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: 7.03.05
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 15:09:28 -0700

RHIZOME DIGEST: July 3, 2005


1. Francis Hwang: Director of Technology's report, June 2005

2. Kevin McGarry: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] archive hour from Banff -
curating and conserving new media

3. Kevin McGarry: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Fwd: SMAL Project Co-ordinator -
job opportunity
4. Marisa S. Olson: Fwd: ASCA Conference: Trajectories of Commitment and

5. Jo-Anne Green: Let's Get Loud!: Cluster's Interview with Helen Thorington
6. Carlo Zanni Interview at

+commissioned for
7. Marisa S. Olson: Interview with Nat Muller

8. t.whid, Marisa S. Olson, Jim Andrews, Jason Van Anden, Lewis Lacook,
Geert Dekkers, furtherfield, Pall Thayer, Rob Myers, partick lichty, Phillip
Galanter, Dirk Vekemans, Eduardo Navas: NYT review of ArtBase 101

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Rhizome is now offering Organizational Subscriptions, group memberships
that can be purchased at the institutional level. These subscriptions allow
participants at institutions to access Rhizome's services without
having to purchase individual memberships. For a discounted rate, students
or faculty at universities or visitors to art centers can have access to
Rhizome?s archives of art and text as well as guides and educational tools
to make navigation of this content easy. Rhizome is also offering
subsidized Organizational Subscriptions to qualifying institutions in poor
or excluded communities. Please visit for
more information or contact Kevin McGarry at Kevin AT or Lauren
Cornell at LaurenCornell AT

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Date: 7.01.05
From: Francis Hwang <francis AT>
Subject: Director of Technology's report, June 2005

Hi everyone,

A pretty slow month for me, owing largely to the fact that I travelled
a lot and was really only in NYC on Rhizome time for about half the
month. Would it be ludicrous to say that I still need a vacation? Oh,
so it goes.

A few notes:

1. Raw spam
Occasionally people try to use various parts of Rhizome, particularly
the Raw mailing list, to spread spam. We don't really have an automated
solution for it, but if you see anybody sending out stuff that is
clearly off-topic and/or inappropriately commercial, let me know and
I'll quietly kick them off. Please note that this does not apply to
posters who are simply confrontational or even incoherent. Incoherence
will always have a home at Rhizome.

2. Commissions came out, finally!
After much delay, we announced the winners of the 2005-2006 Commissions
cycle. Congrats to all, and keep in mind that we're planning a
real-life Commission event in October, with human bodies and cocktails
and everything. Go see the winners at .

3. More RSS goodness
There's now a Raw RSS feed, if you want to see everything come down the
pike. Also, many of the previously existing feeds--artwork.rss,
calendar.rss, exhibit.rss, opportunities.rss--have more complete entries in
them so you can see more without coming to the site if that's your thang.

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

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Date: 6.27.05
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] archive hour from Banff - curating and
conserving new media


------ Forwarded Message
From: Sarah Cook <sarah.e.cook AT SUNDERLAND.AC.UK>
Reply-To: Sarah Cook <sarah.e.cook AT SUNDERLAND.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 17:23:22 +0100
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] archive hour from Banff - curating and
conserving new media

Please note the fantastic opportunity below!

From the mountains of Canada, where real bears live, Archive Hour with
the Dirty Librarian plays audio recordings of past Banff New Media
Institute Summits from 1995 ­ 2005 on pirate radio station Radio90.

Listen online live (oh, so easily) wherever you are at

Beginning June 27 Archive Hour will be broadcasting the Curating and
Conserving New Media Symposium which took place at the Banff New Media
Institute from May 25 ­ 30 1998.

Monday to Thursday: 10 am ­ 11:30 am MST (5pm BST)
Please note; Archive Hour will not broadcast on June 30, and July 4 (as
your Dirty Librarian will be attempting to reintegrate with society
where there is no fear of death by bears).

Selection of speakers to be broadcast includes:
? Barbara London ­ Head of the museum of Modern Arts Film and video
? Carl Goodman - Curator of Digital Media American Museum of the Moving
? Thecla Shiphorst - Artist
? Jean Gagon ­ Foundation Daniel Langlois
? Dot Tuer - writer, art critic, and cultural historian
? Sara Diamond ­ Director BNMI

Topics discussed:
? Current Concepts in New Media Festivals: Salon vs. Concepts
? Conceptual Practices and New Media Curation and Exhibitions
? Current Curatorial Concepts in New Media
? Conserving Ephemeral Works: practice and rights
? Technology, Art and Science
? Collaboration: artist, engineer, scientist

------ End of Forwarded Message

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Rhizome ArtBase Exhibitions

Visit the fourth ArtBase Exhibition "City/Observer," curated by
Yukie Kamiya of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and designed
by T.Whid of MTAA.

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Date: 6.28.05
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Fwd: SMAL Project Co-ordinator - job

------ Forwarded Message
From: Sarah Cook <sarah.e.cook AT SUNDERLAND.AC.UK>
Reply-To: Sarah Cook <sarah.e.cook AT SUNDERLAND.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 12:44:36 +0100
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Fwd: SMAL Project Co-ordinator - job

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Luci Eyers <giraffe AT>
> Date: 28 June 2005 12:22:08 BST
> To: smal AT
> Subject: SMAL Project Co-ordinator - job opportunity
> (Sorry if you have already received this but we want to ensure that
> everyone has seen this job opportunity)
> [SMAL] Season of Media Arts, London
> Project Co-ordinator
> £35,000 pa. 2 days a week pro rata (£13,704)
> contract: July 2005 - April 2006 (10 months)
> This post is to assist and support the organisational process of a
> Season of Media Arts, London for March 2006. A good knowledge of
> contemporary media arts, and the autonomous art networks operating in
> London will be useful. A flexible approach is desirable because actual
> hours worked will be variable depending on the time of project
> intensity - this will average 2 days a week.
> SMAL is looking for applicants who have excellent organisational and
> communications skills, who can work autonomously, delegate, and manage
> time. An understanding of Arts administration and financial
> administration will be necessary, with additional experience of fund
> raising desirable. You will have experience in working with groups or
> working on projects with multiple participants and need to be computer
> literate and able to engage with and critique experimental software.
> Further information and a full job description can be found at
> Application procedure:
> Please submit a letter describing how you suit the job, and what
> interests you about it. Please include a current CV, two references
> and contact details.
> Closing date for applications: 1 July 2005
> Interviews will be held on 12th and 13th July (in central London
> location)
> Contact:
> coordinator AT
> SMAL is committed to equal opportunities.

------ End of Forwarded Message

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Date: 6.29.05
From: Marisa S. Olson <marisaso AT>
Subject: Fwd: ASCA Conference: Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity

This is an interesting conference series. I reported, for Rhizome, on
their last conference, Sonic Interventions. This call doesn't mention
media art specifically, but I know that there's a strong interest in
new media and network culture, there...

> Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity
> Knowledge, Politics, Cultural Production
> The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
> invites proposals for the international workshop,
> Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity, to be
> held between 29th - 31st of March, 2006 in
> Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This interdisciplinary
> workshop will be dedicated to exploring the concepts
> of commitment and complicity as they manifest
> themselves at the intersections of knowledge,
> politics and cultural production.
> Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Prof. Timothy Brennon
> and Prof. Elleke Boehmer
> The concepts of commitment and complicity come into
> play when scholars engage with tensions between
> knowledge, world politics and everyday life. For
> example, if one asks how knowledge and methodologies
> in the humanities can travel to make a difference in
> everyday politics and vice versa. Although the two
> concepts are widely used in colloquial language,
> their intellectual trajectories have often been
> under-illuminated. Either commitment seemed (a) good
> in itself, or the so-called disinterestedness of
> knowledge production foreclosed any kind of
> assessment of the term. Equally, the uses of
> complicity have kept the concept outside the realm
> of examination. Either complicity was used to stress
> the accommodating roles of knowledge, intellectuals
> and cultural production in relation to dominant
> power structures, or it was celebrated as an
> enabling condition for research.
> Sparked by an interest in commitment as a form of
> self-reflexive, engaged and responsible knowledge
> production, while haunted by the hidden or explicit
> complicity of the theories and concepts with which
> we work, this workshop sets out to examine both
> concepts within their situated trajectories. In
> order not to turn blind - methodologically and
> conceptually - at the very moment we use commitment
> and complicity, both concepts need to remain subject
> to critical examination. Thus, the question is not
> whether one is a committed or a complicit scholar,
> but how the twin concepts crystallize and manifest
> themselves at the intersections of knowledge,
> politics and cultural production, and how they
> travel through space and time, institutions, and
> methods of analysis.
> Uncomfortably and paradoxically, 'individuality',
> 'freedom' and 'choice' are some of the constitutive
> conditions of intellectual practices. However, the
> position of the intellectual, the commitment and/or
> complicity of the knowledge s/he produces and
> her/his actions are not merely contingent upon these
> conditions, particularly when other notions such as
> autonomy, intellectual solidarity, critical thought
> and answerability are taken into consideration.
> Opening up a space for discussion for alternative
> conceptualizations of intellectual practices while
> keeping in mind that knowledge, politics and
> cultural production are discourses of power, we wish
> to develop an understanding that both works with and
> against commitment and complicity. In doing so, we
> intend to treat these twin concepts with the same
> kind of generous scrutiny bestowed on other
> traveling concepts in the humanities.
> * We encourage contributions surrounding, but by no
> means limited to, the following questions:
> Spatio-temporal Trajectories: Definitions of
> commitment and complicity are often dependent on the
> historical, political and cultural frameworks within
> which they are discussed. Due to this variation, the
> 'object' of commitment and complicity as well as its
> specific spatio-temporal cultural manifestations
> should not be taken for granted. Yet, commitment and
> complicity also seem to relate to universalisms such
> as 'human rights' and 'freedom of thought'. How can
> we think of commitment and complicity without
> running the risk of turning them into either master
> narratives or culturally relativist concepts? To
> what extent are commitment and complicity culturally
> specific concepts? How do specific forms of
> commitment and complicity arise in particular
> geographic, cultural and social locations, and how
> can they possibly move to other contexts? Regarding
> the genealogy of commitment and complicity, how, by
> whom and to what aims have both concepts been used?
> Trajectories in Cultural Production: Cultural
> artifacts as productions of knowledge are often
> informed by practices of commitment and complicity,
> and hence require to be analyzed in terms of them.
> In what ways do cultural products articulate or
> produce forms of commitment and complicity? How, and
> through which strategies, do cultural artifacts
> negotiate the ways in which they are committed or
> complicitous? How are reading/viewing practices
> informed by commitment and complicity? In what ways
> do overtly 'committed' cultural artifacts become
> expressions of complicity? Is there such a thing as
> a 'committed' cultural artifact or is it more apt to
> talk about committed or complicitous readings? How
> can we understand processes of cultural production
> and consumption in terms of commitment and
> complicity?
> Trajectories of intellectual production: While
> committed to socio-political causes, intellectuals
> are also mediated by that which they seek to resist.
> Through the concepts of commitment and complicity,
> the nature of the relationship between the
> intellectual, the knowledge s/he produces, and
> everyday politics can be scrutinized. How can we
> envision intellectuals to be committed and complicit
> in terms of their political (institutional,
> personal, cultural) situation? To what extent is
> their institutional situation an enabling or
> restrictive condition, and to what extent does that
> situation politicize or depoliticize the very
> material and ideas they work on? When do the
> commitment and complicity of knowledge and its
> production risk inserting one's scholarly production
> into the dominant ideologies one sets out to
> criticize? And to what extent could the concepts of
> commitment and complicity contribute to an effective
> methodology (e.g. self-reflexivity) for studying
> these questions?
> * Organizing Committee: Bregje van Eekelen, Begum
> Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Ihab Saloul, Sonja van
> Wichelen
> * Practicalities: The Amsterdam School for Cultural
> Analysis (ASCA) is devoted to studying contemporary
> culture through detailed, historically as well as
> theoretically informed analyses of case studies.
> Participants should specify how the concepts of
> commitment and/or complicity are theoretically,
> politically, and culturally relevant and related to
> their own work. The concepts may be addressed
> together or separately and preferably in correlation
> with cultural objects such as film, artworks,
> television, literature, photography, music, museums,
> scientific objects/practices, religious
> objects/practices, etc. This conference is the
> latest in a series of ASCA graduate conferences and
> is inspired by the Theory Seminar organized by Mieke
> Bal in 2004-2005 on "Commitment in the Humanities."
> *The workshop format of the conference is designed
> to stimulate discussion in the panels. Instead of
> "reading" their papers at the conference,
> participants are encouraged to give a 15-minute
> presentation of their work, connecting their paper
> to the other papers in their panel and to the
> overall concerns of the conference. Please send your
> one-page proposal, accompanied by a short CV, by
> October 15th 2005. Proposals will be selected
> according to their relevance to the topics of the
> conference. Participants will be asked to send the
> final version of their papers (4000-word maximum) by
> January 30th, 2006. A reader will be prepared for
> each of the panels and will be circulated before the
> workshop. Keynote speakers are to be announced.
> * Please send your proposal to the ASCA office at
> the following address:
> Dr Eloe Kingma, Managing Director ASCA
> Spuistraat 210. 1012 VT Amsterdam. The Netherlands.
> Phone: +31 20 525 3874.
> Fax: +3120 525 3052.
> Email: asca-fgw AT <mailto:asca-fgw AT>.
> Website: <>.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 2005-2006 Net Art Commissions

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

For the 2005-2006 Rhizome Commissions, eleven artists/groups were selected
to create original works of net art.

The Rhizome Commissions Program is made possible by support from the
Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial, the
Greenwall Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and
the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional support has
been provided by members of the Rhizome community.

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Date: 6.27.05
From: Jo-Anne Green <jo AT>
Subject: Let's Get Loud!: Cluster's Interview with Helen Thorington

Let's Get Loud!: Cluster's Interview with Helen Thorington,

"They began with the radio, producing over 300 projects in 15 years. Then
while it was still the dawn of a new genre, they started with net art.
Today, TURBULENCE.ORG has around eighty net projects running, many of these
making history in net art. With an enthusiasm and energy that's hard to
compare, they continually enrich their collection in which one of the most
important and most visited blogs of those dedicated to the relationship
between creativity and new technology can be accessed. It doesn't have a
physical space, but it doesn't need one, considering it can boast to be one
of the most interesting places on the web. We asked the artist and
co-director of, HELEN THORINGTON, the project's backbone
right from the start, to tell us the story, enlighten us on the structure
and the problems it has had to face and to take a glimpse at what the future
has in store." From "Let's get loud!: Interview with Helen Thorington" by
Domenico Quaranta, Cluster #5.

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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Support Rhizome: buy a hosting plan from BroadSpire

Reliable, robust hosting plans from $65 per year.

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

About BroadSpire

BroadSpire is a mid-size commercial web hosting provider. After conducting a
thorough review of the web hosting industry, we selected BroadSpire as our
partner because they offer the right combination of affordable plans (prices
start at $14.95 per month), dependable customer support, and a full range of
services. We have been working with BroadSpire since June 2002, and have
been very impressed with the quality of their service.

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Date: 6.30.05
From: <cz AT>
Subject: Carlo Zanni Interview at


One of the artists that has kept popping up over the last few years is
Italian Carlo Zanni (b. 1975). He originally got us interested when he
launched the Altarboy - a device where art collectors can control when their
internet art pieces are online - and he has since been featured twice in our
networks list with his eBay Landscape and Average Shoveler. Kristine Ploug
talked to him.



A recent article in The New York Times spoke pragmatically about the
obstacles of owning video art. It tends to be noisy and might disturb your
nice and quiet time, or interrupt your dinner parties. It also seems plain
weird to some having a Bill Viola projection onto the wall between the
kitchen and the bedroom. Therefore, some people keep it off a lot of the
time, others install a contemplation room in the garage, and yet others buy
their own museum.
When it comes to owning internet art it is even more troublesome, especially
the kind of internet art that needs to be online to exist.

Italian artist Carlo Zanni has one possible solution. He created the
Altarboy - a personal server that easily lets you decide when your purchased
internet artwork is online. Read more in our brand new interview with Carlo

The summer is here, and while we wish all of our readers a great holiday,
Artificial will stay put with new articles and updates from the world of
computer based art. Stay tuned!


from :

NEWS FROM ARTIFICIAL.DK #9, Thursday, June 30, 2005

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Date: 6.28.05
From: Marisa S. Olson <marisaso AT>
Subject: Interview with Nat Muller

Interview with Nat Muller, by Marisa S. Olson

Nat Muller is a Venezuela-born Dutch curator and writer living inRotterdam
and working internationally. She went to High SchoolinBelgium before earning
a BA in English Lit from Tel-AvivUniversityand an MA in Lit at Sussex, in
the Sexual Dissidence andCultural Change program. She continues to work on a
global scale,organizing exhibitions, performances, talks, and publications
on arange ofthemes related to media activism and electronic art. She'sworked
quite a bit with V2, where she was formerly project manager andcurator.
Amongst others she co-curated the Dutch Electronic ArtFestival (DEAF) in
2004, and has participated and organized programsfor Transmediale 2005, ISEA
2002, and many other major festivals. Nathas also collaborated on projects
in Eastern Europe, such as"TheTrans_European Picnic: The Art and Media of
Accession", and otherfestivals across Europe. All of this made for a very

I flew from New York to Amsterdam and took a train straight toRotterdam,
where I was to spend the evening at Nat's in a sort ofblind date interview
scenario. I woke up from a jetlagger's nap tofind that she'd cooked me an
amazing meal and after several glasses ofwine we started recording our
conversation about her work and aboutnew media, in general. We discussed the
relationship of food tocurating, the status of cyberfeminism, the status of
Holland and ofindependent curators in Europe, the hidden dangers of
databaseaesthetics, the unusually vibrant sound art scene in Jerusalem,
andthe challenges of curating and collaborating in the Middle East?

MO: Your bio says that you are a freelance writer,
curator,producer/organizer, critic, and a foodie/delight-maker. That's
manyhats to be wearing, but I'm especially curious about thedelight-making
role. Food seems to be a running theme in your work,from the collaboration
with FOAM to the Open Brunch you organized atDEAF, to the Trans-European
picnic, and other projects you'vedeveloped. Why is food so important to you?

NM: I started cooking really late, at the age of 25. Before thatIwould
refuse to cook out of hardcore feminist conviction. I grew upin a very
multi-cultural household with parents of Jewish/MiddleEastern and
Dutch/Asian origin. It was a very rich environment wherefood always set the
scene for a particular social context. I guess Iam most interested in the
set of codes and protocols coming with thepreparation and consumption of
food: it is so much based oncommunication. When I organize an event I
always try to get thepeople involved to share a meal together beforehand,
because it doesshed certain facades or inhibitions when people break bread
together.To me the best social interface is still the dinner table. People
canshow themselves a bit more at the dinner table and that's fundamentalin
collaborations. It's also the pleasure principle: food is verysynaesthetic.
It's similar to working with alternative interfaces,wearable media or mixed
reality environments where you are tryingtoget people to use and extend
their sensual faculties andperceptions.

MO: So is food preparation, for you, a metaphor for curating or somekind of
cultural production?

NM: Well, I guess you could put it that way: you're working withbringing raw
ingredients together and working towards "a dish" that isbalanced, and
"works" from the perspective of tastes, textures,colours, fragrances. If
one ingredient or flavour sticks out toomuch, then it dominates the dish.
This is not quite the idea?.not infood, nor in project coordination. For me
cooking is very muchmethodological, and is somehow based on a principle of
synthesis:where the combination of various elements engender something new?.
andof course allow for a pleasurable consumption. It is particularly
theissue of pleasure that I would like to see brought back morestrategically
within artistic practice, without making it populist orlight. The food thing
is similar to my interest in sexuality. It'ssensual and tactile. Next to
tactical media, we definitely needtactile and tangible media.

MO: It also seems like a good way to stay grounded in the midst ofyour busy
life. You travel so much and work with artists from so manybackgrounds, and
you have written and organized events around a numberof themes. Is there one
overarching idea that thematizes yourcurating?

NM: Well, I don't come from an arts background. For me thesocio-political
context is always the most important. To me art offersa lens through which
to view socio-political conditions. I'm notinterested in aesthetics for
aesthetics' sake.

MO: What about the issue of feminism? A minute ago you handed me areader
called CTRL-SHIFT-ART/ CTRL-SHIFT-GENDER (published by Axis in2000) and you
said "this is something I did when I was still acyberfeminist." Why are you
not, anymore and what do you think aboutthe status of contemporary

NM: It's dead!!! And the question is, also, was there ever such athing to
begin with? What I found really attractive, in the mid-90s,with groups like
VNS Matrix, is that they had this really sexy kind offeminism. It was
certainly different from that second wave separatistBirkenstock/we-hate-men
kind of thing or that third wave, intellectualCixous or Irigaray kind of
feminism?of which ­ mind you - I was a bigfan of in college, but it always
remained somehow too abstracted, toointellectual, too detached, too
beautiful. Then came all these sexywomen with big technology and this
in-your-face attitude, and it wasactually cyberfeminism in 1996/1997 that
got me into new media. It wasexciting; the first Cyberfeminist
Internationals in Kassel in 1997,two years later in Rotterdam. There was
this refreshing spirit andall these women were saying "we're going to show
them that technologyis not just toys for the boys." It was a feeling of
empowerment. Butby the end of the 90s it was really repetitive and
self-perpetuatingand seemed to end up in the pitfalls that all feminisms
have ended upin. It lost all its energy & momentum. And you can't blame
it?maybethat's just inherent to feminism?but that's a whole can of worms

MO: or any ­ism?

NM: Yes, it just ends up institutionalizing that which it seeks tocritique.
It became branded. I still think it's important work, and Iappreciate it a
lot, but it became really repetitive. On a sociallevel it was always nice to
see all the girls, but it lost itsactivist or emancipatory goal, its
urgency. You cannot keeporganizing events with the same people again and
again, and expect tomake a change. You create your own niche then: that's a
bad thing.Flusser wrote that "Habit is like a cotton blanket. It covers up
allthe sharp edges, and it dampens all noise." There lies the dangerofany

MO: Do you feel like any new thing has taken its place, whether it'sanother
form of critique or a social movement? Or is there somethingyou want to see
or to try to make happen for yourself?

NM: I think it's probably a whole "salad" of things. If you think ofthe
philosophy of tactical media or situated practices, for example, Ithink
that's something that's been extremely important. It's thissensibility that
I am trying to integrate in my latest researchproject, called "Xeno-Tech".
Namely, looking at groups we've definedas "other" and ask what happens when
"they" start using thetechnologies we've claimed as our own?the very things
that make usstand apart and function as identitarian markers. I'm interested
howmedia and technology have very discriminating scripts written intothem,
how by default technological affordances always "other". I don'tthink there
is enough attention paid to these things. AttheTransmediale this year, I
gave the example of Macromedia's Flash,which doesn't accommodate
right-to-left languages, which means that alarge chunk of the world
population has been technologicallydiscriminated.

MO: I'm curious, also, about how you understand your role. You arepart of
this generation that plays so many roles at once and you arenot "just" a
curator, but also a writer, a producer, an organizer? I'mcurious whether you
see curation as a practice of tactical media orwhether you see yourself as
facilitating some type of protest?

NM: I'm not the kind of person who goes to all the protests, andstands on
the barricades. My kind of critical work has always comemore through the pen
than through the sword. So I do think there's apolitical role for 'the
curator" when creating some kind of platformor context for debate and
critique. "Curator," has for many artists,become a dirty word. I can't blame
them! If you go to Documenta or theVenice Biennale, where the curator is god
and the artists are justfunctional, then this really pisses me off. There
are also curatorswho claim that curating is an art. That's bullshit. I
think a curatoris supposed to facilitate and administrate and navigate
betweenarticulations, but not take on an omnipresent role. It's time to
getpast the male-dominated, proprietary, peacock-style, feather-flashingmode
of curating.

MO: I'm curious about the context of curating in Rotterdam or inHolland, or
even in Western Europe. It seems like here there is acadre of people
interested in electronic art and there seems to be notonly a new generation
of artists or curators but also of a new type ofexhibition and critical text
which calls for something as much as itcatalogues something in culture. But
then, when I think of who's onthe radar here, I see a lot of "peacocks," to
use your term, andcertainly a lot of men. That's not to belittle any of the
manyinteresting men over here, but do you think it's any different for
youbeing here than in New York or London, or elsewhere?

NM: I can't judge the US because I've never worked there, but it'sfunny when
I travel because I always get a response of "Oh, you're agirl," which is
curious to me. There are some very interesting womenworking in our field,
but new media art is becoming more and moreinstitutionalized, and
unfortunately enough mostly men seem to begiven those institutional jobs. I
wonder, sometimes, why that is. Isit still the good old glass ceiling, or is
there something else goingon?

MO: You, yourself, have said to me that you don't want to work
forinstitutions if you don't have to. I think it is a luxury of theEuropeans
to be able to survive as freelance curators, while this ishardly found in
the US. But does this desire for independence haveanything to do with your
own kind of feminism or is it simply a workpractice? Other than being able
to set your own hours, what makes youso averse to working at an institution?

NM: It's the diversity. Working at an organization, you always have tofollow
a certain policy?which quite often is related to a fundingpolicy as well.
You have to fit an organization's profile andidentity. On the other hand, I
like to do things when I feel there isa necessity for a project or for
public attention towards an issue.This picking and choosing is something you
can only do when you areyour own boss. This also keeps you sharp. I'm not a
specialist orstuck in something. I think organizations need blood
transfusionsevery few years to stay innovative and I don't want to be stuck
in aniche.

MO: Yes, well speaking as an independent curator from the US, I cansay that
you are never your own boss there, anyway. You still have towork with the
organization and very often larger institutions placethe media arts at the
bottom of the totem pole. It's a difficulteconomic model? But it is
interesting how Rotterdam and Amsterdam havebecome a sort of mecca for
design and electronic art. Do you thinkthatmakes it any easier to be an
artist or a freelance curator, here?

NM: I always say that I want to leave Holland but I couldn't do whatI'm
doing here in many other places. Holland is blessed with manygreat
institutions and festivals for media arts, which have broughtmany great
people over here. In addition, The Netherlands have playeda pioneering role
in the flurry of net art and new media, which makesit very unique to work

MO: I am curious about the Trans-European context. How does Hollandfit into
that context, on a global art-world level? It seems to methat there is
almost a healthy level of autonomy. But as someone witha big interest in
global politics I wonder what your excitations orconcerns are about Holland
vis a vis the very major shifts going on inthe European community, right
now?EU membership issues being but oneof them.

NM: For me it's difficult to talk about the locality of Rotterdambecause I
live here but work internationally. Last year the peoplefrom the Serbian
collective Kuda were at the NEURO (networking Europe)festival asking people
"what's your view of Europe" and I said thatI'm very pessimistic. It's
becoming a more and more fortified FortressEurope, where it's very clear
who's included and excluded. Even thoseincluded are there on very
conditional terms. On a cultural level,because of the pedantic tone of
European funding policies, the effortsto "manage culture" are very hegemonic
and unproductive for culturalexchange or any kind of collaboration. It's
really bleak. I see somany similarities between this century's fin de
millennium and lastcentury's fin de siecle, with the paranoid and hysterical
interest indatabases and obsession with containment. To me that's the term
thatmarks this decade: containment. Whether it's viruses or people
atGuantanamo Bay or religion or net art.

MO: I think within the contemporary media art community, there's avery
strong compulsion towards that, particularly in the celebrationof database
aesthetics?towards looking at how something can be"captured" and
reorganized. People forget that that kind ofrecombinance, on a historical
level, has been quite scandalous interms of what it's done to bodies and
subjectivities and states. I'mhappy to see, in our community, a more recent
move toward broaderhistoriographies of these movements.

NM: I mean it's interesting if you look at archives and databases andthe
"ideologies of metadata." Historically, this kind of flirtationwith
categorization has wider ramifications and they really aren'tpretty. And
people tend to forget that. They tend to see the coolstructures but forget
where the underlying layers and ideologies camefrom.

MO: The people who claim to have an interest in the historical rootsofthis
"aesthetic," and admittedly I am one of them, seem to root it inmodernity
and early mechanical engineering, but they forget that thesewere marked by a
doctrine of progress which had a social agenda. I canlook at a project like
Cory Arcangel's "Data Diaries" and love it, ona "database aesthetics" level,
and I have no belief that Cory has anykind of hegemonic intentions, but I
think that people who do want tohistoricize modernity and the aesthetics of
containment andcategorization, or even distribution and diaspora, need to
understandthe role that it played.

NM: Yes, I can very much enjoy this kind of work, but it's the sametype of
thing with this new social software trend. It's a big word forsomething that
inherently is based on the dynamics of inclusion andexclusion. Calling
something "archival practice" or some type ofgenre, beforehand, makes it
rigid and doesn't allow for much porosity,which is very limiting to an art

MO: So what are the projects that you're working on right now?

NM: For the first time in ten years, I'm trying to merge my "vibe"with the
Middle East with my interest in media art and tactical media.Before they
were like two poles of things I was interested in?havinglived there but
having these other interests. Now I've been able to goto Israel, Lebanon,
Turkey, Sharjah and see what kind of work peopleare making, under what
conditions. The socio-political conditions havealways been a basis for me to
look at the materiality ofsomeone'swork. Sometimes it has nothing to do with
access to atechnology, but rather the particular context calls for a
differentmedia practice or a different aesthetics. I've been working quite
abit with experimental sound artists from the Middle East. To give youan
example, for some reason there is a very vibrant audio art scene
inJerusalem. It's weird because Jerusalem is a very difficult, heavy
andreligious city. It's like the conflict embodied. You walk in thestreets
and you can feel impending violence and the paranoia. A verysuffocating
place to be in. It is known that there's a brain drainoccurring there;
artists, academics? many tend to leave as soon aspossible after graduation.
But for some reason there's been a flurryof independent labels for
electronic music and especially the tinyRoza pub has become a hub for the
electronic audio fringe. Same goesfor Beirut. Though Israeli artists and
Lebanese artists can of coursenever collaborate, unfortunately enough.

MO: They can't even be on the same documentation of practices in separate

NM: No, they can't be perceived as having worked together. It
reallyinfuriates me that people don't realize this. People always have
goodintentions about collaboration, but it's very problematic. People
inEurope think 'oh, let's get Israeli and Palestinian artists togetherand
offer them a neutral ground to work on' but that is so naïve,because there
is no such thing as neutral ground. If a Lebanese andIsraeli artist work
together, the Lebanese artist will return home andgo to jail for having
appeared together in public with an Israeli.Lebanese can have as many
coffees and wines with an Israeli as theywant, as long as it's private, but
as soon as it becomes a publicperformance, it becomes dangerous.

MO: Yet another reason to use food as a means of coming together, ifthey can
come together for a meal but not a catalogue?

NM: Yes, because people here have no idea what the policies are
aboutcollaborations of that kind. People get all excited talking
aboutcollaboration and involving third parties, but they should really
dotheir research first and this just doesn't happen. There is nomobility or
freedom of movement, yet people seem so excited to talkabout how technology
brings it about. Curators need to learn tonavigate between foreign policy
and diplomacy just to work a bitoutside of the US or Western Europe.

MO: Well so far you are doing very well with that, so good luck withyour
upcoming projects. And thanks for dinner!

NM: My pleasure.

Trans_European Picnic:

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


Date: 6.28.05-7.02.05
From: "t.whid" <twhid AT>, "Marisa S. Olson" <marisaso AT>,
Jim Andrews <jim AT>, Jason Van Anden <jason AT>, Lewis
LaCook <llacook AT>, Geert Dekkers <geert AT>, furtherfield
<info AT>, Pall Thayer <palli AT>, Rob Myers
<robmyers AT>, patrick lichty <voyd AT>, Philip Galanter
<list AT>, Dirk Vekemans <dv AT>, Eduardo Navas
<eduardo AT>
Subject: NYT review of ArtBase 101

t.whid posted <twhid AT>:


Please discuss...

+ + +

"Marisa S. Olson" <marisaso AT> replied:

Hi, all. I thought I'd chip-in, here, as one of those artists for whom
Ms. Boxer didn't have time (maybe because I fell into that "just
entertainment" category, though I wanted to fall into the works that
"try to make you politically aware, or at least wary" niche)--or as
someone interested in the evolution of [media] art criticism....

Let's start with the good... Boxer gives nice props to Rhizome and she
seems to be calling someone charming, which is always flattering (?).
She also seems to imply that these works are demanding of time and are
worthy of the same--though she doesn't respond to that call...

She acknowledges that it's a big challenge to curate a retrospective
survey of something that (to some extent) is still happening and that
it's hard to mount a physical show of "web work," which is (I'm sure)
what we are all calling our work... This is an area in which Lauren
and Rachel (and Kevin and the crew) really succeeded with the show.
They also managed to show people the diverse ways in which artists are
using the internet. It's not only that artists are using it in
different thematic ways (ie according to their schema of e-commerce,
online celebrity, etc.), but also in different formal ways. I love
that someone who sees this show will realize that Paperrad's
sculptural installation is net art because it uses a Google image
search, or that the 01's photos are net art in the sense that they
document a project realized on the internet. Yes, we are all short on
time, but I think this is less a determinant in [making or viewing]
the work than the fact that we are all unique creatures who use the
internet in different ways, after the ten years surveyed in the show.

But let me get at the review more directly because I take issue with
the points made (or implied) as much as the manner in which they were
made. I totally agreed with Palli's witty review of the review. That's
exactly how it reads to me. Jason said he found Boxer's description of
MTAA's 1YPV spot-on, but to me it missed the boat. Or, rather, it
ignored the elephant in the room--despite the fact that it related
directly to the theme she seemed to have picked for her missive. The
"year" that MTAA suggests viewers devote to their performance video is
not a normal year. It can be experienced in increments of real or
artificial time. My computer could "watch" the video when I do not,
whereas I can watch it without being credited with such watching
(since I never login when I look at it). The piece puts an onus on the
viewer to do all the "work," since it sews together clips of a shorter
duration--ie we are supposed to watch them in the room for one year,
but they are not in the room for that year. (Or are they, this is a
more existential question.) Boxer acknowledges the former but not the
latter point, which is exactly what defines the piece. In fact, 1YPV
is not only time-based because of the year in its title or the fact
that it requires extended, and possibly clocked, viewing, but because
it is an *update* from a date/era in which time is measured,
experienced, and faked differently.

Similar points apply to Simon's "Every Icon," which underscores the
mortality of the viewer, and perhaps even of art, by making us realize
that we will never see every icon, but also that image-making (despite
its historical, formal, or critical constitution as "simply" a
process[es] of mimesis and recombinance, which E.I. also makes clear),
is a job that's never complete, though intellectually it is possible
at the point of near-infinity (or is it entropy?). Simon's piece is
predicated on its status as an installation. Its end-date is in
question, but it is always defined by its start-date, which changes in
various iterations that are human-defined. This means that it's
different when it starts at X-date at the Guggenheim, vs Y-date in
Alex Galloway's office (actually, there it seems to be turned off), or
at Z-date in the home of Jill Schmo art collector.

What does this have to do with Boxer's review? Simon banked on the
fact that she wouldn't have time for it. That, like the time-faking in
MTAA's peice, is worth mentioning.

Now I don't want to personally attack Sarah Boxer (though she is very
much worth taking the time to Google!), but I know that she has a
background in psychoanalytic theory and I find it unfortunate that her
reading in a science of interpretation has not parlayed into
interpretations of art. As is true of her other articles recently
discussed here, I think that this was, ultimately, a missive rather
than a review. (Again, Palli said it all.) She doesn't adequately
discuss the experience of the pieces, though the intended experiences
were, in many senses, constitutive of the works. She says, simply,
that she doesn't have time for them. (I wonder what her editor thinks
of this, especially as she's writing for an art section and not a
lifestyle section--the two are still separate, right?--but

So here is my theory, or what I feel is happening... (And Boxer's
writings are simply a good example of this problem, but not the only
example.) I think that we are seeing a contemporary redux of what used
to be called "criticism by beauty." This mode of "critique" was
popularized in the era of French New Wave filmmaking. In short, it was
characterized by reviews in which the writers seemed to have said to
themselves, "If I don't understand it, it must be brilliant." This led
to a lack of true engagement with works and an overstatement of films'
brilliance, but without justification or explanation--judgement
without interpretation. I see the same happening in contemporary
criticism of media art (which may, in a material sense, be the root of
Boxer's distillation of the pieces she mentioned to one-liners),
except that, rather than deem the work brilliant, the under-informed
or under-engaged "critic" deems it awful. If the earlier era was one
of "critcism by beauty," I'd call the era entrenched by Boxer that of
"criticism by repulsion." (Though we could have a fun
naming-contest--is it crit by repulsion, abjection, negligence,
nausea, intimidation, boredom, etc...) Goodness knows I am not denying
the culpability of the artist for their relationship to their audience
(which shouldn't be mutually exclusive from the critic--all of this we
began to discuss in this earlier thread:, but I think
in the ten years surveyed by this show, we've come to a point when it
no longer suffices to criticize something by saying "I don't get it"
and/or "I don't have time for this."

For now the writings we're seeing entrench the fallacy that much of
the early academic writing promoted vis a vis new media: that it is
without indexicality. This criticism by repulsion, this reduction of
Cory Arcangel's (whose name has no "h" in it) or Amy Alexander's, or
anyone else's work to one-liners, implies that net art is incapable of
having a semiotic function, or employing shades of meaning, of
symbolism, or of implication. This gives the work the short life-span
of the viewers' attention-span. I can't help but believe that this
truncation is media-specific--that this perceived lack of polyvalence
is not only pinned upon the work by the perceiver, but that it is
specific to their assessment of "web work." I want to say, in
explaining this point, that the critic (nay, writer) assumes that net
art has all the depth of other silly net memes, but this would be to
indulge the idea that things on the internet are somehow inherently
shallow, which I just can't manage to believe. (It would be like
assuming that TV commercials are shallow because they are short,
mainstream, and entertainment-oriented. Not all things on the internet
can be described in those terms, but neither net art nor memes nor ads
operate without metaphor and metonymy, to put it in psychoanalytic

I do believe that good art work is aware of its contemporary political
economy and that our contemporary political economy is one defined by
attention spans. This, however, does not mean, categorically, that all
net work (or all art work) should or should not be expecte to have the
effects of ritalin...

I don't know if Boxer subscribes to the 20-second rule of
art-observation (the average time someone determined people spend
looking at paintings), or if she thinks things in different spaces (ie
movie theatres vs galleries vs on the WWW) deserve different amounts
of time. I would assume that she had a limited word count, in which
case us under-reviewed media artists are lucky that her brevity led to
more of our names finding their way into the NYT, despite a lack of
engagement. The truth is, it's great that Rhizome & the New Museum
would mount a show like this and that the New York Times would send
someone to review it. No doubt it gives a bit more cultural "value" to
what we're all doing. One of these days (at least before "Every Icon"
is finished somewhere, if not before someone officially logs a year in
front of 1YPV), I'd like to see shows like these get real
criticism--by which I mean true reviews that engage in a process of


+ + +

Jim Andrews <jim AT> replied:

I read the review. It consists mostly of one or two sentences per comment on
several of the pieces in the show. That sort of desultory effort really
shouldn't make it past an editor. It indicates the author hasn't thought
hard enough about the subject to generalize from the specific cases, and
also the comments on the specific pieces are meagre. I'd have to agree with

But, also, the concept of the show itself is dull and contrary to the spirit
of the rhizome artbase project. Selecting 40 of the many works to show is
insulting to the others whose work is in the artbase.

The more interesting challenge for rhizome and the curators would be to
create interfaces into the rhizome database which are intriguing and allow
an experience in the gallery that is as good or better than selecting 40
particular works.


+ + +

Jason Van Anden <jason AT> replied:

Hi Marisa,

Awesome critique critique. You have an amazing ability to communicate this
art form's intentions to those of us without a new media MFA. Randall Packer
closed his post with the question "Why doesn't the NY Times hire a (new?)
media critic?" If the New York Times was a democracy, I would campaign for
your election to that position. Perhaps the DAT should create posts for
"Net Art Educator" and "Net Art Champion".

Then again, I would not want to lose Sarah Boxer. As an artist, it is
important for me to communicate to as broad an audience as possible.
In this regard, Ms. Boxer's last three articles on new media art have
provided me with invaluable feedback. She is a mirror of how this art form
is perceived by the (fledglingly interested) general public. In the process
she is bound to expose some of its blemishes.

Jason Van Anden

+ + +

Marisa S. Olson replied:

Aw, shucks, Jason... that's sweet of you. And I think that you do make
a good point. I've always resented art that seemed to be made only for
other artists or for certain critics, etc, and felt that it should be
able to speak to anyone, whether or not they liked it.

Lewis asked "If the art can't engage a casual user, what's the point?"
I tend to agree. The question is whether Sarah Boxer is a casual user,
or whether she should be, as a New York Times Art Critic. This is part
of the reason that I made the aside about whether she's writing for
the art section or the lifestyle section. Try comparing Boxer's
average level of engagement with the art she writes about to Roberta
Smith's (another NYT critic) with what she's writing about. There's no
comparison. Boxer seems to have finagled a position as the house
expert on new media, which as others pointed out means that hers is
the lone non-critical voice coming through. When she shows up and
barely/badly reiterates the press release, misspelling artists' names
and missing the forest for the trees on the surface level/descriptive
(let alone interpretive) details of the work, I have no more hifalutin
word for her than Lame.

I'm sorry, but since when is the critic supposed to be a casual user?
Since things went digital? Since art had URLs? Since we could look at
it from home in our pajamas? To downgrade your expectations of the
critic--whose job it has been, historically, to unpack and dig
deeper--is to downgrade your expectations of the art. You are saying
that this art is somehow less worthy of true criticism than art in
another medium.

I'd prefer to leave the flippant taste-making commentary to the
lifestylers and to open a section of reviews and actually find some
true criticism. This may sound harsh, but where is our field going to
go, how is it going to develop, if the few people assigned to write
about it do so in such a non-critical way and then the artists stand
back and say "I'm just happy someone wrote about it"? Remember, we're
talking about a review of a ten year survey. Net art has ben made for
at least ten years, and it has developed into its own genres,
different stylistic modes; it has taken up a diverse range of tools to
address a diverse range of topics. The whole point of the show is to
say that net art is a rich art form worthy of being taken just as
seriously as photography or painting, or any other rich, diverse
medium or genre. Why should we not have a critical vocabulary for
this, by now? Why should we not expect serious engagement from
critics, ten years (or more) later? Frankly, I would not be satisfied
with this type of non-criticism after late 1997 or early 1998.


+ + +

Marisa S. Olson added:

Lewis LaCook <llacook AT> wrote:
>[...] What exactly IS the function of the critic? Does the
> critic preprocess the material that will eventually be
> written into the canon?

yes. hopefully.

> Or does the critic sniff out
> and discuss work that the reading public would be
> interested in?

yes. hopefully.

> I mean, wouldn't art be more effective if it actually
> engaged users instead of requiring users to go out and
> get a degree and read looooong boring essays on
> curatorial practices?

I'm not sure, now, if this is a critique of Rhizome Artbase 101, of
Sarah Boxer's review, or of my "looooong boring essay," but... The art
should not require that the general public "get a degree," nor should
the criticism. But the two are still separate and the critic should be
unpacking the work, helping the viewer to consider it from various
viewpoints, talking about what works/doesn't in the pieces (and why!),
contextualizing it.

The public can choose whether to look at art and they can choose
whether to read criticism or criticism of criticism. I think it was
Rob who pointed out that it's their loss if they don't do this. But
when I make the choice to read what a so-called critic has to say
about a piece, it's because I want to know something more. This is
what the practice of criticism is all about. Otherwise it's just
writing, and that writing has its place--in the lifestyle section...
(Of which i am a big fan, don't get me wrong!)


+ + +

Lewis LaCook <llacook AT> replied:

no, not referring to your essay---referring to the
general trend of networked art lately---

honestly...networked art is still far too young to
make too many generalizations about it---that it is
periodically declared dead is a sign that somewhere in
the mix is a general uneasiness about just what this
art is---really, rock star games is beating our
asses--ALL game development companies are--and I use
more skill in commercial development than I actually
see in most net works--And I can't blame the public at
large for not being interested in it, which is why I'm
defending this critique(no, it wasn't a deep critique,
and you, Marisa, would have done much much

When I look at right now, I see a great
paucity of actual content--and a great deal of
"demo-head"("Wow! Look what I can make this data
do!")--sometimes these trends are interesting (i'm
enamored of pall thayer's auto-drawn, for
example)--but we're not going to move forward in any
way until we stop trying to be sol lewitt, until we
can blend our obsession with our tools with the
possibility of saying something about our lives---

i call for a romantic


+ + +

Geert Dekkers <geert AT> replied:

Actually the function or role of the critic (imho) should ideally be
of the expert witness -- one who knows enough about the subject at
hand to give the casual or passing user/viewer some insight into the
background of the work and of the body of work in which the work
finds its place....


+ + +

furtherfield <info AT> replied:

Hi Lewis,

Well - in respect of the function of the critic. I do not think that there
is just one function or purpose, for like most things in life it's about

Personally, I do not respect the traditional myth that certain curators are
any better than someone else who has not gone through the usual established
gauntlet. This kind of rhetoric echoes the same nonsense that many are fed
to believe regarding certain artists being better than those artists who
have come from outside an institutional, trad-style place. It really should
not matter - we are in the real world here, not school...

I feel that there are potentially useful and interesting things to learn
from both sides of the fence.

As in what kind of critic that I personally admire, one who explores outside
of their own given histories, and actually finding and seeing those who are
not being respected for their work by institutional canons yet - for that is
the place where I feel the most exciting and interesting stuff is happening,
but I suppose that I would say that...

There are cool curators/artists/writers everywhere, whether trad or not. I
feel that engagement in observing whether one is being authentic, is an
issue, and reevaluating what one is thinking and how one thinks regualarly,
is essential, whoever they are - and sometimes canons can block such
imaginitive shifts. Yet, equally the challenges that certain academics can
offer to people such as myself (not academically trained) who does not
totally trust nd believe in the (traditional patriarchal) institutionalized
dialect; can always be useful and can move things on. I do not think that
anyone owns the 'essences' or 'soul' of what we are all creatively
exploring, it is all up for grabs, which is exciting.

no one owns it, no one owns it...


+ + +

Pall Thayer <palli AT> replied:

Sarah Boxers two articles that have come up for discussion here, are an
insult to new media art. They suggest that it doesn't warrant the same
treatment as other art. Read some of the other articles in the same
edition of NYTimes as the last article. There's music critique and dance
critique. Both handled in a very professional manner. Insightful
comments that suggest the authors knowledge of the field and give the
artists themselves something to chew on. It doesn't matter if the
critique is good or bad but a good critique from someone who doesn't
seem to know what they're talking about is a lot worse than a bad
critique from someone who does.

Engaging the viewer:
We can't expect everyone to understand what we do or even care. When one
of my fellow teachers, a guy who likes to swap "guy" jokes and bet on
football matches, tells me he likes a piece I've done, I'm mildly
flattered but no more so than if he would compliment me on my new 'do
(which he would of course never do for fear of appearing "gay"). Maybe
he really does like it, but probably not for the same reasons that I
made it. However, when a former professor of mine and highly regarded
and pioneering Icelandic artist likes the same piece enough to suggest
to his wife that she interview me for her highly respected radio show on
all things cultural, I'm elated. I could care less whether he notices my
new hairdo or not. To suggest that we try to bring ourselves down to
some public level of understanding is absurd. It's like asking Einstein
to teach 5th grade math. If that's how art should be I'll have to erase
my brain and run out to the local hobby store and pick up Bob Ross' Joy
of Painting tapes. At least I can be fairly sure that my fellow teacher
will keep complimenting me on my work.


ps. Thanks Lewis. And to John Q. Public, sorry for making you think but
you never know when it'll be back in vogue.

+ + +

Lewis LaCook replied:

But Pall....

--erasing the distinction between disciplines is what
we DO--and one of those distinctions SHOULD BE the
gulf between "high-brow" and "low-brow" forms--to
cloister oneself like this is to risk
obsolesence...and it's politically just what any good
totalitaian regime would want--


+ + +

Jim Andrews replied:

> What exactly IS the function of the critic?

Walt Whitman said something like 'great poetry demands a great audience.' in
the sense, perhaps, that it cannot exist without a great audience. what is a
great audience? i don't necessarily mean one that claps loud. i mean one for
whom there is something at stake in the art. one who demands art as or more
telling than the news concerning the significance of walking the earth. one
who will not settle for (solely) entertainment. one who understands that in
an enlightened society we are all critics, ie, we are all trying to come to
some understanding of ourselves and the world around us, including the art.
criticism is dialectic with others on what is important. judgement, as has
been pointed out, is important, but more important is the examination of the
poetics and taking it to its limits, exploring its implications concerning
art and how we live and what we can accept and live with. judgement arises
as a result of these things, ie, it is one of the ends of this sort of
process. the critic not only alerts us about art but about what it means to
be an inquiring, civilized seeker.

> Does the
> critic preprocess the material that will eventually be
> written into the canon? Or does the critic sniff out
> and discuss work that the reading public would be
> interested in?
> I mean, wouldn't art be more effective if it actually
> engaged users instead of requiring users to go out and
> get a degree and read looooong boring essays on
> curatorial practices?

I think there's quite a bit of art out there that *would* engage large
audiences if those audiences were available.

I also think you're right that there is a large and overly influential
academic and insular bulwark of institutional art that is protective of its
position which is used to tout an art of privilege and monied aspiration the
meaning of which is primarily reiteration of the capitalist status quo, the
ivied american dream, art and criticism distant from the need for audience.
art as confection, accessory of the upwardly mobile, art as the price of
admission to the position of privilege, art as fascion accessory in a
culture of brutality where torture is sanctioned in the highest offices. the
high becomes low, as Pall says. A culture in which lip service is paid to
'democracy' but the show finally is of forty.


+ + +

Rob Myers <robmyers AT> replied:

It's important for art to be free, but any project has its motives
and its agenda. *Why* is erasing distinctions what "we" do? And *why*
should high and low forms be combined by individuals who historically
have served high forms?

Rendering oneself low simply places one within the normal context of
low culture. And art isn't as good as a video game judged as low

Placing high content in a low form is pastoral (Julian Stallabrass,
"High Art Lite"), the contemporary equivalent of painting lowly
shepherds to illustrate a moral point. I'd go further and say that
slumming it is just so bourgeois. :-)

- Rob.

+ + +

patrick lichty <voyd AT> replied:

All of the conversation here has been very interesting, and I have a
certain ambivalence regarding the writings of Susan Boxer. I agree for
the most part with Marisa Solon in that her analyses (if we can call
them that) are cursory, lack a certain literacy in the field, and are
indicative of the casual viewer.

Now, let me say why I have an ambivalence about this. On one hand,
let's consider that this is the NYT and not the Toledo Blade (which, by
the way, has a wonderfully acute editor who writes some beautiful
cultural critiques). The contemporary idea of the neoconservative
delegitimization/dismissal of expertise which ranges from the Bush
statement that the "C" students can look forward to being President and
the fundamentalist Christian assertion that it is better to have a big
heart than a big head smacks of a Harrison Bergeron-esque privileging of
the mediocre. Forgive me if I conflate terms on my prior statement, but
I think that it comes down to a contemporary anti-meritocratic bent.
Boxer epitomizes this, in that she appears to represent the
man-on-the-street, "I Don't know much about this, but I know what I
like" rationale in this article and the one on the Boston CyberArts

On the other hand, Boxer illustrates one of New Media art's cardinal
sins - its cultural myopia and aesthetic specificity. Although the mark
of significant art is its experimental spirit, truly great art 'grabs'
you. And, one of the problems that I have seen with New Media is that
it has exhibited a cultural arrogance that demands that the audience
must almost do research in order to know the context of a work.

These works mirror my contention regarding much of 80's Contemporary
Art; in that it resembled a bad joke about postmodernism that required
the viewer to read countless volumes of Foucault, Barthes, and Lyotard,
only to find that the punch line was rather abject in itself. The joke
is one that is on all parties involved.

However, as I state two poles of the argument, I see a number of quantum
points in the continuum between these points. One is that I see that
New Media that does not transcend its medium may remain marginalized,
with those crossover works which can speak to the Contemporary Art
culture punching through the membrane and going into the museums.
Another might be that there could be niche cultures (such as Contagious
Media) that will serve as a public conduit for other works, and others
may be mass media hacks which address the populace. The contemporary
art world is a milieu is one that gives the New Media artist the
challenge of engaging, subverting, or even hacking in order to address
the Susan Boxers of the world, if one truly cares about them at all.

But I think that from a personal perspective, New Media practitioners
should care, if the genre (sic) wants to engage the larger art milieu.

However, I see Boxer's last two reads of New Media works problematic to
be sure. But then, with her rather cursory treatment of the subject, she
also brings up an opinion of art in general that one should probably
consider. Although I personally differ with some of Susan Boxer's reads
of technological art, she does represent the viewpoint of many
gallery-goers that I have experienced, and is a viewpoint that one
should consider.

But if I had my druthers, I'd put Mirapaul over there in a heartbeat.

+ + +

patrick lichty added:

I want to clarify that I meant that Boxer's notes were cursory, not
Marisa Olson's. Marisa's spot on.

+ + +

Philip Galanter <list AT> replied:

I can understand how some might find Sarah Boxer's review a bit
insulting or maddening. After all, internet artists put a great deal
of thought and effort into the work, and to simply have the results
cast aside with a glib observation or two seems somehow unfair. But
who ever said art, or art criticism, was fair?

More to the point, though, this criticism is ignored at the artists
peril. There is, perhaps inadequately expressed, a message there and
we should thank Ms. Boxer for it.

Boxer's focus on time is, I think, quite telling. I suspect that a
good number of internet artists started out as primarily visual
artists, and have somehow underestimated how much internet art is in
fact a *time* art, and how important that is.

You can see this in the classroom everyday. Student painters or
photographers who decide to take up video are usually (at least at
first) bad at editing. By bad I mean really terribly awful.
Narrative is fragmented and incoherent and then defended in class
critique as some kind of "higher" fine art aesthetic rather than
being called what it is...bad filmmaking. Interminable static shots
are the norm. Fade to credits never comes soon enough. And so on.
The artist's infatuation for his/her own images becomes the audiences

Painters and sculptors understand that issues of absolute size, what
they call scale, are fundamental problems to be solved. For time
based forms problems of scale also include the dimension of time.
Fine artists must be masters of space, but time artists must be
masters of both time and space.

These problems become multiplied when fine artists turn to the
internet as a new medium. That time counts shouldn't be a surprise.
It is the rare work of music or film or stage that asks the audience
to take a leap of faith, to struggle through the entire work without
satisfaction along the way, just to get to a big payoff at the very
end. Music frequently begins with the introduction of compelling
themes that give the listener an incentive to go further. Good films
not only end well, but give the viewer rewards all along the way.
How much internet art does this?

I've seen far too many examples of internet art that seem to
disregard the element of real time, and thereby ignore or
miscalculate the experience of the audience. To be sure the
nonlinear nature of much internet art makes the compositional
problems of pacing exponentially more difficult. But that's no
excuse...that's exactly the challenge the artist has willingly taken on.

I suppose one can be an artist and do the work and not care a whit
for the audience's experience. But don't blame the audience, or the
critic, if they click a few times and then walk away. It's not their
fault. It's yours.

+ + +

t.whid replied:

I've been watching this discussion unfold, but since I'm an interested party
felt that I should hold my comments back.

I think that Marisa's initial post summed up my thoughts on the review
fairly well. But Philip's points are a bit off-base IMHO. below:

Philip Galanter wrote:

> Boxer's focus on time is, I think, quite telling. I suspect that a
> good number of internet artists started out as primarily visual
> artists, and have somehow underestimated how much internet art is in
> fact a *time* art, and how important that is.
> You can see this in the classroom everyday. Student painters or
> photographers who decide to take up video are usually (at least at
> first) bad at editing. By bad I mean really terribly awful.
> Narrative is fragmented and incoherent and then defended in class
> critique as some kind of "higher" fine art aesthetic rather than
> being called what it is...bad filmmaking. Interminable static shots
> are the norm. Fade to credits never comes soon enough. And so on.
> The artist's infatuation for his/her own images becomes the audiences
> burden.

I can't argue with your point that many video or other time-based artists
have a horrible sense of time in their work. There was one of the
Cremasters, can't remember which one, that made me want to murder Mr.
Barney. But equating the work in the ArtBase show with innane student video
does a whale of a whopping disservice to the work in the show.

Two of the artworks she takes to task for consuming too much of her time are
"Every Icon" and MTAA's "1 Year Performance Video." Both of these pieces
have time as a significant element in the work in very deliberate and (if I
do say so myself) effective ways.

To brush off Simon's "Every Icon" with, "I don't know about you, but I don't
have that kind of time," isn't just dismissive, it's just plain ignorant.
Yes I suppose we can all have a chuckle over her oh-so-sparkling bit of
snark, but Simon's piece is a sublimely beautiful conceptualization of
computational time; it's gets to the very core of how computers and humans
are different in a very physical way. It deserves a serious observation but
its essence seems to have completely flown over the airhead reviewer.

> These problems become multiplied when fine artists turn to the
> internet as a new medium. That time counts shouldn't be a surprise.

You seem to be making general points that you might make to your students.
It comes off a bit condescending since you're referencing a specific show
and a specific review of it.

I can't think of one artist in the show that seems to have been caught
off-gaurd by that whole time thing. If there is one, please clue me in.

> It is the rare work of music or film or stage that asks the audience
> to take a leap of faith, to struggle through the entire work without
> satisfaction along the way, just to get to a big payoff at the very
> end. Music frequently begins with the introduction of compelling
> themes that give the listener an incentive to go further. Good films
> not only end well, but give the viewer rewards all along the way.
> How much internet art does this?

Short answer: lots. But using cinema as an example misses the point of most
of the work.

> I've seen far too many examples of internet art that seem to
> disregard the element of real time, and thereby ignore or
> miscalculate the experience of the audience. To be sure the
> nonlinear nature of much internet art makes the compositional
> problems of pacing exponentially more difficult. But that's no
> excuse...that's exactly the challenge the artist has willingly taken
> on.
> I suppose one can be an artist and do the work and not care a whit
> for the audience's experience. But don't blame the audience, or the
> critic, if they click a few times and then walk away. It's not their
> fault. It's yours.

As a general point, of course you're right. But as a specific point to this
specific exhibition it just doesn't hold up. Most of the work isn't
particularly musical or cinematic in the show. "Every Icon" and "1 Year
Performance Video" are more or less linear in their time-based component,
but neither of the pieces expects a viewer to keep watching.. and watching..
and watching. Both expect you to get the idea and then move on. *But* both
expect you to keep running the concept in your head long after you're gone,
something I'm not sure the reviewer is capable of.

+ + +

t.whid added:

There are plenty of problems with Philips response as I noted (and you
removed to focus on my one little bit of snark. If she can be snarky in the
NYT, can't a get a tad bit in on Rhiz without you resorting to insulting

But your response it totally off-the-wall. There is no anti-boxer arg. There
is a pro-critical response arg. She didn't say enough in the review to
really respond to, I'm responding to her lack of any critical approach
what-so-ever and general 'lifestyle'-style of the writing.

NYTimes and any other publication: give us a serious crit damnit! Not this
fluffy infotainment.

As I wrote to Lewis (which he seemed to misunderstand), I want an engaged
viewer, not a viewer that might as well be browsing t-shirts at the mall.
I'll take what I can get as far as an audience goes, but a reviewer? At
least a reviewer should be engaged.

+ + +

Rob Myers replied:

On 1 Jul 2005, at 05:20, Lewis LaCook wrote:

> So we only make art for other artists?

So we only make medicine for doctors?

Art is made for its audience. There may be a problem with
computing: it may just be the folk art of the digital creative class,
with an audience of a nerds (who aren't as rich as the hatas seem to
believe). Or it may be more representative of a society in transition
to digital technology (and the ways of being that motivate/emerge
from that transition).

If I made a piece of Nu Metal or Gangsta Rap, an FPS, a Mills & Boon
novel, a martial arts film, a sci-fi cartoon, if I made any of that,
it would be recognised that there are formal and content-al concerns
to the work that require specialised knowledge. Ambient music,
Russian cinema, it would be recognised that you might have to make
some effort to engage with it. A critic might dismiss these works as
examples of a valueless genre, but they would have to recognise that
they were doing so. And they could not fall back on the "elitism" or
exclusivity canards.

So we only make art for other artists? Hell no. No more than we only
make drugs for doctors. But don't be fooled by the apparent easy
availability of 'Popular' culture. It takes a lot of work to get
people to engage so casually with something like Pop Idol. Millions
of dollars of work. Art can't do that, it doesn't have the budget.

And it shouldn't have to. Active regard is an empowering skill,
passive consumption isn't. We're providing different value in art
than popular culture isn't.

- Rob.

+ + +

Dirk Vekemans <dv AT> replied:

For what it's worth:

Any art 'on' the internet or using the internet involves a (extra)
coding/decoding to/from 'machine readability' of some sort, and a
transmission process based on communication protocols between machines.

Both processes are more directly 'temporal' and inherently cyclic than other
publication methods like publishing a book or making and exposing a picture.

Even without any 'dynamic' content, any website is cyclic in its existence
(request-response _time_).

This is imho not just theoretically important, it has some massive
consequences in the perception of the work of art, one need only think of
the trouble some people are having of trying to sell web art in ways equally
profitable as 'traditional' art, or making it collectable. Or the
digital-analog question.

Once you publish a book it has its moment of publication and a (life- or
dying) time from then onwards. Paint a picture and it starts decaying. Make
a website and it starts its process. You could consider that to be a
decaying process as well, but the actual and instantanous renewal with each
'use' of the work remains (a song that remains the same? i doubt it)

I don't think there are any 'pure' distinctions to be made, though. There's
always the hybris (or 'debris') of other art forms interfering in any art
process. You're always (re)coding other art. If not, it's not art but Google
or some other web service. Tradition and the individual webtalent.

And then of course the internet itself is just code over time, actualising
its code on code every moment...


+ + +

Pall Thayer replied:

I think some of the people participating in this thread are missing the
point entirely. Sarah never says that "most of the artbase 101 show was
mediocre" and if she had, that would at least be a step in the right
direction. But then, of course, she would have to back it up with
something. The point is that all she really says is that she went and
spent some time at a show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. When we
see something under the header "Art Review", we want some meat. We want
a professional assesment of the work. What stands out and why? What
doesn't and why not? Perhaps also a couple of hints that show that the
person really understands the work. All she gives is hints that show
that she doesn't understand which in my book means that she shouldn't be
doing the review. Would you trust a rock critic to give a decent review
of an opera?

Then there's that other thing. Some people seem to think that the
artists mission is to make art for the public. I'm sorry, but they
forgot to put me on the payroll. People that really want to experience
my art have to come to my level, I'm not going to theirs. If someone
finds a piece of mine intriguing, they can look at my other work to put
it into context and if they're really interested, they can even find a
couple of interviews on the net and if that doesn't do it, my email
address is all over. If I were interested in catering to the publics
expectations and wants, I would've gone into graphic design or maybe I
would paint pretty images on silk pillows and hit the craft-fair
circuit. But I'm not and I think the majority of us would say the same.

I'm not sure what compelled you to write your post. Since we're talking
about the Rhizome exhibit, I would say that a lot of those works
approach time in an extremely compelling way. And do it in a way that
shows very well the flexibility of the time component in the
internet/computer medium. "Fenlandia" is cool in a time-play sense.
Sarah obviously missed the point entirely since she was always waiting
for something to move. I think Sarah Boxer is the one that
misunderstands the artistic concept of time and not the artists.


+ + +

Philip Galanter replied:

Interesting discussion.

Anyway here are some quick responses in the interest of correcting
misinterpretations of my previous post. Also some
observations ...all in no particular order...

re: Simon's "every icon" impression is that Boxer "got it" and
the "I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time"
comment was an (attempted) jest very much in tune with the spirit of
the piece.

re: my comments regarding time and it's good and bad use in art. I
wasn't attacking this show as having lots of examples of bad time
art. I'm not taking a position on that. I'm saying Boxer's
attention to time as a theme in her criticism is not flip but rather
is entirely valid even if expressed in the article in a "lite" way.

similarly re: the opinion that Boxer's review had so little content
there was nothing there to respond to. Well, first, empirically
there apparently is something there to respond to because we have
lots of responses even here. But more to the point, I wanted to
"help" Boxer by pointing out her choice of "time" in internet art as
a thread to string her comments on is insightful...I can easily
imagine multiple books on the topic, and that her cautionary message
about poor use of time in art is worth hearing. Reasonable people
can disagree whether this or that piece deals with time well, but
simply her bringing "time" to the front of the room is enough of a
service to justify the article.

re: my comments regarding film and such. I wasn't making a claim
that good interactive art making is *just like* making a good film.
That would just be silly. What I *was* pointing out was that the
transition from static visual art to visually stimulating time art is
a perilous one. The fact that some responses questioned whether
internet art was, in fact, a time art at all underscores for me the
weak state of the art in this regard...even in the critical language

re: the question of making art for oneself vrs the audience, and who
should meet who more than halfway or not. I didn't say it is somehow
wrong for an artist to optimize his activity for his own
satisfaction. I affirmed that artists are free to make that choice.
I only said that having made that choice it is an unreasonable
expectation on the part of the artist of the audience that they will
find the work equally optimal for *their* satisfaction as well.

i.e. artistic self-satisfaction is no guarantee of audience
satisfaction, and all too often they are conflicted interests. One
should try to have reasonable expectations about this...and not deny
other artists a different balance.

cheers, Philip

+ + +

Eduardo Navas <eduardo AT> replied:

Hello all,

Been away until the 30th (for over fifteen days) and I am just catching up
on e-mails.

I have a brief comment on the NYTimes review.

The review does not tackle anything concretely but simply casually glosses
over some of the projects. Boxer clearly shows no understanding of online
works and her critical position is vaguely presented with abstract
references to previoulsy existing artworks, like paintings, when she
explains that the viewer will probably spend more time in front of any of
the works than on a painting--as if a longer time period justifies the
meaning of a work of art. Based on utalitarian ideology (which is the
foundation of the United States' work ethic), time is money, and if you
spend time doing something like viewing a work of art, then the work must
mean "something." The more time you spend, the more it must mean...

Her position is fully exposed when she writes on John Simon's Every Icon, "I
don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time. Which raises the
question: what kind of art do you have time for? It's a question that comes
up over and over with art on the Web."

That time is the central issue for Boxer shows the problematics brought
forth by many new media works, as the conventional viewer is unable to cope
with the unexpected parameters particular pieces offer. Boxer introduces
the time element as a stigma for online works, that she takes such position
shows that she is not willing to understand what new media is about.

I suggest to ignore any of her write ups. Unlike Greenberg's which demanded
a clear opposition in twentieth century modernism, due to his clear
understanding of culture and sensibilities of art practice, Boxer's position
is completely flawed with no strong argument--she clearly does not care
about culture, she does not question or propose, but simply lists with no
clear position other than that she writes for a large newspaper.

Ignore her. Let her be alone in her own world. Forget that it is the NY
Times. Take away the title of the paper and the review is simply


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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Kevin McGarry (kevin AT ISSN:
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