The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 1.01.05
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2005 23:05:35 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: January 1, 2005


1. Christiane_Paul AT intelligent agent - Vol. 4 No. 3: new
2. loz from provisoire: few weeks to discover and add yours comments

3. Rachel Greene: Fwd: Thailand MAF05: International call for new media
artwork submissions
5. olia lialina: New Media Professor at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart
6. Genco Gulan: WB05- Web Biennial 2005- Open Call for Net Art and Papers

8. Luke Duncalfe: Window OnLine: Somnambulist / Dale Sattler
9. Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: big by Simon Fildes and
Katrina McPherson

+scene report+
10. Stanislav Roudavski: Layers of Performance [ISEA2004]
11. Ophra Wolf: FILE: Save as Glossy Print

12. curt cloninger, ryan griffis, Jim Andrews, kanarinka: Questioning the
Frame (2nd installment)

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Date: 12.19.04
From: Christiane_Paul AT
Subject: intelligent agent - Vol. 4 No. 3: new essays

intelligent agent ­ Vol. 4 No. 3: architecture / sound

available at

intelligent agent is published in a modular format:

+Thematic threads

Threads of Vol. 4 No. 3:



+reviews of games, exhibitions, Web projects, books


//architecture //

+ Ranulph Glanville, Architecture as Ecosystem

Ranulph Glanville approaches buildings as natural ecosystems, an argument
running counter to many centralized approaches to "intelligent buildings"
because it places building occupants in a larger situated system, with
possibilities of emergent behavior. His essay looks at edge conditions --
the boundaries of a building -- and their possibilities as a place for
hypothetical robots or "edge monkeys."

//free radical //

+ Andrea Polli, The Dragonfly and the Peering Locust

Using the dragonfly and the locust as a case study, Andrea Polli examines
how the vision of insects relates to that of humans. Polli discusses the
origins of the theory that the visual scene unfolds over time -- from
portrayal of motion using photography to the description of apparent motion
in Gestalt Psychology -- and connects this theory to current machine vision
research. The essay suggests that interactive moving image technology
presents a unique opportunity to not only portray objects and subjects in
motion, but to portray the experience of the observer in motion.

//sound //

+Eric Redlinger, Sound Night at Share

Eric Redlinger discusses the weekly SHARE party at New York's OpenAir bar --
the east-coast Mecca for real-time performance -- in the context of the
evolution of self-styled VJing.

//probe //

+Manik, A New Page in Art History

//review: tool/stock media//

+ Patrick Lichty, JumpBacks / Video Traxx / Directors' Toolkit

Patrick Lichty reviews JumpBacks, Video Traxx and the Director's Toolkit, a
series of royalty-free stock video and stock imagery for media producers,
and discusses their shortcomings and merits for artists who appropriate
industrial imagery.

For a full Table of Contents, visit

This issue was made possible by funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.

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Date: 12.20.04
From: loz from provisoire <rhizome AT>
Subject: few weeks to discover and add yours comments

we invite you to this original work "en parallèle"
few weeks to discover and add yours comments to the online exhibit of
french net art work
this online exhibition is curated by loz from "provisoire", and
supported by Suzanne Pagé, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Laurence Bossé
and commissioned by museum of modern art of Paris
with collaboration of Rebecca Bournigault, Christophe Bruno, Xavier
Cahen, Gregory Chatonsky, Robert Cottet, Die Intellektronische
Biparietal Projekt, Erational, Thierry Fontaine, Valery Grancher, Loz
from provisoire, Nicolas Malevé, Antoine Moreau, v.n.a.t.r.c ? + Dröne...

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Date: 12.20.04
From: Rachel Greene <rachel AT>
Subject: Fwd: ||||||||| Thailand MAF05 ||||||||| International call for new
media artwork submissions ||||||||||

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Thailand New Media Arts Festival 2005"
<maf05 AT>
Date: December 20, 2004 6:43:44 AM EST
To: rachel AT
Subject: ||||||||| Thailand MAF05 ||||||||| International call for
new media artwork submissions ||||||||||
Reply-To: maf05 AT

Annual International Summit on Creativity in Multimedia & Communication
Bangkok 25-28 February, 2005

International call for new media artwork submissions [public call]
deadline 5th Jan 2005 [extended]

Dear Artists, Curators and New Media dept. instructors:

In Feb 2005, MAF05 presents a series of audio-visual programs, exhibitions,
workshops and seminars that explore the melting of boundaries between
technology and humanity under the topic code: "INTIMACY::DIGITAL SKIN"

International New Media Art submissions in the following areas will be
considered for inclusion in the Festival taking place in Bangkok:

- single and multi-user interactive works (PC only)
- software and generative art (as offline works on CDROM)
- single and multi-screen video art (as mpg files on CDROM / DVD)
- online streaming and live collaborative VJ:DJ performances
- performance art [VJ / DJ / live / stage]
- net art (Online works)

Please file your work submission form online at: >> sign_up

Curators and content partners should contact here:


* * * NEW * * *

Special "Thai commissioned section" - financial support for Thai artists
(Only Thai nationals who spent min. last 3 years in the country)

International visiting artists and performers welcome: MAF05 will
provide up to 20 hotel rooms in central Bangkok for international
guest artists arriving in Thailand for the event.



* * * Admission to all venues is free * * *

Bed Supperclub
Bangkok, 26 Sukhumvit Soi 11
Daily new media art exhibitions, from 8pm-1am

Alliance Française Bangkok
Bangkok, South Sathorn Rd.
Daily video-art screenings, from 7-9pm

British Council Thailand
Bangkok, Siam Square
Daily new media art presentations, 5-8pm

Bangkok, Sukhumvit 63 (Ekkamai)
Stage performances Electronica, DJs and VJs 8pm-1am


Produced by:
The Initiative for Cultural Exchange and Computer Arts (ICECA) Thailand,
in collaboration with Halo Productions Co., Ltd. and Bed Supperclub Bangkok.

Artistic Director: Francis Wittenberger
Networking: Ananda Mathew Everingham, Varalee Prompila
Finance: Thapanat Tassanawat
Marketing: Preeyakorn Chimpibool

Content Partners:
iMage / Beyond Media Festival, Italy <>
BananaRAM Festival, Italy <>
ArtBots, USA <>
IDEA, India
Academy of Fine Arts, Prague <>


source: <>


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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 Kevin McGarry at Kevin AT or Rachel Greene
at Rachel AT

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Date: 12.20.04
From: Linda Lauro-Lazin <LLAUROLA AT>


Submission Deadline: Jan 19, 2005
(No submission fees)

For submission details, visit:

The internationally recognized ACM SIGGRAPH Conference is seeking today's
most innovative digital artwork for the SIGGRAPH 2005 Art Gallery. The 2005
SIGGRAPH Art Gallery will be content driven. The technology will be in the
service of the art.

We are looking for artwork that traces threads through time and space,
figurative and abstract, linear and non-linear, moving and still. We are
particularly interested in 2D, 3D, and screen-based work that examines how
the use of computer graphics relates to the form and content of the artwork.
The exhibit will include media such as, new narrative forms, generative
works, game art, and book arts as well as 2-D and 3-D media.

We invite Art Papers submissions that engage in critical discourse about
digital art and culture.

The submissions will be judged by a pre-eminent group of artists, curators
and critics.

The ACM SIGGRAPH Conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA from July 31 -
August 4, 2005.

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Date: 12.29.04
From: olia lialina <olia AT>
Subject: New Media Professor at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart

New Media Professor at Merz Akademie Stuttgart

We invite applications for a full time position in New Media with focus
on Immersive Environments and /or Interactive Installation.
Responsibilities include teaching and curriculum development in the area
of new media art and design. Candidates should demonstrate critical
engagement with theoretical and cultural issues related to the
development of the discipline in addition to advanced technical skills
in the production of digital media. We are looking for someone who is
committed to program development within the framework of international
co-operation and third-party funded projects, and shows excellence and
innovation through an active professional record.

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Date: 12.31.04
From: Genco Gulan <istanbulmuseum AT>
Subject: WB05- Web Biennial 2005- Open Call for Net Art and Papers

Open Call for Net Art, Web Art, Mobile Art and Call for Papers

The Web Biennial 2005 is the only international bi-annual contemporary art
exhibition/ conference created exclusively for the World Wide Web. The call
starts 01/01/05 and end at the end of 05. No limitation on media or size but
paricipating projects should be send to us as URL's ONLY. An online
conference will be scheduled for fall 2005.

1) We require every proposal to have a custom title as below:

<title>WB05- Name of the Artist- Name of the Project</title>

Please NO redirection or a jump page.

2) No Attachments. All works and papers must be online.
(More info will be available soon for the mobile art.)

3) Only one project from each artist.

4) No Portfolio or commercial sites, please!

Mail proposals to: webbiennial AT

or post it to:

5) We are accepting colloboration/ exhibition proposals from institutions to
participate our event.

Project by Genco Gulan.

Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum, iS.CaM.

GalataPerform, Istanbul; Network Research Lab and AI Lab, Bogazici
University, Istanbul; University of Art and Design, Helsinki; ZKM,

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NEW: Rhizome Member-curated Exhibits

View online exhibits Rhizome members have curated from works in the ArtBase,
or learn how to create your own exhibit.

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Date: 1.01.05
From: Jo-Anne Green <jo AT>


New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. is pleased to announce that with the
support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, 5 net art
projects will be commissioned for the Turbulence web site in a juried
international (open to everyone) competition. Each commission will be $5,000

DEADLINE: March 31, 2005


JURORS: Wayne Ashley (US), Arcangel Constantini (Mexico), Sara Diamond
(Canada), Melinda Rackham (Australia), and Helen Thorington (US).

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Date: 12.20.04
From: Luke Duncalfe <lduncalfe AT>
Subject: Window OnLine: Somnambulist / Dale Sattler

Window OnLine:
Somnambulist / Dale Sattler

Somnambulist is a shockwave and quicktime, for web moderated version of an
installation which explored and recorded a Situationist inspired Derivé
through a local city (recorded as time stamped architectural drawings, short
abbreviated notes and sounds) and as a computer hosted application generated
'drift' through error filled media files. Each file, and associated sound
represent a 'quarter' of the city, a psychogeographical zone, through which
both the user and application traverse through.

Interactivity is restricted to 'pause, or go'. As is with a physical
Derivé, the drifters motion and direction are dictated by the pyschic
pressures of their surrounds. As a user of Somnambulist, you are presented
with a choice, which you must decide upon based on the visual and aural
activity emanating from the computer. You can either stay in the 'quarter'
you are currently located in, or respond and move into a new quarter.

These choices operate at the both the level of the user and at the level of
the machine, which has been coded to sample random selections of the screen
and respond to the rgb levels it finds there. This data, coupled with
sampled audio data and feedback from the human user suggests a similar
'pause or go' choice to the application. The two choices operate in tandem,
with the application deciding to move based on how it 'feels' about the
visuals and audio it is outputting and the user making similar decisions
based on what the application is generating.

Situationist urban theory sort to 're engineer' the impact of city
architecture by subverting its use. By drifting, in response to
architectural pressures, a person En Derivé dislocates themselves from the
overarching capitalist use paradigm of contemporary urban architecture. In
effect, they drift as 'error'. Through its utilisation of quicktime files
manipulated to contain a rendering error Somnambulist is able to dynamically
create visual effects outside of the intended engineering of the quicktime
media architecture. In effect traversing through the projects files, in
error. This approach is also extended into the audio files, which were
recorded on substandard equipment to introduce random pops and static in an
effort to capture some of the sonic dynamics of a city scape.

Window OnLine:

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Date: 12.30.04
From: <artbase AT>
Subject: Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase: big by Simon Fildes and Katrina

Just added to the Rhizome ArtBase ...

+ big +
+ Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson +

The final edit of a dance film is only one ending in a range of infinite
possibilities. The sequence of the material is essentially down to artistic
decisions made at a particular point of time in the edit, usually by the
editor and director of the work.

Hyperchoreography offers an alternative approach. Using digital hypermedia,
Hyperchoreography is a non-linear dance performance 'space', existing in an
interactive, networked medium. The elements are put in place by the
creators, but the shape of the work is decided by the user at the moment of

This work called 'Big' represents one particular train of thought within the
greater concept of Hyperchoreography. It offers the chance to explore a body
of edited material whilst creating a multi-screen video-dance work.

+ + +


Katrina McPherson
Katrina has made many single video-dance works that have been broadcast and
shown at festivals across the world; 'Moment' was awarded the prestigious
'Best Screen Choreography' award at the IMZ Dance Screen Festival. Katrina
received the Creative Scotland award in 2002.

Simon Fildes
As well as editing many of the video-dance works directed by Katrina, Simon
is involved in the on-going development of New Media works in public spaces
and in 2000 he was awarded one of the Scotland's Year of the Artist
residencies. Simon has just completed 2 new media artist in residency
projects in the Highlands of Scotland this year.

Katrina and Simon collaborated on making this web dance work for Alt-W at; and made a series of work about the road the A889 for
the 'Remote' residencies project for New Media Scotland. They have recently
completed a new 30 minute dance film "the Truth" for Ricochet Dance
productions. They have received funding from Scottish Arts council to
develop the Hyperchoreography concept further.

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Date: 12.23.04
From: Stanislav Roudavski <stanislav.roudavski AT>
Subject: Layers of Performance

Have a look at this essay. I know it has been a while since ISEA but NY Arts
Magazine took time printing the thing (Jan/Feb issue or online in their
'Arts Fairs International' section). The pdf's graphic style is very - eh -
sober; they tell me it looks better in print.

I'm curious to hear opinions. Happy reading and happy holidays!

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Date: 1.01.05
From: Ophra Wolf <ophra AT
Subject: FILE: Save as Glossy Print

³FILE: Save as Glossy Print²
by Ophra Wolf

When we arrived in Sao Paulo in late November for the FILE Festival, we
found ourselves in a colossal city ­ the second largest in the world ­ whose
landscape was as familiar and anonymous as most modern urban centers. The
wide, sprawling streets were reminiscent of Los Angeles, the apartment
complexes of Mediterranean cities like Athens and Tel Aviv, and the
population, a motley crew of ethnicities from around the globe and their
many mixes, was surprisingly familiar to a New York resident like myself.
What caught us off guard was our own reaction to the place. Perhaps in our
imaginations we had been constructing a much more wild Brazil, a distant
land on the other side of the hemisphere that promised? What is it we were
looking for?

FILE, which in Portuguese stands for the Electronic Language
International Festival, was conceived by Paula Perissinotto and Ricardo
Barreto and took place at SESI, an elegant concrete building complete with a
theater, a gallery, a book store, a running fountain and the offices of the
Federation of Industries for the State of Sao Paulo. The Festival consisted
of three major elements: the exhibit, which was open from the 23rd of
November to the 12th of December; the Symposium, which took place during the
first four days of the festival and included talks and performances by
academics and artists primarily from Brazil, Northern Europe, the US and
Canada; and Hipersonica on the 27th, a night of DJ¹s and VJ¹s creating sonic
and visual landscapes in an old textile factory turned art space.

In many ways, the content of the festival ­ exhibit, symposium, and
electronic music party included ­ paralleled the structure of its host city:
vast and sprawling, familiar and anonymous at once. And I myself was faced
with a familiar question: what was I looking for? What was I expecting when
I decided to travel to the other side of the world to participate and
experience this new media art festival? There is an air about everything to
do with new media these days that whispers of exciting innovations and
promises of imminent change. Many of us, especially (but not only) those
engaged in some sort of creative activity, are more eager for change than
ever right now. So it¹s not so surprising that we go chasing after promises,
that we will chase around the globe and back. It wasn¹t until I was on the
other side, though, that I stopped to take a breath and observe just what it
was that I had come running after. What?

The short and somewhat cynical answer is: a big glossy catalogue. The
long and deeply personal answer is still unfolding for me, but I¹m sure it
has something to do with an uplifting of spirit and mind. The catalogue is
what I got to take home as recognition of my work; the uplifting is what I,
and many others undoubtedly, are still working for. I wish I could let the
catalogue go as a minor part of a festival that did indeed offer some very
interesting papers and artwork to take in. But I am left with an irritating
sensation that, for the most part, had the festival never happened and only
the catalogue had been printed, the difference would not have been so great.

I admit, this has everything to do with money ­ with both it¹s real and
symbolic value. The artists invited to participate in the festival were
offered neither funds, nor housing, nor contacts for private sources of
funding. This is not completely unusual, given that many artists are already
accustomed to paying, and big, both for creating and showing their work. But
this event was particularly costly, especially for independent American
artists like myself, who had neither an academic infrastructure to support
us nor the government arts council funding that the Canadians and Europeans
were privy to. So the catalogue felt like a pair of frilly underwear given
to someone who desperately needs a warm winter jacket.

Granted, the situation for art funding in Brazil is not so different
than in the US, and this is one point on which the organizers of FILE
deserve an immense amount of congratulations. With no institutional or
governmental support, they created a non-profit organization whose sole
purpose was to organize this event that brought new media artists and
academics from the North American and European continents together with
their Brazilian counterparts. And putting so much energy into making the
thing look good on paper (and on the net ­ there is a pretty website to go
with it) will probably go far towards keeping the festival funded. But on
its own, it can do very little for making the festival a vital meeting

The Symposium, coordinated by Fabiana Krepel, consisted of four days of
back to back talks on ³different subjects related to studies and researches
on media arts and the digital culture as well as new media? tackled by the
theoreticians, artists, activists and researchers that will take part in
it.² The range of the topics in the symposium was huge and seemed to be
organized somewhat haphazardly, with no specific theme to give shape to any
particular day or set of lectures. Most days things were running late, which
rarely left time for questions, much less for extended dialogue aimed at a
collective ?tackling¹ of the issues, and the few talks billed as ³Roundtable
Discussions² were usually four people on stage, taking turns at giving a 15
minute Power Point presentation of their work.

Structuring a symposium around specific themes, creating a focus and
raising explicit questions through the programming itself, or facilitating a
roundtable discussion by asking its participants to speak to a particular
issue in their given field ­ all of this requires a very directed investment
of focused intention and energy. Which is not to say that the organizers of
this event did not invest a hell of a lot of energy in making it happen.
There was clearly an immense amount of work put in to making FILE come to
life, I have no doubt about that. What I question is how conscious the
organizers were about the focus of the work, about the underlying intention
of the festival. What were they looking for? Without this same kind of focus
and intention, artists themselves cannot create meaningful work, and if the
framework in which they present their work is constructed without attention
to the underlying intention of their art, then something of the artwork is
necessarily lost.

The festival, as glamorous as it may have looked on paper, turned out to
be yet another placid exhibit of new media art, attended almost exclusively
by new media artists and their cohorts, with lots of pretty projections, too
many computers to actually look at, and a few buttons to press or sensors to
trigger in the name of interactivity. Having said that, there were a few
pieces in the FILE exhibit that managed to capture the attention of their
audience in a way that both surpassed the technical elements involved and
was intimately wed to them. One of these was Lynn Huges and Simon Laroche¹s
³Perversely Interactive System², a deceivingly simple installation in which
a woman projected onto a long screen would turn to face you and then proceed
to approach you based on your own biofeedback. With your finger on a small
box, you had to turn your attention to your own physical and mental state
and overcome whatever momentary anxiety you might be experiencing in order
for the projected woman to even acknowledge you, and only concentrated
relaxation would draw her closer to you. Spectators were asked to spend much
longer that the customary 45 seconds to experience the piece, and in order
to fully experience it, they had to become more deeply aware of themselves.
Unlike most ?interactive¹ pieces, which are constructed around a reactive
dynamic of cause and effect, ³Perversely Interactive System² was perversely
interactive in that it entered you into a dialogue both with the system in
front of you and with your own system. In this way, it abolished the simple
control mechanisms we are accustomed to calling interactive and created a
feedback cycle between two distinct elements, both of which were in constant

Lali Krotoszynski¹s ³Ocupaçåo² used an even simpler mechanism to
implicate the spectator¹s body in the installation. In a small room, a
projector hung from the ceiling, shining onto a mirror. The mirror was on a
motor, and as it rotated, the image would move throughout the space,
occupying any of the four walls, the floor, the ceiling, corners where the
walls met. In the projection were dancing bodies, sometimes naked, sometimes
in triptych form, sometimes with just a limb or the rapid movements of the
feet showing. As the image moved through space, moments of physical
engagements would appear and disappear, the color and texture of the image
would transform, and the breath, rhythm and volume of the projected movement
became an intimate part of the space itself. As a spectator, you were asked
to dance with the image, to change your own position in order follow its
path in space and to experience the transformations that were occurring as
it passed through and around you.

One more piece that I¹d like to mention (although there were many more
there that were deserving of both mention and attention, and which can be
found in virtual form on the FILE website) is Matthias Gommel¹s ³Delayed²,
which uses both subtle humor and technology to question the way we listen.
Two pilot headsets hang from the ceiling, and donning the gear, two people
face each other and begin to converse. The spoken words are being recorded
and played back to both headphones, so that each person can hear both what
they¹ve said and what the other is saying to them. But the recorded words
are being played back with a delay, so that by the time your partner has
heard what you said, they may have already responded with a question or
statement of their own. The two conversing either have to settle into a
pattern of a very patient and slow conversation, in which they are made to
hear both their own voice and that of the other; or else they simply accept
the cacophony of statements that they throw at one another, some of which
will occasionally overlap or seem to make sense but which, for the most
part, indicate meaningless mumblings between two people who are somewhat
deaf to one another.

Maybe sometimes, in our yearning for a springboard that will catapult us
to the next level, we throw out statements and questions without taking the
time to listen either to our self or our counterpart. Perhaps, as Gommel¹s
piece suggests, if we assumed a slight delay and slowed down enough to
listen to what was being said, a dialogue with content so rich would emerge
that we wouldn¹t need a glossy book to justify it or prove it had happened.

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From: curt cloninger, ryan griffis, Jim Andrews, kanarinka
Subject: Questioning the Frame (2nd Installment)

curt cloninger <curt AT> posted:

One of the things I find interesting and useful (although potentially
cyclical and self-defeating) from deconstruction is the idea of shifting
one's presuppositional critical stance as one proceeds to dialogue with a
text. The danger of this approach is that the critic can be very
disingenuous and snotty, tear everything down, and bury her attack
position(s) under her own shifting critical smokescreen. Such an approach
is easy enough and kind of punk, and was useful in its day, but rarely
builds or solve or contributes anything. But what if the critic isn't
trying to be disingenous? What if she really cares to respond to the
text/artwork in a way that most sympathetically (according to her
necessarily biased notions of "sympathy") responds to the work itself? She
wouldn't always have to write from the same indoctrinated, often irrelevant
perspective; she could adapt her critical perspective based on what the work
itself was trying to accomplish.

It's not such a difficult or impossible approach. I can hate rap music but
write a salient critique of the new Snoop Dog CD based on my understanding
of the genre and its goals. And if I critique enough stuff more or less
fairly and honestly, and you begin to trust me as a critical voice, you can
buy into what I'm saying and weigh it against where you're coming from based
on where you know I'm coming from.

But to come from a Socialist perspective as if it's the politically correct
critical perspective from which everyone ought to be coming, that's just
tired and uninteresting art criticism to me.

ryan griffis wrote:

> this reads like so much too-cool-for-school criticism. you can take
> whatever interests you disagree with, slap a label on it -
> particularly - one that's loaded with the disdain that we seem to have
> for anything "academic" - and dismiss it as insignificant to art, or
> culture period.
> sure there is dogma in just about any ideological position, and some
> don't get beyond what you have to memorize to be part of the "group."
> but you seem to be attacking these things (marxism, feminism, etc )
> as ideological, as if you're own relationship to art (and whatever
> else) is somehow outside of ideology! how do you not impose your
> "critical agenda" on work when you look at/criticize/evaluate a work?
> finding tangential relationships in work is, honestly, what makes art
> interesting for me.

+ + +

ryan griffis <grifray AT> posted:

Forwarded with permission from Brian.

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 17:08:14 +0100 (CET)
From: Brian HOLMES
Subject: <nettime> A Reply to Coco Fusco

As a critic it's important to read your peers, and try to assess the
pertinence of your own work in the mirror of theirs. So I was curious to
read Coco Fusco's recent article on mapping
[ questioning_the_frame].
However, I must say that her continuous assertions of cultural authority
leave me feeling highly ambivalent. On the one hand, the threads of
historical memory she brings up are extremely welcome. On the other, her
unwillingness to engage with current conditions and projects tends to
reduce the past to a complaint: Why isn't it the present anymore?

It's true that the raw fact of being older than the majority of the
people in a given crowd can make you feel uncomfortably lucid. When I
went to a conference on so-called "locative" or GPS-based media at the
RIXC center in Latvia, I found most of the projects quite naive,
developing a few stylistic traits of situationist psychogeography in the
absence of any geopolitical critique of power relations, or any
philosophical critique of instrumental rationality. In effect, a
Cartesian worldview has been built into the computerized technology of
graphic information systems, which are undergirded by megaprojects of
military origin, or what I call "imperial infrastructure." But rather
than just giving a disciplinary lecture with all the answers stated in
general terms, I tried to show how changing conditions had made the
once-subversive traditions of psychogeography quite superficial, to the
point where the aesthetic forms the artists were using seemed to render
the very infrastructure of their projects invisible. And when I recently
published that paper out of context in Springerin, I took the time to
name all the artists and projects in question, so as to establish the
precise referents of the critique [
lang=en]. I wish Coco Fusco would make that kind of minimal effort, as
it would bring her sharp observations into contact with actual projects,
and open up a space of possible transformation.

More to the point: When I began my work on mapping, about four years ago
now, as a direct result of involvement in demonstrations against the
policies of the WTO and IMF, I too felt that the most important
reference was the history of the Third World movements of national
liberation, in their relations to the Western civil rights and new left
movements of the 60s and 70s. In an early text that was finally
published in the book Moneynations, I tried to show how the very concept
of the Third World, and then above all, the reality of the Movement of
Non-Aligned Nations, acted to open up new imaginary and real spaces
within the dominant bi-polar map of the Cold War
[]. I asked the
question whether the emergence of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre
could be compared to the Bandung Conference in 1955. Obviously, the
answer was that it could not: both because the current antisystemic
movements do not (yet) have the strength that Bandung represented, and
because the operative modes of opposition may well have changed
fundamentally since 1955.

The global importance of the Third World movements lay in the new kinds
of international solidarity that they helped provoke. But something
important remains unstated in Fusco's references to these movements, and
this is the fact that the major links that tied them to the First World
do not exist anymore (nor, indeed, do the movements themselves, for we
are talking about specifically national movements in the period of
decolonization). One of these links was an aspiration to create a
non-Stalinist form of communism, according to the examples given by the
successful Cuban and Vietnamese guerrilla insurgencies, and also by
Yugoslav self-management (one must remember that the non-aligned
movement came officially into existence in Belgrade). Another powerful
link was the notion of cultural authenticity, or inherent difference
from the Western norm, as a liberating foundation upon which newly
independent nations could be built. This Third World concept served as a
basis for the struggles toward a multicultural society in the First
World. Today, however, the egalitarian aspiration to a self-managed
communism has no objective touchstone in reality, leaving those who feel
its lack in a deep state of ideological disarray. At the same time, the
notion of cultural authenticity has been largely usurped by nationalist
or fundamentalist projects which, although they have fortunately not
eradicated all work towards equal rights in a multicultural society,
have nonetheless made it very difficult to raise the banner of cultural
or ethnic difference as a rallying-point for international solidarity.

Instead of relying on the old internationalist slogans (Third Worldist
or proletarian), the transnational movements of dissent that gathered
strength throughout the 1990s tried to use the communicative power of
the discourses of human rights that had gained currency in the 80s,
largely through the resistance of people in the former Eastern bloc to
totalitarianism, and in Latin America to dictatorship. It was
subsequently necessary, in the late 90s, for the Western participants in
these transnational movements to take the further step of putting their
own bodies on the line, of taking direct action against the
international economic institutions, in order to go beyond the abstract
character of the human rights discourse. This was a way of responding,
in the overdeveloped countries, to the sacrifices of the many "IMF
riots" that had been held, often at great cost of life, in what was now
being called the Global South. Anyone who believes this step was taken
by middle-class white kids acting on internet fantasies, in the absence
of direct input from social movements around the world, quite obviously
didn't go to any of the demonstrations and paid no attention to the
planning process or the reports.

The point, however, is not to suggest that a brief flare-up of worldwide
protest has brought about any substantial change. It is rather to recall
what a difficult and long-term effort is really needed, both to grasp
the way that transnational state capitalism now functions, and to
articulate large-scale resistance. When Josh On [] or
Bureau d'Etudes [] make their
complex charts of contemporary power relations, one can be assured that
the cold and abstract character of the results is very painful to them.
I can testify, particularly in the second case, that they are acutely
aware of what is missing from such documents: namely, some affective
indication of resistance from below, who does it, how they work and why.
What has been achieved in such cartography projects, however, is a
contribution to the very large-scale effort to rebuild a critical grasp
of the oppressive forces that create the dominant map of the world. This
kind of power-mapping is a necessary prelude to any effective resistance
or counter-proposition. The fact that the difference between such
efforts and the current military maps used by the Pentagon does not
appear clearly on American TV is hardly something you can blame the
artists for! There is a difference between general culture critique and
constructive critique directed toward people carrying out specific

Somewhat like Coco Fusco, I often wonder why contemporary artists appear
so broadly unable to infuse the dominant map with representations of -
or even better, direct links to - the many and diverse dissenting groups
and alternative philosophies that are now emerging in the world, or that
have remained active over decades. Unlike Coco Fusco, however, I don't
think it's useful or necessary to berate artists today for not having
been born earlier. The great philosophical frameworks of national
liberation and egalitarian self-management that were able to articulate
far-flung resistance movements in the past are inoperative in our time.
The urgency is for real individuals of all generations, on all
continents, to put their heads and hearts together and create new
articulations. The specific job of writers and organizers is then to
give those articulations conceptual clarity and popular currency, so
that they can effectively challenge the absurd world-views presented on
American TV.

As to artists, for whom the naked power structures of the contemporary
world must now be quite visible, I encourage them to delve more deeply
into the diverse efforts that are being made to resist the imposition of
a homogeneous control structure on the entire world. This requires
looking outside the boundaries of class, ethnicity and nationality, as
certain artists and intellectuals of previous generations effectively
did. To live up to the great examples of the past then means imagining
something quite different for the future. Need it be said that certain
kinds of imagination can serve as the first steps towards a
transformation of reality?

+ + +

Jim Andrews <jim AT> replied:

I've been following the Fusco thread with interest and curiosity.

Brian Holmes says: "In effect, a Cartesian worldview has been built into the
computerized technology of graphic information systems, which are
undergirded by megaprojects of military origin, or what I call "imperial
infrastructure." What is a "Cartesian worldview" to Brian? It seems like
he's referring to something more than a Cartesian co-ordinate system (never
mind that GPS must surely be working with spherical geometry, at some
levels, since it's global).

Also, he says a long-term effort is needed "both to grasp the way that
transnational state capitalism now functions, and to articulate large-scale
resistance." What is "transnational state capitalism". Is it 'transnational

An interesting post perhaps in need of elaboration and clarification?

+ + +

kanarinka <kanarinka AT> added:

I thought I would post this response here as well, since I was
following the responses on rhizome as well.

Begin forwarded message:

> From: kanarinka <kanarinka AT>
> Date: January 1, 2005 12:13:25 PM EST
> To: Aileen Derieg <emonk AT>
> Cc: nettime-l AT
> Subject: Re: <nettime> Questioning the Frame

> I too have followed this post on different lists with much interest as
> I am currently writing a thesis and a journal article for Cartographic
> Perspectives on intersections between cartography/art. While I agree
> that Coco raises important questions about "categories of embodied
> difference", I find the lack of specific examples in her essay very
> disappointing. She discusses "new media mantras", "new media culture"
> and "new media theory" without giving us specific information on what
> these terms mean to her, who uses these terms and for what purpose.
> The essay accuses, but it isn't clear who, specifically, is
> implicated.
> The definition of maps as purely spatial presentations of an
> inherently panoptic and omniscient point of view ignores a whole field
> of projects that are engaging with geographical location in a way that
> privileges duration, embodiment, and particularity over the
> panopticism of traditional "maps". As these projects are shifting the
> borders and boundaries of art, they are also participating in
> redefining what constitutes a map and what constitutes a "mapping
> practice". Many of them critique traditional mapmaking just as Coco
> does (e.g. what is left off of the map? is a truly important question
> that many projects _do_ address). These projects are becoming known as
> Critical Cartography. What is at stake in most of these projects is
> performance and difference, not representation and identity.
> These projects use Deleuze's idea of a map as an abstract machine
> rather than the traditional panoptic, representational map --
> "What can we call such a new informal dimension? On one occasion,
> Foucault gives it its most precise name: it is a ?diagram¹, that is to
> say a ?functioning, abstracted from any obstacle ? or friction and
> which must be detached from any specific use¹. The diagram is no
> longer an auditory or visual archive but a map, a cartography that is
> coextensive with the whole social field. It is an abstract machine. It
> is a machine that is almost blind and mute, even though it makes
> others see and speak."
>  Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. : University of Minnesota Press, 1988.
> Here is an excellent set of critical cartography links:
> And some other important examples:
> Glowlab -
> Alex Villar -
> spurse -
> Sifting the Inner Belt ­
> The Institute for Infinitely Small Things -
> Following the Man of the Crowd ­
> Lee Walton ­
> W.T.L.F.P.A.P.T.O.T.L. ­
> Natalie Loveless ­
> Psy.Geo.Conflux ­
> The Institute for Applied Autonomy ­
> Bureau d¹Etudes & the Tangential University -
> Cheryl L¹Hirondelle ­
> The Interventionists AT MassMOCA -
> Valerie Tevere
> I am currently working with Denis Wood to compile a catalog of these
> projects, so please email me more if you know of them.
> Best,
> kanarinka
> On Dec 31, 2004, at 12:28 PM, Aileen Derieg wrote:
>> Since Coco Fusco first posted her article "Questioning the Frame" to
>> the faces list, I have been fascinated by the diversity of responses
>> across various different mailing lists. Comparing the different
>> responses from different lists, though, something is bothering me.

>> Whereas the post on faces led to some questions and further
>> discussions that I found very helpful, some of which struck a strong
>> chord, I find the tone of responses on other lists rather puzzling.
>> In the compilation of responses that appears on "networked
>> performance"
>> (, I am
>> surprised by some of the "disqualifying" remarks (e.g. "she seems to
>> have a narrow understanding of what artists are doing with locative
>> media"; that she always uses the "same dialectics" in her criticism
>> and it is "of course better if those arts are done by white male
>> artists"; "the lazy generality of CF's rant") interspersed with
>> energetic accounts of locative media projects that would not be
>> thought deserving of Coco's criticism if they were properly
>> understood and appreciated.

>> Since I clearly fall into the - probably large - category of people
>> who don't properly understand and appreciate locative media projects
>> (I'm not even sure I understand the term, even though I have read it
>> so often), I can't comment on the content of the responses addressing
>> the relevance and political implications of these kinds of projects.
>> What I find somehow disturbing, though, is that all of these
>> responses appear to be written by men.

>> Maybe I have missed something, since I am not subscribed to all the
>> lists where Coco's article has been discussed, maybe there have been
>> other responses from women aside from faces that I haven't seen.
>> Maybe this is not a coincidence, though, and maybe all the well
>> informed descriptions of locative media projects are actually missing
>> the point of Coco's criticism.

>> In a way, I hesitate to bring up the question of the various
>> respondents' gender: Haven't we gotten past that yet? Is it really
>> *still* an issue that needs to be discussed? I wish that it were not,
>> but that still doesn't seem to be the case. In her article, Coco
>>brings up the "categories of embodied difference such as race, gender
>> and class", but aside from some irritation expressed by a few (I'll
>> take a wild guess: young? white?) men, I don't see the question of
>> embodied difference being addressed. How can that be left out of art
>> dealing with ideas of "place"?

>> Or am I missing something else here?

>> In her most recent post to nettime, Coco explained the context in
>> which she wrote her article, the "jargon" that she was responding to.
>> Maybe it is not "jargon" to people immersed in this specific field,
>> but for myself I can only say that I was happy to finally see someone
>> questioning the oh-so-familiar terms in the school's description. I
>> don't think that questioning Coco's qualifications for raising these
>> questions is an appropriate response, and I don't think that more and
>> more detailed descriptions of individual projects changes that.

>> In any case, I look forward to Coco's response to Brian Holmes' post
>> - I hope to learn something yet.
>> Aileen

>> # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
>> # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
>> # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
>> # more info: majordomo AT and "info nettime-l" in the msg
>> body
>> # archive: contact: nettime AT

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