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: 07.07.06
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2006 12:42:35 -0700

RHIZOME DIGEST: July 07, 2006


1. Conor McGarrigle: Announcing the 2006 Net Art Open
2. Helen Varley Jamieson: ISEA re:mote CFP
3. Legier Biederman: !!Call for Papers!! NMC Media-N Journal: Art in the
Age of Technological Seduction
4. Greg Smith: audio artists/musicians call for work - vague terrain 04:
the body digital
5. diediaga AT Call for Papers and Art Works DIME 06
6. bellthompson AT Professorial Chair: Head of Computer
Animation Group, Bournemouth University, UK

7. Lauren Cornell: 2006-2007 Rhizome Commissions
8. luggagestore AT Yoon Lee, Headlands Center for the Arts
Tournesol Awardee presents at the luggage store
9. Paula Poole: Rush Creek Wilderness Trail Phase 2 *Now Open*
10. CR+D: News from the Daniel Langlois Foundation

+Commissioned by
11. Randall Packer: Review of CAE's Marching Plague by Randall Packer

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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: Conor McGarrigle <lists AT>
Date: Jul 2, 2006
Subject: Announcing the 2006 Net Art Open

Announcing the 2006 Net Art Open

Stunned is proud to announce the opening of the 2006 Net Art Open.

Now in it's fourth edition the Net Art Open takes a different approach to
the curation of Net Art online. Rather then present a single event based
exhibition selected by a curator or panel of selectors the Net Art Open is
an ongoing blog based process which will unfold over the next six months.
Curatorial bias has been removed by accepting all work which meets the
criteria. The result is a true reflection of the state of Net Art now.

The emphasis in this edition will be bringing the exhibition to the
audience, taking account of the changing way people access the net. With
so much new work being produced all the time even with the best will in
the world it's difficult to keep up so the Net Art Open will be blogged
one work at a time with RSS feeds for newsfeed readers and blog
aggregators, each entry will be tagged for technorati and and
a flickr pool will be created. In addition each entry will feature on the
front page of

The net art open was started in 2002 by Conor McGarrigle and Arthur X.
Doyle as part of the Irish Museum of Modern intervention,
subsequent editions were in 2003 and 2004-5.

Subscribe to the RSS feed

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From: Helen Varley Jamieson <helen AT>
Date: Jul 5, 2006
Subject: ISEA re:mote CFP

(forwarded on behalf of adam hyde - please reply to adam AT

ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Art)2006, an international
conference held in conjunction with ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of
art on the Edge, will be held in San Jose, CA, August 7-13 2006. Both
events are "situated at the critical intersection of art and technology."
ISEA2006 re:mote is a symposium within ISEA2006 and is issuing a Call for

ISEA2006 re:mote, August 10-12, 2006

International new media art discourse is stimulated by festivals and
events like ISEA2006 which form temporary cultural centers to represent,
present and discuss networked and digital technologies. However by forming
temporary centers we also tacitly create a notion of a periphery - with
temporary centers also come temporary peripheries. In new media culture
this is a paradox as much new media art, theory, and discourse reflects on
the network itself and the elusiveness and redundancy of centers and

ISEA2006 re:mote attempts to dissuade us from imposing these distinctions
by providing a platform for artists, commentators, curators, performers
and theorists to participate in ISEA 2006 via online and pre-recorded

ISEA2006 re:mote Open Call

ISEA2006 re:mote is inviting media spaces and individual artists,
theorists, and curators from around the world to speak or perform via
remote technologies to the audience at ISEA. Presentations to be directed
at the four themes of ISEA 2006. Participants are invited to present or
perform on topics included within the ISEA symposium, and onsite audience
interaction with the presenters is also encouraged. ISEA re:mote will
focus on presenting media spaces and people that would otherwise be
excluded from presenting their work at ISEA due to financial, political,
or logistical reasons.

The length of each presentation can be negotiated, however, for now we
have set the maximum time limit of 20 minutes. Technologies used will be
up to each presenter, the premise is that the technologies should be easy
for you to use and access and ISEA2006 re:mote will manage the
corresponding technology requirements as much as possible onsite at
ISEA2006. Live and pre-recorded material can be included. Live
presentations could use any available technlogies
including voice technologies such as Skype/OpenWengo/Gizmo/Linphone/Ekiga
or other softphones, audio or video streams, video conferencing with
softwares like ichatAV/Ekiga/Skype/OpenWengo, web cams, shared desktops
using softwares like VNC/RemotePC or Remote Desktop, text chats such as
irc or webchats, avatar environments, gaming environments, or even the
telephone! In situations where your available bandwidth is limited or
restricted, delivery of digital presentation material (audio/video) can be
delivered electronically or posted by traditional mail. In all situations
online presence of the presenters would be beneficial, this may take the
form of IM, irc or other text based chat technologies if 'realtime' audio
or video communications are not possible. Creative use of remote
presentation technologies is encouraged!

Time slots have to be negotiated, but we are willing to bend as much as we
can to include as many people as possible from various time zones.
Unfortunately there are no honoraria available for this event.

ISEA2006 will feature four themes: Interactive City, Community Domain,
Transvergence, and Pacific Rim. Please see the following links for further
information on each on the themes:


Interactive City

Community Domain

Pacific Rim

All proposals need only be a short paragraph outlining what you would like
to present, a short bio (one paragraph), and the software, technology, or
other delivery process you would like to use for the presentation. Please
email this information to Adam Hyde at:

adam AT

ISEA2006 re:mote is a collaboration between ISEA2006 ( )
and Adam Hyde ( <>
) and is based
on the re:mote series of events:

re:mote auckland - organised by r a d i o q u a l i a and ((ethermap

re:mote regina - organised by r a d i o q u a l i a and soil media lab



Adam Hyde

selected projects

the streaming suitcase

r a d i o q u a l i a

Free as in 'media'
email : adam AT
mobile : + 31 6 186 75 356 (Netherlands mobile)

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From: Legier Biederman <bieder AT>
Date: Jul 5, 2006
Subject: !!Call for Papers!! NMC Media-N Journal: Art in the Age of
Technological Seduction


"Art in the Age of Technological Seduction"
NMC media-N: journal of the new media caucus Fall 2006 issue
Guest Editors: Legier Biederman and Joshua Callaghan
The fall 2006 issue of NMC media-N, 'Art in the Age of Technological
Seduction,' is a collaborative platform, a diverse questioning,
re-considering and re-imaging of what, when and how new media arts
practice is viewed by artists, practitioners, theorists, critics and
historians working in the field today. We seek a broad range of
contributions discussing the scope, values, and definitions of diverse new
media arts practices and hope that this issue of Media-N will be a
departure as much as much as an arrival. Four general questions have been
posed by the members of the new media caucus as points of entry for an
engaging, vibrant discussion.

The issue will be divided into two sections: The first section invites
brief personal accounts and anecdotal responses addressing and/or
expanding one of the four questions, and we encourage everyone to respond
to this section, as we'd like to include as many responses as possible.
The second section invites papers that address these questions in a more
lengthy and detailed form.

Four Questions:
1. Defining and Re-imagining
What are new media arts? Is it necessary that we define new media arts?
How do we begin to discuss or teach new media arts? What sets new media
arts apart from other disciplines or practices, or what connects them?
What's (still) new about new media or what was, if anything ever was?
What defines your work as new media art and why? How do you explain new
media arts to your students and colleagues? What did or currently does
attract you to new media arts practices?

2. Discourses on New Media Arts: What do the discourses do to the
practice? How might one describe or define the discourse/s on new media
arts? How does new media arts discourse relate to new media practices? In
other words, what does the discourse/s do or attempt to do to new media
arts? Are theory and practice being brought together in new media arts
discourse, and if not, how might we begin to do so? What do you find
interesting or problematic about new media arts discourses? Do you think
there is a disjuncture between new media arts practice and the discourses
on it? As a new media artist, do new media arts discourses affect your

3. Authorship, Relationships & Relationality
Does your work maintain a traditional relationship between the
artist/author/producer and the spectator/viewer? If not, how does it
transgress these boundaries? Do you feel it necessary to challenge these
boundaries? Do you consider relationality, the non-hierarchical
intertwining of data, artwork, artists, and viewers etc., an important
aspect of your work? In what context/s is your work shown and how does
effect it. How do recombinatory practices commonly found in new media
such as sampling, appropriation, and mash-ups, challenge traditional
author/viewer conventions? While autonomy and relationality have long
lineages in art history, how do they function within new media arts
practices and discourses?

4. E-litism: Technospheres and the Everyday
How do notions of location, language, identity, and cultural
understandings of communication inform or effect new media practices? Who
is left out of, disproportionately under-represented, in the world of new
media art practices? Is, as some have argued, the openness often
associated with information technologies and new media practices,
paradoxically, replacing the national politics of a past with the global
connectivity of cosmopolitan tourism? How does your particular
specificity (sexual, gender, ethnic, racial, class) affect your practice,
your work or its reception?

Event reviews: The editorial board also invites proposals for reviews of
festivals/conferences, etc.

For more information:
[] Send manuscripts via email to: Legier Biederman (lbiederm AT by
July 30, 2006
[] Paper format and media format are in the 'Submission Guidelines' link
[] Media-N author's agreement is available from the 'Copyright Statement'
[] [] Questions: contact guest editors Legier Biederman
(lbiederm AT and Joshua Callaghan (joshua AT

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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, today!

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
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2002, and have been very impressed with the quality of their service.

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From: Greg Smith <smith AT>
Date: Jul 5, 2006
Subject: audio artists/musicians call for work - vague terrain 04: the
body digital

call for audio artists/musicians - vague terrain 04: the body digital


In his 1964 text "Understanding Media" media theorist & future-caster
Marshall McLuhan stated that electricity was an extension of the nervous
system. The next issue of Vague Terrain is dedicated to continuing this
line of thought and exploring both the interface and friction between
contemporary digital technology and the body. Vague Terrain 04: the body
digital will serve as a catalog of new conceptions of the intersection
between the physical and digital realms, one in which the body is read as
a dataset, instrument, and host to new economies and discourses.

The Call:'s fourth issue will be entitled "the body digital" and we
are currently seeking the work of audio artists and musicians whose work
deals with the interface between the body and contemporary technology to
showcase in this issue. Vague Terrain 04: the body digital will be
published online in early September 2006 so work would need to be
submitted by mid August. Vague Terrain audio submissions generally
consist of 30-40 minutes of original sound/music which is distributed
through our publication via an author sanctioned creative commons license.

Please see for more information about the
scope of our publication.

If you are interested in contacting us regarding submitting audio work to
this issue, or have any questions please contact us via
submit AT

Thanks for your time!

Greg Smith & Neil Wiernik

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From: diediaga AT <diediaga AT>
Date: Jul 5, 2006
Subject: Call for Papers and Art Works DIME 06

DIME 2006. 1st International Conference on Digital Interactive Media
Entertainment & Arts
25-27th October 2006 - Rangsit University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Deadline for Submisions is extended to 15th JULY 2006.

DIME 2006 is a conference where we showcase the latest developments from
the entertainment software developers and academic industrial researchers.
This conference is targeted at both the research and commercial
communities. We hope to promote research and practical applications in the
context of interactive digital entertainment systems, leading edge of new
digital and interactive media art and technology.

This conference will be divided in two sections; the traditional
presentation of communications will go accompanied of an exhibition where
to show the developed investigations. Both, communications and works, will
be published in the conference proceedings and in the ACM digital library.

Research Art Exhibition

Interactive art has changed the nature of what we consider art to be.It is
changing the creative processes and even the role of the artist that now
is called new media artist or interactive artist. Intersections between
art and technology are transforming the way art is produced, and each time
more frequently teams of artist, designers, engineers, etc.. works
together in art and media labs. These teams are not frequently related
with the traditional art scene or circuits, as they approach or are
directly part of the academia, the research laboratories at the
universities, and the digital art specialized forums.

In this call for artworks we appeal directly to research artist or teams
working in the convergence between disciplines, creating innovative
technologies or just re-engineering existing ones through meanings and
concepts. We encourage projects that focus on the creation of culture
through digital media, reconfiguring technologies for the full range of
human experiences.

We accept interactive installations, interactive cinema, and any other
emergent art form that focus on the use of innovative technologies.

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BNMI Announces International Co-production Labs
BNMI has launched its new co-production residency model which includes
three exceptional programs led by three peer advisors. Apply today for one
of these outstanding opportunities!

Co-production Lab: Almost Perfect
Program Dates: November 5 - December 2, 2006
Application Deadline: July 15, 2006
Peer Advisors: Chantal Dumas (CND), Paula Levine (CND/US), Julian Priest
(DK, UK)

Co-production Lab: Liminal Screen
Program Dates: March 5 - March 30, 2007
Application Deadline: October 2, 2006
Peer Advisors: Willy Le Maitre, (CND) Kate Rich (UK), Amra Baksic Camo (Bih)

Co-production Lab: Reference Check
Program Dates: June 24 - July 21, 2007
Application Deadline: December 1, 2006
Peer Advisors: Andreas Broeckmann (De), Anne Galloway (CND), Sarat Maharaj

For more information visit:
or email <bnmi_info AT>

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From: bellthompson AT <bellthompson AT>
Date: Jul 7, 2006
Subject: Professorial Chair: Head of Computer Animation Group, Bournemouth
University, UK

There is a very short deadline for applications to this post - need to be
in by 17th July!

I am sending this to open up the range of possible applicants for the post
decribed below. I reckon that there may be Rhizome members/readers who
would find it interesting. Our head of School asked us to invite
applications from people who we think might be suitable. Note that
'publication' may include exhibition and commercial production. Bear in
mind however that Bournemouth University is presently undergoing an
initiative to increase staff engagemment in research; applicants are
likely to be favoured if they are able to first-supervise PhD level

We are an enthusiastic and committed group, from broad backgrounds in art,
design, software development etc. Our philosophy has always been
multi-disciplinary, encouraging the development of new disciplines and
practices through art/science collaboration. With the retirement of Prof
John Vince, there is a vacancy for someone who can coordinate and support
a diverse and passionate team of academics.

Personally I would like to see someone appointed who can help to build up
the theoretical/philosophical/critical side of our group whilst ensuring
that the level of excellence in technical research and learning and
teaching and the philosophy of 'marrying art and science' continues.

Please pass this information, taken from the official advert (see below
for URL), to anyone who is qualifed and might be interested.


Stephen Bell


Established Chair ? Computer Animation
Salary circa £50,000 per annum

Bournemouth Media School, a Centre of Excellence for Media Practice with
Screen Academy status, is home to the internationally renowned National
Centre for Computer Animation. Following the grade 5 secured in the last
RAE, a vacancy now arises for an Established Chair with a proven
publication record to lead the Academic Group in the development of
computer animation and digital effects.

Internationally distinguished and recognised by peers, you will inspire
and motivate staff, maintaining the School's reputation for excellence in
teaching and learning, research and high-quality, employable graduates.
With a PhD in computer graphics/animation you will have the capacity to
maintain your research and publication activities and the commercial
background to implement and exploit knowledge transfer projects.


Job description and person specification
(pdf download)
Criteria for Professorial Designation
Online application

Closing date: 17 July 2006
Please quote reference: MED193

See also: to find out more about
Computer Animation at Bournemouth

Email sent from
Virus-checked using McAfee(R) Software
Visit for more information

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From: Lauren Cornell <laurencornell AT>
Date: Jul 1, 2006
Subject: 2006-2007 Rhizome Commissions


On behalf of Rhizome, I'm pleased to announce that eleven international
artists/groups have been awarded commissions to assist them in creating
original works of Internet-based art. Each commission will range from

The selected artists are Annie Abrahams and Igor Stromajer, Nadia Anderson
and Fritz Donnelly, Adam Brown and Andrew Fagg, Corey Jackson and Aaron
Meyers, Zach Lieberman, Michael Mandiberg, the Institute for Applied
Autonomy and Trevor Paglen, Evan Roth and Ben Engebre, SLOWLab (Carolyn
Strauss and Julian Bleecker), Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg and

Rhizome Commissions are jury awarded, and one is determined by Rhizome
Members through an open community vote. This year, Michael Mandiberg's
project Real Costs was selected by the Member vote.

Project descriptions and artists' biographies are available at:

Rhizome would like to thank our Members and the jury for lending their
time, opinions and insight to the selection process.

All best, Lauren

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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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: luggagestore AT <luggagestore AT>
Date: Jul 2, 2006
Subject: Yoon Lee, Headlands Center for the Arts Tournesol Awardee
presents at the luggage store

Solo Exhibition, Yoon Lee, at the luggage store, sf, ca

Headlands Center for the Arts Tournesol Awardee YOON LEE, large scale
computer generated paintings

Dates of Exhibition:
July 7 - August 5, 2006

Opening Reception:
Friday, July 7, 2006 - 6-8pm

The luggage store
1007 Market Street (nr 6th)
San Francisco, CA 94103

415. 255 5971


Gallery Hours
Wed-Sat. 12-5pm and by appt.

At first glance, Yoon Lee's paintings appear exuberant, as if her gestures
capture the moment when chaotic forces transform into ordered systems. She
squirts vividly colored acrylic paint out of plastic bottles to create
slick, tactile surfaces filled with dynamic swarms of abstract shapes. Her
bold yet graceful forms seem swept up in their own fast-paced
trajectories, often set against traces of industrial architecture. When
viewed more closely, however, it becomes evident that Lee's seemingly
spontaneous marks are actually computer generated and painstakingly
executed. She predetermines her formal vocabulary by scanning and 'mixing'
popular media images, drawings, and photographs of freeways, railroads,
and engineering structures taken along the Port of Oakland-visual sites
and by-products of global capitalism that the artist experiences on a
daily basis. Her monumental paintings mesmerize with their synthetic
materiality, ultimately evoking the ambivalent desire we feel when
confronted by colorful plastic consumer goods, beautifully crafted
confections, or successful advertising campaigns. We are seduced into
believing that these glossy, overdetermined objects possess the power to
comfort us. As the artist explains, 'This connection between the work and
consumer goods reflects my interest in consumption as a strategy to
assuage urban anxiety. My work addresses the relationship between this
anxiety and the speed in which information and signals travel through

Born in 1975 in Pusan, Korea and raised in San Diego, California, Yoon Lee
attended the University of California, San Diego, where she studied
computer science, mechanical engineering and existential philosophy before
deciding on a career in the arts. To augment her painting training, she
studied for two years at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia before
completing her BA in Visual Arts at UCSD. She earned her MFA in Painting
from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. Since then, her work has
been featured in solo and group shows throughout California, most recently
in San Francisco at the TransAmerica Center, Crucible Steel Gallery, The
Lab, Hang Gallery, Diego Rivera Gallery, and Catharine Clark Gallery,
where her paintings in the 2006 'Moxie' exhibition garnered critical
acclaim. In 2005 her work was selected by Arts Benicia for 'Cream: From
the Top', an exhibition highlighting the most promising graduates from Bay
Area MFA programs. Lee was awarded 2005 residencies at both Headlands
Center for the Arts as part of her Tournesol Award and at Idyllwild Arts
near Los Angeles as a participant in their 'Painting's Edge' series.

--Lydia Matthews,
Associate Professor of Visual Studies,
California College of the Arts

Headlands Center for the Arts is a nonprofit organization annually
offering residencies to approximately 40 local, national and international
artists. Headlands supports artists in the exploration of their work and
serves as a laboratory whose focus is on the artist's process of
investigation and creation by providing an unparalleled environment for
the creative process and the development of new work and ideas. Through
artists' residencies and public programs, Headlands offers opportunities
for reflection, dialogue and exchange that build understanding and
appreciation for the role of art in society. (

The Tournesol Award sponsored by Headlands Center for the Arts was
established by an anonymous donor to recognize one emerging artist each
yeare whose primary medium is painting. The goal is to provide the artist
with the financial and community support to assist their artistic
development in the critical years after school. The award includes a cash
stipend, a one year residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts and a
solo exhibition at a Bay Area venue.

the luggage store is a non profit multidisciplinary arts organization est.
in 1987, with three venues in downtown San Francisco: the luggage store
gallery at 1007 Market, the luggage store annex (aka The 509 Cultural
Center) at 509 Ellis and Cohen Alley (a green community commons for public
art and social interventions). The Luggage Store's vital exhibition,
performing arts, public arts and arts education programs are dedicated to
broadening social and aesthetic networks by encouraging the flow of images
and ideas between different cultural and economic communities.

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From: Paula Poole <paularpoole AT>
Date: Jul 3, 2006
Subject: Rush Creek Wilderness Trail Phase 2 *Now Open*

The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail is possibly the world?s first
computationally derived, unofficial public wilderness trail. The trail was
first "discovered" by a computer algorithm called a "virtual hiker" (a
feature of the C5 Landscape Database API) that traversed the backcountry
of California. The results produced a tracklog that can be uploaded to a
GPS device and then followed by a real hiker through the actual landscape.
Phase 1 of the trail (From the Rush Creek Wilderness Trailhead to Rush
Creek Spring) was opened by Brett Stalbaum December 27th and 28th of 2005.
Phase 2 of the trail (Rush Creek Spring to the De Facto Rush Creek Trail
Terminus) was opened by Stalbaum and Paula Poole June 19th-21st of 2006.

The trail provides beautiful views of the Great Basin desert environment,
plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities, solitude, and the unique
experience of comparing the wayfinding abilities of a computer algorithm
to your own wayfinding skills and intuition. For safety, backcountry
experience is required.


GPS Data:


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From: CR+D <crd AT>
Date: Jul 4, 2006
Subject: News from the Daniel Langlois Foundation

New recipients of financial support from the Daniel Langlois Foundation
for Art, Science, and Technology

Strategic Grants for Organisations:

Through this program, the Foundation supports non-profit organisations in
their strategic development projects. To learn more about the 2006
projects that have received support to date under the Strategic Grants for
Organisations program:

Research and Experimentation Grants in Art+Science+Technology:

Under this program, the Foundation receives proposals from artists and
researchers who work in areas targeted by the Foundation. Each year, the
proposal deadline is January 31. To learn more about the projects by
artists and researchers selected by the Foundation for 2006:

The program's guidelines are available on the Foundation's Web site:

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From: Randall Packer <rpacker AT>
Date: Jul 7, 2006
Subject: Review of CAE's Marching Plague by Randall Packer

+Commissioned by

Review of Critical Art Ensembles?s Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and
Global Public Health (Autonomedia, 2006), by Randall Packer

In May of 2004, Critical Ensemble (CAE) member Steve Kurtz was arrested
for possession of alleged illegal bio-medical materials. This event,
coupled with the tragic death of his wife Hope, triggered a response of
outrage from the arts community when it was determined that accusations
made by the FBI suggested the artist was engaging in terrorist activity.
Like many at the time, I wrote a letter of support for Steve. The
following is an excerpt:

"Steve's commitment to social inquiry, particularly in the area of
bio-technology, is internationally renowned. Steve is an artist and
scholar of extraordinary depth of knowledge and perspective. Behind the
actions and projects of CAE is a profound understanding of 20th century
avant-garde practice and its impact on contemporary thought. If in fact it
is the role of the artist to shed new light and vision on the issues that
confront us today... the defense of Steve Kurtz is vital to the defense of
the artist, whose role is to function as a mediator between our strange
hostile world and the human spirit."

Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health, Critical Art
Ensemble's latest book, functions as a profound account of the artistic
struggle to challenge the political status quo in times of crisis. The
task of writing the book was indeed a heroic one. After the original
material was confiscated by the FBI, CAE went through the painstaking task
of reconstructing the research, a slow and tedious process made more
difficult with Kurtz's defense of his legal case.

Nevertheless, Marching Plague was completed, albeit in a revised form,
documenting the CAE argument that the government's use of funds for germ
warfare research is suspect, and is based primarily on deceptive reports
and scare tactics. They contend that the military's research in
bio-terrorism is a tremendous waste of public funds that diverts money
from the more urgent need to "defeat diseases such as malaria and HIV that
prematurely end of the lives of millions of people each year."

CAE carefully builds its argument as to the limited military effectiveness
of harmful germs such as smallpox, anthrax, plague, etc. They cite the
history of their use, the relatively small number of fatalities, and the
few incidents of successful implementation. They provide abundant evidence
that collateral damage and the complexity of discharging the toxins into
the environment underscores their claim that germ warfare is a "a burning
excess that in the end does little more than terrorize a nation?s own

Bolstering their case against the false threat of germs as a biological
weapon, CAE makes the interesting point that the terrorists are not the
"Legion of Doom" or "deranged humans," as the government would have us
believe, but rather, they are highly tactical in their political agenda.
So why would they employ biological materials given the extreme difficulty
of implementation? The reasons are contradictory. While the government
maintains its position that bio-weapons in the hands of terrorists would
cause millions of deaths, CAE maintains that the extreme difficulty of
implementation would primarily result in the death of those who attempt to
use them, which they refer to as the "boomerang effect."

CAE then takes on the larger ramifications of the politics of fear,
discussing the government's propaganda campaign to promote unnecessary,
costly defense and security systems in the so-called "war on terror." They
equate the Bush Administration?s declaration, "we are winning the war on
terror," with the Orwellian reversal of its meaning: that is, we, "the
state," are winning as declaration that they are seizing authoritarian
control over their citizenry. They give as an example the US Government's
Department of Homeland Security threat advisory system, a wildly
inaccurate and manipulative system that was "religiously reported by the
news media whenever the government gave the call."

They go on to say that the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans was
the result of the government's obsession with the war on terror. After the
misguided appointment of Michael Brown, "FEMA developed a new 'all
hazards' plan suitable only for the many types of terrorist attacks that
the agency could dream up." They point out the political crisis inherent
in this misguided policy, such that when civilian interests must compete
with the military, the military always takes precedence.

What is particularly prescient about the timing of Germ Warfare and its
critique on the war on terrorism is how it dramatically makes light of the
fact that the US Government's obsession with the threat of terrorism has
overshadowed more pressing problems, such as global warming, world hunger,
AIDS, etc, that in the end are killing millions of people. CAE offers as a
rationale the Bush Administration's consistent yielding to the needs of
corporate America. Just as energy policy is based on the oil industry's
need to maximize its profits, so too, the vast bio-medical industry has
capitalized on the fear of germ warfare as a weapon of mass destruction,
resulting in costly research to defend the nation against a largely
hypothetical attack. In the public health sector, funds to fight disease
have been redirected to fight the war on terror due to the Pentagon?s
nightmare scenario of germ warfare - a tragic waste of public tax dollars.

Overall, CAE's argument against the viability of germ warfare is a timely
critique of the war on terror and the government?s effort to perpetuate
the crisis for reasons that are suspect, thus draining precious resources
from the public good. This critique becomes all the more poignant in
light of Kurtz's own personal predicament. The big question CAE asks is,
"couldn?t they see that Critical Art Ensemble?s work is art?" Is it really
possible that the government can't distinguish between an artist and a
terrorist? In the US, there is very little understanding among the general
public, let alone the government, that a critical role of the artist in
society is to examine and dissect contemporary cultural conditions. We can
only stand in horror that Steve Kurtz, an internationally renowned
political artist and university professor, could have his work confiscated
and be treated as a dangerous threat.

But like the case of Joe Wilson, whose controversial investigation of
nuclear activity in Niger sent shock waves through the US government all
the way up the top, we see echoes of this in the prosecution of Steve
Kurtz. Marching Plague is a powerful critique exposing the Government's
use of germ warfare as a false scare tactic, and for this reason, we can
understand why they have taken Kurtz to task. It is a frightening
scenario, one that could happen to any artist or citizen who challenges
the government in times of crisis. This book is an important testament to
the fragility of free expression in a nation gripped by fear and

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Marisa Olson (marisa AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 11, number 26. Article submissions to list AT
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