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: 02.13.04
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 23:07:44 -0500

RHIZOME DIGEST: February 13, 2004


1. Francis Hwang: Net Art Commissions -- Deadline extended
to March 7

3. Mark Biggs: Instructor/Assistant Professor of Multimedia
4. Joy Garnett: JOB OPENING: NYU: Assistant/Associate Professor, Tenure
5. Tara McPherson: Fellowship for New Journal

6. Alex Galloway: book excerpt: "Protocol: How Control Exists After
7. Jonah Brucker-Cohen: Report From Transmediale.04: Fly Utopia!

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Date: 2.12.04
From: Francis Hwang (francis AT
Subject: Net Art Commissions -- Deadline extended to March 7


We are extending the deadline for the Net Art Commissions
to Sunday, March 7. Below is the Call For Proposals, which can also be
found at .


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+Deadline for proposals: March 7, 2004+ is pleased to announce that with support from The Jerome
Foundation and the Greenwall Foundation, five new net art projects
of art that are made to be experienced online) will be
commissioned in 2004.

The fee for each commission will range from $1,500 ? $3,500. is an online platform for the global new media art
community. We are committed to supporting the creation, presentation,
discussion and preservation of art that engages new technologies in
significant ways. We emphasize innovation and inclusiveness in all of
programs and activities.

Artists are invited to submit proposals for works of art that focus on
the theme of games.


For the last several decades, computer-based games, through their
ubiquity, economic influence, and innovative use of new technologies,
have become a significant cultural force, surpassing Hollywood films in
total revenues.

For a number of years, new media artists have been exploring the
possibilities of gaming platforms and creating art games that mix the
best qualities of commercial games ? accessibility, interactivity,
user-engagement ? with critical and progressive approaches to narrative
and aesthetics.

Artists seeking a 2004 commission should propose projects
that will contribute to the art game genre, or reflect in some way on
the following broad interpretations of ?game? found at,

Viewers/players should be able to access the projects online, whether by
playing them through a web browser, downloading software, or some other
use of internet technologies.

When evaluating proposals, the jury will consider artistic merit,
technical feasibility, and technical accessibility.

Although we will provide some technical assistance with final
integration into the web site, artists are expected to
develop game-related projects independently and without significant
technical assistance from Commissioned projects will be
listed on the main Rhizome Commission page and included in the Rhizome

+ How to Submit a Proposal +

The jury will only consider proposals from members of To
sign up for Rhizome membership, please visit:

There are two parts to proposal submission:

1. You must create a proposal in the form of a web site that includes
the following key elements:

+ Project description (500 words maximum) that discusses your project?s
core concept, how you will realize your project and your project?s
feasibility. If you plan to work with assistants, consultants or
collaborators, their roles and (if possible) names should be included.

+ You are encouraged, but not required, to include a production timeline
and a project budget, which should include your own fee. If you have
other funding sources for your project, please indicate this in your

+ Your resume or Curriculum Vitae. For collaborative groups, provide
either a collective CV or the CV?s of all participants.

+ Up to 10 work samples. Note: More is not necessarily better. You
should include only work samples that are relevant to your proposal. If
your proposal has nothing to do with photography, don?t include images
from your photography portfolio. Please provide contextualizing
information (title, date, medium, perhaps a brief description) to help
the jury understand what they are looking at. The work sample can take
any form, as long as it is accessible via the web.

When designing your web-based proposal, please note that the jury will
have limited time for evaluations, so try to make your site clear and

When your web-based proposal is complete, you are ready for Part Two of
the proposal process:

2. Submit your proposal for a Net Art Commission via an
online form at We do
not accept proposals via email, snail mail or other means. Proposals
will be accepted until 5:00pm EST (that?s New York time) on Sunday,
March 7, 2004. The form at requires the following

+ Name of artist or collaborative group + Email address + Place of
residence (city, state/province, country) + Title of the project (this
can be tentative) + Brief description of project (50 words maximum) +
URL of web-based proposal

+ Jury +

Proposals will be reviewed by a jury consisting of German critic Tilman
Baumgartel, artist Natalie Bookchin of CalArts, Rachel Greene of, Francis Hwang of, and Japanese curator Yukiko
Shikata. members will also participate in the evaluation and awarding
process through secure web-based forms.

Winners will be contacted on or after April 5, 2004. Each winner will be
asked to sign an agreement with governing the terms of the

+ Winners +

Winners will be announced on April 19, 2004. Commissioned projects must
be completed by October 22, 2004.

+ Questions +

If you have any questions about the Net Art Commissions,
please contact Feisal Ahmad at feisal AT or 212.219.1288.

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Date: 2.09.04
From: Joe Reinsel (jreinsel AT


The Once.Twice:Festival of Sound and Video is an annual three-day event
taking place in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The festival aims to
promote innovation in the production and presentation of audio and video
electronic art, in particular (though not limited to) artists whose work
explores the potential of new digital audio and video processing
techniques. Since the first festival in spring of 2001, Once.Twice has
brought over 50 nationally and internationally renowned artists to
perform alongside Baltimore city and area talent, including: Andreas
Berthling, Sutekh, Safety Scissors, Giles Hendrix, Timeblind, Kit
Clayton, Algorithm, Taylor Deupree, Sammy Dee, Sue Costabile, Andreas
Tilliander, Smith-N-Hack, William Basinski, Deadbeat, Geoff White, Crack
Haus, Magda, Errorsmith, and Tomas Jirku.

This year, in an effort to expand upon the visual facet of the festival,
the organizers of Once.Twice are soliciting video submissions to be
curated for an afternoon screening at the Johns Hopkins University on
Saturday, April 17th, shortly before an evening of live audio/video
collaborative performances featuring AGF + Sue Costabile, Christopher
Willits + Scott Pagano, and Mylena Bergeron + Caroline Hayeur. Entries
of any theme / style are welcome, but participants are encouraged to
manifest both conceptual and practical forms of experimentation in their
submissions. The basic guidelines are as follows:

- Entries should be limited to 10 minutes in length
- All submissions must be Quicktime compatible, on CD or DVD
- Entries must include a $15 submission fee

Entries must be received by March 15th, 2004 for consideration. First,
Second, and Third place prizes will be awarded in name only, as well as
honorable mentions. Final selections for the April 17th screening will
be curated by Joe Reinsel, Digital Audio Specialist of the Johns Hopkins
Digital Media Center, Sue Costabile, San Francisco visual artist and
co-organizer of the Orthlorng Musork recording label and Scott Pagano,
San Francisco based visual artist and curator of the Reline DVD
compilation series.

All entries must include a $15 submission fee as either a check or
international money order, made out to Benjamin Parris, and sent to the
following address:

Benjamin Parris
Johns Hopkins University Department of English
146 Gilman Hall / 3400 North Charles St.
Baltimore, MD


April 15th - 17th, 2004
Baltimore's 4th Annual once.twice:festival of sound and video art feat.


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Date: 2.09.04
From: Mark Biggs (mmb772f AT
Subject: Instructor/Assistant Professor of Multimedia

The Media, Journalism, & Film Department at SMSU anticipates an August
2004 opening for an Instructor or Assistant Professor in multimedia. A
master's degree in multimedia or related field plus two years
professional experience is required for the instructor position. An MFA
or Ph.D. in electronic arts or related field is required for the
assistant professor position. Must be qualified to teach courses in web
design, and introductory and advanced interactivity design. Familiarity
with Macs, Director, Flash and Dreamweaver is desirable. Please send
application letter, vitae, transcripts, three letters of reference, and
evidence of research and teaching effectiveness to Mark Biggs,
Southwest Missouri State University, 901 National Avenue, Springfield,
MO 65804.

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Date: 2.10.04
From: Joy Garnett (joyeria AT
Subject: JOB OPENING: NYU: Assistant/Associate Professor, Tenure Track


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2004 10:22:13 -0800
From: Edu-News (info AT
To: joy garnett (underbelly AT
Subject: NYU: Assistant/Associate Professor, Tenure Track

Department of Art and Art Professions
New York University, Steinhardt School of Education
contact: artdept AT

Digital Media/Studio Artist
Assistant/Associate Professor, Tenure Track
Department of Art and Art Professions
New York University

The Department seeks a Studio Artist working with digital technology to
theorize and develop the use of technology in the department's
traditional studio areas, including printmaking, painting, sculpture,
craft media, photography and art in media (digital, photography, video).
The digital artist position is based in studio art but will intersect
with all of the department's art professions programs, including art
education, art therapy, visual arts administration and visual culture.

Responsibilities: Teach undergraduate and graduate courses; sustain a
high level of exhibition and/or scholarship, advise students, develop
innovative curricula and courses, build alliances and outreach
initiatives with related departments and other schools in New York
University and participate in all areas of faculty activities.

Qualifications: M.F.A. and/or Doctorate, minimum of three years
experience teaching at the college level; substantial record of
exhibition and/or a record of or potential for publication; knowledge of
digital technology, its theory and practice.

Please send letter of application, curriculum vitae, and examples of
work to:
Chair, Digital Media/Studio Art Search Committee,
Department of Art and Art Professions, NYU
Steinhardt School of Education
34 Stuyvesant Street, New York, NY 10003.

Review of applications begins immediately and deadline for receipt of
applications is March 1, 2004.

NYU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


350 Seventh Ave, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10001

mailto:leave-edunews AT

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Date: 2.12.04
From: Tara McPherson (tmcphers AT
Subject: Fellowship for New Journal

Summer Fellowship Call for Projects
Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular

The Institute for Multimedia Literacy (IML) at the University of
Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication is pleased to
announce a Fellowship program for summer 2004 to foster innovative
research for its new electronic publishing venture, Vectors: Journal of
Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular.

Vectors is a new, international electronic journal dedicated to
expanding the potentials of academic publication via emergent and
transitional media. Vectors brings together visionary scholars with
cutting-edge designers and technologists to propose a thorough
rethinking of the dynamic relationship of form to content in academic
research, focusing on the ways technology shapes, transforms and
reconfigures social and cultural relations.

Vectors will adhere to the highest standards of quality in a strenuously
reviewed format. The journal is edited by Tara McPherson and Steve
Anderson and guided by the collective knowledge of a prestigious
international board.

About the Fellowships
. Vectors Fellowships will be awarded to up to six individuals or teams
of collaborators in the early to mid- stages of development of a
scholarly multimedia project related to the themes of Evidence or
Mobility. Completed projects will be included in the first two issues of
the journal beginning in fall 2004. Vectors will feature next-generation
multimedia work, moving far beyond the ?text with image? format of most
online scholarly publications.

Fall 2004: Evidence
. The first issue of the journal will be devoted to a broad
reconsideration of the notion of Evidence and its multiple
transformations in contemporary scholarship and digital culture.

Spring 2004: Mobility
. The second issue will be devoted to exploring the shifting concepts
and practices of Mobility in contemporary culture, creatively limning
the possibilities and limits of such a concept for understanding 21st
century life.

About the Awards
All fellowship recipients will participate in a one-week residency June
21-25, 2004 at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy in Los Angeles,
where they will have access to the IML?s state of the art, Mac-based
production facilities. Fellows will have continuing access to work in
collaboration with world-class designers and the IML?s technical support
and programming team throughout the project?s development.

The residency will include colloquia and working sessions where
participants will have the chance to develop project foundations and
collectively engage relevant issues in scholarly multimedia. Applicants
need not be proficient with new media authoring; however, evidence of
successful collaboration and scholarly innovation is desirable.
Fellowship awards will include an honorarium of $2000 for each
participant or team of collaborators, in addition to travel and
accommodation expenses.

About the Proposals
We are seeking project proposals that creatively address issues related
to the first two themes of Evidence and Mobility. While the format of
the journal is meant to explore innovative forms of multimedia
scholarship, we are not necessarily looking for projects that are about
new media. Rather, we are interested in the various ways that new media
suggest a transformation of scholarship, art and communication practices
and their relevance to everyday life in an unevenly mediated world.

Applicants are encouraged to think beyond the computer screen to
consider possibilities created by the proliferation of wireless
technology, handheld devices, alternative exhibition venues, etc.
Fellows will also have the possibility to imagine scholarly applications
for newly developing technologies through productive collaborations with
scientists and engineers. Projects may translate existing scholarly work
or be entirely conceived for new media. We are particularly interested
in work that re-imagines the role of the user and seeks to reach broader
publics while creatively exploring the value of collaboration and

Proposals should include the following:
. Title of project and a one-sentence description
. A 3-5 page description of the project concept, goals and outcome (this
description should address questions of audience, innovative uses of
interactivity, address and form, as well the project?s contribution to
the field of multimedia scholarship and to contemporary scholarship more
. Brief biography of each applicant, including relevant qualifications
and experience for this fellowship
. Full CV for each applicant
. Anticipated required resources (design, technical, hardware, software,
exhibition, etc.)
. Projected timeline
. Sample media if available (CD, DVD, VHS (any standard), or NTSC
Mini-DV); for electronic submissions, URLs are preferred but still
images may be sent as e-mail attachments if necessary)

Please submit to:

Vectors Summer Fellowships
Institute for Multimedia Literacy
746 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
e-mail: vectors AT

Priority will be given to applications received by March 12, 2004.
Fellowship recipients will be notified in mid-April.

Additional Information

For additional information about the Vectors Summer Fellowship Program,
please consult our informational website at . Questions may be directed to
Associate Editor Steve Anderson, sanderson AT .

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For $65 annually, Rhizome members can put their sites on a Linux
server, with a whopping 350MB disk storage space, 1GB data transfer per
month, catch-all email forwarding, daily web traffic stats, 1 FTP
account, and the capability to host your own domain name (or use Details at:

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Date: 2.09.04
From: Alex Galloway (galloway AT
Subject: book excerpt: "Protocol: How Control Exists After

+book release party+
6:00 pm on Friday, Feb. 27
Interactive Telecommunications Program
721 Broadway, 4th floor, New York, NY.


i wanted to post some excerpts from my new book which i'm very excited
about.. The book is about computer networks and the concept of
"protocol" that ties the networks together. i also have chapters on net
art, tactical media, and hackers. more to come in a couple weeks!



+ + +

"Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization"
by Alexander R. Galloway
The MIT Press (March, 2004), 248 pages, ISBN 0262072475

book homepage:
table of contents:
amazon page:


Excerpt from the "Introduction":

This book is about a diagram, a technology, and a management style. The
diagram is the distributed network, a structural form without center
that resembles a web or meshwork. The technology is the digital
computer, an abstract machine able to perform the work of any other
machine (provided it can be described logically). The management style
is protocol, the principle of organization native to computers in
distributed networks. All three come together to define a new apparatus
of control that has achieved importance at the start of the new

Much work has been done recently on theorizing the present historical
moment and on offering periodizations to explain its historical
trajectory. I am particularly inspired by five pages from Gilles
Deleuze, "Postscript on Control Societies," which begin to define a
chronological period after the modern age that is founded neither on the
central control of the sovereign nor on the decentralized control of the
prison or the factory. My book aims to flesh out the specificity of this
third historical wave by focusing on the controlling computer
technologies native to it.

How would control exist after decentralization? In former times control
was a little easier to explain. In what Michel Foucault called the
sovereign societies of the classical era, characterized by centralized
power and sovereign fiat, control existed as an extension of the word
and deed of the master, assisted by violence and other coercive factors.
Later, the disciplinary societies of the modern era took hold, replacing
violence with more bureaucratic forms of command and control.

Deleuze has extended this periodization into the present day by
suggesting that after the disciplinary societies come the societies of
control. Deleuze believed that there exist wholly new technologies
concurrent with the societies of control. "The old sovereign societies
worked with simple machines, levers, pulleys, clocks," he writes, "but
recent disciplinary societies were equipped with thermodynamic
machines... control societies operate with a third generation of
machines, with information technology and computers." Just as Marx
rooted his economic theory in a strict analysis of the factory's
productive machinery, Deleuze heralds the coming productive power of
computers to explain the sociopolitical logics of our own age.

According to Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), the shift from disciplinary
societies to control societies goes something like this:

"Before computerized information management, the heart of
institutional command and control was easy to locate. In fact, the
conspicuous appearance of the halls of power was used by regimes to
maintain their hegemony.... Even though the monuments of power still
stand, visibly present in stable locations, the agency that
maintains power is neither visible nor stable. Power no longer
permanently resides in these monuments, and command and control now
move about as desired."

The most extensive "computerized information management" system existing
today is the Internet. The Internet is a global distributed computer
network. It has its roots in the American academic and military culture
of the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1950s, in response to the Soviet
Sputnik launch and other fears connected to the Cold War, Paul Baran at
the Rand Corporation decided to create a computer network that was
independent of centralized command and control, and would thus be able
to withstand a nuclear attack that targets such centralized hubs. In
August 1964, he published an eleven-volume memorandum for the Rand
Corporation outlining his research.

Baran's network was based on a technology called packet-switching that
allows messages to break themselves apart into small fragments. Each
fragment, or packet, is able to find its own way to its destination.
Once there, the packets reassemble to create the original message. In
1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) at the U.S.
Department of Defense started the ARPAnet, the first network to use
Baran's packet-switching technology. The ARPAnet allowed academics to
share resources and transfer files. In its early years, the ARPAnet
(later renamed DARPAnet) existed unnoticed by the outside world, with
only a few hundred participating computers, or "hosts."

All addressing for this network was maintained by a single machine
located at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. By
1984 the network had grown larger. Paul Mockapetris invented a new
addressing scheme, this one decentralized, called the Domain Name System

The computers had changed also. By the late 1970s and early 1980s
personal computers were coming to market and appearing in homes and
offices. In 1977, researchers at Berkeley released the highly
influential "BSD" flavor of the UNIX operating system, which was
available to other institutions at virtually no cost. With the help of
BSD, UNIX would become the most important computer operating system of
the 1980s.

In the early 1980s, the suite of protocols known as TCP/IP (Transmission
Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) was also developed and included with
most UNIX servers. TCP/IP allowed for cheap, ubiquitous connectivity. In
1988, the Defense department transferred control of the central
"backbone" of the Internet over to the National Science Foundation, who
in turn transferred control to commercial telecommunications interests
in 1995. In that year, there were 24 million Internet users. Today, the
Internet is a global distributed network connecting billions of people
around the world.

At the core of networked computing is the concept of protocol. A
computer protocol is a set of recommendations and rules that outline
specific technical standards. The protocols that govern much of the
Internet are contained in what are called RFC (Request For Comments)
documents. Called "the primary documentation of the Internet," these
technical memoranda detail the vast majority of standards and protocols
in use on the Internet today.

The RFCs are published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
They are freely available and used predominantly by engineers who wish
to build hardware or software that meets common specifications. The IETF
is affiliated with the Internet Society, an altruistic, technocratic
organization that wishes "[t]o assure the open development, evolution
and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the
world." Other protocols are developed and maintained by other
organizations. For example, many of the protocols used on the World Wide
Web (a network within the Internet) are governed by the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C). This international consortium was created in October
1994 to develop common protocols such as Hypertext Markup Language
(HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets. Scores of other protocols have been
created for a variety of other purposes by many different professional
societies and organizations. They are covered in more detail in chapter
4 [on "Institutionalization"].

Protocol is not a new word. Prior to its usage in computing, protocol
referred to any type of correct or proper behavior within a specific
system of conventions. It is an important concept in the area of social
etiquette as well as in the fields of diplomacy and international
relations. Etymologically it refers to a fly-leaf glued to the beginning
of a document, but in familiar usage the word came to mean any
introductory paper summarizing the key points of a diplomatic agreement
or treaty.

However, with the advent of digital computing, the term has taken on a
slightly different meaning. Now, protocols refer specifically to
standards governing the implementation of specific technologies. Like
their diplomatic predecessors, computer protocols establish the
essential points necessary to enact an agreed-upon standard of action.
Like their diplomatic predecessors, computer protocols are vetted out
between negotiating parties and then materialized in the real world by
large populations of participants (in one case citizens, and in the
other computer users). Yet instead of governing social or political
practices as did their diplomatic predecessors, computer protocols
govern how specific technologies are agreed to, adopted, implemented,
and ultimately used by people around the world. What was once a question
of consideration and sense is now a question of logic and physics.

To help understand the concept of computer protocols, consider the
analogy of the highway system. Many different combinations of roads are
available to a person driving from point A to point B. However, en route
one is compelled to stop at red lights, stay between the white lines,
follow a reasonably direct path, and so on. These conventional rules
that govern the set of possible behavior patterns within a heterogeneous
system are what computer scientists call protocol. Thus, protocol is a
technique for achieving voluntary regulation within a contingent

These regulations always operate at the level of coding--they encode
packets of information so they may be transported; they code documents
so they may be effectively parsed; they code communication so local
devices may effectively communicate with foreign devices. Protocols are
highly formal; that is, they encapsulate information inside a
technically defined wrapper, while remaining relatively indifferent to
the content of information contained within. Viewed as a whole, protocol
is a distributed management system that allows control to exist within a
heterogeneous material milieu.

It is common for contemporary critics to describe the Internet as an
unpredictable mass of data--rhizomatic and lacking central organization.
This position states that since new communication technologies are based
on the elimination of centralized command and hierarchical control, it
follows that the world is witnessing a general disappearance of control
as such.

This could not be further from the truth. I argue in this book that
protocol is how technological control exists after decentralization. The
"after" in my title refers to both the historical moment after
decentralization has come into existence, but also--and more
important--the historical phase after decentralization, that is, after
it is dead and gone, replaced as the supreme social management style by
the diagram of distribution.

[Excerpt reprinted with the permission of The MIT Press.]

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Date: 2.12.04
From: Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah AT
Subject: Report From Transmediale.04: Fly Utopia!

Report From Transmediale.04: Fly Utopia!
1/31/04 - 2/4/04
Haus Der Culturen Der Welt, Berlin

By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah(at)

In the backdrop of a snowy Berlin skyline, Transmediale.04 opened with a
hefty line-up of theorists, performers, artists, and practitioners.
Billed as the second largest media arts festival in Europe (next to Ars
Electronica), the event featured award categories of Software,
Interaction, and Image, and showcased a wide assortment of themes
ranging from locative mobile media to social fictions to speculative
programming and MIDI scrap-yard workshops. This year's theme was "Fly
Utopia," perhaps a reaction to the idealistic vision of technology as a
harbinger of the promised land of connected toasters and robot butlers.
Instead of exhibiting nicely "packaged" products or projects, the
festival aimed to add accountability to practice by focusing on social
and political movements that question the status quo. Whether these
themes were embodied in art objects or a way of thinking seemed less
important than the overall message: creativity breeds disruption.

The opening ceremony discussions began with the idea of "utopia" as
coined by Thomas Moore, specifying an ideal commonwealth whose
inhabitants live under perfect conditions. Some participants argued that
technology has augmented this definition, especially with the use and
dissemination of the Internet, where the concept of "place" has lost
meaning as a fixed location. This discussion generated questions
throughout the festival, such as how historical visions of the future,
especially those of technology, have kept us questioning our fate.

Beginning with the theme of bio-technological utopia, several projects
and lectures presented a future consisting of everything from
human-grown organs to planned and assisted ritualistic death. Designer
Fiona Raby's (RCA) former students presented their work within the
context of "Immortality," a sub-section of a larger inquiry entitled
"Consuming Monsters." Specific projects included the "Toy Communicator,"
a telematic device to allow people to talk to their pets when they are
away. Another piece, "Planned Death," consisted of a kit for committing
suicide when one reaches a state of physical perfection. All of these
future products were on display in the Transmediale exhibition space as
wary reminders of the future of our imperfection. Along similar lines
was Shilpa Gupta's "Your Kidney Supermarket," an installation commenting
on a bleak future of organ trading across national borders, consisting
of several dozen kidneys in a hypothetical showroom. Despite its lack of
noticeable technology, the project displayed how close we have come to
commodification of anything (including human organs). Another
interesting lecture was about constructing the national identity of the
principality of SeaLand (, a sovereign island micro
nation situated in international waters, 6 miles from the coast of
Britain. This identity overhaul included designing stamps with pictures
of corporate scandals and failed political regimes, and coins made to
look like writeable CD media.

One of the most heated conference debates occurred after Andreas
Broegger's talk "From Art as Software to Software as Art." This
presentation featured details of two influential art interventions from
the 1970's: Jack Burnham's "Software" show at the Jewish Museum in NYC
and the magazine "Radical Software." Broegger's aim was to show how a
shift in attention has occurred away from simply taking art objects at
face value and towards examining the processes and ideas they instill
and execute. Arguments were vented that the 1970's show was trying to
appropriate a definition of the term "software" while today's "software
art" is more about utilizing and positioning the software as an art
object unto itself. In this regard, the Radical Software magazine can be
seen as distilling cultural processes into information processes as a
type of software creation. I tend to think that today's software art has
an interest in not only what it represents as executable code, but also
in how people use and experience it in their everyday lives. Since
software was not a pervasive technology in the 70's, this question of
defining the term existed as artistic experiments and conceptual models
of what the future of technology might hold. Today a glitchy network
protocol can be called art, whereas the 1970's birthed the idea that
computational technology could be re-purposed for artistic interventions
in the first place.

Moving into mobile space, the MobiloTopia panel featured artists working
with location-based or "locative" media. Marc Tuters opened the
discussion with an overview of the "Locative Media Lab," a dispersed
network of practitioners focusing on the creative practice and use of
portable, context-aware technologies. His talk featured a breakdown of
the cultural theory and representative images of future utopias as
envisioned from the past. Ben Russell followed by offering an overview
of current systems for location tracking and surveillance. He presented
a case for creating localized street level sharing systems, where for
instance, people would be able to use their neighbors' garden equipment
if they knew it was available on a shared map. This idea would certainly
work in a utopian version of the world, but may not be likely in today's
ultra paranoid, terrorist-alert police state. Drew Hemment of
FutureSonic spoke about how locative media feeds into emergent art
practice; whereby navigating real space is the impetus for the work
(think GPS drawing). Finally, Teri Rueb showed documentation of her
"Trace" project, an interactive, location-aware sound installation where
hiking in a forest recalled sounds clips that commemorated personal

The award presentations for image, interaction, and software consisted
of short talks by the nominated artists. In the image category, Julien
Maire's "DEMI-PAS" was a remarkable projection system featuring
interchangeable slides, each with tiny motorized dioramas. Everyday,
repetitive scenes were depicted, including a man washing his car or
smoke blowing from a factory, but their intricacies were precise and
beautiful. In the interactive category, Simon Schiessl's "Haptic
Opposition" won over the judges with a simple motorized LED text display
that responded to user aggression by becoming more anxious and nervous
during repeated interaction. I was a bit surprised that Schiessl seemed
more impressed by the technology of the piece rather than its social
potential for interface design. Finally, the software art presentation
of Robert Luxemburg's "The Conceptual Crisis of Private Property as a
Crisis in Practice" was premised on the idea of a screen shot that, when
run through a PHP script, would be transformed into the full text of
Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon." Although the concept of decryption of
proprietary file formats is not new (take DeCSS for example), the idea
that one file could be masked within the binary data of another begins
to get scary.

For a festival themed on questioning the future, there existed almost a
fearful reluctance to discuss what might happen if we ever reach utopia.
There might be bio-products in our food, computer-predicted life
experiences, and organ superstores on every corner, but what will happen
to society in general? Will a resistance form? Will technology
eventually catch up with us and deter our fetishistic instincts? Forget
living! Is utopia something worth dying for? Does anyone care? As the
festival closed, a central question remained stuck in my mind: If
creativity is our salvation, why does the dream of utopia always seem to
cloud its potential? Most of the projects shown at Transmediale seemed
to grapple with the idea that technology can produce beauty through
simplicity. This was also evident with most of the invited speakers, who
spoke of utopia within a defined context rather than masked jargon.
Overall, the festival offered a taste of both questioning and embracing
the road ahead, and it promises to be even more inspirational next year.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah(at)

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the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Rhizome Digest is supported by grants from The Charles Engelhard
Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for
the Visual Arts, and with public funds from the New York State Council
on the Arts, a state agency.

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Feisal Ahmad (feisal AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 9, number 7. Article submissions to list AT
are encouraged. Submissions should relate to the theme of new media art
and be less than 1500 words. For information on advertising in Rhizome
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