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: 2.18.05
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 14:32:04 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: February 18, 2005



2. Kevin McGarry: seeks Design and Usability Consultant
3. Jo-Anne Green: SIGGRAPH 05: CALL for Networked_Performance PANEL
4. John Fillwalk: Graduate Assistantships available in Electronic Art and

5. v: zoom

6. Trebor: Interview with Elizabeth Goodman

7. Pau Waelder: Pornographic Coding
8. curt cloninger: Re: BOOK.REVIEW: Internet Art by Rachel Greene

9. Jo-Anne Green, Jim Andrews, Pall Thayer, Kate Armstrong, Michael
Szpakowski: Turbulence Commission: "Grafik Dynamo" by Kate Armstrong and
Michael Tippett

+commissioned for
10. joni taylor: Transmediale 2005

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Date: 2.14.05
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>


Join John Oswald, Kenneth Goldsmith (UbuWeb) and Douglas Kahn (author of
Noise, Water, Meat) online in a discussion around the implications of
cultures of exchange on artistic practice. Moderated by Lina Dzuverovic
(Electra), the discussion is titled Cultures of Exchange/Politics Of Sound
and is part of London Tate Modern's online season d_culture. The forum
focuses on the creative applications and ramifications of the cultures of
downloading, sampling and cut-ups and runs until 23 March 2005. The forum
follows on from Sound and the 20th Century Avant-Garde course Co-produced by
Tate Modern and Electra in December 2004.

Starting points for discussion include: The Politics of Sound, History of
Sound Collage, Collecting, Artists' Practice, Distribution and the Culture
of Exchange.

*go to


The Politics of Sound / The Culture 0f Exchange

The practice of cutting-up, appropriating and repurposing existing content
in the creation of new artworks was central to 20th century artistic
practice. From Marcel Duchamp¹s ?Erratum Musical¹ (1913) which spliced
together dictionary definitions of the word ?imprimer¹ with a score composed
from notes pulled out of a hat, via William Burroughs¹s and Brion Gysin¹s
?cut-up¹ technique used to allow new meanings to ?leak in¹ by re-cutting
existing texts, to John Oswald¹s releases which mixed and altered several
musical sources, the history of the 20th century avant-garde can be read as
the history of appropriation.

The availability, immediacy and ease of use of digital networked
technologies in the last decade has made the link between the notion of 'the
original' and artistic value more tenuous than ever, ushering in a new
chapter in the debate around appropriation and the role of the author.

The early years of the Internet enabled independent musical and artistic
networks to flourish and operate somewhat ?under the radar¹ of commercial
production, often establishing their own gift economies and adhering to
rules decided by the network participants themselves. But this brief period
of ?making it up as we go along¹ when it comes to file sharing, distribution
and exchange is coming to an end in the face of endless attempts by the
music industry to understand, co-opt, capitalize on and engage with cultures
of exchange introduced by online networks and grassroots initiatives.

Borrowing, file-sharing and re-purposing have over the years caused vicious
lawsuits involving corporate lawyers vs. small music labels, artist
collectives and college kids. But in an unlikely twist, today we are
beginning to see an apparent openness towards non-commercial models of
production from some unexpected sources. Tracks constructed by remixing,
repurposing and sampling are now as ubiquitous on MTV as they are on
releases by home-grown labels. Major labels tendency to appropriate
strategies used by bedroom labels, such as releasing records on white labels
in an attempt to launch a supposed anonymous release are now regular
features across record shops. Last year David Bowie¹s website launched a
competition in which fans were invited to remix tracks from his new album.
The prize winner walked away with a a prize including an .mp3 release of
their track on Bowie¹s website plus the handsome reward of a brand new car.
The very fact that the ?mash up¹ phenomenon of recent years almost
immediately became embraced by the commercial music industry points to a new
strategy ­ that of ?if you can¹t beat them, join them¹.

>From endless copyright lawsuits on the one hand, to winning a new car for
remixing David Bowie's album - the issue of repurposing other people's work
is a contentious one positioned between the flourishing open source culture
and commercial interests of the content industry.

'Open source' models of sharing and exchange promise to not only affect
future models of production, exhibition and distribution but to radically
redefine the future of cultural production at large. With this steady stream
of new models and ideas comes a constant redefining of ways in which we
produce, commission, exhibit, distribute and archive artworks. The murky
waters of copyright, authorship and ownership are constantly being
re-examined by cultural producers, consumers and the industry alike.

This forum comes with a wealth of resources featuring a broad range of
examples, positions, and views gathered from recent talks, events and
discussions held at Tate Modern. These files are aimed at illustrating the
current landscape of sonic production and offering varied historical
perspectives. I hope that we can use these resources as a starting point in
the discussion of the longer term ramifications of these issues on artistic

I would like to begin the forum by asking the panelists a very basic


It seems to me that arts institutions have ?woken up¹ to issues mentioned
above fairly recently (in the past few years). Why are discussions around
sampling and sound of particular interest to us at this point in the context
of Tate Modern?

Posted by Lina Dzuverovic on Jan 31, 2005 2:12 PM

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Date: 2.15.05
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: seeks Design and Usability Consultant

Design and Usability Consultant

+ + +, a non-profit organization focused on new media art, is seeking
a Design and Usability Consultant. The Consultant will work closely with the
Content Coordinator to help plan new site features: Your responsibilities
will be to help define a rich, intuitive user experience, and produce
deliverables using HTML and CSS. The Consultant is not responsible for
website programming.

Our priorities are ease-of-use, functionality, and the definition of clear,
simple categories for use by producers and consumers of online content. The
ability to create a flashy or embellished interface is not important, though
an eye for a uniform and lively arrangement of site elements is. Candidates
will be consulting on pages used to publish, read, search and syndicate
content to the site. Familiarity with contemporary online community
technologies (, Craigslist, blogs, etc.) is a plus.

This position allows for off-site work, but candidates need to be in
commuting distance of New York for frequent short meetings.

To apply, please email your detailed cover letter and resume by February 25
to Kevin McGarry at kevin AT Interviews will be held the week of
February 28 in New York.

+ + +

Hours: Flexible and variable. Part-time.
Start Date: March 1, 2005
End Date: Summer 2005
Location: New York (Chelsea)
Salary: Commensurate with experience.

+ + +

Please distribute this announcement freely.

Direct any questions to Kevin McGarry at kevin 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 Kevin McGarry at Kevin AT or Rachel Greene
at Rachel AT

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Date: 2.15.05
From: Jo-Anne Green <jo AT>
Subject: SIGGRAPH 05: CALL for Networked_Performance PANEL PARTICIPATION


Networked Performance: How Does Art Affect Technology and Vice Versa? This
panel addresses issues of performance, embodiment, social collaboration,
public authoring, and play through computationally dependent cultural
practices such as wireless culture, location technologies (GPS), grid
computing, sensing, and reactive (sensor-based) interactivity. Mobile
computing and network practice cut across all aspects of practice and
research, engaging optimization, visualization, tool creation, hacking,
etc. Panelists will be artists, technologists, educators, and scientists
interested in the evolution of networked production, creation, and
performance. Panel position papers must be received by 6 pm Pacific time, 1
March 2005.

Untitled Document Jo-Anne Green, Co-Director
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.:
New York: 917.548.7780 ? Boston: 617.522.3856
New American Radio:
Networked_Performance Blog and Conference:

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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: 2.18.05
From: John Fillwalk <jfillwalk AT>
Subject: Graduate Assistantships available in Electronic Art and Animation

Graduate Assistantships available in Electronic Art and Animation at Ball
State University. MA in Electronic Art and Animation. Areas of study:
Digital Cinema, 3D Modeling and Animation, Interactive Art, Virtual Reality,
Digital Imaging. Software includes Maya Unlimited, SoftImage XSI, RealViz,
Apple, Adobe, etc. Stipend, tuition waiver, new state of the art facilities,
visiting artist program, travel abroad, internal grants.

Please visit:,,25889--,00.html

Please contact John Fillwalk at jfillwalk AT for more information.

John Fillwalk
Electronic Art and Animation / Artist-in-Residence, Center for Media Design
Ball State University

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Date: 2.18.05
From: v <v AT>
Subject: zoom

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Date: 2.13.05
From: Trebor <trebor AT>
Subject: Interview with Elizabeth Goodman

Teaching for the Wireless Commons

Interview with Elizabeth Goodman
As part of WebCamTalk1.0

Trebor Scholz: Please present your thoughts on new media education, in
particular your course "Site-Specific: Wireless Networks and Urban Art

EG: This course was a mixed graduate-undergraduate seminar I taught at the
San Francisco Art Institute with Alison Sant. The course examined radio
signal as a medium for expression in its own right, with its own aesthetic
qualities and cultural significance. It was a diverse class, with
undergraduate and graduate students. The class focused specifically on
sensing and representing wireless signals; we did not intend it as a
technical class centered around any one tool. Using whatever medium they
preferred, students were to create their own interventions into what Fiona
Raby and Tony Dunne have called the â??Hertzian spaceâ?? of San Francisco.
Final projects included a game, a proposal for a video installation, and a
GPS-coordinated city tour. There have only been a few classes on wireless
networks as art medium thus far, so there werenâ??t many models to draw

TS: What did you learn from the experience of teaching a course with so
little precedence?

EG: Learning from the experience of this course and from my own experience
in school, I'd like to point to some larger issues about the state of
interactive art education:

1) Art education: training for what?
2) The importance of historical perspective
3) Defining core curriculum
4) Moving the computing arts away from the computer

TS: Please describe the course more in detail.

EG: The Art Institute in San Francisco, for those of you who might not be
familiar with it, is well known for its historical emphasis on conceptual
art. Alison and I found that, as so often happens, our students were more
comfortable with the conceptual. Partly, this is because itâ??s easier to
talk than build. But the greater issue was unfamiliarity with the underlying
technologies of wireless networks â?? the physics of radio waves, the
proliferating transceivers, the logging programs and the graphic interfaces
â?? not to mention the pervasive fear of the unfamiliar. Even with the loan
of wifi- , Bluetooth-, and GPS-enabled iPaqs from the Exploratorium, some
were reluctant to experiment. And those that did were often daunted by the
amount of time they had to spend troubleshooting the devices. An increasing
number of people comes to courses such as ours with some knowledge of
computers, but only few are comfortable with code.

Indeed, some of our students came in with far less knowledge of the tools
of new media artists than we had expected. â??New mediaâ?? stretches from
video and sound editing, to image manipulation, to animation, to interaction
design, and code. The question of documenting and presenting a new media
project gets complicated when youâ??ve never used a digital camera or
created a web page. In addition, students were dismayed by the seemingly
endless list of expensive equipment that visiting artists recommended.
Laptops, GPS devices, PocketPCs, wifi-cards, specialized radio receiversâ?¦
Some felt that the medium was simply unaffordable on a student budget, and
the school was not planning on picking up the bills.

TS: This is a phenomenon that you also find with much of recent
location-based cultural practices that require a whole set of hardware that
it still unaffordable to most city dwellers.

EG: Thereâ??s an interesting and common phenomenon that happens when
students â?? anyone, really â?? attempts a new medium. You called it
â??techno-determinism,â?? and I agree. Itâ??s a kind of blindness. The sheer
difficulty of making any headway with unfamiliar and imperfect technologies
such as PocketPCs running an interface to a Bluetooth GPS module, or a Flash
animation, leads to the mistaken belief that the technologies themselves are
the most interesting part of a project.

TS: How do you approach the confluence of art, theory and technology?

EG: Given studentsâ??s understandable fears of new, unfamiliar, and
un-user-friendly technologies, we need to actively reward exploration,
experimentation, and sheer determination. However, the class as a whole
suffers when the focus of discussion and critique moves from developing and
expressing concepts to solving technical problems. Steering a course between
technophobia and techno-obsession is harder than it sounds. One of the great
challenges, I learned, of teaching â??new mediaâ?? classes that are not
designed to be technical workshops is keeping promising concepts (that are
often technologically interesting as well) from derailing into technological
minutia. Throughout the class, Alison and I developed some strategies in
response to techno-phobia, techno-obsession, and the sheer expensiveness of
electronic equipment.

TS: How do you link these emerging cultural practices to their backgrounds
in the history of technology, and culture at large.

EG: There is a tendency among the techno-obsessed to think that â??new
mediaâ?? is somehow the product of a catastrophic, unbridgeable break with
older tools and practices. Alison and I tried to locate the class within a
longer history of site specific art and urban engagement. We started by
asking students to think critically about the notion of â??site,â?? drawing
on Robert Smithsonâ??s work, the notion of â??non-sitesâ?? and on Gordon
Matta - Clarkâ??s building deconstruction projects. We also used sources
from urban theory, the Situationists and asked students to think about how
we come to know a city â?? how we travel through it, how we map it, how we
remember it. We found that bridging the old and the new produced richer
conversations in new students â?? which is no surprise â?? but also created
a comfort zone for San Francisco Art Institute students who were already
familiar with mid-twentieth century art movements.

TS: You mentioned that a few weeks into the class you asked students to
switch off their computers and go to the drawing board.

EG: Yes, drawing and sketching also proved a useful introduction to the
ideas and methods of the class. One of our most successful class exercises
required students to create a map of the campus using only mobile phones,
paper, and pencils. Working in teams, students had to both agree on how to
represent mobile phone signal strength but also what areas they found most
significant. The resulting critiques allowed us to talk about some core
issues: the representation of temporality, definitions of site, and
visualization of the invisible.

In fact, mobile phones became a cheap and accessible medium for students
daunted by the expense or unfamiliarity of wifi-enabled laptops and GPS
devices. For those of us who think in terms of code, it can be useful to
step back and see mobile phones as a platform for development but also
simple sensors in their own right. One student even used his mobile phone as
a kind of game wheel, dynamically â??spinningâ?? paths through the city
based on signal strength.

I would have loved to have my students build applications for mobile phones.
But because the class blended art theory and practice, we had to think
realistically about time management. We simply did not have enough time to
both introduce key concepts and teach programming. As well, showing a
project in a gallery is very different than supporting it on a city-wide
level. Moving from the university lab to the streets means asking students
to simplify their technical needs as much as possible.

TS: Could you come back to the four main issues that you introduced earlier?
You started off with "Art education: training for what?"

EG: One of the subtexts running through in-class discussion was the desire
to be taught specific tools â?? Photoshop or Flash, for example. There is a
lot of fear about the high cost of education in North America, about getting
jobs, and that is reflected in these demands for vocational training. I
think many will agree with me when I say that undergraduate art courses
should not focus on software. Defining education by the tools currently in
vogue reduces learning to a set of instruction manuals. As we have all
discovered, learning is often more a changing set of practices than
abstract, static data.

Which brings me to my second point: defining a new media core curriculum.
I think student calls for software-based training indicate a deep
insecurity. Many students are not sure what they are supposed to know and
how they are supposed to learn it. That is a very disconcerting situation.
And part of the role of a faculty member is to answer those questions
through curriculum development.

A curriculum is â?? or should be â?? the articulation of a communityâ??s
understanding of disciplinary boundaries: what they value, what they
exclude, what they require. I had a fairly traditional undergraduate art
education, based around a choice of prerequisite classes: drawing,
sculpture, photography, graphic design. Drawing was mandatory. As a
masterâ??s student at New York University, I had another core curriculum:
programming, basic electrical engineering, visual design, and
communications. Everything was mandatory. Communications included training
in Photoshop, video editing, etc â?? but it came wrapped in a larger
conversation about the social significance of technologies.

I personally believe digital media core curricula should include programming
and drawing. But Iâ??m not the deciding factor in discipline-wide curriculum
development. The faculty of every school has the responsibility to decide
what their students should learn. I donâ??t think weâ??d see wildly
divergent curricula. But internal conversations need to happen so that
consensus can emerge and students get consistent messages about what they
need to succeed.

TS: An additional starting point was your emphasis of moving the computing
arts away from the computer. Please elaborate.

EG: To me, this is perhaps the most important point: moving the computing
arts away from the computer. One of our greatest struggles during the class
was the fixation on the technical at the expense of the conceptual. We
suggested refocusing projects, but more than once we found that students did
not believe that sketching â??countedâ?? as part of their work as digital
artists. Yet in retrospect, itâ??s significant that the semesterâ??s most
successful exercise was based on drawing.

For us, the lesson was that teaching the digital arts should not be
confined to digital media. Many institutions without the budget for
expensive equipment can use diagrams and formal logic as a proxy for
circuitry. Nothing can totally replace learning by doing, but teaching the
underlying principles of computing still helps students. As Casey Reas
points out, code creates the tools we use â?? itâ??s an important medium in
itself. I think that teaching drawing can serve as an important bulwark
against the fixation on technology, and it can remind students to focus on
the underlying ideas that they strive to communicate.

So, I see several issues: I feel conflicted about the perception of the
teaching of "new media" as something that is completely new. Another issue
is thinking solely of what we produce as solely a function of â??media.â??
I think we'll do ourselves and our students a service if we think less about
newness, less about a specific media, and more about continuing art
practices based around the implications of computing.


Elizabeth Goodman's design, writing, and research focuses on critical
thinking and creative exploration at the intersections of new digital
technologies, social life and urban spaces. She has a master's degree from
New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program and has spent
this fall as a visiting lecturer on site specific art and wireless networks
at the San Francisco Art Institute. For a course bibliography visit More examples of Elizabeth's work in
urban gaming and cellphone interfaces can be found at

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Date: 2.18.05
From: Pau Waelder <pau AT>
Subject: Pornographic Coding

Pornographic Coding

Florian Cramer and Stewart Home

Crash conference paper, Feb. 11, 2005

   Program code is like pornography. It has linear logic, but no meaning.
   There is an accumulation of things already known. The focus is always
   on the same explicit facts. Repetition and boredom rule.
   (Adapted from a Neoist slogan)

   Art is sanctioned pornography.
   (Neoist slogan)

1  We demand a shamanic pornography

Capitalist ``progress'' destroys the imagination through a frenzy of the
visible. What we see we no longer need to imagine. A a famous zero from
the popsicle academy was once moved to write that every time a man had an
erection it was a triumph of the imagination. Power to the imagination,
and to sex - for they are one and the same thing. Pornographers of the
world close your eyes. You have nothing to lose but your bodily fluids! It
is time to decondition ourselves by going beyond the known world.

The shamans of old ingested psychedelic mushrooms, and today we are
further armed with a battery of chemically synthesised drugs including
ecstasy and LSD. These psychedelics are psychic elevators that can power
us through the seven levels of human consciousness. The first four levels
of consciousness can be reached in ordinary everyday life. Level Five
requires either chemical assistance or long hours of arduous interaction
with your computer, and when you hit this level sexual activity is vastly
enhanced. Once you go above Level Five consciousness you don't necessarily
need coitus. Indeed, at Level Six you are telepathic and sexually combined
with your fellow hackers, and this integration is even greater at Level
Seven (aka total fucking zero and one pornography).

Drugs and code are the ancient and modern tools with which we can
investigate our own minds while turning our bodies into one vast erogenous
zone. Our message to purveyours of representational porn is HANDS OFF
(OUR) EJACULATIONS (both male and female). WE WANT TO CUM IN ALL THE
Jean Cocteau was able to come through the sheer power of his imagination,
he could do this without using his hands to manipulate his genitals. Let's
keep our hands free to imput date on our computer terminals and use the
convulsive power of codes to bring us to orgasm.

2  Pornography as popular computing

The effectiveness of art is generally hard to judge. Pornography as one of
the arts creates ecstatic perception, triggering arousal only through
symbolic codes. Cybersex is by no means new, porn is its oldest device.
Computation and programming have likewise been known in pornography for
centuries. In the 120 Days of Sodom, Sade imagines a ceaseless execution
of coded game rules. There is no single point of originality, but only
combinations computed out of a set of sex partners and their organs. Porn
as speculative programming has been long neglected. Along the lines of
.walk by, we demand psychogeographical computers built
from pornographic imagination and shamanic sex acts.

Carl van Bolen, author of The History of Eroticism (1966) and Eduard
Fuchs, author of The History of Erotic Art, coin a programming language of
Greek-Latin terms for those combinations. But only with modern day
commercial pornography do those exhaustive computations became real. A
mainstream porn video shop like Erotic Video Service in Berlin with its
24,000 tapes and DVDs for rent [] could be called a
pornographic Library of Babel, based on a brute force algorithm of sheer
masses of data. The poets of the French Oulipo group, the ``workshop of
potential literature,'' which from the 1960s onwards explored algorithmics
and formal restraints in writing, announced a chapter for pornography,
Oupornpo, but this seems to have remained a dirty old man's joke.
Contemporary writer Simon Strong makes up for it in his forthcoming novel
66mindfuck99 for which he created ``a list of criteria defining legal and
extra-legal sex acts,'' arranging them with help of a spreadsheet to what
he calls ``an optimal set of erotic episodes.''

Does the potential of pornography exhaust itself in the simple mechanics
of sexual combinations? Surely not, although we want to show that it is
too easy to sweepingly denounce this approach. Through its minimal
variations in endless repetition, it is clear that pornography has become
purely parodic, in other words, that each pornographic coupling, scene,
image becomes the parody of another, or the same in a deceptive form. Ever
since pornography started to circulate, an effort at total identification
has been made, because each pornographic detail ties one operation to
another. All pornography would be visibly connected if one could discover
at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of Ariadne's thread
leading pornographic codes into their own labyrinth. But their coupling is
no less irritating than the copulation of bodies. And when I scream I AM
PORNOGRAPHIC, an integral erection results, because the mere verb ``to
be'' is the vehicle of sexual frenzy.

3  Pornography in Stewart Home's fiction

I included large chunks of repetitive pornography in novels such as Blow
Job and Cunt because few publishers would consider putting out books of
fiction that were less than sixty thousand words long. By including
essentially the same pornographic scene on every other page I only.needed
to write about thirty thousand words. Bergson claimed that repetition was
the basis of all humour and I certainly found using it as a device to
expand my books to a length that was acceptable to the publishing industry
side-splittingly funny. I was also convinced that if anyone was sexually
aroused by my pornographic material (some of which was lifted directly
from out-of-copyright sources) then that was a tremendous achievement.
It's a demonstration of shamanic power to be able to laugh and have an
orgasm at the same time. The imagery I used in my early novels was
shamanic too, it was conceived as a revelation of the true nature and
scope of the unconscious, a sudden shift away from the standpoint of the
atomised individual to the point of view of the entire cosmic movement: a
`timeless psychedelic moment' in which the universe is experienced in the
act of waking up and becoming aware of itself. One could find the
beginnings of the cosmic metaphors I used in pulp fiction, where
characters having sex might be described as no longer in control of their
bodies because `the DNA had taken over'. I sought to extent such imagery
until it was on a par with the visions of the shamans of old. In order to
do this I would write about DNA codes being scrambled and unscrambled
across the muscular structure structure of my bulk, about the sexual act
leading me to imagine myself as the first amphibian to emerge from the sea
and feel the warmth of the sun on my back, about genetically encoded
memoires of the first star exploding and about being out on the mudflats
of pre-history...

4  The eroticism of boredom

I.I.I.I am. My identity. Mine. I exchange it with another and step outside
where the sun is shining. Another person walks up to me and gives me some
words. I respond by giving her some pleasure I have with me.

If you use words often enough they become interchangeable. Infinity,
limitation, enthusiasm, depression, imagination, concretion. Give me back
pleasure. I need to get more words with it. Chasing your mind's tail, the
back of your image unfolds into warm breeze. Throaty sound and smell of
petal marshland. Five minute stare into eyes of another being. Breaking
the silence, I say ``I wanna go down on you.'' Stepping back and removing
pleasure, giving words. Is this porn?

Pornography. The mind is pornographic. I shape the word ``cunt'' in it,
only to prove to myself that there is obscenity. Cities, streets, romantic
dreams of the perfect dirty image flickering like a single frame of film.
Slow down the projection and blink while you watch it.

5  Pornography in dreams

   Pornography in dreams
   Pornography in books
   Pornography in cars
   Pornography in advertising
   And everywhere repression
   Repressed living as the expression of everyday life
   Free your mind and your ass will follow
   Pick it up, let it move, make it happen
   Go with the code
   Arm yourself with drugs, magic and computing
   Fuck with fucking and drift into abstraction
   Zeros and ones turn me on

6  Pornography in computing

Computing has been sexual ever since John von Neumann, the creator of
modern-day computer architecture, conceived of self-replicating automata.
Nowadays, they translate into computer viruses and the rhetoric of
preventing infection uses the same concepts and terminology as rhetoric
about preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Computer users know that
the electronic message ``I love you'' is just as true as its
non-electronic equivalent, meaning in reality ``I want to fuck with you.''

If codes can fuck your computer, where's the porn that depicts them?

Porn, of course, flows through computers in abundance, and software has
been adapted to it. The Linux-based image and video display program
``pornview'' is, according to its manual, optimized ``for unattended
presentation of images for hands-free viewing.''

DVD videos can have multiple camera angles, a technical feature created to
cater to the porn industry and its customers. The image rendering
component of the free Mozilla browser originally was called ``libpr0n,''
``pr0n'' being hacker code speak for ``porn.'' Another GNU/Linux program,
``driftnet'' taps into a local computer network and displays all images
that co-workers are currently browsing. The developers of the program
recommend that ``if you are possessed of Victorian sensibilities, and
share an unswitched network with others who are not, you should probably
not use it.''

But in these examples, the pornography remains outside the software
itself. Obscenity on program code level exists, too, but doesn't
necessarily render the running software obscene or pornographic. The Linux
kernel, for example, contains the word ``fuck'' 56 times in its

   arch/sparc/kernel/process.c: /* fuck me plenty */
   arch/sparc/kernel/head.S: /* XXX Fucking Cypress... */
   arch/sparc/kernel/sunos_ioctl.c: /* Binary compatibility is good
   American knowhow fuckin' up. */
   arch/sparc/kernel/ptrace.c:/* Fuck me gently with a chainsaw... */
   arch/ppc/syslib/ppc405_pci.c: * the kernel try to remap our BAR #1 and
   fuck up bus
   arch/sparc64/kernel/binfmt_aout32.c: /* Fuck me plenty... */
   arch/sparc64/kernel/traps.c: /* Why the fuck did they have to change
   this? */
   arch/sparc64/mm/init.c: /* Fucking losing PROM has more mappings in
   the TLB, but
   arch/i386/kernel/cpu/cpufreq/powernow-k7.c: * Some Athlon laptops have
   really fucked PST tables.
   arch/i386/kernel/cpu/mtrr/generic.c:/* Some BIOS's are fucked and
   don't set all MTRRs the same! */
   arch/mips/kernel/irixioctl.c: * irixioctl.c: A fucking mess...
   arch/mips/kernel/irixelf.c:#if 0 /* XXX No fucking way dude...*/

But Linux hardly fucks anything in operation. Another example of
non-operational code-level pornography is the ASCII pr0n genre,
pornographic images drawn as typograms:

                       /'  `\/   `.
                 .   .'      :  `. `.
                 \\.'        ,  `.`  `.
                 `.     ,___/|\. `.   :
                . \, .'./    ' '\  ,  '
                .\    .  \_.~ _; ;    \/'.
                `\ ..._`.   :   /..   ../
                 /' _._  \. ~ .'   `\:
               /'.' AT   `    .---.    `.
             .'  :         '   AT `.\.  \
            /   ./`.._./ ~ .      :\    `.   __
          .'   /   (        \....'  `.  .' /'  `.
     /'''\   .'    `.  /  \     :     ;' .'    ..:
   .' ;   `\;       : :    :    :   .'   :  ;    :
   :     `\. `\.    ;   :        \.'     "  '    ;
    `.      `.   \ /    s    .   /       `.     .'
     `    .   `.  `\ `.     ;  /'         ;___ ;
      `.   `.  `.   `         ;          ;:__..'
        `.   `. `.     :` ':    _.'    .' ;   :
          `.     `.    .\x./-`--...../'   ;   :
            `. ..-:..-'                  (    :
              `---'`.                     `;   :
                `.  `,..                   :    :
                  `.    `.                  `.___;
                    `.    `.
                      `.    `;

Originally a hack to bring visual pornography into the world of
alphanumerical computer terminals, they became ironic retro chic in 1990s
net art, above all in ``Deep ASCII,'' a typographic rendering of the movie
``Deep Throat.''{1}

``Prograsm,'' which the hacker ``Jargon File'' defines as the ``euphoria
experienced upon the completion of a program or other computer-related
project,'' is another example of ecstasy outside the running program.
However, a concept of prograsm that involves the code and the process has
existed since the Middle Ages in ecstatic Kabbalah. The oldest known
kabbalistic book Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) contains mathematical
combinatorics, and Kabbalists like Abraham Abulafia practiced
computational readings of the Torah as a sexually ecstatic technique. In
an 18th century autobiography, Salomon Maimon tells us how he learnt that

   ``the name Jehova represents [...] the person of the Godhead generis
   masculini, while the word Koh means [...] the person of the Godhead
   generis feminini, and the word Amar denotes sexual union. The words
   'Koh amar Jehovah,' 'Thus saith the Lord,' I therefore explained as
   follows: [...] an actual union of these divine spouses took place from
   which the whole world might expect a blessing.''

In other words, the Kabbalah imagines God as able to fuck himself by the
virtue of his male and female attributes, in the medium of the words put
down in the Torah. The Torah becomes pornographic writing, a code whose
execution generates divine physical arousal.

Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even can be read as
another auto-erotic obscene and pornographic mechanism, secularized
however as modern art. Still more secularized are the corresponding
technologies that exist in computing today, such as the ``Brainfuck''
programming language and program code recursion, code executing itself in
strange loops, a key structure among others in the programming language
LISP. While this code is, by its nature, a pure formalism, its coupling is
no less irritating than the copulation of bodies. When I scream I AM THE
PROGRAM, an integral erection results, because the verb to be is the
vehicle of obscene frenzy, bastardizing the formalism of the software and
my informal being to a dirty code.

Reroute via gender strippage [simple cognitive shift allocation], strip to
the violence inducer core and wipe with a pseudo stroke. Instruction:
Regenderate the Mis][s][User.

7  Towards an Open Source Pornography

Figure 1: From
Figure 2: Sample image from
Figure 3: Dahlia Schweitzer, Lovergirl photo series

   Richard Kern: SuicideGirls is a mystery to me because I thought only
   women ran the site.

   DRE: Does that make a difference?

   Richard Kern: I had heard from various models from there that my type
   was not liked there because I was a guy exploiting women and
   SuicideGirls is a feminist site. No matter what anyone says its still
   naked girls and still guys checking them out. There are girls checking
   in also but a lot of guys too. It's the same thing no matter how you
   cut it.{2}

No doubt, indie porn is the pornography of this decade, if not of the
whole century. Beyond that, it appears to be the first significant new
cultural movement of the millennium. It has replaced as the
aesthetic avant-garde of the Internet. Websites like http://,, http:// and combine the punk
styling of their models with visual punk aesthetics and do-it-yourself
punk attitude.{3} The site lists more related
sites and resources.{4} It thus seems as if there is finally a
non-industrial and erotically imaginative pornography for hetero- and
bisexuals, after the avant-garde of lesbian and gay pornography had
reached the same level already in the early 1990s, with magazines like
``On Our Backs'' and porn video labels like Cazzo Productions.

In reality, indie porn is just like indie pop. It pretends to be different
from the industry, but works with the same business model. Just as punk
and indie pop saved the music industry in the 1980s and 1990s, indie porn
will save the porn industry of today. It is the research and development
arm of the porn industry. An industry that otherwise would go bankrupt
because everyone freely shares its products on the Internet.{5}

Most indie porn sites are based on software and editorial formats created
in independent net cultures, most of all, weblogs. Central to the
aesthetics of indie porn is a concept of the authentic. Not only are the
models unmodified by surgery - except for tattoos and piercings - and
Photoshop. They are also accessible in chats, personal blogs and
homepages, a key feature of most indie porn sites. They thus produce a
simulacrum of the ``real'' that is no different from the popular genre of
industrial pseudo amateur pornography. The rough look and production
values of indie porn not only simulates authenticity, it also is a means
of cutting production costs and outsourcing labor when, for example on the
site, the models become their own

Glamour and synthetic cyber pornography as well as hentai anime are more
radical than indie porn because they show sexual alienation openly and
make no attempt at clouding the fact that authentic moments can't be found
in them. Just like mainstream pop star Michael Jackson is ultimately more
subversive than The Manic Street Preachers, commercial pornography is
superior to indie porn because it offers less for the imagination to work
with. By offering more variation in the imagery, indie porn preempts and
thereby erodes imagination. A digital pornography that would strive for
true honesty and imagination should reduce rather than increase its visual
imagination. In the end, it should present itself as nothing but code,
teaching us to get off on mere zeros and ones, thus overcoming the false
dichotomy of the artificial and the authentic.

Against commercial indie porn we demand a truly independent, open source
pornography. Pornography should be made by all, a radically populist
pornography of collectively produced, purely formal codes. This
pornography will reconcile rationality and instinct and overcome
alienation because the codes will have to be reconstituted into sexual
imaginations by the right side of brain. Software, reconceived as a dirty
code crossbred of formalism and subjectivity, will be the paradigm of this
pornography, a code that sets processes into motion.{6}

Figure 4: An open source porn coder

Figure 5: Turning her image into code increases its shamanistic
pornographic quality

Figure 6: Further pornographic enhancement

Figure 7: Pornographic perfection


{1} by the ASCII Art Ensemble around Vuc Cosic and Luka Frelih.

{2} Richard Kern interviewed by Daniel Robert Epstein, http://

{3} http:/// is a highbrow forerunner of these sites,
creating ``sophisticated'' porn for an intellectual audience.

{4} The sites and
straightforwardly translate avant-garde art concepts into porn business
models; the former features models who take pictures of themselves, the
latter plagiarizes Andy Warhol's ``Blow Job'' movie by merely showing
faces of persons who have an orgasm.

{5} Richard Kern says about mainstream porn magazines in the same
interview: ``I shoot for them only occasionally now because that business
isnt what it used to be. [...] A lot of the point mags are going out of
business. They dropped the pay tremendously and its all because of the
internet. I used to go out once a month to LA and shoot for one week. Id
make a ton of money then come back to New York and do whatever I wanted.''

{6} A rare example of such dirty porn code are the writings of Australian
codework artist mez.


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Date: 2.17.05
From: curt cloninger <curt AT>
Subject: Re: BOOK.REVIEW: Internet Art by Rachel Greene

Hi Eduardo (and all),

This was my first semester to teach Rachel's book in my net art class:

Mostly it applies to the initial "network" section of the course, and then
another part (her section on "generative software art") applies to the "open
interactivity" section of the course.

I can't help but compare Rachel's book to Christiane Paul's "Digital Art"
book in the same Thames & Hudson "world of art" series. Paul's book works
for me because of her curatorial perspicacity. She splits the book into two
main sections -- tools used to make old media art + whose
media itself is digital. Then she approaches the latter section (the main
focus of the book) from two overlapping but usefully distinct perspectives
-- 1. a formalistic perspective which examines the work per its use of media
+ 2. a conceptual perspective which examines the work per its conceptual
themes. I teach Paul's book in the digital art section of this course ( ). It's a studio course so students are working on
their own digital art projects as they read the text. The structure of
Paul's book is perfect in this pedagogical context because it foregrounds
the differences between media and concept. Students get it.

My main critique of Greene's book is that her categories are too multiform
and not as sensible as they could be. For instance, why are and under
"low-fi aesthetics"? The former has more to do with identity; the latter
has more to do with outsider art and network collaboration. In the chapter
"Themes in Internet Art," Greene lists "Turn of the Millennium, War, and the
Dotcom Crash" and "The Crash of 2000" as 2 of her 7 themes. Curious.

Greene's book seems to want to approach net art through two grids -- a historical one (how many more times can Olia Lialina's work be
referenced?) + a "conceptaul" one (as Eduardo points out). The problem is,
both grids are applied simultanously. There's nothing wrong with applying
two grids (as evidenced by Paul's successful application of media + theme
grids), but it is more effective when done systematically rather than
simultaneously. Greene's chapter titles suggest an attempted systematic
approach (1. early internet art, 2. Isolating the Elements, 3. Themes in
Internet Art, 4. Art for networks). The "elements" are supposed to be
formalistic approaches, and the "themes" are suppsed to be thematic
approaches, but their subsections often overlap and iterate in a way that
makes systematic instruction problematic. And why a separate section called
"art for networks?" Isn't it all art for networks?

To me, "" (1994-1999?) is the door that all "net art" came through,
but those practices and approaches no longer define or even usefully
delineate the breadth of "net art." So if you let "" be your rubric
for unpacking all of "net art," you're going to run into some taxonomical

The thing I find most useful about "Internet Art" is the way Greene traces
the historical developments of net art in light of their concurrent
political, economic, and cultural climates. And her first hand research
into the early scene is invaluable for someone like me who wasn't


Eduardo Navas wrote:

> BOOK.REVIEW: Internet Art by Rachel Greene
> BY: Eduardo Navas
> For Net Art Review
> The Internet has been around for over ten years and it is already
> developing a detailed history. Or perhaps histories (pluralities)
> might be a better way of contextualizing the legitimating process
> that
> historiography attempts to accomplish. Contributing to this conundrum
> is Internet Art by Rachel Greene.
> The book is ambitious as it tackles the complex web of activities in
> internet art from its early days to the beginning of our new century,
> something that is not easy to accomplish in under 225 pages, most of
> which consists of images. Yet, Greene develops a cohesive narrative
> of
> the multifaceted online activities that have come to be labeled as
> �internet art.�
> The book is divided into an introduction and four chapters. It begins
> with a brief history of computer technology and its relation to
> preceding art practices, moving through early internet art including
> specific forms such as e-mail art, browser art and hypertext,
> tactical
> media, databases and games, networks, criticism of e-commerce and
> collaborations to name just a few of the many categories.
> Greene takes a chronological approach throughout the introduction
> and
> the first chapter, then moves on to focus on specific strategies or
> thematics and writes about works that were made in 1995 in direct
> juxtaposition with others done in later years. Greene contextualizes
> internet art as an extension of art practices that are now part of
> the
> mainstream artworld. Artists like Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik,
> Rirkrit
> Tiravanija, Tony Oursler, Cindy Sherman, and Valle Export among many
> others are cited as predecessors of internet art, not necessarily in
> technological terms, but rather in ideological explorations of
> communication in art practice. The already well-known early net
> artists like Vuk Cosic Heath Bunting, Olia Lialina,, Alexei
> Shulgin are mentioned along with others like Clover Cleary, Annie
> Abrahams, and Andy Deck who can be considered part of a second
> online
> generation.
> Greene is quite aware of the problematics in writing a history book
> and
> is quick to make her disclaimer in the very first pages, when she
> explains that due to limited space, she is not able to include
> several
> of the works she is interested in and that therefore she offers an
> extensive list of resources in the appendix. Greene sees Internet Art
> functioning as "one of those early portals, offering paths for
> readers
> wishing to explore the fields and histories of contemporary art and
> media." (7) And playing the role of a portal the book does very well.
> Those who have already read the book and were part of online
> communities during the early days of the net as well as today would
> agree.
> But the book does have a specific position worth deconstructing. To
> begin, it imposes a post-conceptual narrative on many of the works
> discussed, as Greene states, "I relate the ways in which internet art
> is indebted to conceptual art through its emphasis on audience
> interaction, transfer of information and use of networks,
> simultaneously by passing the autonomous status traditionally
> ascribed
> to art objects." (10) This can mean one of two things, either that
> all
> the artists who make internet art have an implicit relation to
> conceptual art or that only those artists who have such connection
> are
> included in the book. The problem behind this statement goes further
> if
> we consider the possibility that some of the artists included in the
> book may not actually have any relation to conceptual art; this would
> mean that an ideological imposition is at work. In any case, Greene
> admits to writing a specific type of history. This maneuver makes the
> assimilation of internet art by the mainstream artworld easier by
> generalizing its complex position (which Greene is careful to
> acknowledge in the introduction) to create a direct connection to the
> art cannon in a way that the rest of the artworld is able to
> understand.
> Greene�s approach exposes a particular contention at play in
> historiography today, which is to create a historical narrative
> knowing that it is not expected to be part of a "total history" or a
> "general history" but simply "a history"�her history, her own little
> narrative. And because of this Greene should not be criticized for
> taking license in focusing on her interest. But what her position
> does
> expose is the limitation of what she considers to be the extension of
> a
> conceptual art practice, as she fails to include many artists in
> various parts of the world who were also active online since at least
> the mid-nineties. It seems impossible for many artists across the
> globe to be unaware of conceptual practices; that is if we are
> willing
> to take Greene�s assertion at face value and claim that she is
> focusing
> on those artists who are specifically extending conceptual art
> practice
> on to the net. Artists from Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America
> who do share a conceptual online art practice are simply excluded;
> organizations such as Sarai and Latin American Net Art are instead
> included as resources in the appendix page. This would not be a
> problem if Greene contextualized her approach more specifically and
> explained that her focus is mainly on those artists who are part of
> the North American and European discourse, in which artists like Yong
> Hae Chang from Korea have been included when they are able to make
> strong enough connections through ongoing exhibitions in the
> Eurocentric network. But instead her failure to do this simple
> clarification turns her history into yet another Western imposition
> on
> the rest of the world.
> This ties to the most problematic aspect of the book. While Greene
> connects her history of net art to Dada, Fluxus and happenings, she
> fails to specifically define conceptualism. If she had done this, she
> may have realized that she was referring to a very specific
> narrative,
> and not an art practice that implicitly spans across the globe. For
> Greene to assume that the reader knows what she is referring to when
> she uses the term "conceptual" as the "bypassing [of] the autonomous
> status traditionally ascribed to art objects" is not enough. Just as
> she took the time to briefly explain the history of the computer, so
> she also had to take the time to explain the history of conceptual
> art
> practice so that the reader understands her ideological and
> cartographical position.
> Regardless of all this, one could claim that it is impossible to
> cover
> everything is a book that would usually be dismissed as a laundry
> list
> by many critics. Instead, I am amazed by Greene�s ability to cover
> so
> much ground with the strict criteria imposed by Thames and Hudson on
> its writers in a book series that promotes itself for providing lots
> of
> images. The book reads well and does justice to those artists who are
> included in it. And because of this, the reader becomes even more
> aware that the oversight of the ideological subtleties I have
> mentioned cannot be blamed on the limit of space.
> Regardless of my criticism, I do think the book is important in the
> necessary historicizing of net art. I admire Rachel Greene for taking
> on the challenging task of writing a version of an extremely complex
> online activity. And I do recommend Internet Art to anyone who is
> unfamiliar with net art history. It is now up to those who follow
> after Greene to look out for ideological problematics and to do
> their
> best to keep them at bay.
> ---------------
> Eduardo Navas. February, 2004.

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Date: 2.15.05-2.17.05
From: Jo-Anne Green <jo AT>, Jim Andrews <jim AT>, Pall
Thayer <palli AT>, Kate Armstrong <kate AT>,
Michael Szpakowski <szpako AT>
Subject: Turbulence Commission: "Grafik Dynamo" by Kate Armstrong and
Michael Tippett

Jo-Anne Green <jo AT> posted:

February 15, 2005
Turbulence Commission: "Grafik Dynamo" by Kate Armstrong and Michael Tippett

"Grafik Dynamo" is a net art work that loads live images from blogs and news
sources on the web into a live action comic strip. The work is currently
using a feed from LiveJournal. The images are accompanied by narrative
fragments that are dynamically loaded into speech and thought bubbles and
randomly displayed. Animating the comic strip using dynamic web content
opens up the genre in a new way: together, the images and narrative serve to
create a strange, dislocated notion of sense and expectation in the reader,
as they are sometimes at odds with each other, sometimes perfectly in sync,
and always moving and changing. The work takes an experimental approach to
open ended narrative, positing a new hybrid between the flow of data
animating the work and the formal parameter that comprises its structure.

"Grafik Dynamo" is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
(aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with
funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


KATE ARMSTRONG is a new media artist and writer who has lived and worked in
Canada, France, Japan, Scotland, and the United States. Her work focuses on
the creation of experimental narrative forms, particularly works in which
poetics are inserted within the functional framework of computer programs,
and performative pieces in which computer functionality is merged with
physical space. Armstrong has worked with a variety of forms including short
films, theatre, essays, net art, performative network events,
psychogeography and installation. Her work has been exhibited
internationally. She has written for P.S 1/MoMA, the Palm Beach Institute of
Contemporary Art, TrAce, Year Zero One, and The Thing, as well as for
catalogue publications. Armstrong's first book, "Crisis & Repetition: Essays
on Art and Culture," was published in 2002.

MICHAEL TIPPETT has a decade of experience creating and managing technology
businesses. With expertise in design, namespace, distributed and mobile
media, and wireless technology, Tippett's media background is in pioneering
new forms of networked content. His newest venture,, uses
emerging technologies like camera phones, digital cameras, blogging tools
and RSS standards to change the way news is created and distributed. It can
be thought of as "reality news" - providing a hub for citizen reporting and
for viewing world events though the prism of an alternate, distributed, real
time media.

For more information about Turbulence, please visit

+ + +

Jim Andrews <jim AT> replied:

That's quite interesting, Kate and Michael. Could you say something about
the texts; there's the upper and lower were they composed--I
presume Kate wrote or assembled the texts? Also, the visuals plus the
thought bubbles are much better visually than I would have expected with
something dynamic textually.

Gotta say I prefer this to standard comics.


+ + +

Pall Thayer <palli AT> replied:

I also really like the Roy Lichtenstein reference and would also like to
hear a little more about the texts, whether they are gathered or written
specifically for the work.


+ + +

Kate Armstrong <kate AT> replied:

Hi Jim & Pall
Thanks for the comments about Grafik Dynamo. Yes, I wrote the texts. They
are pulled from a flat file and randomly fed into the piece using
javascript. There are two documents, one for the thought and speech bubbles
(upper texts) and one for the expository notes (lower texts). So there is a
level of organization that governs the way the fragments are distributed.
Regarding the fragments themselves: I wanted to use some of the formal
structures you find in comics, such as "meanwhile...", lots of exclamation
points, and speech patterns like "ack!" etc. I was initially drawn to using
references to science fiction and 1940s spy fiction. I was loving the
brilliant innocence of both comics and that literature, where everything
happens in either London or Damascus, people carry around suitcases of gems,
and scientists become deranged by their magnificent powers. As I was working
with these themes I found myself adding references to things that seemed
more current, like evangelicals, lobbyists and apocalypse, and started to
pull in other concerns, not usually associated with comics or hard-boiled
crime novels, such as existential freedom & metaphysical structures like
extra-temporal essence. These things started to feed back on each other so
that all of a sudden I was discovering implications that philosophical
states were being influenced by these mysterious machines, or that powerful
non-specific figures were motivated by the desire to have outre religious
experiences. So that's how the material evolved in the beginning. When it
started to run against the influx of images I was happy to see that these
associations became even more complex.

+ + +

Jim Andrews replied:

When it's firing on all cylinders, it's pretty amazing.

The texts are secretly fueling the invisible mechanisms!

Occassionally, it's oddly revelatory, the explosive moment nearing the
source of all! The deity is only present for a moment!

Many of the images are too small and should be passed over for larger
images. Not sure if the size of the image is readable so as to pass it over
if too small. Alternatively, the images could be centered vertically in the

Or perhaps the deity is only hiding on such occassions behind the thought

Thanks, Kate, really strong work.


+ + +

Michael Szpakowski <szpako AT> replied:

Yes! this is *tremendous.*

< Many of the images are too small and should be
passed over for larger
images. Not sure if the size of the image is
readable so as to pass it over
if too small. Alternatively, the images could be
centered vertically in the

agree with Jim -it's oddly disappointing to hit a
patch of semi concealed images in what is such a
rewarding piece, part of whose strength lies in the
*illusion* of intentional narrative -so what looks
like a frame uncompleted, unthought through, brings us
up short...
Still fantastic though!

+ + +

Jim Andrews replied:

Perhaps it's simply that I'm growing senile, but I am bored quickly with
conventional narrative, poemy poems, songy songs, filmy films, etc etc. It's
a painful and ill-tempered condition! I just really long to see pieces like
Grafik Dynamo that make some space momentarily for the deity or erm
something I haven't already experienced in art. Work that doesn't reproduce
art from some other media, whether it be film or visual art or poetry or
whatever. I think it takes a lot of doing to make that sort of art, a lot of
abandoning presuppositions. And also usually some willingness to actually
learn how to do stuff with digital technology and also unlearn the
conventional uses of it, find the juice in it.

William S. Burroughs said that when you cut tape, the future leaks out. And
it does, you know, it can be that exciting, that unexpected, that fresh.

So thanks, Kate. Your Graphik Dynamo really made my day.


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Date: 2.18.05
From: joni taylor <joni AT>
Subject: Transmediale 2005

Transmediale 2005
International Media Art Festival Berlin
4-8 Feb 2005 <>

Joni Taylor

While enthusiastically watching Norwegien performer Single Unit manipulate
his electric guitar through a keyboard to create industrial-rock chaos and
eardrum-blasting feedback, the Italian self proclaimed "VJ" next to me
sighed that he had stopped listening to "this kind of music" 15 years ago.
Aghast, I admitted that I had grown up with technological music and found
this hybrid of the raw and the electronic simply great. And I was not the
only one of the "electro-rati" getting excited by something that was more
than just an apple laptop with a human plug-in.

This was the theme of the 2005 Transmediale : BASICS. Not a "back to
basics," but a "next level basics," a re-definition of what is essential
for media art in the future, looking at what constitutes our Basic levels of

The Transmediale takes place annually at the House of World Cultures,
nicknamed the "Pregnant Oyster" by Berliners and situated in the Tiergarden
park. Concurrent to the four-day long programme of exhibitions, screenings,
performances and lectures, was a selection of partner events, as well as the
Club Transmediale, the electronic music component. The festival also takes
place a week before the Berlinale film festival, and has come along way from
being just the Berlinale video art programme.

The "Workspace" area presented projects where these basic human
needs---shelter, communication, security--seemed to overlap, but all managed
to bring up important ethical and timely discussions.

Prisoners Inventions' by Temporary Services (US) and Angelo displayed
accurate re-makes of devices designed by prisoners out of sheer necessity.
An ongoing dialogue with Angelo, a long term "incarcerated artist" has
resulted in a publication of these thoroughly inventive and hi/lo tech
objects. The 78 inventions ranged from sex aids for horny prisoners made
from plastic bags and bedding material, to a large cup made from paper-mache
so that the prisoner could indulge in a bigger dose of cordial. The
Temporary Services archive of public phenomena showed new uses for the
street, such as the hilarious local examples of roadside objects and the
not-so-hilarious roadside memorials to gang slayings and car crashes.

ParaSITE by Michael Rakowitz (US), although an older project and seen the
rounds of many an art festival, was still a refreshing look at urban
planning and shows how he was able to provide emergency housing for the
homeless, by hooking up simple plastic tents to hot air vents. His paraSITE
house seemed out of place positioned in the glossy wired-up/wireless
environment of the exhibition, however his comments about buying up
car-parking spaces for alternative uses (like camping!) showed great insight
into new forms of "legitimate participation".

Corporate Fallout Detector by James Patten (US) is a hand-held device that
"maps" the ethical values of supermarket products by their barcodes, a sort
of They Rule at your fingertips. Patten created a special database for the
European version utilising info from sites such as and, a bar code database.

Data privacy is a hot topic with German privacy advocators--and with a lot
of local hackers--and the German group Foebud "hacked" the festival itself,
setting up an ad-hoc info stand. Their exposé of the RFID tagging of razors,
shampoo (and, surprisingly: Philadelphia cream cheese) by the new Metro
Future Store in Germany led to them winning the Big Brother award for 2004.
( <> )

This consumer rights panic was also seen in Chris Oakley's (UK) video "The
Catalogue", where humans are followed around the mall flashing their
personal buying capacity.

On a larger scale, Marco Peljhan (SI) from Macrolab and Project ATOL showed
the power of self-initiated surveillance in the project "S-77CCR", a
reconnaissance plane that turns surveillance on itself by spying on and
observing public spaces. "Eye in the sky, democracy in the street" could be
available for everyone, soon.

The works in the workspace showed differing notions of basic Needs. But
while seeing how "wild" our smoked salmon really is, and licensing our tunes
out through creative commons may be a necessity for some, the work by
artists from non-western countries showed another side.

The inclusion of artists from Indonesia and the Middle East in the Xeno-Tech
presentations added a refreshing and at times eye opening look at the Needs
of Media Art coming from outside the "usual suspects" ( The Other).

The coincidentally named from Singapore spoke about the
vulnerability of the internet in Asia, and the internet being sensitive to
both physical and manmade problems. (The Asia Pacific Cable network broke
down in 1999 due to an earthquake). Nat Muller's (NL) talk about first
person shooter games developed by the Hezbolla for educational purposes, and
based on real events in Lebanon, was a stark reality compared to the
"fictionalised" enemy characterisation of other first person shooters.
(Usually Arabic). In the film "Chic points - Fashion for Israeli
Checkpoints" by Sharif Waked (Palestine), sexy male models parade the
catwalk in revealing outfits. Only afterwards in the numerous scenes of Arab
men lifting their shirts as they pass Israeli border guards is the irony
revealed. In contrast, the video "Planet of the Arabs" by Jackie Salloum
(US) was a fast-paced cut up of mass media images, "more racist than the New
York Times." Ali Baba and the 40 thieves put on the stand.

Other speakers included Sala-Manca, a grassroots art collective from
Jerusalem, and X-urban (Turkey) who work with simple methods of smuggling
fuel to Iraq. Arnaldo Caro Antich from Radio Havana (Cuba) spoke about the
technological effect of the US embargo on Cuba, and having to access the
internet and work with re-cycled technology in new and sustainable ways.

Last year the Transmediale celebrity jailbot was Negri. This year it was
Steve Kurtz (US), talking about the McCarthy-esqe times of America today and
the ensuing problems with defending the Critical Art Ensemble against
convictions of Bio-terrorism.

It was in the Exhibition that the BASICS of Media Art were not just
challenged, but redefined by the festival itself. This year the jury removed
the categories of Image, Interaction and Software, allowing the works to
speak for themselves, "for their aesthetic and conceptual value and not so
much on the basis of their technical qualities." In fact they encouraged
more "traditional" media to be submitted in the coming years. There seems to
be a need for the Transmediale to connect "new media art" and the art world
at large. But on what level?

It was in the Exhibition that the BASICS of Media Art were not just
challenged, but redefined by the festival itself. This year the jury removed
the categories of Image, Interaction and Software, allowing the works to
speak for themselves -- "for their aesthetic and conceptual value and not so
much on the basis of their technical qualities." In fact they encouraged
more "traditional" media to be submitted in the coming years. Transmediale
is aiming to connect "new media art" and the art world at large, to make the
technological more accessible to the general art going public, and this was
clear by the choice of winners.

This year, the prize was split between 3 works--"Untitled 5" by Camille
Utterback (US), "Suburbs of the Void by Thomas" Köner (de) and "Shockbot
Crejulio" by 5voltcore (Au).

"Untitled 5" was a work that directly referenced traditional art practice.
The installation allowed the user to ?draw and paint? by interacting with
the software--one's physical movement and location leaving traces on the
white gallery wall. The Jury stated that the piece "was nominated for its
sophisticated, software-driven and generative composition of painting and
drawing, which remains an under-explored area in the field of new media

This was certainly a turning away from any socio-political implications the
technology spoke of, and a positive nod in the direction of the pure
aesthetics the Jury were looking for--art for arts sake. "Suburbs of the
Void" was a very still one-screen video work depicting a slowly moving
street scene, which was in fact a one day recording made by a surveillance
camera in Finland. Once again, this choice mirrored the traditional 4-sided
art work in the white cube, and many viewed it as one would a
painting--sitting, contemplating. Here was Art made using surveillance
technology, with no Orwellian fears or public/private comments in sight. A
step backwards or a timely acceptance that all media can be art?

However the other winner, "Shockbot Crejulio," by 5voltcore, as well as
"Pongmechanik" by Niklas Roy (De) and "tele-Typ lo 15? by C-base (De) did
all display the inner workings of the digital, simplifying them back to the
machine in humorous and ironic ways.

The Public Netbase (Au) installation offered a selection of documentation
about their important contributions to the fight for net freedoms and
digital rights, and a lot of good art in the middle. Key the video capturing
the 010010111010101 Nike park hoax.

Perhaps the idea now is to just keep surging forward, blinking at the past,
and grabbing a bundle of tools on the way to take to the future. To be
upgraded of course.

This clash of old and new came to me again as I sat listening to the MP3s
from Soundscape FM:Berlin (Umatic, NL), a participatory audio project of
recording taken from sites around Berlin. As I listened on a new laptop to
the sounds taken on top of Teufelsberg (a mountain outside of Berlin created
from the rubble left over from World War 2), I watched Arnaldo Caro Antich
from Radio Cuba giving his workshop on building a short wave transistor
radio, weaving his cables through the gallery . I thought how much further
this is all going to go, and I was Basically ...happy.

Joni Taylor

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Kevin McGarry (kevin AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 10, number 8. Article submissions to list AT
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