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: 4.01.05
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 13:36:37 -0700

RHIZOME DIGEST: April 1, 2005


1. [art-messenger]: Prison of love at MNCARS, Madrid
2. juha huuskonen: PixelACHE 2005 : The Dot Org Boom!
3. Joy Garnett: Cultural Politics 1.1 > available free online
4. Francis Hwang: Rhizome Commissions: Finalists chosen, 2nd voting phase

5. geoffrey thomas: New Media Instructor Position

6. jimpunk: SCREENFULL (radio)sounds

8. Curt Cloninger: pop sound bytes on outsider net art

9. Plasma Studii, Ivan Pope, Pall Thayer, Robert Spahr, Rob Myers, Geert
Dekkers, ryan griffis, jeremy, Ethan Ham, Jim Andrews: web evolution

+commissioned for
10. Katherine Moriwaki: From Silk to Microcontrollers

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The Rhizome Commissioning Program makes financial support available to
artists for the creation of innovative new media art work via panel-awarded

For the 2005 Rhizome Commissions, seven artists were selected to create
artworks relating to the theme of Games:

The Rhizome Commissioning Program is made possible by generous support from
the Greenwall Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation
for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Date: 3.29.05
From: "[art-messenger]" <virtu AT>
Subject: Prison of love at MNCARS, Madrid

"Prison of Love" -
Cultural stories on Gender Violence
(Cárcel de amor. Relatos culturales sobre la violencia de género)
A presentation curated by Berta Sichel, Virginia Villaplana and Remedios
Zafra, and Rosa Mª Peris, director of the Women Institute.
31 March until 8 May 2005
National Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid/Spain
The show "Prison of Love", presenting multiple perspectives and views on
violence in couple and family-
their limits and energy expressing the changing and heterogenous relations
between the cultural analysis, the political critics and the artistic
production, - is structured in 5 parts interrelating with each other e.g
a cycle of films and videos, an Internet based online part, conferences and
meetings and the edition and an action by Angélica Liddell.

The online part of the show is entitled "Violence without Bodies"
("Violencia Sin Cuerpos")
and consists of a selection of netart works about gender violence
including following aspects and related artworks/artists-->

(Evas and Princesses contra Cyborgs)
Brutal Myths. An herbal healing of misogynius (1996), Sonya Rapoport y
Marie-Jose Sat;
Mythic Hybrid (2002), Prema Murthy
Make me a man (1997), Sonya Rapoport;
Eden.Garden 1.1 (2001), Auriea Harvey y Michael Samyn;
[ i want to share you - what are you doing to me? ] (2001), Intima (Igor
2. Narrated violence (when body does not exist ):
Compressed Affair (2001), Agricola de Cologne;
Parthenia "A Global Monument Violence Domestic Victims? (1995) Margot
The Intruder (1999), Natalie Bookchin;
Dollspace (1997, 2001), Francesca da Rimini
3. Does body matter? (cybersex and videogame)
Tomb Raider (1999), Robert Nideffer.
Tunnel (1996), Melinda Rackham.
BindiGirl (1999); Prema Murthy;
Cunnilingus in North Korea (2003); Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries
(Young-hae Chang y Marc Voge); Mutation.Fem (2000), Anne-Marie Schleiner.
4. New Visibility of the Prevailed-
(feministe online practices contra the hegemony of being able to
Smart Mom (1998-1999), Faith Wilding y Hyla Willis;
voyeur_web (2001), Tina La Porta;
El lugar de las mujeres en el Metro de la Ciudad de México (2001), Cindy
Gabriela Flores;
Guerrilla Girls (Website), Guerrilla Girls;
No-pasatiempo (2004), Cristina Buendía.
The comprehensive project site <> includes a
number of texts
( in Spanish only) and the access to the selected art works.
After the presentation of "Prison of Love"
at National Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid/Spain - 31 March until
8 May 2005 -
the travelling show will be presented in other Spanish museums until the end
of 2005 including
-->Hospital de San Juan de Dios. Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Almagro/Spain
12 May - 19 June
-->Centro Párraga, Murcia /Spain - 12 - 28 July
-->Centro de Arte Caja Burgos, CAB/Spain - 8-30 September
-->Artium, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Álava/Spain -
30 September -16 October
-->Centre d?Art la Panera, Lleida/Spain - 3 - 29 November
-->Filmoteca Canaria del Gobierno de Canarias. Tenerife y Las Palmas de Gran
28 November - 4 December
"Cárcel de amor" (Prison of Love)
"Violencia Sin Cuerpos" (Violence without Bodies)
Press release on (Spanish)
Press release as PDF (Spanish)

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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: 3.30.05
From: juha huuskonen <juhuu AT>
Subject: PixelACHE 2005 : The Dot Org Boom!

PixelACHE 2005 : The Dot Org Boom
Festival of electronic art and subcultures

14-17 April 2005, Helsinki
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art

- - -

The main theme for PixelACHE 2005 is the Dot Org Boom.
Dot Org Boom is the non-profit version of the Dot Com Boom (RIP).
The essential ingredients of this rapidly growing phenomenon
are open source community, open content initiatives, media
activist networks and myriads of NGOs around the world.
PixelACHE Festival will bring together a diverse group of
artists, engineers, activists, architects and designers to discuss
and develop the future of Dot Org Boom.

In addition, PixelACHE 2005 features the following program sections:

* VJ Culture and Audiovisual Performances
* Experimental Interaction and Electronics
* Interactive & Participatory Cinema
* particle/wave hybrid radio workshop

- - -

"...the Net is not Yet a monolithic broadcast medium. I remain wildly
optimistic about it's potential. The recent ascent of peer-to-peer
networks, weblogs and free software could be a sign of a coming
Internet renaissance"
- Geert Lovink, My First Recession (2003)

"In United States and Canada, for example, almost everyone
knows about the explosion of the dot-coms - a much smaller
phenomenon - but millions have not heard the big story:
the worldwide explosion of dot-orgs. It is a story with
far-reaching implications: By sharpening the role of
government, shifting practises and attitudes in business
and opening up waves of opportunity for people to apply
their talents in new, positive ways, the emerging citizen
sector is reorganising the way the work of society gets done."
- David Bornstein, How to Change the World (2004)

"a browser is also an editor
a desktop is also a server
a user is also a producer"
- Sarai media lab, free media lounge (2005)

- - -

### The Dot Org Boom program ###

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia which can be read and edited
by anyone. Wikipedia currently has independant editions in 190 languages,
sponsored by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia contains
approximately 1.3 million articles, 500,000 of which are in its English
language edition, over 200,000 in the German language and 100,000 in
the Japanese language. Wikipedia is one of the most popular reference
sites on the Web, receiving around 50 million hits per day. It has spawned
numerous conceptually related sister projects such as Wiktionary,
Wikibooks and Wikinews. Florence Devouard (France) will be the
official Wikipedia ambassador at PixelACHE 2005.

Streamtime (Netherlands/Iraq/international) is an international crew of
journalists, poets, artists and software developers, dedicated to assist
local media to get connected. Openness, free publishing (copy left),
easy access, low-to-no literacy and multi-linguality are guidelines.
Streamtime uses old and new media for the production of content and
networks in the fields of media, arts, culture and activism in crisis areas,
like Iraq, where the project is setting up independent communication
links between Iraq and rest of the world. Streamtime is collaborating
with dyne:bolic linux cd installation project, which can be used as an
instant toolkit for media production and transmission. -

Naeem Mohaiemen (US) will give a presentation about independent Muslim
media networks and their role in shaping up the "Globalized Islam". Naeem
Mohaiemen is a digital-media activist and filmmaker specializing
in Political Islam. He is editor of ("Outsider Muslims"), and
Associate Editor of He is also director of VISIBLE, a
collective of Muslim and Other Artist-Activists. VISIBLE premiered
DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA, a film trilogy and multimedia installation
about detention of American Muslims after 9/11. - - a Finnish environmental organisation. will present a
project about ideas of how the world could be saved. The ideas have been
collected from the visitors of the website (the page about the
project is unfortunately available only in Finnish). Dodo will also present
their project, an image bank for NGOs where all images
are made available under Creative Commons licence. - -

Vanessa Gocksch and Walter Hernandez have initiated the
grassroot organisation in Bogotá, Colombia. The goal of Intermundos is to
inspire local cultural activities and connect them to global movements
through various media projects. Website keywords: Intermundos, hip hop,
indigenous, Colombia, Columbia, afro, community.

Used in India presents media devices and narratives of their use throughout
the 20th century in India. From the cyclostyle machines of the sixties to
the telephone meters of STD/PCO booths, this hyper-textual inventory
refers to applications, technologies, and services that constitute the
heterogeneous world of Indian media culture and design. Used in India has
been created by Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS) and is shown for the
first time at the Doors of Perception Conference 8 in New Delhi, India. -

PixelACHE 2005 will also host the launch of a new project, It is a project for exploring the digital open and
free which is more than just open source and content - open networks,
open access, open search, etc...

Dot Org Boom theme also features a WebCamTalk with Trebor
Sholtz ( and a presentation by
Franco 'Bifo' Berardi ( The theme is
explored in other PixelACHE program categories as well : open
source audiovisual performance tools, Kino film-maker community,

### VJ Culture and Audiovisual Performances ###

SF&L and Drifter TV are the winners of Visual Sensations, the first national
VJ competition in Netherlands and Belgium. PixelACHE features a performance
by SF&L, which combines live video mixing with mixing of liquids, light and
transparent plastic sheets... the result is a mix of two narratives, one
based on the video footage and one on real-time typographical experiments
with texts. -

Machinista 2004 festival in Glasgow explored and questioned the ideas
of 'artificial intelligence in the arts' and 'wo/man-machine interaction'.
PixelACHE 2005 presents a screening of the Machinista 2004 dvd
and PERM 36 ROBOVISION performance by Pointless Creations,
a Glasgow based collaborative video art project. -

PixelACHE 2005 features a screening of the soon-to-be-released RELINE2 dvd.
"RELINE2 artists investigate modern mythology, examine environments, explode
form, and play with similes between machine and body. From buildings ripping
apart by unseen forces to characters on strange journeys in wild imagined
spaces, these videos explore the integration of technology into every strata
of our lives."

PixelACHE 2005 premieres re:spam inbox, a performance by Timothy
Jaeger (US) and Alex Dragulescu (US/Romania). Re:spam explores
'unwanted, abject data in the form of solicitous messages' aka spam.
The re:spam performance straddles the line between a traditional
VJ performance and newer generative coding practices.

VJ Pillow & VJ Mademoiselle and Christelle Franca (Dj Chrys de Nice) &
Patrick Watson from Montreal have been invited for a two-week long artist
residency to work on A Day on Earth performance. The first version of the
performance will be premiered and PixelACHE 2005. The Montreal crew
also includes Ben Bogart, who will present his Volume Curvature performance
and the pixelTANGO software which he is developing at SAT (Society for
Art and Technology, Montreal). -

Piksel ( is an annual workshop dedicated for the developers
of open source audiovisual software tools, organised by BEK in Bergen,
Norway. PixelACHE will present some of the current Piksel software
projects and results of the Piksel04 workshop from November 2004.

Also in the VJ Culture program: TEMPEST performance by Erich Berger
(, Norway), a performance with sound, video and odours
by RYBN (, France), a collaboration between Selfish Shellfish
(Finland)+ video performance collective Amfibio (, Finland),
Malfunctionalism dance performance prototype by Mikko Kallinen & Llare
(Finland), PIKU audiovisual performance by Visual Systeemi and Tuomas
Toivonen (, Finland), VJing show by Intermundos
(, Colombia), Midi control workshop by Dag Engström
(Sweden) + several discussions and workshops (seminar on using VJ
performance in theatre, workshops on VJ tools and software, etc.)...

### Experimental Interaction and Electronics ###

MusicBox by Jin-Yo Mok (US/Korea) is an exceptionally well designed
interactive instrument. It is an electronic version of a traditional music
box, where the composition is presented as dots of light on a wooden
cylinder. MusicBox also contains an online component which can be used
for trying out compositions and sharing them with others.

PixelACHE 2005 is proud to present home-made electronic instruments and
a performance by one of the Finnish pioneers of the field, Mika Rintala /

Also in the Experimental Interaction and Electronics program: Four Ophones
by Erik Sandelin & Magnus Torstensson (, Sweden), Skisser
och rutiner performance by Daniel Skoglund (Sweden), Elf - Electronic Life
Forms by Pascal Glissmann & Martina Höfflin (,
Germany), Chamber Music for One performance by Teemu Kivikangas (Finland),
Kick Ass Kung-Fu by Animaatiokone Industries (,
Finland), workshops by Jürgen Scheible and Tuomo Tammenpää + more...

### Interactive and Participatory Cinema ###

Do well with nothing, do better with little, and do it right now! This is
the motto of Kino 00, a non-profit organization composed based in Montreal,
Canada. Kino concept has been designed to drive film-makers to create quick
and rough sketches of ideas. These experiments are viewed by enthusiastic
audiences every month, in Montreal and other Kino collectives around the
world. PixelACHE 2005 arranges a Kino Kabaret session (an intensive
workshop for creating films) and also aims to revitalize the Kino
Helsinki chapter...

Also in the Interactive and Participatory Cinema program: One Day Video
concept by Anttu Harlin & Osmo Puuperä (Finland) which will meet and/or
challenge the Kino Kabaret, interactive cinema projects by Mariina Bakic &
Jean-Michel Géridan (, France), interactive cinema projects
by Robert Brecevic (, Sweden), experimental film project by
Markus Renvall (Finland), discussion about community tv and radio hosted by
Robert Stachel (Austria) and more...

### particle/wave workshop ###

particle/wave hybrid radio workshop explores the interface between the
creative traditions of terrestrial radio broadcasting and emerging practices
of internet radiomaking. particle/wave rethinks community radio practices
through distributed and participatory networks of sonic exchange, open
content models and new radiomaking tools. particle/wave examines the dual
nature of radio as wave and packet... network and sound... transmission and

### PixelACHE 2005 artist residency ###

Image: Light Brix & Nuage Vert,

Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen are artists and interaction designers based
in Paris, France. They have been selected for the PixelACHE 2005 artist
residency which is organised in collaboration with NIFCA - Nordic Institute
for Contemporary Art. During their two-month long stay in Helsinki, Helen
and Heiko will develop a new prototype of their Nuage Vert (Green Cloud)
project. Nuage Vert proposes using gas emissions of industrial plants as
surfaces for interactive projections.

### PixelACHE clubs and concerts ###

The first PixelACHE night features a particle/wave concert at Sibelius
Academy concert hall and a live radiomaking session at m-bar. The PixelACHE
club night on Saturday 16th of April at Umo Jazz House features Peerspex
(France), Memnon (Finland) and more... On Sunday 17th of April there will be
a concert of Hecker (MEGO) and Blutleuchte (Finland). More information about
clubs and concerts coming soon!

### PixelACHE international ###

PixelACHE is organising several small events together with international
partners and we are also involved in several more informal collaboration

Dot Org Boom media seminar in Stockholm on Tuesday 12th of April will
explore the relationship between grassroot media and mainstream commercial
media. What are the possibilities of the currently emerging new models for
media production and distribution? There are currently millions of amateurs
producing content which is freely available for all, how should the main
stream media and policy makers react to this? The presenters in Stockholm
include Naeem Mohaiemen (US, topic: independent Muslim media), Florence
Devouard (France, topic: Wikipedia), Robert Stachel (Austria, topic:
community tv and radio), Kai Kuikkaniemi (Finland, topic:, Juha Huuskonen (Finland, topic: electronic
subcultures). The seminar is organised in collaboration with Finnish Embassy
in Stockholm.

PixelVÄRK in Stockholm on Saturday 23rd of April is a collaboration project
between The Nursery and Fylkingen. The Nursery is a Stockholm based
organisation promoting experimental culture which has produced close to
100 concerts, performances, lectures and club nights since the inception in
1996. Fylkingen is a society devoted to the production and promotion of new
music and intermedia art. Since its foundation in 1933 Fylkingen has been
committed to experimental, new and unestablished forms of contemporary arts.
PixelVÄRK will gather together audiovisual artists from Sweden, focusing on
the visual side of the experimental music scene. The festival will present a
broad spectrum of artists who all represent different aspects of this scene. -

Mal au Pixel in Paris in May 2005 will be a small one day mini-festival
which brings together some of the Finnish and French PixelACHE artists and
collaborators. The event is organised in collaboration with Mains d'Ouvres
and is a preparation event for a larger Mal au Pixel festival which is
planned for spring 2006.

### Organisers and supporters ###

PixelACHE is organised by non-profit organisation Piknik Frequency in
collaboration with Kiasma Theatre. PixelACHE 2005 program is designed
in collaboration with electronic art and subcultures network.
PixelACHE is supported by Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, AVEK,
Arts Council of Finland, NIFCA - Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art,
Goethe-Institut Helsinki, Centre Culturel Français, British Council,
Mondriaan Foundation, UCSD Visual Arts Department, CRCA
(Center for Research in Computing and the Arts) and Experimental
Game Lab (UCSD).

Particle/Wave is a co-production of Centre for Music & Technology,
Sibelius Academy and Piknik Frequency. Particle/Wave is supported
by Arts Council of Finland and Australia Council for the Arts.

Concert by Hecker is organised in collaboration with Charm of Sound
and the lecture of Franco 'Bifo' Berardi in collaboration with

### More information ###

You can find the preliminary program schedule of PixelACHE 2005
at See you in Helsinki in April!

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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: 3.30.05
From: Joy Garnett <joy.garnett AT>
Subject: Cultural Politics 1.1 > available free online

The first issue of Cultural Politics journal is now available for free
online (in pdf):;jsess

Cultural Politics Contents: Volume 1, Issue 1 (march 2005)

Introducing Cultural Politics/John Armitage, Ryan Bishop and Douglas Kellner
Mao Zedong's Impact on Cultural Politics in the West/Andrew Ross
Pornography of War/Jean Baudrillard
Cold Panic/Paul Virilio
The Anthropologist as Witness in Contemporary Regimes of
Intervention/George E. Marcus

Special Section on the Cultural Politics of Information &
Communications Technologies
Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of
Politics/Jodi Dean
Oppositional Politics and the Internet: A Critical/Reconstructive
Approach/Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellner
Hardt and Negri's Information Empire: A Critical Response/Mark Poster

Field Report
Follow the Image/Joy Garnett

Book Review
The (Not so) Disparate Voices of E-Democracy/Joss Hands

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Date: 4.04.05
From: Francis Hwang <francis AT>
Subject: Rhizome Commissions: Finalists chosen, 2nd voting phase begins

Hi everyone,

The 27 finalists for the Rhizome Commissions have now been chosen.

To see the full list of finalists, go to .
To submit your votes for the 2nd round, go to .

In this second stage, the top voted proposal will be awarded one of the
commissions; the other awards will be decided by our invited jury. This
second stage of voting will last until Wednesday, April 20.

For more information about the voting process, please see . Or you could just ask me,
either directly or via this list.

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

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Date: 3.27.05
From: geoffrey thomas <thomas AT>
Subject: New Media Instructor Position

FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY, Department of Communication, is seeking an
Instructor in New Media Production at its Davie campus, to teach courses in
the Department's BA in Multimedia Studies, which includes sequences in Film
& Video Studies and Multimedia Journalism. The Department seeks a scholar
of digital art and new media practice with expertise in new media as art and
communication. Ideal candidates will cross media platforms and have
experience in creating and analyzing multimedia texts. Candidates must be
able to offer instruction in the integration of text, image and audio.
Applicants should possess practical skills in more than one of the following
media platforms: digital photography, computer-based imaging technologies,
web and graphic design, and multimedia authoring. Applicants must also be
proficient in Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Studio, and have some
experience in scripting. The position is a renewable nine-month, non-tenure
track appointment beginning August 2005. The teaching load is the equivalent
of four courses per semester, and includes teaching introductory and
advanced interactive multimedia courses, as well as managing the
Department's Proteus website and serving as a web design consultant for the
College of Arts and Letters. MFA, MA, or equivalent professional experience
required. All candidates must have an active production record. Application
deadline: June 3, 2005. Send letter of application, cv, letters of
recommendation, and samples of creative work to: Dr. Eric Freedman, Chair,
New Media Search Committee, Department of Communication, Florida Atlantic
University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431-0991. E-mail (for
questions only): efreedma AT For detailed information on FAU, visit
our web sites at: and Florida
Atlantic University is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Institution.

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Date: 3.26.05
From: jimpunk <www AT>
Subject: SCREENFULL (radio)sounds

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Date: 3.26.05
From: jimpunk <www AT>

(need acrobat reader 7 to view

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Date: 3.28.05
From: Curt Cloninger <curt AT>
Subject: pop sound bytes on outsider net art

high bandwidth:
low bandwidth:
curt's site:
ze's site:

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Spring Hosting Special from BroadSpire

Want to consolidate multiple domains? Rhizome members can sign up for a
Bundle hosting package that allows for up to five separate domains under one
Broadspire hosting contract -- through May 9.

Purchasing hosting from BroadSpire contributes directly to Rhizome's fiscal
well-being, so think about about the new Bundle pack, or any other plan,

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Date: 3.29.05-4.02.05
From: Plasma Studii <office AT>, Ivan Pope
<ivan2 AT>, Pall Thayer <palli AT>, Robert Spahr
<rob AT>, Rob Myers <robmyers AT>, Geert Dekkers
<geert AT>, ryan griffis <grifray AT>, jeremy
<studio AT>, Ethan Ham <ethan AT>, Jim Andrews
<jim AT>
Subject: web evolution

Plasma Studii <office AT> posted:

what can we do to make the web more useful/differentiate it from the
same technology we've always had? the technology hasn't ACTUALLY
improved in 10+ years, only shifting attitudes and approaches.
Perl's been around for at least that and it's the essential "tool" to
a self-organizing web. Not the only tool now, the last decade has
given us an explosion of redundancy and variations on themes. Many
(like Flash) are actually de-provements, rather than IMprovements.
but whatever. The tools are currently available to us, to revive
this system.

with this illusion of growth/upgrading, people fall back on the on
the one function, they immediately latched onto, the worlds biggest
mail order catalogue. but rather than a single point when that
happens, a transition, it evolves continually down that path. if
that's where it ends up, just a big catalogue might be fine. but
then our own self-preservation is at stake. where does that leave
web art?

actually, maybe ironically, the amazon site continually amazes me.
particularly their "add a review" and "so you want to ... " sections.
a web of static information is not much of an improvement over a
unlimited paid programming on cable. but the whole idea that someone
can add to it, AND THEN folks can rate these additions (or even
"curate" (as is also on rhizome) amazon's contents, and then others
respond to the curation).

if they were actually receiving 100s of reviews a day, then there
could be a simple system to only show the most helpful reviews.
eventually, the most helpful would float top the top, and new ones
that weren't would disappear pretty fast. if there was ONLY the
curated collections, this would be self-organization. then if
perhaps the final option is to search or add an item, while some
items simply would disappear from fluctuating interest, that would
make the self-organization into learning and possibly improving.

feedback, where the "viewer" actually effects the content in some way
that makes the content more useful, is a realm far beyond things like
catalogues. in the same way interactivity is so extremely and
fundamentally different than say linear video, a recording, much less
a still or static text. so much of what's labelled interactivity is
essentially hyper-link options to move between a few linear things.
this is a baby step, when we CAN run with it. some really do utilize
interactivity to actually alter/effect the contents (the difference
between a passive viewer and active participant). and some use
things like CGI scripts to get input, to file away somewhere else.
surely there are constructive ways to smoosh these two methods
together that would drastically change peoples perspectives. user
input that alters/updates what they get.

blogs are one kind of example of this, but they are always clearly
blogs. laundry lists of amazingly short quips or posts/dictation
from a single author ranting to no one in particular but themselves.
similarly, I saw a weird report on evolution vs. religion. they just
aren't at all comparable. It's as if Darwin marvelled at gravity,
then noticed some key elements in how it works. not even saying
there can never be non-gravitational places, or that gravity is part
of everything (though it is), just how it works. he's not saying
"who" or even that there is a conscious force who came up with this
gravitational method, any more than we attribute every ricochet of
billiard balls to someone's conscious decision. it's just math.
[someone mentioned evolution/catholicism].

Darwin's "sea of wedges" idea could be so darn useful for us on the
web. Ideally, capitalism works the same way, the stores that survive
are the ones that sell useful things at prices people like, etc. The
ones that don't disappear. why not the web?

darwin noticed evolution works like a sea of wedges packed tightly.
all fit but one. press it down, and another random one pops up.
press that, and another ... it isn't so much that any is "selected"
as much as everything is driven by the situation of the whole
environment. the one that pops up, isn't chosen or better, varying
factors may favor one wedge at one time and another later. but they
are purely random. as much as investment bankers say they can, the
system still remains just beyond predictability. a word that may
send up the red flags to the pope, but then many are tuning out the
rest of the sentence.

no religion has a problem with the fact that if you drop 1000 marbles
off a balcony, you won't guess their paths. anyone with a problem
with evolution is really just mistaking it for something else. that
is not to say any miracles involving marbles are disproven, it says
when this happens (as is often the case) here's how.

how could the web use a dose of this evolutionary "selection"
process? not just on a macro level but every page.

communication can be a lot more than just limited to linguistic
conversation. a blog can be a little like a rating system [which is
a little like what mez, et al. were talking about recently]. for
example, perhaps what would make their idea a perpetually-self
organizing system, would be if the archive links were ranked or
spatially adjusted in some way that corresponded to the number of
replies. more might look up those threads that were "successful"
(however, we rarely see replies to threads come in several months
later. even the more "contagious" threads die out far too fast.


+ + +

Ivan Pope <ivan2 AT> replied:

God, where have you been (or where were you ten years ago). Everything
changed, is changing:

Broadband/always on in the home changes everything.

Semantic Web
Social media
Very large scale conversations
Discourse architecture

Really, it's the mindsets that change and as tools become available and
accepted, mindets change and we all see things that we didn't see before.

It's an exciting world at the moment, more exciting than it was between
1997 and 2004 to be sure.

As for Rhizome, what of the above has it taken on board?

(A tide, taken at its flood ...)

+ + +

Plasma Studii replied:


these are great examples. but i'm talking about using some/any of
the methods available at a given time to result in DOING something
different, than we could have before. possibly, the technology could
have been been there, but the tools impractical and needed to be
developed. but as time has elapsed, that didn't end up being the
real obstacle. PHP is much newer and a lot easier to use than Perl,
but folks still use Perl and the functions we use now, we're
available a decade ago.

object oriented programming is a semantic improvement, but not a
functional one. if C (written code) was ever supplanted by MAX
(designing flow chart), that would be a far greater change though
still C can do all the things MAX does (and much more). There's no
actual functional advantage to using MAX, only semantic.
Semantically, PHP is a breeze to use compared to Perl, but
functionally differs mostly by 2 related functions (getting a users
IP address and referring document) and Perl comes out slightly ahead.
Technology-enthusiasts generally do not acknowledge this sort of
distinction. (there literally IS change, we may even change what we
do. but it's not an apples-oranges shift, it's like
tangerines-oranges. bigger but not really more useful and the same
basic color. is there a big difference in flavor? debatable, but
mostly if you pretend there are no apples)

the technology has always been there. what changes our actual lives
are self-regulatory systems. (like reinforced concrete changes
construction of skyscrapers, which changes cities, which changes how
we live. imagine if reinforced concrete had been invented in the
1700's but we still lived in huts. that's like web technology. the
concrete need not keep evolving, once it works, for the city to
continually evolve) our actions fundamentally are transformed by
systems that respond to user input and alter themselves, not just
automatically, but according to user input. to advance the web by
"dialogue" rather than dictation. we could make sites, scripts,
pages that manage themselves according to user input (not time
specific at all), rather than construct them from an authors
final(fixed point in time) input.

what are ways the web can be more use-able than as a seemingly
infinite sprawling info dumping ground? google is one organizational
tool. a really clever one, in how it ranks so you won't bother to
see items you're less likely to be interested in, uses 100+ factors
to arrive at the rank, ... but it's hardly perfect. ebay is far
more self-regulating, but far less cleverly designed and employs much
more monitoring/regulating manually by hired humans. there must be
more advanced ways to think about organizing than by literal key
words. (wikipedia (you mentioned) is a variant use of the amazon
scheme previously sited, where readers can rate blog-esque
submissions. a feature i'd love to see a common for business and
individuals alike, a given like different colors for links than text).

>Really, it's the mindsets that change and as tools become available
>and accepted, mindets change and we all see things that we didn't
>see before.

i agree that SHOULD happen. but rather than shift (as in x=34 to
x=62), the trend is to close off change (as in x=34 to x=null).
maybe the illusion of advancing technology (in a hopeful/wishful
self-fulfilling prophesy/mirage way) that we're going through another
turn of the century paradigm shift has folks changing their mindsets
to rallying for in-substantive hype, rather than the tangible or
practical actions. the "available" part has been there for years, so
why not "accepted"? (is ignorance a memory management technique?)

>Broadband/always on in the home changes everything.

you're right, "always on" changes our daily lives. but that was
always possible (used to leave dial-up on at home 24/7). it has
always been common to be on-line all day for web designers, which
essentially has the same result. and actually, BB's not quite an
improvement itself. (only effects about 1/3 of the transaction).


+ + +

Pall Thayer <palli AT> replied:

I think some of the most significant changes we see today have to do
with public familiarity with technology. A few years ago you had to hire
someone with a degree in computer sciences if you wanted a dynamic web
site. Today, your 13 year old cousin is likely to be running his/her own
database driven website, written from scratch. And why not? Most of
today's home computers come with included webservers with server-side
scripting abilities and the most widely used databases are available for
free download all over the place. As this previously priviledged
knowledge becomes more common, we'll see more innovation.

Perl is a very powerful, versatile and extensible programming language
that far exceeds anything PHP is capable of. You really can't compare
the two because Perl, among many other things, just happens to be
usefull for web automation whereas PHP was designed specifically for web
automation and isn't very good for anything else. Perl should be
required learning for all first year digital arts students.



I just want to point out that this wasn't just absent mindedly "thrown
out there". I sincerely think that Perl should be required learning for
artists interested in working with computers. It's rather easy to learn,
it makes for quick prototyping of ideas if not a full solution and it's
capable of giving the artist near complete control over the computer and
it's capabilities. It's the quick-and-easy do all tool like the pencil
and paper sketch. You can use it for web-based projects, to read or
write to your peripherals, to interact with your microprocessor,
manipulate or create images, you name it. Also, it would give the
students a good general knowledge of programming concepts and techniques
making it easier for them to pick up other languages and just basically
understand how the computer deals with information and data. On top of
all this, it comes pre-installed with most major OS's, complete with
full documentation and is easily installable on Windows.


+ + +

Robert Spahr <rob AT> added:

I will jump in here and agree by saying that perl is quite useful for
learning basic programming skills, and combined with shell scripting it is
a great glue to connect many separate command line programs into a powerful

Another nice thing about perl is you only have to learn a small subset of
the entire language, in order to write quite useful and powerful scripts.

-- Rob

+ + +

Rob Myers <robmyers AT> replied:

My first job a decade ago was Python scripting. I chose Python because
I wanted regexes but I didn't want the neural burn from Perl's sadistic

I'd recommend Ruby to newbies, it has a more regular syntax than
Python. I'm on to Lisp myself, which is a genuinely powerful and
advanced programming language, and very good for the web (see Paul
Graham et al).

- Rob.

+ + +

Ivan Pope replied:

Pall Thayer wrote:

> I think some of the most significant changes we see today have to do
> with public familiarity with technology. A few years ago you had to
> hire someone with a degree in computer sciences if you wanted a
> dynamic web site. Today, your 13 year old cousin is likely to be
> running his/her own database driven website, written from scratch. And
> why not? Most of today's home computers come with included webservers
> with server-side scripting abilities and the most widely used
> databases are available for free download all over the place. As this
> previously priviledged knowledge becomes more common, we'll see more
> innovation.

Agree totally. During the first wave, I realised that we couldn't even
begin to really get our heads around this stuff and what it might become.
I think it's a lot more than just lots of people who are very familiar
with technology (though of course that helps, when I started my first
web company there were just zero people in the UK who were any immediate
use). I think it's that we are all familiar day in day out with the
concepts, i.e. you don't have to think about what online means or email
or forms or subscribing or whatever, it is just embedded.
Now there are kids who have never known anything else - but maybe we are
not quite there yet.

I said back in the day that it would take a generation to grow up with
online, graduate through college and go into teaching and teach the next
generation before we would have some native apps - i.e. apps that were
thought up by people who never knew or heard any different.

And I also predicted that it was more likely that some kid in the Mekong
delta or the Venezualean rainforest who would come up with that stuff.

Having said all of that of course, I still think I'm pretty good at
inventing the future :-)

So what is coming down the pipes?



I also believe that Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea should be required
reading for all artists interested in working with computers.


+ + +

Geert Dekkers <geert AT> replied:

I'd like to contradict this -- one of the signs of the fact we (=
humanity) haven't really started appreciating computer technology is
that we're not thinking and forming our lives in analogy to these
technologies. There may be a lot of readers of this list who know what
a database is but outside of our barn I assure you there are very many
who most certainly do not. We may have come a long way since '95 (or
so) but I'd guess it will take a while still before a programming
language gets put on a primary school curriculum.

+ + +

ryan griffis <grifray AT> replied:

and it's important, IMHO, to ask how the "evolution" of the web is
impacting "society" any differently than all the other paradigm
shifting communication technologies. this is not to take away from the
innovations taking place, but i'm wary (still) of the broad,
humanity-shifting language used to discuss computing - in both its
utopian and dystopic forms.
some US stats
notice the plateau since 2002...

+ + +

jeremy <studio AT> replied:

ryan griffis wrote:
> it's important to ask how the "evolution" of the web is
> impacting "society" any differently than all the other paradigm
> shifting communication technologies.

Once you start looking for the ways it impacts society you then start to
create the possible need develop software with an adgenda . these types
of questions bring up the debate as to whether the software gets
developed based the users needs, or the programmers needs. I think it is
important to ask questions, but maybe the question is how can we develop
software that facilitates creative growth and adaptability of the user?
or software that allows the user to create their own adgenda? How can we
create software that expands the dialogue between the user and the
developer, between the child and the adult?

+ + +

Plasma Studii - judsoN replied:

>Once you start looking for the ways it impacts society you then
>start to create the possible need develop software with an adgenda .
>these types of questions bring up the debate as to whether the
>software gets developed based the users needs, or the programmers
>needs. I think it is important to ask questions, but maybe the
>question is how can we develop software that facilitates creative
>growth and adaptability of the user? or software that allows the
>user to create their own adgenda? How can we create software that
>expands the dialogue between the user and the developer, between the
>child and the adult?

this is a really great way of looking at it!

oddly the software that is most programmer-needs oriented, like Flash
or Windows, is by far the most popular. Though the user-needs
software continually isn't as popular. why's that? obviously, one
way of looking at it is to chalk it up to marketing, but wonder if
it's also a similar phenomenon as folks in the US voting for bush
(even though he's clearly not going to help that "lower 98%", they're
geographically not actually at risk from terrorists, are or are close
to someone who'll get killed in impending wars). i'm picking on
these particular examples not because they need more picking on, but
because there seems to be something more at work here than just good
design = successful product. and marketing and/or price doesn't
always explain it.

people regularly or belligerently ignore contrary facts (be it about
processing, price or presidents), in order to pick the option that
will cause them the most trouble. how's that? it would seem many
folks become too discouraged to advance, either technically,
economically, or just in how they live, only because they use these
ill-designed tools.

maybe that's some protective defense mechanism? maybe many are
afraid of change (even if it's learning) because of inevitable little
disappointments along the way. avoid it by ignoring the long term.

just an idea, anyone have any others?

+ + +

jeremy replied:

I think the key is to develop the product that teaches adaptability and
not the end result. In fact, develop is totally the wrong word here.
"Grow" might better used. If you grow a piece of software that frames
the process of it's own growth, rather than focusing the user on the
software as a means to and end result, then you will begin to teach to a
more adaptable, learning audience. It is the desire for a product, for
an end result that inherently teaches us how to deal with change. In
this view, change is a means to an end. Somehow, through the tools that
we create - we need to teach adaptability, teach a process of learning
and change, and maybe we can do that by adopting a "growth" oriented
process. If the tools we create are a made to fit the end product, then
it is the end product that will be worshiped.


+ + +

Pall Thayer replied:

But isn't this exactly what's done? I can't think of a single program
that's still the same as it was 10 years ago, or am I misunderstanding


+ + +

Ethan Ham <ethan AT> added:

Jeremy Zilar wrote:

> I think the key is to develop the product that teaches adaptability
> and not the end result. Infact, develop is totally the wrong word
> here. "Grow" might better used. If you grow a piece of software that
> frames the process of it's own growth, rather than focusing the user
> on the software as a means to and end result, then you will begin to
> teach to a more adaptable, learning audience.

The discussion of user-focused vs. machine-focused software/UI brings
pen-computing to mind.

For years developers tried to create handwriting recognition software that
could learn to a users' particular handwriting style (e.g., the Newton)...
but in the end, the first really successful pen-computer (the Pilot) gave up
on adapting the the software to the user's needs and instead trained the
user to adapt a short-hand that the computer could understand.

People are more adaptable than machines.

+ + +

Plasma Studii replied:

>But isn't this exactly what's done? I can't think of a single program
>that's still the same as it was 10 years ago, or am I misunderstanding


photoshop (an example everyone's familiar with) is one of the most
useful programs ever. but after 1992 and the great innovation of
layers, the changes from version 2 to CS have all been ones you could
have done in 2, but have 3 or 4 new ways in CS. that's all fine. if
you have a computer that still runs an earlier version, no need to
pay for a new photoshop.

but, for example, they no longer sell the printer ink cartridges for
the old printers that ran on those computers. so, you'll probably
end up wanting to buy a new computer and thus need a new photoshop ...

that's a change, but not an improvement.

you might say "but the computers have improved", but that's certainly
arguable. what macs did in 1993 (after color monitors became common,
though the machines supported them long before) is still far more
than we use/need aside from the time (it's the goldfish analogy

the way most people use their computers, for things like email and
word processing. faster processing speeds have been entirely
unnecessary. so the industry finds tasks for them that demand more.
we eventually get 3d animation, video and compression for DVD
burning. (though granted, they do help to gloss over many of the
memory management shortcomings)

but linear video is actually a step backwards. it has nothing really
to do with, much less improve on, what's innovative about computers.
namely non-linear programming. yet there are folks who demand more
and better video capabilities from these machines. it's like
tweeking the taxi-ing features of an airplane. the public clammors
for cruising the runway, but shows real disdain for and wings
(originally an intrinsic part of planes).

not that video or increasing processor speed is a bad thing at all.
but for these "upgrades" to be evolution not devolution, they can
only contribute as means, features available to programming, not as
ends to be output to a media on something other than or imitated by a

hope that's a helpful clarification.

+ + +

Plasma Studii - judsoN replied:

>For years developers tried to create handwriting recognition
>software that could learn to a users' particular handwriting style
>(e.g., the Newton)... but in the end, the first really successful
>pen-computer (the Pilot) gave up on adapting the the software to the
>user's needs and instead trained the user to adapt a short-hand that
>the computer could understand.

that's be nice if it was the whole story, but think of this goal
another way. this assumes "handwriting recognition" is a viable
thing outside of a human reader. handwriting is chaos to anything
but humans. firstly, it is just fundamentally impossible to teach
anything (a monkey or program) to differentiate between writing and
discoloration. the Newton experimenting revealed that. there is no
straightforward way to comprehend the seemingly infinite variables.

neither people nor machines are more or less adaptable, people just
have finite perspectives and machines have infinite ones. so it's
hard for people to figure out precisely how they narrow it down, to
tell the machines. Palm ended up opting for the Graffiti method only
because that was at least a lot easier, in fact, the alternative
wasn't going to happen.

+ + +

jeremy replied:

I think Pall was right earlier when he said "Today, your 13 year old
cousin is likely to be running his/her own database driven website,
written from scratch."
And if notthe average 13yr old,.... the it WILL be the average 13yr old
in 20yrs. You know some kid is going to be slumping his body down, in
some chair in his 10th grade "Web Evolution Class" because his teacher
just announced that the assignment is to make a 5 page website by the
end of the semester! At some point in the very near future, they will
be offering XHTML classes as a followup to keyboarding class in grade

> As this previously priviledged
> knowledge becomes more common, we'll see more innovation.

I just want to make sure that that innovation is encouraged as much as


+ + +

Jim Andrews <jim AT> replied:

> >But isn't this exactly what's done? I can't think of a single program
> >that's still the same as it was 10 years ago, or am I
> misunderstanding
> >you?

> >Pall

How about most email list technology? I realize that there are things like
Fusetalk and yahoo groups and so on, but haven't the administrative options
for lists themselves pretty much stayed the same?


+ + +

jeremy replied:

instead of looking at the software to change, shouldnt we be looking at
our need that the software accomplishes, and try to develop our needs,
our desires?

All good forms of innovation come from finding a new way to live and
experience the world.

I know i get lost these days .. i really dont havr the time to stop,
step back and look at the caucophony of things happening, because i am
too busy playing some part in it.



that is really interesting...
It made me think of the tim Hawkinson piece at the Whitney at the moment.

However, i wasnt talking about user-focused vs. machine-focused software
but rahter a debate over the intent behind the development of the software.
Do we start to develop software based on our economic needs - thus
teaching the user to work in a particular way, or do we give the user a
bunch of tools, and see where they take it - and develop the software
based off the directions they take.


I really enjoyed reading it again. I am glad that i found it again.


I found this essay by Manuel de Landa a couple of years back.
I think it would go really good with this discussion.


+ + +

Plasma Studii - judsoN replied:

>I think Pall was right earlier when he said "Today, your 13 year old
>cousin is likely to be running his/her own database driven website,
>written from scratch."
>And if notthe average 13yr old,.... the it WILL be the average 13yr
>old in 20yrs

definitely agree. but don't see that as an improvement at all. the
web already has the look/feel of being designed by a 13 year old kid.

DIY is often mistaken for instant ability, by sidestepping the skill.
the function of learning isn't just to gain difficult-to-obtain
knowledge, but to devote time, in which you simultaneously gain
"eloquence". It may seem like you pay for "expertise", though
ideally we want some kind of eloquence, and may be willing to pay
people who put the time in to develop it.

+ + +

Pall Thayer replied:

Well, wouldn't it then be fair to say that that 13 year old kid is
beginning his/her path to refinement and eloquence. Besides, I don't
really see that that has anything to do with the discussion at hand.
Common knowledge doesn't mean that everyone's an expert, just that
everyone has a relatively good idea about how to but things to use. Like
the phone. The actual process of directing a call from one place to
another is very complicated but anyone can make a phone call. It's a
combination of the tools being easier to use and people knowing
something about what's going on. So no, I wouldn't hire the 13 year old
to build a site for my Fortune 500 company even though he/she has a
homemade, database driven website because it's junk. But it does what
the 13 year old wants it to do. And the number of 13 year olds with such
sites is steadily growing which means that what they're doing is slowly
becoming common knowledge. Once upon a time, only a handfull of people
knew how to operate an automobile.

The more people know about technology, the more they demand from it. If
this weren't the case we'd still be looking at the same old pink and
paisly websites from ca. '95 and be perfectly content.


+ + +

Plasma Studii - judsoN replied:

>Well, wouldn't it then be fair to say that that 13 year old kid is
>beginning his/her path to refinement and eloquence.

we may hope, but not at all necessarily the case. in practice, rare.
most 13 year olds just want the skill as fast as possible. ability
and eloquence are entirely independent, but treated as if they were

we can still USE a car, without being mechanics or engineers. or we
buy one because we can't design them. 100 years later, DIY cars are
still not a priority. but manufacturers continually evolve/respond
to changing buyers desires. why computers or web design?

> Like the phone.

if we look at the phone example, it only became DIY pretty recently.
it gradually moved from a tool you needed an expert to use, to one
you could go through an intermediate level person (switch board
operators) to the present version. long long after the role it would
take, the way it fundamentally works, had all been ironed out.
there's been no significant change now that we dial ourselves. we
still essentially use phones for talking to someone far away.

around 1903, there was a service you could call and listen to a
symphony, like a radio show, but before radios. this did not prove
practical and died out. do we actually need both cursors to change
and rolled over text to change when we are over a link? probably
not. but there are so many things that still need to be ironed out,
that the average joe shmoe with a gloating degree of proficiency
considers an advancement.

> I wouldn't hire the 13 year old to build a site for my Fortune 500
> company even though he/she has a homemade, database driven website
> because it's junk. But it does what the 13 year old wants it to do.

so why SHOULD everyone work with this particular aspect of
technology, any more than saying every individual SHOULD be a brain
surgeon or nuclear physicist or a plumber? (i admit a knee-jerk
reaction against DIY brain surgery.)


Plasma Studii - judsoN wrote:

>> Well, wouldn't it then be fair to say that that 13 year old kid is
>> beginning his/her path to refinement and eloquence.

> we may hope, but not at all necessarily the case. in practice, rare.
> most 13 year olds just want the skill as fast as possible. ability
> and eloquence are entirely independent, but treated as if they were
> fused.

> we can still USE a car, without being mechanics or engineers. or we
> buy one because we can't design them. 100 years later, DIY cars are
> still not a priority. but manufacturers continually evolve/respond to
> changing buyers desires. why computers or web design?

That's a pretty far fetched comparison. It takes lots of extremely
expensive heavy machinery to build a car. If you already have a
computer, what does it take to build a website or software? Aside from
that, I'm not talking about everyone being able to write their own
software or database driven website, just to be aware of them and their
capabilities. That's enough for people to start asking, "Can we do
this?" or, "Gee, wouldn't it be nifty if we could do this?" That's often
all that's needed to get the ball rolling. If it's a good, sound idea
then someone with ability will pick it up along the way and do something
with it. If it all works out, we may have a bit of innovation.

> so why SHOULD everyone work with this particular aspect of technology,
> any more than saying every individual SHOULD be a brain surgeon or
> nuclear physicist or a plumber? (i admit a knee-jerk reaction against
> DIY brain surgery.)

I don't know about you, but I had to learn about the human brain in high
school. I also had to learn about chemistry but I wasn't required to
take any plumbing courses. But I've picked up a few things along the
way, it's all pretty much gravity anyway which I had to learn about in
high school as well. It's becoming increasingly difficult for the
average person to go a full day without interacting with a computer so
why shouldn't we have to learn how they work?

+ + +

Plasma Studii - judsoN replied:


we may just be talking about the same thing but from totally
different angles. it occurs to me, to add that this is not about
wrong/right, whether ordinary people SHOULD be allowed to use the
tools. rather, which choices would now end up more useful. you may
be right about everyone being allowed the freedom to design web
pages, but essentially, the cats out of the bag. there'd be no way to
de-publicize the world wide web at this point. whether it's the
right right or a wrong rite, we can all do it. (much to MS's
chagrin, who keeps trying to make it all proprietary)

but what path we choose now (i propose) could get us somewhere new.
may even be called a "wrong" turn by many, but not stagnant and an
addition to the old, not a replacement. evolution only comes up with
improvements by constantly trying out innovations though. maybe an
important first step to getting that ball rolling, is for us to get
back to earth about what things are innovations, variants or hype.
(though perhaps we are already of a generation that says surface
alteration is fundamental.)


+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Rhizome ArtBase Exhibitions

Visit the third ArtBase Exhibition "Raiders of the Lost ArtBase," curated by
Michael Connor of FACT and designed by scroll guru Dragan Espenschied.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +


Date: 4.01.05
From: Katherine Moriwaki <kaki AT>
Subject: From Silk to Microcontrollers


Katherine Moriwaki interviews Joey Berzowska on designing fashion,
technology, and memory-rich garments.

KM: Fashion and technology are experiencing quite a rise of interest
lately. How would you explain the recent hype? Do you think the applications
are ready for market, and are you interested in commercializing the projects
developed at XS Labs?

JB: I think the hype (not sure how recent it is, really) is explained very
simply by the fact that in our western, techno-loving culture, we all want
to be superheroes and have superpowers. We love gadgets, we love visual
culture, and we all want to self-help and self-improve. Therefore, the
promise of magical cloaks and enhanced garments resonates very strongly with
most of us.

Being in Canada, I have the great luxury of being able to get lots of
research funding (I have received almost half a million so far) without any
military or corporate strings tied to the money. Deliverables from my grants
usually center on cultural dissemination and giving back to the community
through teaching, writing, showing work, giving interviews, participating in
conferences, and organizing workshops. I really love Canada for the great
support of art-based research that happens here.

I am definitely interested in commercializing things like my expertise,
through consulting services, and also marketing a line of very simple
dresses, focusing on good design rather than fancy technology.

At the same time, I think there are lots of applications of fashion
technology out there already, mostly the sports. The things that they do
with shoes alone are incredible!

KM: You have described your previous research titled "Computational
Expressionism" as "a model for drawing that combines higher level
algorithmic design with real-time gestural input" but later co-founded the
company International Fashion Machines with Maggie Orth. Can you share the
process by which your research interests moved from algorithmic drawing to
fashion and textiles? In other words, how did you get involved
in this area?

JB: There are two parts to this story: personal and professional. On the
personal front, I have always loved making things with fibers and textiles.
I have also always been very much a "bricoleur" with clothes and
accessories. I learned to knit and crochet when I was seven, but even then I
mostly made bizarre, experimental, unconventional things, which usually
looked terrible, but I just could never force myself to follow the patterns.
Later on, I got a tiny little weaving setup, I was also making experimental
clothes for the couple of dolls that I owned (really out of necessity, we
were living in Africa, did not have much money and so on). I destroyed many
of my own garments, trying to "improve" them. I finally learned how to make
my own textiles with stuff like Batik and I learned to sew. I produced many
wearable disasters such as pants with one red leg and one green leg, tunics
with lots of little men running all over the place, and ripped-up dresses. I
was always trying to push the limits of materials and designs, without much
fashion sense, to be perfectly honest.

On the professional end of things, I got undergraduate degrees in
Mathematics and in Design in 1995. I always loved to make things, physical
things, but somehow fell into what was then called Multimedia. I had started
a little company in Montreal called Teckel Cruel ("cruel dachshund" in
French) that made interactive CD-ROMs. After graduation, I moved to
Australia and worked in interaction research at the University of Technology
in Sydney. When I went to the MIT Media Lab in 1996, I was mostly frustrated
with the limitations of existing tools for graphical expression, so I
decided to make my own. I programmed a whole bunch of drawing environments
that responded in very personal ways to gestural input. At the same time, I
created textile-based work such as a textile (soft) input device for color
selection, but most of my research involved programming for the "small
screen". When Hiroshi Ishii (director of Tangible Media Group) saw my work,
he yelled at me for using conventional physical interfaces (the mouse) and
invited me to work with him after I finished my thesis to develop physical
interfaces and tangible media research. I worked with the group for a year,
on projects such as the Music Bottles. It was really a fantastic experience,
but I grew a little frustrated as well, because I felt that I wanted to
engage the full body in tangible interactions with the world, instead of
just using the hands. I really wanted to work with garments and the whole
body. I started talking to Maggie (whom I knew already form the lab) about
starting a company and we decide to merge our interests in "smart textiles"
and full-body interaction design into International Fashion Machines.

KM: Your current research into "Memory Rich Clothing" utilizes visually
animated textiles to illustrate "poetic and personal" interpretations of
history and memory. Can you tell us a little more about what you hope to
gain by illustrating things such as touch and intimacy on our physical
bodies? What do we have to gain from this?

JB: What interests me more than anything is the playful aspect of electronic
textiles and reactive garments. I love the unexpected and the bizarre. I
love the stuff that challenges social boundaries and makes us question how
we relate to one another (in our increasingly wireless culture). I think it
is great to have a skirt that shows when you've been groped (and how hard),
not because you necessarily want to broadcast this to the world, but because
it is one of these embodied experiences that are becoming less and less
associated with definitions of intimacy (in a culture of wireless
connectivity). It is, in a sense, your physical "hit counter". It is funny
and it is playful.

I do not think of my pieces as product designs. I think of them, first of
all, as nerdy technology prototypes (they all solve some kind of
connectivity or materials problems), but also social commentary artifacts.

KM: You have been quoted as saying: "The killer app for wearable computing
is to convey personal identity information. This is called fashion and it is
mostly visual." Firstly, could you elaborate on what you see as the limits
to sharing personal information? Secondly, what are your thoughts on the
less visible aspects of fashion design which still influence our subjective
experience? Have you explored that area?

JB: We share personal information through fashion (and accessories) all the
time: our social status, sexual availability, profession, religion and so
on. This is well known. Digital technologies and electronic textiles should
not AUTOMATE this process, but could add another layer to the experience.
This is deeply subjective. The only things that change are the materials
(from silk to microcontrollers) and the potential complexity of the
programmed experience. The subjective components remain just as complex.
When I sweat, does it mean that I am sexually aroused, that I am nervous, or
that I just ran up a flight of stairs? This reminds me that I am also deeply
suspicious of using biometric data to "express" ourselves. I think that
reactive fashion stuff will be and should be approached in the same way that
fashion is approached right now. Some things can be controlled; some things
are beyond our control. Some things look much better on a model and make us
look ridiculous. A blinking skirt will not solve all our social problems.

KM: It seems that you are interested in not only in developing and inventing
new technologies, but also in developing applications for existing
technology. What caught my attention is your advocacy of the "misuse (or
abuse)" of existing technologies, which is a sentiment that seems fairly
popular within technology and art crowds. Could you describe how your works
manifest this subversive edge?

JB: I think a lot of this sentiment comes from the fact that so much new
technology research is really funded (and shaped by) large institutions with
specific agendas (such as the US military - which I had to deal with in my
IFM days). It's cool to "misuse". It is evidence of an inventive and
innovative spirit.

I like to use materials in unconventional ways, especially to create soft
circuits using fibers and textiles that originated from defense-based
research contracts etc... Conceptually, I also flirt with questions of
privacy and surveillance with projects such as the groping skirt.

I also think that it's important to question what is now called the "memory
industry". As I said in my paper, Memory Rich Clothing: Second Skins that
Communicate Physical Memory (to be given at Creativity & Cognition 2005 in
London), the term "memory industry" is being used to describe western
society's growing interest in various gadgets that help commit to
computerized memory all of the things that we otherwise might forget, such
as appointments, commitments, and other important life details. One of the
proclaimed goals of pervasive computing research is to develop invisible
distributed sensor networks to record various aspects our activities.
Wearable computing research is similarly concerned with questions of memory.
Brad Rhodes' Remembrance Agent, for instance, is a wearable proactive memory
aid and data system that continually reminds the wearer of potentially
relevant information based on the wearer's current physical and virtual

We need to clarify the distinction between concepts of human memory versus
computer memory. Computer scientists started using the term memory to refer
to hard drives and RAM as analogous to the way that humans remember facts.
But computer memory is distinctly different from human memory insofar as it
acts more as a dumping group for data, as opposed to the rich, contextual
space that makes up human memory. Computers do not forget things in the same
way that humans forget. At the same time, a computer can store images with
great accuracy but cannot identify one image as being similar to another,
which humans can do quite easily.

Once the term "memory" became established in computer science,
computer-based definition of memory infiltrated our discussions of human
memory. The "memory industry" thus defines the concept of memory in a very
objective and impersonal way. Photos and video register memory as events in
time instead of stored experiences. Memory-rich research, on the other hand,
deals with memory as it relates to the body and the interaction between
people through the use of their bodies.

It is important to develop wearable technologies that challenge social
structures and assumptions in relation to embodied interaction (or concepts
of knowledge). These interactions have developed under specific cultural,
historical and social contexts.

KM: Working in fashion and technology requires numerous multi-disciplinary
skills. Additionally I have noticed you have a sizable list of researchers
and both graduate and undergraduate research assistants listed on your site,
as well as collaborative work with the CodeZebra project by Sara Diamond.
Describe the creative process at XS Labs. How are your ideas developed? How
do you see this relating to wearable design in general?

JB: I make sure that everybody on my team can both use a sewing machine and
an adjustable voltage regulator, despite their formal training. We have
electrical engineers, weavers, designers, and programmers. They each have
distinct roles, but the really great ideas come when the roles leak into
each other. That is my job, I create the leaks. I dig the trenches.

KM: Can you tell us what you are currently working on? Where do you see your
work moving in the next twelve months and beyond?

JB: We are currently finalizing four projects:

1. Several (highly personal) animated weavings that deal with issues of
displacement and cultural identity.

2. Two Memory Suits that deploy various modalities for recording and
displaying physical memory on the body.
3. An Animated Quilt, a 10 by 10 pixel textile display.
4. Two shape change dresses, using the shape memory alloy Nitinol (we have
spent a whole year exploring the properties of various formulations and
various ways of incorporating into a textile, such as weaving, embroidery,
stitching etc.)

I plan to spend this summer masterminding our next research direction. I am
very concerned with issues of power (in all its meanings) and environmental
issues associated with this work. I also want to seriously pursue further
research in textile-based display technologies. I basically plan to grow a
couple of research consortiums over the next two years:

1. WEARABLE POWER LAB: Alternate power sources for wearable/portable

We will explore power sources such as flexible solar panels, printable solar
cells (photovoltaic cells), dielectric elastomers etc... We will develop new
methods for integrating the above technologies into textiles, so as to
enable body-worn power generation.

2. MEMORY LAB: Alternate Graphics Displays, Memory Representation and Time
Based Experience.

We will study issues of representing memory and alternate substrates for
ubiquitous graphic display. We will develop new technologies for
textile-based and body-worn displays, user scenarios for ubiquitous media
deployment, and experiments in contextualizing the human body as an
augmented surface for memory representations.

Joey Berzowska is an Assistant Professor of Design and Computation Arts in
Montreal. She works primarily with "soft computation": electronic textiles,
responsive clothing as wearable technology, reactive materials and squishy
interfaces. <> <>

Katherine Moriwaki is an artist and researcher investigating clothing and
accessories as the active conduit through which people create network
relationships in public space. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the
Networks and Telecommunications Research Group at the University of Dublin,
Trinity College. <> <>

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Kevin McGarry (kevin AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 10, number 14. Article submissions to list AT
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