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: 01.13.06
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006 11:51:29 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: January 13, 2006

++ Always online at ++


1. Call for Entries: Turbulence New England Initiative II
2. Ken Goldberg: faculty position: berkeley media arts / theory
3. iris mayr: Prix Ars Electronica 2006 - Participants Welcome!

4. jimpunk: www.pulp.href - +(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f) - #########0||E
5. Randall Packer: America's Grave Opening at American University

6. Lauren Cornell: Surge +
7. Luís Silva: First meeting of The Upgrade! Lisbon

8. Jim Andrews: On the 25th anniv of MM's death

9. Rob Myers <rob AT>, Pall Thayer <p_thay AT>,
Dirk Vekemans <dv AT>, Zev Robinson <zr AT>, manik
<manik AT ptt.yu>, Zev Robinson <zr AT>, judsoN
<office AT>: draw-something

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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 Lauren Cornell at LaurenCornell AT

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From: <turbulence AT>
Date: Jan 9, 2006 10:33 PM
Subject: Call for Entries: Turbulence New England Initiative II

Call for Entries: Turbulence New England Initiative II is pleased to announce its ?New England Initiative II,? a
juried, networked art competition. Three projects by New England artists
will be commissioned and exhibited on Turbulence (
and in real space (venue to be announced). Each award will be $3,500. The
jury consists of Julian Bleecker, Michelle Thursz, and Helen Thorington.
This project is made possible with funds from the LEF Foundation.

PROJECT CONCEPT: Net art projects are ?art projects for which the Net is
both a sufficient and necessary condition of viewing/ expressing/
participating? (Steve Dietz). They live in the public world of the
Internet. Recently, however, wireless telecommunications technologies have
enabled computation to migrate out of the desktop PC into the physical
world, creating the possibility of ?hybrid? networked art, works that
intermingle and fuse previously discrete identities, disciplines, and/or
fields of activity such as the Internet and urban space. (See the
networked_performance blog? the
categories ?Locative Media? and ?Mobile Art and Culture.?) Borders are
disintegrating and new identities are emerging. We encourage applications
by net artists and artists working on networked hybrid projects.


Proposal Deadline: February 28, 2006
Selected Projects Announcement: March 15, 2006
Project Launch/Exhibition: October 1, 2006

SELECTION CRITERIA: (1) artistic merit of the proposed project; (2)
originality; (3) degree of performativity and audience participation; (4)
level of programming skill and degree of technological innovation; and (5)
extent of collaborative and interdisciplinary activity.


(a) Your name, email address, and web site URL (if you have one).
(b) A description of the project's core concept and how it will make
creative use of digital networks (500 words maximum).
(c) Details of how the project will be realized, including what
software/programming will be used. Specs for the Turbulence server are
available at You may request
additional software but we cannot guarantee it.
(d) Names of collaborators, their areas of expertise, and their specific
roles in the project.
(e) A project budget, including other funding sources for this project, if
(f) Your résumé/CV and one for each of your collaborators.
(g) Up to five examples of prior work accessible on the web.

Email submissions (the web site URL) to turbulence AT with NE
2 in the subject field.


Julian Bleecker [] Julian Bleecker has been
involved in technology design for over 15 years, creating mobile,
wireless, and networked-based applications across a diversity of project
idioms including entertainment, art-technology, brand marketing,
university research and development, interactive advertising and museum
exhibition. His expertise is technology implementation, innovation and
concept development. Bleecker is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at
the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Division and
Critical Theory departments, and is participating in a research group at
the Annenberg Center's Institute for Media Literacy exploring the future
of mobile technology applications. He has a Ph.D. from the History of
Consciousness Board at the University of California Santa Cruz, a Masters
of Engineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a BS in
Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.

Helen Thorington [] is co-director of New Radio
and Performing Arts, Inc. (aka Ether-Ore), the founder and producer of the
national weekly radio series, New American Radio (1987-1998), and the
founder and producer of the Turbulence and Somewhere websites. She is a
writer, sound composer, and radio producer, whose radio documentary,
dramatic work, and sound/music compositions have been aired nationally and
internationally for the past twenty-three years. Thorington has created
compositions for film and installation that have been premiered at the
Berlin Film Festival, the Whitney Biennial, and in the Whitney Museum?s
Annual Performance series. She has produced three narrative works for the
net, and the distributed performance Adrift which was presented at the
1997 Ars Electronica Festival and at the New Museum in New York City,
2001, among other places. Thorington has also composed for dance and
performed with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at Jacob?s
Pillow, MA in 2002, and at The Kitchen, New York City in 2003. She won two
radio awards in 2003 for her 9_11_Scapes composition; and was recently
commissioned by Deep Wireless, a Toronto radio festival, to create Calling
to Mind. Thorington has lectured, presented on panels, and served as a
juror on many occasions. Her recent articles on networked musical
performances include ?Breaking Out: The Trip Back? (Contemporary Music
Review, Vol 24, No 6. December 2005, 445-458); and ?Music, Sound and the
Networked_Performance Blog? for the Extensible Toy Piano Symposium at
Clark University, Massachusetts, November 5, 2005.

Michele Thursz ( is an independent curator
and consultant for art-makers and distributors. Her current project is
Post Media Network; Post Media is a term and action demonstrating the
continuous evolution of uses of media and their effect on artists
practice, and culture-at-large. In 1999 she co-founded and directed the
Moving Image Gallery, NYC. Moving Image Gallery was one of the first
galleries to show electronic and computer-based mediums, exhibiting such
artist as Golan Levin, Cory Arcangel and Yael Kanerek. Thursz? recent
curatorial projects include ?Copy it, Steal it, Share it?, Borusan
Gallery, Istanbul, and ?Nown?, Wood Street Gallery, Pittsburgh;
?public.exe: Public Excution?, Exit Art, NYC, and ?Democracy is Fun?,
White Box, NYC. She has written essays about contemporary art for
catalogues and has lectured on contemporary art and curatorial practice.
Thursz?s actions and exhibits have been reviewed and featured in the New
York Times, Forbes Best of the Web, ArtByte, Wired News, Art Forum, and
many international periodicals and web publications.

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:
Upgrade! Boston:

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From: Ken Goldberg <goldberg AT>
Date: Jan 10, 2006 5:32 PM
Subject: faculty position: berkeley media arts / theory

Just announced:

Faculty Opening in Theory and Practice of Interactive Media

University of California at Berkeley
Center for New Media
Application deadline: 10 March, 2006

Theory and Practice of Interactive Media. Tenure track, Assistant
Professor position to develop teaching research, and service programs in
the production of interactive media. Candidate will be expected to
contribute to research and teaching objectives of the Center for New Media
( Possible subject domains include visual,
acoustic, compositional, dramatic, tactile, and cultural aspects of
interactive media, and their inclusion into computational representations
(such as personal digital assistants, e-books, interactive educational
tools, wearable and other digital art, personal security devices,
media-rich cell phones, multimedia tools for the disabled, interactive
architectural spaces, etc.) Preference will be given to applicants with a
background in and/or research commitment to both technical and
humanistic/societal disciplines. Examples of technical disciplines
include, but are not limited to, computer science, information science,
media technology, and product design. Examples of humanistic/societal
disciplines include but are not limited to semiotics, film studies, media
studies, linguistics, communication, and social science. Technical
expertise should include one or more of the following areas: multimedia
databases, metadata for media, computer vision/audition, computer
graphics, information retrieval, human-computer interface, game designing,
and media authoring systems. Research background should demonstrate
integration and synergy between technical and humanistic/societal
approaches to the representation of New Media.

Successful candidate will be appointed in relevant department/departments;
possible primary home departments include Engineering, Computer Science,
Information School, Architecture, Art Practice, Music, English,
Journalism, Film Studies and Education.

Ph.D., MFA or equivalent terminal degree. Applications must include a
C.V.; a letter describing the candidate's background and interests,
including a brief description of possible courses; a one-page statement
outlining a vision for interactive media in the context of
interdisciplinary new media studies, two recent essay-length publications
or creative activity demonstrated by video
documentation (preferably DVD) in a short 5-minute overview format and an
extended format, and names and full contact information for three
recommenders. Female and minority candidates are strongly encouraged to

Application Deadline: March 10, 2006. Mail to: Alice Agogino, Chair,
Search Committee, Center for New Media, 390 Wurster Hall, University of
California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1839. The University of
California is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.

Keywords: New Media, Design, Communication, Engineering, Computer Science,
Architecture, Art, Music, English, Journalism, Film and Education

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From: iris mayr <iris.mayr AT>
Date: Jan 12, 2006 12:47 PM
Subject: Prix Ars Electronica 2006 - Participants Welcome!

Prix Ars Electronica 2006
International Competition for Cyberarts
The Prix Ars Electronica - International Competition for Cyberarts is
being conducted for the 19th time in 2006. In addition to the classic
categories-Interactive Art, Net Vision, Computer Animation / Visual
Effects and Digital Musics-Digital Communities and [the next idea] Art and
Technology Grant competition that debuted last year will be reprised.

Prix Ars Electronica 2006
Start of Online Submissions: January 10, 2006
Online Submission Deadline: March 17, 2006
Details about entering are available online only at

Total Prize Money: 117,500 Euro
6 Golden Nicas
12 Awards of Distinction
Up to 12 Honorary Mentions in each category

For further information please contact Iris Mayr: info AT

The "Computer Animation / Visual Effects" category has been part of the
Prix Ars Electronica since its very inception. It recognizes excellence in
independent work in the arts and sciences as well as in high-end
commercial productions in the film, advertising and entertainment
industries. In this category, artistic originality counts just as much as
masterful technical achievement.

Contemporary digital sound productions from the broad spectrum of
"electronica" come in for consideration in the "Digital Musics" category,
as do works combining sound and media, computer compositions ranging from
electro-acoustic to experimental music, or sound installations. This
category's programmatic agenda is to expand horizons beyond the confines
of individual genres and artistic currents.

The "Interactive Art" category is dedicated to interactive works in all
forms and formats, from installations to performances. Here, particular
consideration is given to the realization of a powerful artistic concept
through the especially appropriate use of technologies, the innovativeness
of the interaction design, and the work's inherent potential to expand the
human radius of action.

The "Net Vision" category singles out for recognition artistic projects in
the Internet that display brilliance in how they have been engineered,
designed and-especially-conceived, works that are outstanding with respect
to innovation, interface design and the originality of their content. The
way in which a work of net-based art deals with the online medium is
essential in this category.

This category focuses attention on the wide-ranging social impact of the
Internet as well as on the latest developments in the fields of social
software, mobile communications and wireless networks. "Digital
Communities" spotlights bold and inspired innovations impacting human
coexistence, bridging the geographical as well as gender-based digital
divide, or creating outstanding social software and enhancing
accessibility of technological-social infrastructure. This category
showcases the political potential of digital and networked systems and is
thus designed as a forum for the consideration of a broad spectrum of
projects, programs, initiatives and phenomena in which social innovation
is taking place, as it were, in real time. A Golden Nica, two Awards of
Distinction and up to 12 Honorary Mentions will be awarded in the Digital
Communities category in 2006.

[the next idea]
Art and Technology Grant
The aim of this grant focusing on the mutually enriching interplay of art
and technology is to nurture concepts for the future that young thinkers
are coming up with today. This category?s target group includes interested
persons throughout the world between the ages of 19 and 27, who have
developed a not-yet-realized concept in the fields of media art, media
design or media technology. The winner will receive a 7,500-euro grant and
an invitation to spend a semester as scientific assistant and
artist-in-residence at the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

Iris Mayr
Prix Ars Electronica | Project Manager

Ars Electronica Center Linz
Hauptstraße 2
A-4040 Linz
Code: Prix

Tel. ++43.732.7272-74
Fax ++43.732.7272-676
info AT

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From: jimpunk <www AT>
Date: Jan 9, 2006 10:27 PM
Subject: www.pulp.href - +(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f) - #########0||E


randWin 8or9 albat blue sxtunt rewnd xxxx3_ Narn_ secret
security sirene theykee toon (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c)
(a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a)
(b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f)
(d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f)
(d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d)
(e) (f) pressent cmcstrp drugs maltese g-h.ref p4r4ch boxdogs
poseid_ p_jack Robert paint_ vendetta wind (a) (b) (c) (a) (b)
(c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c)
(a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a)
(b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d)
(e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e)
(f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) benicio hido inthestre j-m-He
jodie error flight93 tiiiitprnt twcemrB x oopentry gundown_
N_C (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c)
(a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a)
(b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d)
(e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f)
(d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) john Michell
plane pulp1 mywav TaxiDriver thegrey EE ttiiuhi phne MDasn
mi4mi blank (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a)
(b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b)
(c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d)
(e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f)
(d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f) (d) (e) (f)

<a href=""; target="_blank" title="
Download the latest QT plug-in ">Need QuickTime 7</a><br>
&& l4yErs

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Rhizome ArtBase Exhibitions

Visit "Net Art's Cyborg[feminist]s, Punks, and Manifestos", an exhibition
on the politics of internet appearances, guest-curated by Marina Grzinic
from the Rhizome ArtBase.

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From: Randall Packer <rpacker AT>
Date: Jan 12, 2006 12:57 PM
Subject: America's Grave Opening at American University

A multimedia installation by Randall Packer
In collaboration with John Anderson

Presented by the US Department of Art & Technology

On view at the American University Museum
Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC
AU Art faculty show: From the Studio

January 18 - March 12
Artists Reception: Saturday, January 21, 5 - 8 pm

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 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 commissions.

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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From: Lauren Cornell <laurencornell AT>
Date: Jan 10, 2006 5:26 PM
Subject: Surge +


I'd like to call your attention to Surge - the online exhibition organized
collaboratively by Rhizome and free103point9 - that opened today!

You can see the exhibition here:

Also, please see our events page for other upcoming Rhizome events,
including a panel at Electronic Arts Intermix (NY) in February. I will
send out a reminder about this closer to the event.

All the best,

Lauren Cornell
Executive Director,
New Museum of Contemporary Art
210 Eleventh Ave, NYC, NY 10001

tel. 212.219.1222 X 208
fax. 212.431.5328
ema. laurencornell AT

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From: Luís Silva <silva.luis AT>
Date: Jan 12, 2006 7:09 AM
Subject: First meeting of The Upgrade! Lisbon

Lisboa 20 Arte Contemporânea welcomes, from this January, The Upgrade!
Lisbon, a monthly gathering of new media artists, curators and general
public that fosters dialogue and creates opportunities for collaboration
within the new media art community.

At each meeting one artist/curator present work in progress, past work or
a concept and participate in a discussion with those attending the
presentation. We would be delighted if you could come - whether you are an
artist, a techie or simply someone who is interested in new media art!

The Upgrade! ( was started by Yael Kanarek in 1999
and is currently hosted by Eyebeam, New York City. Upgrade! affiliates
include Vancouver (2003, curated by Kate Armstrong), Montreal (2004,
curated by tobias c. van Veen), Boston (2005, curated by Jo-Anne Green),
Seoul (2005, curated by Suhjung Hur), Tel Aviv (2005, curated by Mushon
Shual), Munich (2005, curated by Tamiko Thiel), Oklahoma City (2005, Adam
Brown), Chicago (2005, Open Node), Istanbul (2005, curated by basak
senova), Scotland (2005, curated by Cezanne Charles, Robb Mitchell and
Michelle Kasprzak) and Sofia (2005, curated by Kyd Campbell).

Last September saw the first Upgrade! International Meeting at Eyebeam,
New York. For a few days there was a show featuring documentation of works
by 131 artists who participate at Upgrade! all over the world. Also,
lectures about how each Upgrade! node forms its presence and community and
about the potential of such a network were held. The next Upgrade!
International Meeting will happen in 2006.

Calendar of events:

January 17th (19:00) :

Patrícia Gouveia e Nuno Correia

Role Playing Egas

André Sier


Susana Mendes Silva

For further information or project submission please contact me.

Best wishes,

Luís Silva

The Upgrade! Lisbon

silva.luis AT

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From: Jim Andrews <jim AT>
Date: Jan 10, 2006 9:25 AM
Subject: On the 25th anniv of MM's death

Here is an article by Olivia Ward published on the twenty-fifth
anniversary of the death of Marshall McLuhan, who lived in Toronto for
many years and was born in the prairies.

Toronto Star
Pubdate:January 01, 2006
Page: D1


By Olivia Ward Toronto Star

When Canadian communications visionary Marshall McLuhan wrote his landmark
works in the 1960s, they were greeted with shock and awe.

The realization that we live in a "global village" without boundaries of
time or space was revolutionary. And the expectation of electronic
communications expanding to invade every aspect of our lives was both
thrilling and devastating. But flash forward 25 years from the day McLuhan
died, on Dec. 31, 1980, and the picture changes dramatically.

The merging of the human and the technological is so entrenched that news
pops out of hand-held receivers round the clock, children without
computers are considered deprived, and urban streetscapes are filled with
people babbling into thin air, their ears pressed to tiny mobile phones.

In the brave new 2000s, cars talk to us, Fluffy and Fido make way for
electronic pets, every day leaves a new data trail, and warfare is
conducted like a video game. McLuhan would have been unsurprised by any of
that. In his own lifetime his message, and the electronic media it
described, became second nature to people worldwide, making him not so
much irrelevant as self-evident. He fell victim to his own quip, "Tomorrow
is our permanent address."

Now, after a slump in popularity during his final years, he is more alive
than ever in the minds of a new generation of cyberthinkers.

"The underlying concept of McLuhan's view of electronic technology is that
it has become an extension of our senses, particularly those of sight and
sound," says British writer Benjamin Symes in his essay Marshall McLuhan's
"Global Village."

"We can now hear and see events that take place thousands of miles away in
a matter of seconds, often quicker than we hear of events in our own
villages or even families, and McLuhan argues that it is the speed of
these electronic media that allow us to act and react to global issues at
the same speed as normal face-to-face verbal communications," Symes says.

McLuhan's place as a godfather of contemporary communications theory is
thus assured. But scholars and techno gurus still debate exactly what his
legacy is.

"Marshall McLuhan's lasting contribution is his vision of the ways in
which history and culture and individuals are modified and, to some
extent, determined by technology," says Victoria-based Jim Andrews, an
artist, critic, and founder of the website.

Before McLuhan, Andrews points out in his essay McLuhan Reconsidered,
language, money and the media were seen primarily as tools. But McLuhan's
followers now understand that he issued a wake-up call about the extent to
which people's very identities are determined by the tools that they
themselves invent.

"Tools are not simply things we pick up," Andrews points out. "They become
part of who we are. McLuhan proposed that notion, showing tools as
extensions of humanity. That's one of his really big ideas." Arthur Kroker
of the University of Victoria goes farther. McLuhan, he says, predicted
with deadly accuracy that "we are the first human beings to live
completely within the mediated environment of the technostructure."

That means that the content of what we see and hear around us matters less
than its effect.

"For the first time, the central nervous system has been 'exteriorized,"
says Kroker, U Vic's Canada Research Chair in technology, culture and
theory. "It is our plight to be processed through the technological
simulacrum... in a 'technostructure' which is nothing but a vast
simulation and amplification of the bodily senses." And, says Kroker, "we
are all McLuhans now. We live in the electronic culture that he
prophesied. And since he wrote about it, technology has become more
pervasive, but silent. It's invisible. From iPods to cell phones, to
electronic games, it increasingly occupies the full range of human

McLuhan also hinted at the ultimate convergence of humankind and
technology, adds Kroker. "It might be that we are the first species in the
process of creating our own successors."

For the average computer-clued person of today, the kind of communication
McLuhan predicted means a constant barrage of news, views, ads, and
messages from friends and colleagues.

But, says Donald Theall, professor emeritus of Trent University's cultural
studies program, he also had a significant impact on the arts.

"McLuhan's most important legacy is that he introduced to a large audience
the intrinsic connection between the arts, including the popular arts and
the newer post-electronic media, with the new techno-scientific world of
the 20th century," he says.

"This legacy is increasingly important as the digital age unfolds, since
it allows for the convergence of all modes of expression from gesture and
speech to electric and digital communication to be more fully and richly
exploited and understood."

To some media mavens, McLuhan is a kind of patron saint - including the
staff of Wired magazine, which once featured him on its masthead.

But, says the magazine's contributing editor Gary Wolf, in his essay The
Wisdom of Saint Marshall, the Holy Fool, he is also a "martyr," because of
his perhaps naive "hope for a human engagement with media that goes beyond
technological idiocy and numb submission. McLuhan's jokes and satirical
put-ons were challenges to understand where our media were leading us, and
there is no clear evidence that we have been able to respond to his

Not all of McLuhan's admirers are uncritical. "Though 99 per cent of what
he wrote was horse manure, the remaining one per cent was dead on," says
Cecil Adams, the pseudonym of an American media critic, author and founder
of The Straight Dope website. And, he adds, "McLuhan was the opposite of
most academics, who can minutely describe each tree but haven't a clue
about the forest. He was dreadful on matters of detail, but presciently
grasped where the world was headed. What John the Baptist was to
Christianity, McLuhan was to the information age."

Religious metaphors are often used to describe McLuhan. And he was, in
fact, a convinced Catholic who attended mass regularly and was alarmed by
the dehumanization of the globalized society he could see approaching all
too rapidly - a dichotomy between religion and science that would also be
a vital part of 21st-century life.

There is a link between the popularization of fundamentalist religion and
McLuhan's theories, says Jim Andrews.

"The prospect of the U.S. being dominated by fundamentalist Christianity
is a good example of the relevance of his thought," he says. "McLuhan's
predictions of possible returns to tribalistic mentalities are coming true
in the form of the renewed power of fundamentalism more or less globally."

At first, McLuhan saw the idea of a global village as benign. "The
aspiration of our time for wholeness, empathy and depth of awareness is a
natural adjunct of electric technology," he wrote in the introduction to
his 1964 book Understanding Media. "There is a deep faith to be found in
this attitude - a faith that concerns the ultimate harmony of all being."

The optimism wasn't to last. By the time McLuhan co-wrote (with Quentin
Fiore) The Medium is the Massage, one of his best known works, three years
later, he was not only disenchanted but worried, says Wired magazine's

"When he used his most oracular tone, McLuhan's description of man's
servitude to media was chilling," he said. "McLuhan believed that the
message of electronic media brought dangerous news for humanity: It
brought news of the end of humanity as it has known itself in the 3,000
years since the invention of the phonetic alphabet."

But although McLuhan's insights are serious, and occasionally profound,
serious students of his work also have to contend with his other side -
that of a pop media guru whose less-than-15 minutes of on-screen fame came
in the Woody Allen film Annie Hall, in which an arrogant intellectual bore
who is "explaining" McLuhan's theories is deflated by the man himself.

"That's the way many people know him," says Wolf, who admits that even the
techno devotees of Wired have scarcely looked at his writings. Theall, who
was acquainted with McLuhan and has written on him extensively, agrees
that he is "in some ways overrated in that many of his most basic insights
were popular, poetic rephrasings of the traditions and the contemporary
artistic community which he studied so deeply." Although he had a broad
and sweeping vision, Theall says, McLuhan made the mistake of not
defending the depth and
complexity of his thinking, instead "seeking support and approval from the
corporate community, the media and even populists who did not respect the
intellectual world that he represented."

McLuhan may have done himself few favours in academia by catering to the
public instead of the pundits. But he himself was amused by the
popularization of his ideas, even those that were spinoffs and loose

"He was a personality who could be simultaneously charming and
exasperating, but never boring or dull," says Theall, who recalls that
McLuhan gave university bureaucracy short shrift but threw himself
enthusiastically into entertaining his guests at home.

McLuhan's populist side may also have foreshadowed the trend to making
academia accessible through the media stardom of its professors, who now
host TV specials and series for ordinary viewers. In the final analysis,
says Wolf, what were seen as weaknesses in McLuhan during his lifetime
were his strengths for the future.

"He wasn't uptight enough for some people. Great intellectuals can become
dated because they make a very rigorous and self-conscious effort to
maintain their identities. Then time moves on and they're left behind.

"McLuhan's ambiguity, his comedy, and even his parody were his strengths.
Those are something more than a single work of art, because they won't

"Everyone knows McLuhan's name, but nobody really knows who he was. He was
really a sceptic about human identity, which is very contemporary. He
really did dissolve his identity in the medium. Now we consume him every
day, but we just don't put his name on it."

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


From: Rob Myers <rob AT>, Pall Thayer
<p_thay AT>, Dirk Vekemans <dv AT>, Zev Robinson
<zr AT>, manik <manik AT ptt.yu>, Zev Robinson
<zr AT>, judsoN <office AT>
Date: Jan 10 - 12, 2006 3:56 PM
Subject: draw-something

+Rob Myers <rob AT> posted:+

I have been working on my program draw-something.

There's a Flash version (made with MTASC):

And the Lisp version now makes multiple figures and coloured figures:

Source for all versions available from sourceforge CVS along with some
recent release bundles:


+Pall Thayer <p_thay AT> replied:+

I was looking at this and find it interesting. Thanks for sharing the code
with us. There are a couple of questions that come to mind. I'd like to
know if you have any plans of making the lines more "pencil"- like by
creating a more expressive line. I feel this is an issue that has been
largely overlooked by people working with automated drawing processes.
They tend to look really flat and dead because of it. AARON, for instance,
suffers from a severe case of flatness that could be easily cured by some
simple, maybe even random, variation in line thickness and length. There's
an interesting project called Freestyle that's working on this (among
other things) at http:// (source available).

Also, I noticed this on your blog:
"The shapes are random. The colours are random. At worst I?m showing one
in every three of these images.

Randomness gives good results far more often than it should. Is it the
heuristics I?m coding in, or is aesthetics really random?

Time to start adding rules."

I think it has to do with the range of data. Random is going to use the
whole range of data equally whereas something like weather is going to be
concentrated in predictable area's of the full range. Personally, I think
it's really interesting to see what happens with different types of data.
If you experiment with different data sources, I think you'll find that
they each have their own significant character which could in turn be
interesting to mix together.

+Dirk Vekemans <dv AT> replied:+

For me randomness, the concept, is a nightmare, it's quicksand, it is the
one thing i can think of that's worse then (pick any random worst
horror). The day Superman solves random we'll all go to heaven (yes, even
you manik).

Try it:
They (we) can't even get the wikipedia article straightened out.

+Zev Robinson <zr AT> replied:+

I love randomness. Much of my art work is based on randomness. Much of my
life has been affected by seemingly random events and coincidences. I
don't know where I'd be without randomness. I don't want it solved or
defined. Maybe randomness is an illusion, and it's all preordained, but I
don't care, I still love randomness.

+Dirk Vekemans <dv AT> replied:+

Hi there Zev:
once again, you're talking zen. These are pleasant thoughts though. So yes
& perhaps if you love it you get to know it in the end, as a reward for
letting it happen. Miracles, or tales thereoff, always include some form
of randomness, too.

But the point is (i think, do correct me if i'm wrong, cause i really
don't know any of this for sure): when you're programming, mostly either
you want to know exactly what will happen or you want to be able to count
on it that what will happen in the program is not determined by your
previous code. So you want it to be a random sequence. But that's where
the problems start. First you need to deal with pseudo-random, i. e.
seemingly random things that only act truly random for a given amount of
cycles before it starts reiterating. When that happens the sequence can
only be 'just' another predetermined, programmed cycle.

Pseudo-random is not a major problem unless you need to program very
important encryption software. If you're involved in such a thing, you can
make your fortune by coming up with the 'cheepest' algorhythm giving the
highest degree of randomness. Cheep in processing time to run the darn
thing, that is.

Pseudo-random is also a problem, i think, for those of us who want to
make works of art that include randomness in its concept. In some cases
pseudo-random won't do conceptually, because it would be cheating on the
idea you're trying to present. In some of those hard cases, you might
solve the problem by reverting to external inputs like radio static of the
degeneration rate of radio-activity. Alan Sondheim uses a 100 year old
instrument called a Crookes spinthariscope for it. They sell these
beautiful instruments as plastic leaded toys these days:
But in a few scenario's using such equipment, or a random generating
service like might not be possible.

And when you have finally succesfully included pure randomness in your
artwork, or when you're satisfied with the amount of imperfection, you
still need to make sense of it (ok:some artists don't, but because of the
random thing they'll never know for sure just how meaningless it is). You
don't need to solve the riddle of the universe at that point, but you want
to have a clear idea of what you're doing, how the random part strikes the
balance with the programmed part including the personal, stylish part
every programmer puts in her programming and their personal assesment of
what is beautiful, valuable, aesthetically pleasing or any perversions
thereoff. So if you ask yourself what is your take on random, you are
perhaps required to ask yourself a question that goes to the core of what
you're trying to accomplish. It's about how much control you want to have
over what you are doing, the inner/outer balance of it, the IOwhy of an

There are times when you don't want to be face to face with these
questions. I can write poetry or nag on art like this for ages without
getting emotionally affected when i don't want that. Merely calling the
Math.random class in my actionScript sometimes gives me the creeps,

I can't predict it, but when that happens, it take it to be a sign.

+manik <manik AT ptt.yu> replied:+

Hi Dirk,
This is MANIK from hell.
Let's get to work:for you randomness mean same as a concept("For me
randomness, the concept, ...)
This is interesting idea and I dare to see rot of it could be in
Dutchman's fight for fertility land,fight against nature(fait against
randomness of see, the concept of other entity,God maybe.)American Pioneer
have some of that madness but they were cruel murder if is necessary,and
of curse God was good/necessary for pardon of sins)."So help me God!",they
said and kill some Iraqi child,or Indian,it doesn't matter.

Man have to established full control,he's uber alles,he rule over
nature-in this moment this represent retro-modernistic concept with
element of fascism(genetic control and modular stile of space/mind
strategic organization),fancy,inn,mostly in design,and fashion,in
"modular"architecture etc...Significant historical example were Mondrian's
neoplasticism,and Le Corbusier buildings.But even in Mondrians work was
element of randomness,intentionally provoke suspense(Bugi-Vugi serial from
NYC,40-this, much randomness,to many blots).


+Zev Robinson <zr AT> replied:+

it's always back to Zen, isn't it.

three things here - the perception of randomness, whether the randomness
actually exists or not, and the computer's ability to simulate it.

A lot of our work at is (pseudo) random. If we
take, say, a hundred images, a hundred sound clips, and, let's say there
are a hundred perceived colours (just for arguements sake). So we have a
million different combinations, and if we add a (pseudo) random position,
or movement, or the number of objects appearing, or the time it stays on
the screen, then the number goes much, much higher.

so the random possibility of someone saying, "didn't I see that exact
image before" is about the same if it were pseudo random or truely random.

If the computer can simulate at least the perception of randomness, so
that, for example, the viewer cannot which image will come up next, then I
can live with that.

Our experience, tho, is that the difficult part isn't so much in the
scripting (easy for me to say since it's Adrian Marshall who does the
scripting) but in molding it into a creative vision, understanding what we
want to do, see how it works audio-visually, deciding on the parameters of
the randomness, on the nature of the imagery used, and so on and so on.

I don't know any of this for sure either, tho, and nobody else does either.

+Dirk Vekemans <dv AT> replied:+

> Namens Zev Robinson

> If the computer can simulate at least the perception of
> randomness, so that, for example, the viewer cannot which
> image will come up next, then I can live with that.

Well in my PCU part of my Cathedral, for instance, i can't: for now i have
to use pseudo-random, because i haven't found a solution yet, but it is
conceptually wrong. The idea of the thing (however stupid that may be)
calls for it to be(come) exactly what the words about it say: a view
(visualisation) of the Cathedral over time. That might include true
randomness, it certainly may *not* include pseudo-random sequences, not
even if no-one would ever see the difference (which i doubt, in this case)

> Our experience, tho, is that the difficult part isn't so much
> in the scripting (easy for me to say since it's Adrian
> Marshall who does the
> scripting) but in molding it into a creative vision,
> understanding what we want to do, see how it works
> audio-visually, deciding on the parameters of the randomness,
> on the nature of the imagery used, and so on and so on.

Earlier discussions on this list have shown statements like these to be
rather tricky. I take it you're not downplaying the programmers part in
the art, but some of us believe you cannot just 'outsource' your scripting
part to someone who has little to say in the conceptual work. Perhaps this
little random topic can be a good example of how the minute decisions you
make as a programmer do matter to the conceptual soundness of the thing.
Personally, i've learned some (web)programming the hard way and i'm by no
means a full fledge professionally trained programmer, but i prefer to
hack my own stuff together no matter how much time i loose in the process.
Entrusting a skilled programmer with the task would be like writing a poem
in Dutch and have someone translate it to English and then claim i'm an
English poet.

But i'm a literary person, a fetishist obstinate self-indulgent fool
insisting authorship includes dealing with every aspect of the thing. As
such however i vainly venture this kind of approach can be meaningful for
the small audience i aim for, even in these rapidly deteriorating
conditions. I'm dead serious about that.

Let us not conjecture (????????????) at random (????) about (????) the
greatest (????????) things.
Heraclitus said that. Don't know if the Greek comes through. The urgency
is not about power or control and now that i'm rambling anyway: not solely
about art either, its about finding a perfect expression at the right
time. It matters because its about choice, a global choice if you want, so
if we're not sure we need to find a way to be more so. (The choice has
long been made for us but we need an awareness of it so we know what, if
anything, to do, ...)

Ah forget it, told you it was a bad sign...

+judsoN <office AT> replied:+

i get the giggles thinking about randomness.

some folks don't like any at all, consider it is really mostly used as a
crutch when you aren't monitoring enough input variables (mostly true if
you use electronic sensors-serial in), or as a shortcut for making a
decision. and folks often do use it that way. though it's hardly the
only way to think about it.

some folks think there is a purity of randomness. that a pseudo-random
number generator (every programming language has a random() function, and
they all work the same way) is not as purely random as the un-virtual
version. furthermore, seeding a random() function with a random function
is somehow "more" random.

but if you think of randomness, not as a conscious-less choice, but merely
as unpredictable by humans, the difference between random and pseudo
random() is unimportant. in neither case will our audience guess. the
end effect is the same.

if you imagine that randomness is like a language for the muses/ spirits.
just because we don't recognize intentions is hardly any indication they
don't exist. random IS intentional, but we just don't understand the

the muses can only speak to our world via these unpredictable choices.
it's like a prisoner tapping signals in morse code on the wall. but in
this case, it's as if no one understands morse code. the tapping sounds
meaningless (random) to us on the other side. but it's really a

adding randomness (unpredictability, regardless of technicalities) is like
giving the muses some input in your work. (the more they are involved,
the better they tend to favor it too). no one needn't get bogged down
with anything more technical than that. giving up some control, an
offering to the muses, is a great thing. probably the only thing.

+Pall Thayer <p_thay AT> replied:+

Perhaps random is "the spiritual in digital art." However, not being of a
spiritual nature, I agree with Dirk. Conceptually, random is as empty as
it gets.

+Zev Robinson <zr AT> replied:+

I'm not sure that as a concept random is any more empty than any other
concept. Just because something cannot be defined (if that's what you're
saying, Pall) doesn't mean it's empty. If you reflect on the events on
your life that are (seemingly) random (but may be fate or predestiny) then
you won't come up empty, I would guess.

[...] just to be clear, no I'm not downplaying a programmers part in
creating anything, and, also I'm not outsourcing the programming. Adrian
Marshall and I collaborate on our projects with a lot of testing things
out, back and forth on ideas, how it is working, etc.

I know people who outsource their paintings, let assistants make all sorts
of decisions including what colors to use, and then claim it as their own,
and sell it for a lot of money. Movies and medival cathedrals are huge
collaborative efforts, with various people contributing their various
areas of expertise. Some photographers insist on doing their own
developing/darkroom work, others are happy to let others do it for them.

It's a question of choices and priorities. So how you, Dirk, Pall, or
anyone else, are, what you do, or create, is up to you, but doesn't mean
that it should apply to anyone else. I may find something interesting or
not, I might like something or not, but it's the variety of approaches
that is interesting.

I've also had repeated experiences with works of art over the years,
mainly paintings that I go back to look at, but also music, literature,
films. Each time my perception of them is different, so in that sense
there is no repetition.

I'm also not sure if true randomness exists or not, or if it's all
fate/destiny, or a combination of the two. But much, much better pseudo
randomness than pseudo certainty.

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