced experience and documentation on the project.


Amodal Suspension will open at 19:00 Japanese time (10:00 GMT) on
November 1st, 2003 with a message sent by astronauts from the
International Space Station.

A symposium on the project will take place on the 2nd of November at
18:30, featuring philosopher and author Brian Massumi, Cultural Studies
theorist Yoshitaka Mori, project curators Yukiko Shikata and Kazunao Abe
and artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Three additional lectures will be presented at YCAM to frame the
project: local researcher Shimgo Hirano on fireflies, Prof. Akira Suzuki
(Kobe Design University) on "Soft Shelter: electronic networks in the
city and hand-drawn maps", and Dr. Jun Tanaka (University of Tokyo), on
"Light as a symbol - On the history of light in the city".


The web site contains information and preliminary images

For information on YCAM

For information on Lozano-Hemmer

yumicota AT


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Date: 10.09.03
From: Dyske Suematsu (dyske AT
Subject: Unique Visits

Oddly, I had just written an essay about Website traffic a day before. I
was fascinated by the fact that no one seems to have a clear picture of
how web traffic is distributed along the percentile of all websites. For
instance, if you get 50 visitors a day, what percentile are you in? Is
your site above, below, or around the average?

When you hear that some sites like are getting over
80,000 visitors a day, you think that your site which is getting, say,
100 visitors a day seems to be very low in the ranks. Well, you are not.
According to my study, 100 visitors a day would place you around the top
35 percentile. So, you wonder, when does it jump from 100 to 80,000? You
can see it on my graph. It happens around top 1 percentile. Compared to
what happens once you reach that top 1 percentile, any increase in
visitors before that is miniscule. I conclude that this is how fame
works. The vest majority of us are nobody. The difference between the
top 2 percentile and the very bottom percentile is negligible compared
to the popularity of the top 1 percentile.

Here is my essay:


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Date: 10.04.03
From: Trebor Scholz (treborscholz AT by Marisa Olson
(marisa AT
Subject: Trebor Scholz: New Media Education and Its Discontent

hi, all. trebor scholz posted this interesting piece to the sarai
reader list. thought some here might be interested...

i'm particularly interested in the discussion of "the apparent tension
between teaching theory and production." it does seem (given my own
experiences as a perpetual phd student) that so many of the programs
have this polarized, alienating curricular dichotomy going and i have
found myself frustrated at the lack of middle ground. when i was in the
uk, it impressed me that art practice programs had theoretical research
components built into their degrees, whereas the two are so separated in
the US. in the context of the media arts, there seems to be a bit more
of an impetus to "present" both, but my sense is that many of the people
steering the programs are doing so under the mark of intimidation by the
so-called "new" media and, also--more importantly, that there is a
general lack of synthesis between criticism/theory and practice. so that
courses will focus on the "right" new media readings, and possibly
introducing critical theory vets (jameson, baudrillard, foucault, etc.)
in this light, but without engaging with an application of those ideas
to a reading of any real art work. and, on the other hand, there are
nuts & bolts practice courses that (perhaps sprouting out of the
anti-intellectualism scholz mentions) snub theory as divorced from their
engagement with director or perl, and focus simply on production.

the rapid development of the technologies (hard and soft) associated
with "new media" is a bittersweet thing. book production timelines do
not jive with software upgrades. this we know. but, still, it would be
great if the "production" (and hiring!) of scholars equally engaged in
practice and criticism (not that i don't seem criticism as a sort of
practice, and vice-versa!) and comfortable merging the two would catch
up to the work.

my two cents...

Date: Sat, 04 Oct 2003 16:41:17 -0400
From: trebor scholz (treborscholz AT
To: Sarai List (reader-list AT

New Media Education and Its Discontent

"? home are the people for whom I take responsibility."
--------------Vilem Flusser in "The Freedom of the Migrant"

The Brazilian philosopher Vilem Flusser wrote much about the exile
freely taking responsibility. I am in the fortunate position to enjoy
teaching in a technology-based university department in the United
States. I chose to take responsibility for the (new media) education of
my students. And yet I experience conflicts among which student
anti-intellectualism ranks first.

A few anecdotal examples: one student reports how her high school
teachers incessantly lied to her in their "interpretation" of world
history and how that stirred up suspicion of "the intellectual." Another
student claims that because of the availability of material online he
feels less inclined to study the conclusions that other people draw from
these texts as he himself can make up his mind. A graduate student
recounts experiences he had as a critical technical practitioner in the
early 90s when intellectuals applied the knowledge in their field to
what he calls his own and quickly received a lot of visibility while not
really understanding the issues due to a lack of technical insight.
Students ask what it means to be intelligent and raise concerns that the
class overlooks the type of knowledge that their grandmothers have, a
very local and emotional insight. Maybe not surprisingly most distrust
intellectuals in this country, calling them elitist, out of touch with
this world, and view them as irrelevant. Completely quiet until then,
one graduate student suddenly erupts in a candid impromptu lecture about
the history of anti-intellectualism in the United States (he surely was
trained to defend his position throughout his high school years). He
traces it back to President Andrew Jackson, who received "sporadic
education," wiped out Indian tribes and did not hesitate to shoot verbal
contenders. Jackson hated people who knew more than he did.
Coincidentally they were the Jews, homosexuals and immigrants of the
time. John Quincy Adams, the sixth US president said of Jackson that he
"cannot spell more than one word in four." The brave student then linked
Jackson's presidency to the history of the extreme right in the United
States and the prevalence of anti-intellectualism in this country up to
this day. The California recall-election is a good example in which the
candidate with the most "personality" may win over those with intellect
and experience in politics. The last presidential elections also proved
this point.

The debate about anti-intellectualism has become more vocal in
classrooms across America for the past 10 years.
"Anti-intellectualism," in my encyclopedia, is described as "hostility
towards, or a mistrust of intellectuals, and their intellectual
pursuits. This may be expressed in various ways, such as an attack on
the merits of science, education, or literature." The definition
continues: "In another sense, anti-intellectualism reflects an attitude
that simply takes 'intellectualism' with a grain of salt--inasmuch as
intellectuals may be vain or narcissistic in their self-image, so too
may they be understood by 'common people.'" And let's add some more from
this source (leaving aside how problematic the term 'common people'
obviously is): "Anti-intellectualism is found in every nation on earth,
but has become associated in particular with the United States of
America. It existed in the US before the nation itself; the New England
Puritan writer John Cotton wrote in 1642 that 'The more learned and
witty you bee, the more fit to act for Satan will you bee.'
Anti-intellectual folklore values the self-reliant and 'self-made man,'
schooled by society and by experience, over the intellectual whose
learning was acquired through books and formal study."

Concretely, anti-intellectualism manifests itself in the class room by
not reading assignments, not contributing to class discussion,
complaining about a high work load, skipping class, giving low
evaluations to instructors with high standards, not bothering to do
extra work, by dispassionately condemning intellectual debate as
"boring." Incidents of racism and xenophobia in the classroom can be
seen as part of the same problem.

bell hooks describes the "pleasure of teaching" as an "act of resistance
countering the overwhelming boredom, uninterest, and apathy..." In her
book, "Teaching to Transgress," hooks describes teaching as a site for
resistance, a place where the teacher must practice being vulnerable,
and wholly present. I agree with her- the teacher's vulnerability brings
a sense of a real, conflictual person to the classroom that encourages
students to develop a similarly genuine expression of their position,
free of sarcasm and false irony. This approach is more about learning
than teaching- it is a process full of productive conflict in which the
instructor is also transformed. Isn't it more fulfilling to be skilled
than unskilled, to know than to not know, to inquire than to be
self-satisfied, to strive than to be apathetic? What does learning mean?
What does it mean to be in a place like a university where you have the
opportunity of knowledge being presented to you, and time to reflect and
navigate your own orientation?

Media Study Departments bring together the most relevant sources of
knowledge-- from cultural theory, and literature to technical skill,
from the vocational to the conceptual. It is important to create an
understanding of the importance of conceptual work in students. New
media education faces other issues like the apparent tension between
teaching theory and production, between those who "think for a living"
and others who are on the "cutting edge" of technological innovation.
In my classroom I experience much careerism, which I see both, as a
result and a cause of student anti-intellectualism. Increasingly,
career-minded students see college as an imposition between high school
and the good life. The focus for many undergraduate students is on
acquiring software and programming skills, which they value as the only
stepping-stones to a corporate job. At the same time new media educators
all over the country find it increasingly painful to prepare the next
generation for their career as HTML slaves. In this "tech prep"
atmosphere, emphasizing employability, art becomes increasingly "applied
art." On the other hand, there is a severe problem for those talented
graduates who decide not to seek shelter in the "industry." They become
new media artists and apart from hard-to-get positions in academia there
are few places that will finance them. In the North of Europe the
situation differs somewhat as grants may cover the new media artist's

Career-minded students often think that the cutting edge medium will get
them "that job," with the "new and hip" constantly being in transition.
"I don't know why we look at work in the Internet- it is already 10
years old." Students make similar demands of texts: "I don't know why we
read this, it's written in 1995- that's dated now." And universities
often buy into this perceived industry standard instead of focusing on
general skills such as independent critical thinking that get students
much further.

How could we develop a curiosity for (art) history that then leads to,
for example- web based art or graphics programming? The pure application
of software programs or programming creates the most boring people says
John Hopkins, quoted by Geert Lovink in his recent book "My First
Recession"-- "it's like amateur photo-club members comparing the length
of their telephoto lenses..." Many in the programming communities are
distrustful of the humanities because in their view they have little to
contribute to their field. In addition it is an almost impossible
challenge for a single human being to keep up with the development of
all those tools. Lovink writes, "universities still consider the
computer/ new media industries as somehow emulating a film-industry
model, with a stable set of skills each person goes out into the world
with after graduation." He suggests that instead, the most important
task is to loosen up to a transient world of employment/ work/ play and
disabusing students of the notion that there is an "industry." It needs
problematic, off-track courses, Lovink argues, because they usually
provide skills that last much longer than the software applications or
programming languages of the day. What is in the long-term interest of
students may not be immediately clear to them and it takes courage on
the side of the instructor to insist on their vision.

I have been asked about the difference between European and US American
academia. Comparing teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany with my
teaching in American universities I see indeed vast differences. The
German educational system is heavily based on student's initiative. In
Britain, where I studied for an M.F.A., most of learning took place
within the student group. English tutors contributed inspiring
cross-disciplinary anecdotes and encouraged a spirit of self-criticism.
I taught art history, new media art practices and critical theory at
universities in the North and South West of the United States and now on
the East Coast. I experienced American students as often not willing to
overcome the initial hindrances that are needed to make discourse

Reading a text is like entering a room of people talking and unless we
learn about their previous exchanges we will never be in the know but
instead get frustrated. Knowledge is nothing innate, nothing we are born
with or which we inherited. Often mistakenly introduced into this debate
are the likes of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison who had little
schooling yet high intellectual achievements.

All too often students judge texts based on their unwillingness to do
the initial work that is necessary to enjoy theory. Rather than talking
about building self-esteem (enough already) we need to talk about hard
work and discipline (even if that may sound Protestant). How useful are
Paulo Freire's notions of a pedagogy of dialogue and informal teaching
in the context of today's US new media education that already is quite
informal and horizontal? I see the disinterest in study caused by a
widespread delegitimization of reading and print culture, and partially
by popular culture that glorifies triviality, and mindlessness. Stanley
Aranowitz in "Education and Cultural Studies" (ed. Henry A. Giroux)
writes: "School should be a place where the virtues of learning are
extolled (a) for their own sake and (b) for the purpose of helping
students to become more active participants in the civic life of their
neighborhoods, their cities, and the larger world." It is hard to bring
everyday political events home, to make students realize how deeply
linked our lives are to those of the people at the other side of town,
or in Rwanda, Kosovo, Srebrenica, Afghanistan or Iraq. The trivial,
localized focus of TV news reporting certainly does not help in
internationalizing students, in opening up their views to a larger
horizon. This false localism stops students from aiming with their
artworks at larger international (new media) art audiences. By the same
token this localism or regionalism should not prevent new media
departments from developing international relationships.

In the American consumer-driven educational system, mainly part time or
untenured faculty's academic careers rely on student evaluations, which
is where the system in itself is deeply at fault. How can an instructor
be courageous under these constraints? The meaning of teaching can be
found in the Latin word "professio," which means declaration. To be a
professor means to declare your beliefs, which may not by any means go
down well with students. This stance purposefully creates tension, which
comprises true learning, a friction that makes it clearer for a student
where s/he stands. Teaching, in the sense of Edward Said's notion of the
public intellectual, cannot mean to please, it cannot aim at consumer
sovereignty, and it cannot mean that the customer is easily and
completely satisfied. The consumer model implies that the university
offers "services." Courses are shaped to satisfy students who think of
themselves as consumers who conveniently with next to no effort (as in
shopping), graduate. If this is what teaching is about, it fails its
mission. Students should open themselves up to successful learning. And
the "success" in "successful learning," according to Bertold Brecht
stands for being educational, creating change in the real live world.
Students should get "electrified" by the widely unexplored field of new

Trebor Scholz

Net Cultures: Art, Politics, and the Everyday

Fibre Culture New Media Education

Geert Lovink "The Battle over New Media Art Education. Experiences and
Models." in "My First Recession. Critical Internet Culture in
Transition" V2_/NAi Publishers, 2003
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