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: 11.12.04
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 15:43:11 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: November 12, 2004


1. Kevin McGarry: ArtBase Quarterly - Summer 2004
2. Kevin McGarry: Call for Rhizome SuperUsers

3. Francis Hwang: "Blogging and the Arts" panel: Tue, Nov 23 6:30pm - 8:00pm
4. Rachel Greene: Fwd: Database Imaginary / Thomson & Craighead

5. Mechthild Schmidt: opportunity: part-time faculty
6. Julie Andreyev: INTERACTIVE FUTURES: Technology in the Life World
7. Carrie Heeter: Professor of Digital Media Arts (3D graphics and games)
8. ryan griffis: EFF Webmaster Position

9. Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: E PLURIBUS UNUM by mark
10. Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: Site:Nonsite:Quartzsite
Website by AUDC

11. eidolon: Dataspace: Agency and Determinacy

12. Gloria Sutton: Exhibiting New Media Art (Part 2 of 2)

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Date: 11.08.04
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: ArtBase Quarterly - Summer 2004

Hi to all -

The first ArtBase Quarterly, Summer 2004, is available for download here:

This and future reports will be published on the ArtBase frontpage
( and on the Reports page

The ArtBase Quarterly is a guide to help artists, students, collectors,
teachers, curators, and critics navigate the stream of new works added to
the Rhizome ArtBase, and to observe the evolution of Rhizome¹s engagement
with emerging technologies and art practices.

Any feedback is appreciated!

Kevin McGarry
ArtBase Coordinator

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Date: 11.11.04
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: Call for Rhizome SuperUsers

SuperUsers are Rhizome members who act as volunteer editors by selecting
posts from Rhizome RAW and publishing them to Rhizome RARE and the front
page of Publication involves tagging posts with metadata and
creating representative gifs to supplement their texts. Simply publishing
two posts a week greatly helps preserve and distribute discourse on Rhizome
lists, and if you can manage more than that, even better.

If you are interested in becoming a SuperUser or have more questions, send
me an email at kevin AT

Thanks a lot!

Kevin McGarry
Content Coordinator

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Rhizome is now offering organizational subscriptions, memberships
purchased at the institutional level. These subscriptions allow
participants of an institution to access Rhizome's services without
having to purchase individual memberships. (Rhizome is also offering
subsidized memberships to qualifying institutions in poor or excluded
communities.) Please visit for more
information or contact Rachel Greene at Rachel AT

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Date: 11.12.04
From: Francis Hwang <francis AT>
Subject: "Blogging and the Arts" panel: Tue, Nov 23 6:30
p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Please pardon the press-releasey tone of the text to follow; today's
just sort of hectic, you know. Feel free to ask questions about this to
me or to the list or both.
Media contact
For more info contact:
Francis Hwang, Director of Technology
francis AT

Listing?November 10, 2004

For immediate release to host Blogging and the Arts panel

Public Program:
Blogging and the Arts
Tuesday, November 23, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

New Museum of Contemporary Art / Chelsea
556 West 22nd Street

*** Director of Technology Francis Hwang will lead a panel
discussion entitled Blogging and the Arts. The panel includes artist
Kabir Carter, photoblogger and journalist David Gallagher, artist and
critic Tom Moody, and artist T.Whid. The discussion will address
questions such as whether blogs will change the nature of discourse in
the fine arts field, and ways that artists and critics are integrating
this new form of communications into their own work. ***

Founded in 1996, is an internet-based platform for the
global new media arts community. Through programs such as publications,
online discussion, art commissions, and archiving, it supports the
creation, presentation, discussion, and preservation of contemporary
art using new technologies. Since 2003, has been affiliated
with the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Blogging and the Arts is presented with the sponsorship of PubSub
Concepts Inc., a free, real-time search subscription service spanning
weblogs, newsgroups, wire services, and other information sources.

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology
phone: 212-219-1288x202
AIM: francisrhizome

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Date: 11.12.04
From: Rachel Greene <rachel AT
Subject: Fwd: Database Imaginary / Thomson & Craighead

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jon Thomson <j.thomson AT>
Date: November 12, 2004 2:41:09 PM EST
To: look AT
Subject: Database Imaginary / Thomson & Craighead

You're invited.

We will be showing our installation, 'Short Films about Flying' as part of:
"Database Imaginary" which opens Saturday, November 13 at the Walter
Gallery, Banff Center, Canada - website
fault.htm - press release
-crumb discussion list "data art"

Cory Arcangel, Julian Bleecker, Natalie Bookchin, Kayle Brandon, Heath
Bunting, Alan Currall, Beatriz da Costa, Hans Haacke, Harwood/Mongrel, Agnes
Hegedus, Axel Heide, Pablo Helguera, Lisa Jevbratt/C5, George Legrady, Lev
Manovich, Jennifer + Kevin McCoy, Muntadas, onesandzeros, Scott Paterson,
Philip Pocock, Edward Poitras, David Rokeby, Warren Sack, Jamie Schulte,
Thomson&Craighead, Brooke Singer, Gregor Stehle, University of Openess,
Angie Waller, Cheryl L'Hirondelle Waynohtew, Marina Zurkow

Database Imaginary
Curated by Sarah Cook, Steve Dietz, Anthony Kiendl

best wishes,

Jon & Alison
Thomson & Craighead /

'Decorative Newsfeeds' as part of Algorithmic Revolution, ZKM, Karlsruhe.

Documentation of Decorative Newsfeeds can be found at:

'Telephony' as part of Pass the time of Day, Gasworks, London

Documentation of, 'Telephony' can be found at:

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Date: 11.08.04
From: Mechthild Schmidt <mschmidt AT>
Subject: opportunity: part-time faculty

Paul McGhee Division

The McGhee Division is seeking faculty with a Master¹s degree and
professional experience plus three years teaching experience in the
following areas: 3D Animation, Game Design, Sound Design, Web Design,
Special Effects/Compositing. Positions in 3D Animation require an advanced
knowledge of MAYA. Positions in Special Effects/Compositing require an
advanced knowledge of Shake and Combustion. Positions in Web Design require
an advanced knowledge of Macromedia products. Familiarity with the Adobe
package is necessary for all positions.

Please e-mail curriculum vitae and cover letter indicating area of interest
to: AT (please indicate Box 5-05F in the ³Subject² line); or mail
to NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, 25 West Fourth Street,
Box 5-05, New York, NY 10012-1119, Attention: Human Resources. NYU
appreciates all applications but can only respond to qualified applicants.

Applications are being considered for the Spring 2005 semester.

NYU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

Mechthild Schmidt

Digital Communications and Media
SCPS McGhee Division, NYU
726 Broadway, #669
New York, NY 10003

ms1831 AT

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Rhizome is now offering organizational subscriptions, memberships
purchased at the institutional level. These subscriptions allow
participants of an institution to access Rhizome's services without
having to purchase individual memberships. (Rhizome is also offering
subsidized memberships to qualifying institutions in poor or excluded
communities.) Please visit for more
information or contact Rachel Greene at Rachel AT

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Date: 11.09.04
From: Julie Andreyev <lic AT>
Subject: INTERACTIVE FUTURES: Technology in the Life World

INTERACTIVE FUTURES: Technology in the Life World
Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival -
Co-sponsored by Open Space Artist-Run Centre -
Conference hotel - Laurel Point Inn -
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Feb. 4-6, 2005.


INTERACTIVE FUTURES is a forum for showing recent tendencies in new media
art as well as a conference for exploring issues related to technology. The
theme of this year's event is Technology in the Life World.

With digital media becoming more mobile, many artists and theorists are
exploring ideas of nomadism and telepresence. Nomadic computing, mobile
devices used to augment reality, and more publicly distributed technologies,
are being considered by artists and theorists for their ethical and social

Technology in the Life World will be presented in two streams: Digital
Nomadism and Technology and Ethics. Artists working in new media are
encouraged to submit proposals for installations, performances, and
screenings. In their proposals, artists should relate their work to one of
the above themes. All art work will be presented at Open Space artist-run
centre. Installations should be compact and self-contained. Please see the
list of technologies available toward the end of this document before

Scholars and artists working in new media arts, theory, and criticism are
encouraged to submit proposals for presentations at the conference.
Presentations should be, in part, demonstrative, incorporating digital
technologies, interactive or digital video, sound, or network-based
elements. In their proposals, presenters should relate their work to one of
the above themes. We encourage proposals that push the boundaries of the
traditional conference paper. Most presentations will take place at the
Laurel Point Inn.

INTERACTIVE FUTURES is part of the Independent Film and Video Festival and
applicants are encouraged to check the Festival website for more information
on the broader program.


+ Arthur and Marilouise Kroker are internationally known writers and
lecturers on the future of technology. Arthur Kroker, Canada Research Chair
at the University of Victoria, is the author of numerous book on technology
and postmodernism as well as Director of UVic's Pacific Centre for
Technology and Culture. Marilouise Kroker is Senior Research Scholar at the
University of Victoria as well as co-editor of a trilogy of books on
feminism and technology. Together, the Krokers edit the electronic journal,
CTheory ( and co-curate CTheory Multimedia.

+ Char Davies has achieved international recognition for her work in
virtual reality. Integrating real-time stereoscopic 3-D computer graphics,
3-D localized sound and user interaction based on breath & balance, the
immersive environments Osmose (1995) and Ephémère (1998) are
world-renowned for their artistic sensibility, technical innovation, and
powerful effect on participants. Davies has dealt with the themes of nature,
psyche, and perception in her work for more than 25 years. Davies was a
founding director of Softimage, building it into the world's leading
developer of 3-D animation software, used for special effects in many
Hollywood films including Jurassic Park and The Matrix. She left Softimage
at the end of 1997 to found her own art & technology research company,
Immersence Inc.


INTERACTIVE FUTURES is interested in artistic and theoretical work that
relates to role of new media technologies in the life world.

+ Areas of exploration include: nomadism, mobility, augmented reality,
telepresence, bio-technology, ecology, and ethics.

+ Presentations can be in the form of DVDs, video tapes, games,
web-sites, etc.. and should be 45-minutes in length.

+ Proposed artwork for exhibition may take the form of installations,
performances, or screenings.

+ Applications should not exceed 500 words and should indicate whether a
presentation or an art piece is being proposed. Please include a 200 max.
word bio.

+ If your presentation requires specific technologies please describe
your needs in detail.

Proposals should be submitted electronically to:

Digital Nomadism
Julie Andreyev <lic AT>

Technology and Ethics
Steve Gibson <sgibson AT>

All proposals *must* be submitted in text only format either as an
attachment or within the body of the email message. Please present examples
of your work as a URL to a web-site.


INTERACTIVE FUTURES does not have funding for travel or accommodation.
Presenters and artists are expected to apply for travel funding from their
home institutions and/or granting bodies. Presenters and artists will be
given a pass to all INTERACTIVE FUTURES events and will have access to the
"Hospitality Suite" at the Festival hotel (food and drinks). All presenters
and artists will be eligible for the conference rate at Festival Hotels
(between $40-90 Canadian per night).

DEADLINE FOR ALL PROPOSALS: Friday, December 3, 2004.

Notification of acceptance of proposals will be sent out by December 17,


Laurel Point Inn - Presentations

The following equipment will be made available for all presenters:

- Mac computer with Monitor, keyboard, DVD/CD-ROM drive.
- Data/Video Projector.
- VHS Player.
- Sound system with amp and two speakers.
- Wireless high-speed internet access with DHCP.

Open Space - Art pieces

The following equipment is available for artists at Open Space. Artists
should be aware that equipment will have to shared and therefore should not
propose to use all of the below devices simultaneously. Art pieces should be
easy to set-up and take down. Wherever possible artists should apply their
own technology.

- 2 Data/Video Projectors.
- VHS Player.
- DVD Player.
- 3-4 Macintosh computers.
- Sound system with amp, 16-channel mixing board, mics, and four
speakers. Eight speakers may be possible by special arrangement.
- Internet connection (

Steve Gibson sgibson AT
Julie Andreyev lic AT

festival 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: 11.10.04
From: Julie Harrison <jharriso AT>
Subject: Professor of Digital Media Arts (3D graphics and games)

The Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media is
pleased to announce two open rank positions in the tenure system at Michigan
State University.

Candidates are sought at the assistant, associate or full professor level,
with the ability to contribute to a department that provides teaching,
outreach, research, and creative/design activities in a broad range of media
and information technology areas. Such areas include economics, policy,
management and strategy, international/comparative telecommunications,
social and business aspects of new media, and traditional and new media
design and production. Within these areas, the contexts for study and design
among department faculty include entertainment, social interaction, group
collaboration, e-business, healthcare, human computer interaction, online
behavior, presence in virtual environments, game design, 3D graphics,
animation, and interactivity. Candidates whose interests cross two or more
of these and related areas are especially encouraged to apply.

Candidates are expected to develop a substantial program of research and/or
design work, emphasizing contribution to peer-reviewed outlets. Teaching
opportunities will be in both undergraduate and graduate courses, with the
typical teaching load set at two courses per semester. Summer teaching
appointments are often available. An interest in obtaining external funding
for research and creative/design work is expected. Released time is
available based on grant productivity.

Requirements: A relevant terminal degree is required. Those completing their
degree also will be considered. Evidence of scholarship (including
portfolio for creative/design applicants) and teaching ability is required.

The Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at
Michigan State University is a thriving place of scholarship, teaching, and
public service. Its faculty has a national and international reputation and
is actively involved in research projects funded by the National Science
Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other
major organizations. Founded in 1855, Michigan State University is situated
in East Lansing, a pleasant university town just on the border of Lansing,
the capital of Michigan. Our vast campus is known as one of the most
beautiful in the nation and is home to over 40,000 students from 85 nations
and about 4000 faculty and staff.

MSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. Female and
minority applicants are especially encouraged to apply. Handicappers have
the right to request and receive reasonable accommodation.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, names and addresses of three
references, and a cover letter describing research and/or design interests
and relevant experiences. Applications will be reviewed as they are
received. Search closes when suitable candidates are hired. Positions are to
begin in August 2005. Please mail the application to the search committee
chair, Dr. Charles Steinfield, 409 CCAS, Department of Telecommunication,
Information Studies, and Media, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

On the web:,,,,,,;

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Date: 11.11.04
From: ryan griffis <grifray AT>
Subject: Just added to the Rhizome EFF webmaster position

* EFF Seeks Webmaster Who Wants to Make a Difference

EFF is seeking a full-time webmaster to start immediately.
Environment is fast-paced, work is cutting edge, staff is
very cool. This person will be responsible for keeping
our "face to the world" up-to-date, fun and exciting.
Must work well with very busy staff. The ideal candidate
will have expertise in PHP, X/HTML, CSS, MySQL, Perl,
JavaScript, Apache, BSD/Linux; Photoshop, Illustrator,
and Flash experience also necessary. Applicants should
also be excited about standards compliance, not
proprietary extensions. Someone with work experience
in graphic design and an appreciation for clean
presentation especially welcome. Familiarity with
Internet civil liberties issues required. Salary at
nonprofit scale (i.e., low) and includes benefits

To apply, send a cover letter and your resume with links
to some samples of your work to webjob AT We request
that you send these materials in a non-proprietary format,
such as an ASCII text file. No phone calls please!

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Date: 11.09.04
From: "" <artbase AT>
Subject: Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: E PLURIBUS UNUM by mark cooley

Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase ...

+ mark cooley +

E PLURIBUS UNUM is an online version of an installation produced for The
Presidency AT Exit Art, NY, an exhibition that ran from October 2 to November
21, 2004.

"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president
would have been hanged." - Noam Chomsky.

Following the Second World War, a US Army Commission sentenced Japanese
General Tomayuki Yamashita to be hung for atrocities committed by troops
under his command in the Philippines. Yamashita had not ordered the
atrocities, but it was held by the Commission that the senior commander was
responsible for not stopping the actions of his troops, and Yamashita was
hung. In 1971, Telford Taylor, the chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg
Tribunal, cited the "Yamashita" case as grounds for indicting General
Westmoreland, senior commander in Vietnam, for war crimes committed by US
soldiers under his command. General Yamashita had argued quite convincingly,
in his defense, that he had been cut off from his troops and was unaware of
their actions, but as Taylor pointed out, given the capabilities of modern
communications technologies, Westmoreland would not have had this problem.
One may wonder why Taylor stopped at Westmoreland and had not logically
moved up the chain of command, but accompanied with the facts of 60 years of
US foreign policy, while using the case of General Yamashita as precedence,
we can speculate on how our presidents may have faired if accused of war
crimes before an impartial jury (or at least the kind of impartiality that
Yamashita faced). But perhaps even more importantly, it should be noted that
insofar as our "commander-in-chief," is indeed a representative of the
public (and one could certainly argue to the contrary) then perhaps so to
should the public, or at least the enfranchised political classes, be viewed
as accomplices in the crimes of elected officials.

+ + +


Mark Cooley is a new genre artist interested in exploring visual rhetorics
and the intersections of art and activism. Mark's work has been shown
internationally in online and offline venues such as Exit Art, Postmasters
Gallery, and

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Date: 11.12.04
From: <artbase AT>
Subject: Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: Site:Nonsite:Quartzsite Website

Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase ...

+ Site:Nonsite:Quartzsite Website +
+ AUDC +

Quartzsite, Arizona is a town of 5,000 residents in the summer, located 180
miles from this site. Situated along I-10 some fifteen miles from the
California border, every winter Quartzsite swells with an influx of
snowbirds, campers from across North America, generally escaping the cold
northern climate in search of sunshine, the solitude of the desert, and the
company of like-minded individuals. According to the Bureau of Land
Management and the Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce, up to 1.5 million
inhabitants settle in town every winter, bringing their lodgings with them
in the form of recreational vehicles or RVs. At any one time in January and
February, hundreds of thousands of residents make this remote desert town
into a substantial urban center.

+ + +


Begun as a research unit within the Southern California Institute of
Architecture, SCI-ARC [] by Kazys Varnelis and Robert
Sumrell [] Architecture Urbanism Design Collaborative is
a nonprofit collective dedicated to using the tools of the architect, the
designer, and the historian to research the individual and the community in
the contemporary urban environment.

AUDC blurs traditional divisions between media by working simultaneously in
print, web, video, photography, drawings, models, dioramas, and
installations while addressing the particularities of each medium. Likewise,
AUDC breaks down the boundaries between theory and practice by uniting both
scholarship and creative work.

"We erect our structures in our imaginations before we erect them in

--Karl Marx

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Date: 11.10.04
From: eidolon <paul AT>
Subject: Dataspace: Agency and Determinacy

Dear friends at rhizome,

is a link to new document by Paul Tulipana, "Dataspace: Agency and
Determinacy." It is slated to be published in early 2005 by New York Studies
in Media Philosophy.

For those readers interested in discussing new ways that the ontology of
language can be explicated through the digital computer:

Dataspace is a glance at the space presented by the digital machine and an
investigation into the possibility for constituted agency in a supposedly
determinate language.

I would welcome your comments/criticism to paul at, or on
this mailing list.

Thank you. An graft from this document follows:


"The sign is originally wrought by fiction."
Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena

"Someone asked: "In phenomena what is true?" The Master said: "The very
phenomena are themselves truth." "Then how should it be revealed?" he asked.
The Master lifted the tea tray."
Zen Koan

Language is a system of data, a way of communication between agents. Data
itself is an extremely robust set, and includes a wide variety of sensory
input that it inclusive beyond that of language: the sets of visual, audio,
touch-sensory, and olfactory images are themselves only wrapped or
communicated by language, never contained by it. Data can be singularly
experienced (as much as anything can be singularly experienced), language is
always experienced or understood-with - it communicates. Data is the
inclusive way of signifying the world, not only as _people_ but as _a
person_ (me) - it is the discretely singular and singularly plural
relationships of (an) agent(s) to the world. Language is the communication
of data - it is the pluralization of the singular, the conjunction of the
disjunctive. There can be a sharing of the world before language, but only
as a disjunctive sharing of being, a sharing of the sharing. Language is the
origin of communicating data. It is the allowance for disjunctive sets of
data - disjunctive origins of the world - to be interpreted and cast into
usable social relations: laws, truths, science. [1] Data is the name of the
interrelationship of the world and us here (all of us, each in turn),
language is a technique for us relating to each other as regards all forms
of data in the world, concrete and abstract. The problem at hand is to
develop the space of that relationship â?? the spaces of data, language, and
language-data, and to trace out the particular agency of this relationship
... The digital computer (like its mechanical predecessors) is a model for a
way in which we can understand the world. It is a concrete example of the
felicitous and multifarious nature of language. Even better, it is a window
into our mechanical understanding of language and simultaneously a concrete
example of the way that language relates to the world.

[1] See Nancy (2000): 11. "In the same way, and reciprocally, "we" is
always inevitably "us all," where no one of us can be "all" and each one of
us is, in turn (where all our turns are simultaneous as well as successive,
in every sense), the other origin of the same world."

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Date: 11.12.04
From: Gloria Sutton <suttong AT>
Subject: Exhibiting New Media Art (Part 2 of 2)

Part II

Software: Art as Information Processing

Through the exhibition ³Software,² Jack Burnham attempted to redirect the
conversation between art and technology away from definitions based on
machine output and pictorial devices toward a discussion about information
systems and ³two-way communication.² Highly aware of the ground covered by
³The Machine² and ³Cybernetic Serendipity,² Burnham was cautious not to
simply repeat or update the terms and definitions of technology based art
projects established by these two models. In the catalogue for the show,
Burnham maintained: ³¹Software¹ is not specifically a demonstration of
engineering know-how, rather in a limited sense, it demonstrates the effects
of contemporary control and communication techniques in the hands of
artists. Most importantly, it provides the means by which the public can
personally respond to programmatic situations structured by artists.² The
exhibition was conceived of, and designed as a public experiment and
introduced audiences to the idea of interacting with art as a system of

Initially called ³The Second Age of Machines,² the title of the show was
switched to ³Software² to de-emphasize the focus on machines as the origin
of communication an interaction and introduce the ³personal and social
sensibilities² altered by the recent ³computing revolution.² Based on this
rationale, artist Les Levine suggested the title of ³Software² since
software itself ³had always meant changeable programs and procedures.² To
further explicate the choice in titles and its metaphorical applications,
Burnham expounded on the definitions of software by insisting that software
itself has equal value, if not more than hardware, and these two terms
should not be conceived of as unified terms, although conflating the
intrinsic relation between the two was the norm. Software and hardware
became synonymous or exchangeable for form and content. Theodore H. Nelson
working as the exhibition¹s technical advisor offered more metaphorical
examples of how software operated as not to conflate the terms with form and
content. Nelson defined software as ³plans and procedures for action, as
distinct from the equipment that carries the action out.² And offered the
following analogy, ³in a transportation system the hardware consists of
cars, highways, traffic lights and policemen, while the software consists of
rules, such as drive on the right, stop on a red light, etc.²

With regard to applying this conceptual notion of software to a specifically
art or aesthetic context, Burnham argued that to do so would lead one to
have to reconsider historical notions of art because reading art as software
alters the frame in which the work art can be experienced. As a point of
clarification, Burnham made the following claim:
All works of art function as signs; they signify in some form or other how
they are operative within the art context. It is becoming evident that the
material presence of frames, or even gallery spaces are no longer necessary
for placing signs in the art context. For sophisticated viewers, contexts
are implicitly carried over form previous art experiences. Thus many of the
exhibits ³Software² deals with conceptual and process relationships, which
on the surface seem to be totally devoid of the usual art trappings.

This emphasis on process and relationships was keenly in line with other
contemporaneous models for thinking about Conceptual art which were all
precipitated by the movement away from dealing with objects as finite or
discrete entities, toward the recognition of art functioning within larger
social and political systems. Moreover, the very notion of a system itself
remains as a pure abstraction. In the most basic sense of the term, system
is simply an assembly of isolatable properties studied in terms of their
transformations, either alone (closed) or in relation to other systems
(open). Under this rubric, a type of systems-based art practice could be
applied to a variety of contexts including biological, physical, social, and
economic systems. More specific to the context of the exhibition in 1970, I
want to suggest that the artists included in ³Software² can be thought of as
impacting a system rather than simply experimenting with technology. A
result is then the artificially induced divide between Conceptual art proper
and art and technology-based projects starts to become blurred. What was
usually spoken about in two separate conversations could conceivable brought
together in the same room. Selected examples to illustrate this aspect of
the show would most notably be the contributions made by Hans Haacke, Joseph
Kosuth, Vito Acconci, Douglas Huebler, and The Architecture Machine Group.

Hans Haacke installed Visitors¹ Profile (1969) and News (1969)?both part of
his ³Real Time Systems² series? in the Jewish Museum. He succinctly
described his approach to thinking about systems in the following
straightforward manner: ³The working premise is to think about the
production of system. Such an approach is concerned with the operational
structure of organizations in which the transfer of information, energy
and/or material occurs.² Haacke¹s computerized version of his Visitors¹
Profile relied on the exhibition¹s central figure: the DEC PDP-8, a
large-scale ³mainframe computer² donated to the show by Art and Technology,
Inc. of Boston, which was the first computer ever included in an art
exhibition. As visitors entered the Jewish Museum they stopped by a
³teletype terminal² connected to the computer, and were asked to type in a
code to retain a level of anonymity. The visitor then received a printout
asking him or her to respond to a set of factual questions. After visitors
keyed in their responses to the questions into the first terminal, they
moved over to a second terminal and identifying themselves by their unique
code number, proceeded to have a series of more subjective questions posed
at them, which they could answer with the terminal.

Through this process, a poll of facts and opinions about the visitors who
elected to participate was continuously compiled, classified, projected on a
screen, stored and printed out in paper form for visitors to take away. This
version of Visitors¹ Profile was obviously more technologically
sophisticated and contrasted in style and complexity with the survey Haacke
conducted a year earlier at the Howard Wise Gallery as well as the one done
for the ³Information² exhibition.

If Visitors Profile generated a system of information internal to the show,
News (1969) was based on the perpetual flow of foreign or external
information and news that literally poured into the exhibit space. Ordinary
Teletype machines used by newspapers and broadcasters were set up in the
museum and received an incessant stream of news from United Press
International and other sources. The reports came out of the machine on
ribbons of white bond paper, which spilled over the top of the machine onto
the floor and gathered in loose piles on the floor. Unlike most of the work
in ³The Machine² or ³Cybernetic Serendipity,² Haacke did not alter the
function of these particular machines. But by using them in the same manner
that they were intended to be used, their use in service to information
brokers, e.g. news agencies, and the politics of information is
foregrounded, and presented a more complicated read of technology¹s impact
on news and communication.

Kosuth¹s project for the exhibition, Seventh Investigation (Art as Idea as
Idea) Proposition One (1970) also relied on the interpolation of mass media.
Kosuth¹s proposition project was conveyed through outdoor billboards, which
presented his six-point proposition text in a variety of formats. The fist
was a billboard located in Chinatown (lower Manhattan) with the proposition
printed in both English and Chinese. There was also an ad in New York¹s The
Daily World, and a banner in Turin, Italy in Italian (which was temporarily
on display at MoMA¹s ³Information² exhibition). The text for the project
was a printed in a plain sans serif font and consisted of a sequence of six

1. To assume a mental set voluntarily.
2. To shift voluntarily from one aspect of the situation to another
3. To keep in mind simultaneously various aspects.
4. To grasp the essential of a given whole; to break up a given whole into
parts and isolate them voluntarily.
5. To generalize; to abstract common properties; to plan ahead ideationally.
6. To detach our ego from the outer world.

Through the text presentation the work was managed to evade being reduced to
a mental image and existed as information free from iconography.
If Haacke and Kosuth¹s projects interacted with political communication
systems, the work included by Acconci, Huebler, and The Architectural
Machine Group attempted to make interventions in more pointedly social
systems. Within the exhibition space, Acconci devised what he referred to as
Room Situation (Proximity), which involved the artist approaching a visitor
in the space of the museum and ³standing near the person and intruding on
his personal space? until he moves away?² Acconci listed three different
³possible realizations² for the piece including his presence everyday, all
day long and when he could not be present, assigning a substitute who would
perform the activity. The third option was that whenever he could not
completely perform the activity, the published statement would ³continue to
present the possibility of the piece².

Rather than encroaching on the visitors¹ physical space as a means of
disrupting the patterns and habits of interaction that have been normalized
in public spaces, Huebler asked the visitors¹ permission to engage in a
private interaction by sharing personal information. Huebler¹s contribution
came in the form of four of his Variable Pieces (1969) which were reprinted
in the catalogue. Variable Piece No. 4 (1969) asked ³anyone who wishes to
participate in the transposition of ?information¹ from one location to
another to follow the procedure described below.² The three-step procedure
asked visitors to write out an ³authentic secret² never before revealed and
put the piece of paper into a box marked ³incoming.² The visitor was told
that the secret would be photocopied and exchanged with another visitor as a
confirmation of the submission. So that in this system of exchange, the
visitor was to reveal a secret in order to receive one.

Different from these linguistic models of interactive systems, The
Architecture Machine Group¹s project SEEK, built an artificial environment
to test interaction between mechanisms, built space and gerbils. The group,
based out of MIT¹s Department of Architecture, was led by Nicolas
Negroponte. SEEK also included a mechanical ³sensing device² controlled by a
central computer that sensed the physical effects of a controlled
environment and attempted to adjust the variables within the environment to
accommodate unexpected changes to its structure and conditions due to the
gerbils¹ erratic behavior. SEEK¹s sensing devise was a long robotic arm
that attempted to manage and contend with the stacked metal blocks that were
scattered over the surface of a large rectangular Plexiglas vitrine, which
formed a living habitat for a half dozen live gerbils, their food and wood
shavings. The sensing arm tried (in vain) to readjust and reestablish order
within the environment and match pace with the gerbils¹ unpredictable
actions. Within this context technology was presented, at least
metaphorically, as an inadequate responsive system to address chaotic

Rather than offering a utopian vision of a future made better through
computing, ³Software¹s² premise and its mixed reception by the art world
compounded the mythic consistency of technology as a mode of obfuscation,
rather than elucidating any clear role for technology in art and vice versa.
More significantly though, the project and its related documentation,
demonstrate that Conceptual art can be read within a context of ³systems and
information.² And in this regard, Conceptual art and technology were never
mutually exclusive, at least not during the period between 1968 and 1970.


12 - Burnham believed that ³two-way communication² was inevitable and
integral to the development of information systems. See Jack Burnham, ³The
Aesthetics of Intelligent Systems,² in On the Future of Art (New York:
Viking Press, 1970):119.

13 - Burnham, Software. exh. cat. (New York: The Jewish Museum), 10.

14 - Burnham, ³Notes on Art and Information Processing,² 11.

15 - Ibid.

16 - Ibid. Nelson as quoted by Burnham.

17 - Ibid.

18 - Burnham, Beyond Modern Sculpture, 318.

19 - Haacke, Kosuth, and Huebler are also singled out here because they were
simultaneously included in MoMA¹s ³Information² show. The complete list of
participants in ³Software² included: John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Donald
Burgy, Anges Denes, Carl Fernback-Flarshheim, Giorno Poetry Systems, John
Goodyear, Les Levine, Van Schley, Sonia Sheridan, Smith-Kettlewell Institute
of Visual Science, Ted Victoria, and Lawrence Weiner.

20 - Hans Haacke, Software, 34.

21 - Burnham points this fact out in his introduction to Software, 11.
However, it is unclear how reliable the computer was and if it functioned
regularly at all. Reviews mention the fact that it was not operational for
the opening of the show. In fact, the whole exhibition was riddled with
technical glitches and setbacks that would become synonymous with any
exhibition involving electronic devices and computers. Burnham¹s own
critique of the project dwelled on the shows numerous conflicts between some
of the artists and the Jewish Museum¹s supporters and on many occasions the
sponsors threatened to shut down the show in its entirety. One result of
this contentious exhibition was that the Jewish Museum¹s Director, Karl Katz
was subsequently let go after the conclusion of the exhibition. See Burnham,
³Art and Technology: The Panacea that Failed² in The Myths of Information:
Technology and Postindustrial Culture (Wisconsin: Coda Press, 1980), 202.
Not only where there technical difficulties, but major creative differences
as well. Two of the artists involved in organizing a film projection
installation, Bob Fiore and Barbara Jarvis ended up sabotaging the film
stock two days prior to the opening to protest their apparent censorship by
the museum. See their account of the events in ³Software Battle,² (Artforum,
November 1970), 41.

22 - Description of the project based on Haacke¹s statement in the Software
catalogue and published reviews including Bitite Vinkler, ³Art and
Information:²Software¹ at the Jewish Museum,² Arts Magazine, September 1970,

23 - Description based on Kosuth¹s statement in Software, 68.

24 - Copied from photo of the billboard, Software, 69.

25 - Details from Acconci¹s published statement in Software, 44.

26 - Ibid.

27 - Software, 35.

28 - Software, 23.


Ashton, Dore. ³New York Commentary.² Studio International, November 1970,

Baker, Kenneth. ³Software, the Jewish Museum.² Artforum, December 1970,

Burnham, Jack. ³The Aesthetics of Intelligent Systems,² in On the Future of
Art. New
York: Viking Press, 1970.

???.³Art and Technology: The Panacea that Failed.² The Myths of
Information: Technology and Postindustrial Culture, edited by Kathleen
Woodward. Madison, Wisconsin: Coda Press, 1980, 200-215.

???. Beyond Modern Sculpture: the Effects of Science and Technology on the
Sculpture of this Century. New York: George Braziller, 1968.

???.²Notes on Art and Information Processing.² Software. exh. cat. New York:
Jewish Museum, 1970, 10-14.

Fiore, Bob and Jarvis Barbara. ³Software Battle.² Artforum, November 1970,

Hultén, Karl. The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age. exh.
New York: Museum of Modern Art and New York Graphic Society, 1968.

ICA Bulletin. Institute of Contemporary Art London, no. 177 (1968): 24.

McShine, Kynaston. ³Introduction.² Information. exh. cat. New York: Museum
of Modern
Art, 1970.

Rorimer, Anne. New Art in the 60s and 70s: Redefining Reality. New York:
Thames and
Hudson, 2001.

Ratcliff, Carter. ³New York Letter.² Art International, November 1970,

Reichardt, Jasia. ³Computer Art.² Cybernetic Serendipity. exh. cat. London:
Institute of Contemporary Art and W&J Mackay Press, 1968.

Vinkler, Bitite. ³Art and Information:¹Software¹ at the Jewish Museum.² Arts
September 1970, 46-49.

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