The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 2.14.07
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 16:02:29 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: February 14, 2007


1. Lauren Cornell: Community recommendations for Commissions

2. Jason Freeman: Master of Science in Music Technology at Georgia Tech
4. Gabriella Giannachi: CALL FOR PAPERS
5. ana otero: CALL FOR PAPERS and PROJECT PROPOSALS - Urban Screens Conference
6. Lauren Cornell: Rhizome 2007-2008 Commissions - Open for proposals until April 2, 2007

7. Turbulence <turbulence AT>: Programmable Media: Open Platforms for Creativity and Collaboration
8. Marisa Olson: Rhizome party during CAA 07
9. Jon Thomson: Lines of Flight -- New York

+Commissioned by

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From: Lauren Cornell <laurencornell AT>
Date: Feb 14, 2007
Subject: Community recommendations for Commissions

Dear Rhizomers,

Last year, during our 2006-07 Commissions cycle, we had some productive conversations on this list about how the process could be altered to benefit the applicants and voting members. Some of the suggestions that arose here were integrated into this year's cycle, and I wanted to report back to you about them.

For the first time, we are offering a commission to a 'Community Project' that is geared towards enhancing the communication, participation or experience of the site. We feel this is a way for the community to participate in the its own structure, and we look forward to seeing what ideas come in! We have also increased the number of commissions the Member vote awards, up from one to three, bringing the jury to member ratio to 8:3.

Another issue that arose last year was participants feeling like their works were being judged by the written descriptions, and not by their actual websites. To offset this, we shortened the possible text on the submission page, and put a voting tool on the actual website.

We have outlined the entire process clearly on our Submissions and Voting Procedures page:

For all those who contributed to the discussion, thank you! We look forward to this year's cycle.

All the best, Lauren

Executive Director
Rhizome at the New Museum

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Organizational memberships with Rhizome

Sign your library, university or organization up for a Rhizome organizational membership! Give your community access to the largest online archives of digital art and new media art-related writing, the opportunity to organize member-curated exhibitions, participate in critical discussion, community boards, and learn about residency, educational and professional possibilities. Rhizome also offers subsidized memberships for qualifying institutions with limited access to the Internet. Please visit for more information or contact Ceci Moss at ceci AT

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From: Jason Freeman <rhizome AT>
Date: Feb 8, 2007
Subject: Master of Science in Music Technology at Georgia Tech


The Music Department at Georgia Tech in Atlanta is pleased to announce a new Master of Science degree in Music Technology. Its objective is to provide students with the practical skills and theoretical understanding needed to be leaders in the design, development, and creative implementation of music technology products and services in the coming decades. The program currently offers a concentration in Computer Music Research and Engineering, focusing on the design and development of novel enabling music technologies. This two-year, full-time interdisciplinary degree program is conducted in close collaboration with other leading programs at Georgia Tech, including Human Computer Interaction, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Design, Interactive Digital Technology, and Mechanical Engineering.

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in Music, Computing, Engineering, or a related discipline, and they should demonstrate their musical background in performance, composition and/or theory, as well as basic skills in programming and/or engineering in order to be admitted to the program.

Generous research assistantships and tuition waivers are available to select students.

Applications for Fall semester 2007 are due March 1, 2007. For more information about the program, the Music Technology Group, and to apply, please visit:


* PARAG CHORDIA: music information retrieval (MIR), music cognition, computational music theory, algorithmic and interactive composition, machine hearing.

* FRANK CLARK: media and music, network music.

* JASON FREEMAN: algorithmic composition, networked music systems, and audience-participative musical environments.

* CHRIS MOORE: recording, production, conducting.

* GIL WEINBERG : new instruments for musical expression, musical networks, machine and robotic musicianship, sonification, and music education.

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From: pgrenier AT <pgrenier AT>
Date: Feb 9, 2007


DEADLINE: Thursday, March 1, 2007


BCAT/Brooklyn Community Access Television and The Rotunda Gallery, a not-for-profit exhibition space for contemporary art invite artists to submit applications for the 2007 multimedia artist residency program. Each year BCAT makes its audio/video equipment, production studio, and editing facilities available to Brooklyn-based artists along with free training programs to learn how to use cameras and editing software. The goal is to assist artists interested in exploring video and/or multimedia as an artistic medium at no cost, and to provide training and technical assistance in video and digital production and post-production technologies.

BCAT/Brooklyn Community Access Television and The Rotunda Gallery are programs of BRIC/Brooklyn Information & Culture.

This program has been supported by a generous grant from the Electronic Media and Film Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

ELIGIBILITY: Open to artists who live or work in the borough of Brooklyn. Artists need not have any previous experience in video or multimedia to apply. Artists who have a strong desire to explore multimedia as a distinct medium or as part of an interdisciplinary approach to art making are encouraged to apply. Note that the purpose of the residency is to support artistic production as opposed to marketing or promotional projects. Artists currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs OR who completed BCAT residencies in 2005-2006 are not eligible to apply.

MORE INFO: Patrick Grenier, Associate Director <pgrenier AT>

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From: Gabriella Giannachi <g.giannachi AT>
Date: Feb 12, 2007


[Conference webpage: ]


Please find attached updated information relating to the 'Re-presenting Diasporas conference'.

There had been considerable interest since the original call for papers was circulated. The confirmed participants for the conference include:

John Akomfrah, Rajinder Dudrah, Eddie George, Julian Henriques, Hamid Naficy, Anna Piva, Roshini Kempadoo

We are also delighted to announce that we have recently secured the participation of Coco Fusco, who will be presenting a screening of recent work, that will followed by a discussion with the artist.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would forward this e-mail (and the attachment) to any networks, mailing lists, colleagues or other contacts (groups or individuals) that you feel may have an interest in submitting a proposal and/ or attending the conference. Deadline for proposals and abstracts, 15th February, 2007

ŒRe-presenting Diasporas in Cinema and New (Digital) Media¹ gratefully acknowledges the support of:

· The British Academy
· The Information Society Network (ISN), Exeter University
· Migrations and Diaspora Interdisciplinary Thematic Network (ITN), Exeter University

We look forward to hearing from you,

Dr Will Higbee and Dr Saer Maty Ba
Dr Saer Maty Ba
Centre for Research into Film Studies
School of Arts, Languages and Literatures
University of Exeter

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From: ana otero <4anaotero AT>
Date: Feb 13, 2007
Subject: CALL FOR PAPERS and PROJECT PROPOSALS - Urban Screens Conference

> Dear colleagues,
> You may have heard that the Urban Screens Conference in Amsterdam in
> 2005 will be followed this year by the Urban Screens Conference in
> Manchester, UK. This email informs you about the two open calls for
> papers and project proposals. These calls will be followed by a third
> call particularly for interactive and participatory projects at the
> end of this week. We are looking forward to your proposals. And please
> feel free to distribute and publish these calls.
> With kind regards,
> Susanne Jaschko
> curator Urban Screens Conference Manchester 07
> Urban Screens Conference
> Manchester 07
> 11 + 12 October 2007
> CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE March 2, 2007 (date of arrival)
> The upcoming Urban Screens Conference focuses on the development of
> non-commercial content for big urban displays such as LED, LCD, plasma
> screens and media façades.
> What characterises these huge displays as media platforms in urban
> space? Which particular spatial, perceptional and social situation do
> they create? How does creative content flow from this?
> We will discuss
> - urban screens as channels for alternative public broadcasting in
> times of Web 2.0, YouTube, increasing broadband rates and Creative
> Commons.
> - which interactive and participatory applications could enrich urban
> life beyond simple entertainment.
> - which linear artistic productions such as animations, video, film or
> text suit a presentation in public space.
> - how displays can be integrated into the urban environment in
> meaningful ways.
> - which economies drive and limit both the implementation of urban
> screens in public space and the commissioning of creative content.
> - the evaluation of creative content with regard to its perception.
> For the Urban Screens Conference we are looking for proposals for
> papers that deal with the above mentioned topics or other related
> fields of research.
> Please email proposals for papers in the form of a 500 word max
> abstract and your/the presenter’s CV by March 2, 2007 to
> info AT
> <mailto:info AT>
> --------------------------------------------------
> CALL FOR PROJECT PROPOSALS – DEADLINE March 2, 2007 (date of arrival)
> The conference is accompanied by an inspiring programme of public
> events and exhibitions, including screening programmes as well as
> performance-based and participatory art projects which make use of the
> BBC Big Screens Network. We are looking for existing and potentially
> adaptable projects which employ one ore more permanent or temporary
> screen.
> We are particularly interested in projects
> - exploring web-based content and streaming media
> - connecting screen audiences in various places
> - interactive and participatory works using bodily interfaces and
> ubiquitous communication devices
> - text pieces, video and animation which suit airing on urban screens
> - performance-based works including audiovisual performance/VJing
> For detailed information on the BBC screens’ system please download
> the tech sheet by following this link
> Screens%20Tech%20Spec.pdf
> Please send project proposals in the form of a project description,
> illustrative material and the author’s CV by March 2, 2007 to:
> Urban Screens Conference
> 70 Oxford Street
> Manchester M1 5NH
> United Kingdom
> --
> dr susanne jaschko
> curator
> urban screens conference manchester 07
> urban interface
> t +49 (0)30 72 29 01 68
> m +49 (0)177 50 265 53

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PLATFORM international Animation Festival, a major new multi-platform event taking place in Portland, Oregon June 25-30, is inviting proposals for animated installations. Mixed-media entries welcome, as long as some element of animation is included. Detailed specifications for a range of galleries and indoor and outdoor sites in Portland`s arts district, a reclaimed industrial neighborhood known as The Pearl, are available on our website,

Entry Deadline is February 1st.

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From: Lauren Cornell <laurencornell AT>
Date: Feb 14, 2007
Subject: Rhizome 2007-2008 Commissions - Open for proposals until April 2, 2007


I'm pleased to announce that our 2007-2008 Commissions cycle begins today! This year, Rhizome will award commissions to eleven new works of Internet-based art. We are accepting proposals in two categories: 1) New works and 2) Community Project.

The deadline for submission is midnight April 2nd, 2007.

To apply:

For general information on our submission and voting procedures:

Please spread the word!

All best, Lauren

Executive Director
Rhizome at the New Museum

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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: Turbulence <turbulence AT>
Date: Feb 7, 2007
Subject: Programmable Media: Open Platforms for Creativity and Collaboration

Programmable Media: Open Platforms for Creativity and Collaboration

A symposium organized and presented by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.,
hosted by Pace Digital Gallery, New York City.

PARTICIPANTS: John (Craig) Freeman, Tom Igoe, Cary Peppermint, Amit Pitaru,
Michelle Riel, Helen Thorington, and Mushon Zer-Aviv and Dan Phiffer.

Date: March 2, 2007
Time: 10 am to 3:30 pm
Venue: Multipurpose Room, 1 Pace Plaza, Pace University
Free and open to all
Registration: send an email to turbulence AT
Contact: Helen Thorington (newradio AT; Jillian McDonald
(jmcdonald2 AT

In July 2004 the not-for-profit media organization New Radio and Performing
Arts, Inc. began the networked_performance blog to chronicle observations
that internet based creative practice is expanding due to the ready
availability of wireless, mobile, and GPS computational devices and the
emergence of the programmable web. We observe that artists, designers and
researchers working in digitally networked and programmable environments are
increasingly making projects that are media platforms, tools and services
which are open and contingent upon participation and the contribution of
content to realize them.

The March 2nd Symposium, Programmable Media: Open Platforms for Creativity
and Collaboration, hosted by Pace University, will explore two forms of
current practice. First, the creation of original software to create tools
and services for creative and social use, such as a freely available 3-D
drawing tool and musical instrument, or a public commons meta layer
conceived as a continuous public space for collaboration. Second, the
creation of original work using the tools available within open platforms
such as Second Life and MySpace to build community and raise awareness.


10:00 - 10:45 am Introduction: Social Coding: Tools, Platforms,

Helen Thorington:, networked_performance blog
Michelle Riel: Siting this Symposium in current practice
Q&A (audience)

10:45 - 11:00 am Transition

11:00 am - 12.20 pm Roundtable 1:

Mushon Zer-Aviv + Dan Phiffer: The Social Space of the Net: ShiftSpace
Amit Pitaru: Sonic Wire Sculptor
Tom Igoe: Networked Objects: Email Clock & Air Quality Meter & others
Discussion (with moderators)
Q&A (audience)

12.20 - 2:00 pm lunch break

2:00 - 3:20 pm Roundtable 2:

Cary Peppermint: The Performative Space of the Net
John (Craig) Freeman: Participatory Installation Art in Second Life
Michelle Riel: Responsive Soft-Biological Systems
Discussion (with moderators)
Q&A (audience)

Participant Biographies:

John (Craig) Freeman is an artist and educator who uses digital technologies
to produce place-based virtual reality and site-specific public art. The
virtual reality work is made up of projected interactive environments that
lead the audience from global satellite images to immersive, user navigated
scenes on the ground. As one explores these virtual spaces, the story of the
place unfolds in a montage of nonlinear media. Freeman's work has been
exhibited internationally. He has recently introduced it into the 3-D
graphical world of Second Life. Freeman is currently an Associate Professor
of New Media at Emerson College in Boston.

Tom Igoe teaches courses in physical computing and networking, exploring
ways to allow digital technologies to sense and respond to a wider range of
human physical expression. Coming from a background in theatre, his work has
centered on physical interaction related to live performance and public
space. His current research focuses on ecologically sustainable practices in
technology development. Along with Dan O'Sullivan, he co-authored the book
"Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with
Computers," which has been adopted by numerous digital art and design
programs around the world. He is working on another book on networked
objects, for O'Reilly Media, due out in 2007. Projects include a series of
networked banquet table centerpieces and musical instruments; an email
clock; and a series of interactive dioramas, created in collaboration with
M.R. Petit. He has consulted for The American Museum of the Moving Image,
EAR Studio, Diller + Scofidio Architects, Eos Orchestra, and others. He is a
contributor to MAKE magazine and a collaborator on the Arduino open source
microcontroller project. He hopes someday to work with monkeys, as well.

Cary Peppermint is a conceptual artist who works with digital technologies
and performance art. He is assistant professor of art at Colgate University
where he teaches courses in the theory and practice of digital art.
Peppermint distributes his ongoing network performances through an
independent website of information-art called ""
( The focus of Cary's work is the creative
inquiry into the cultural effects of an increasingly interconnected,
information-based global culture and the setting of information free through
accessible, searchable, database-driven new media objects and performances.
His includes some of the first real-time, interactive performances
realized via CU-SEEME and early internet browser technologies. Cary's latest
works engage the concepts of wilderness, space, the American frontier, and
environmental ethics and explore how new media technologies both limit and
expand our conceptions of nature and the environment, questioning how we
live and make art with and in nature. He has curated two international
exhibitions of digitally infused eco-art, "Technorganic" and "Wilderness
Information Network." Cary exhibits internationally and has been the
recipient of numerous awards, including a Franklin Furnace Performance
Grant, Experimental Television Workshop Grant, and NYSCA's Decentralization
Grant. His work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center,
at the New Museum for Contemporary Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art,
and Computer Fine Arts.

Dan Phiffer is a new media hacker from California, interested in exploring
cultural dimensions of inexpensive communications networks such as voice
telephony and the Internet. Drawing on his computer science background,
Dan's software projects seek to provide meaningful creative opportunities
through intuitive user interfaces. Dan now lives in Brooklyn, New York and
is pursuing a Masters from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Amit Pitaru is an artist, designer and researcher of Human Machine
Interaction (HCI). Amit cross-palliates his work between a wide range of
fields; As an artist, he develops custom-made musical and animation
instruments, and has recently exhibited/performed at the London Design
Museum, Paris Pompidou Center, Sundance Film festival and ICC Museum in
Tokyo. Amit is also a designer with particular interest in Assistive
Technologies and Universal Design. He is currently commissioned by the
MacArthur Foundation to write a chapter for an upcoming book on his recent
work - creating toys and software that are inclusively accessible to people
with various disabilities. As an educator, Amit develops curriculums that
focus on the coupling of technology and the creative thought process. He
regularly teaches at New York University's ITP and Cooper Union's Arts

Michelle Riel is associate professor of new media and chair of the
Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department at California State University
Monterey Bay. Riel collaborates with on the
networked_performance blog, documenting and presenting on emerging work that
is both networked and live. She is an award winning designer and NEA
commissioned net artist. Her current work, antSongs, is a responsive music
system collaborating with ants to explore issues of sustainability,
community, and globalism.

Helen Thorington is an award winning writer, sound composer and media
artist. Thorington is founder and co- director of the independent media
organization, New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., whose projects include
the national weekly radio series, New American Radio,
(1996-present), and the networked_performance blog (2004-present).
Thorington publishes and presents internationally on these projects. She is
currently teaching in the Department of Arts and New Media at Emerson

Mushon Zer-Aviv was born in Israel in 1976. He has been involved in and
initiated cross-media projects in art, design, comics, animation, online
culture and media activism. Co-founder of design studio. A teacher
at Shekar College of Design & Engineering. An active contributor to, and online magazines. Curated BD4D
Tel-Aviv and started Upgrade! Tel-Aviv events, both series aimed at creating
and developing the Israeli new-media creative network. Mushon is currently
studying at NYU's Interactive Telecommunication Program.

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: Marisa Olson <marisa AT>
Date: Feb 8, 2007
Subject: Rhizome party during CAA 07

Hello. If you plan to be in New York during CAA's 2007 Annual Conference, please consider attending a reception on 2/16 at Foxy Production gallery, in celebration of Rhizome's exhibition, Networked Nature.

On view until February 18th, the show was selected as this year's CAA Annual Exhibition. It also concludes our 10th Anniversary Festival of Art & Technology.

Networked Nature presents works that inventively explore our understanding and representation of "nature," from the perspective of networked culture. The artists included are C5, Futurefarmers, Shih Chieh Huang, Philip Ross, Stephen Vitiello, and Gail Wight.

The reception will be on Friday, February 16, from 6-8pm. Foxy Production is located in Chelsea, at 617 West 27th Street, on the ground floor. More information can be found here:

Please join us!

+ + +
Marisa Olson
Editor & Curator at the
New Museum of Contemporary Art

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From: Jon Thomson <j.thomson AT>
Date: Feb 14, 2007
Subject: Lines of Flight -- New York

Lines of Flight

Opening Reception Friday, February 16, 4-7PM
Exhibition Tour Saturday, February 17th, 1-4PM
Location: Hunter College Main Campus 695 Park Ave. NY, NY 10021
Main Lobby, West Building and 543 Hunter North Building 212-650-3415

Curated by: Celina Jeffery and Gregory Minissale

Sponsored by: The Leonardo Education Forum, The Hunter College MFA in

Integrated Media Arts and Film and Media Department, The Savannah College of Art and Design and Bitforms Gallery.


Rafael Lozano Hemmer
Thomson and Craighead
Peter Horvath
David Crawford

Short description: Lines of Flight addresses the following themes: the lines between technological, scientific and artistic practices from differing cultural perspectives; the negotiated status of the (networked) artist as an agent interacting and transacting in a global context; the flight from the self in collective creativity; spatial mediation suggested by open, interactive, and real time systems; mediation between inclusions and exclusions, insiders and outsiders; and processes of taking flight from the gravity of digital capitalism, digital privilege, and stratification.


By Subway

The #6 train stops directly under the College at the 68th Street Stop. Major transfer points for the #6 train are: 14th Street-Union Square, 42nd Street - Grand Central, 51st Street & Lexington Avenue, and 59th Street & Lexington Avenue. There is an entrance to the school in the Subway station. Room 543, Fifth Floor Hunter North

Enter the North Building at the 69th street entrance (between Park and Lexington Avenues). Take the elevators on the left to the fifth floor. Make a left through the double doors. Make a right and proceed to the end of the hall. Room 543 is on the right.

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From: Domenico Quaranta <Domenico.Quaranta AT>
Date: Feb 14, 2007

+Commissioned by
by Domenico Quaranta

At first sight they may appear like a pop hybrid between the X-men and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, reviewed through the exaggerated and postmodern aesthetics of a virtual world such as Second Life. Quite the contrary. They are the first performance art group in Second Life: serious guys, practicing artists, curators and academics in real life, who decided to sound out the performative possibilities offered by a public virtual space that is growing at an impressive rate and being filled up by media agencies, stores, products, brands and inhabitants.

Second Front ( officially formed on November 23, 2006, gaining new members up right until the last few days. Now they are: Wirxli Flimflam aka Jeremy Owen Turner; Tea Chenille aka Tanya Skuce; Man Michinaga aka Patrick Lichty; Alise Iborg aka Penny Leong Browne; Tran Spire aka Doug Jarvis; Great Escape aka Scott Kildall; Lizsolo Mathilde aka Liz Pickard; Gazira Babeli aka CLASSIFIED.
The attention of “in world” media comes fast, even if Second Front doesn't seem to work much on communication: its very first performances are set up, unannounced, in public spaces, for a little, unconscious audience. Then, almost immediately (January 5, 2007) comes the big intervention scored at Ars Virtua Gallery – the most notable contemporary art gallery in Second Life – for the opening of the visionary installation by the American artist John Craig Freeman (JC Fremont in Second Life). And may other performances...

Saying that Second Front is opening new paths in an unexplored territory is not rhetorical; and the loose, immodest and a little bit punkish way in which they do it is definitely unrhetorical. Their key feature is openness: openness and plurality of visions and perspectives, quite blatant in this interview (where almost each one of them decided to give his/her answer to the same question); they are open about a wide range of interventions, from reenactment to improvisation to code performing; open about different ways of shaping their work for the art audience, from prints to video to live broadcasting. They are growing up before our very eyes. And, rest assured, they hold good things in store.

DOMENICO QUARANTA: What is Second Front?

MAN MICHINAGA: Second Front is an international performance art group whose sole venue is the online world, Second Life. Second Front has members from Vancouver, St. Johns, Chicago, New Orleans, and Milan (to name a few), and works with numerous artists from around the world.

WIRXLI FLIMFLAM: As of January 14th, Second Front received official legitimacy from The Ava-Star tabloid (owned by Die Zeit in Germany) as the “first performance art group in Second Life”. This basically makes us the in-world equivalent of Fluxus – perhaps we could also be nicknamed “SLuxus”. This sudden rush from formation to celebrity has been quite fascinating since Second Front officially formed on November 23, 2006.
As for a more detailed idea of what Second Front is all about, some people in Second Life might confuse us with a “performing arts” group rather than a “performance arts” group. We are not a circus act nor a dance or a theatre troupe although our artistic practice might superficially resemble those other performing acts at times.

TRAN SPIRE: Second Front is a network of performance interested artists exploring new and different environments, specifically the online 3d animated game world of Second Life. The members have come together through a myriad of personal relationships that existed during the early days of the group’s formation. This dynamic has morphed and mutated to include and involve variations on membership based on who is available and what presence can they perform with the others.

DQ: What does it mean, for you, to make performances in Second Life? Do you make rehearsals or do you prefer improvisation? Do you work with code or do you simply make what all other avatars do?

ALISE IBORG: So far we have done both. I think it depends on what kind of performance we wish to make. If it is better improvised we will probably do that. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. With prerecorded performances, we can fine tune and edit out things we don't want the audience to see. But with improvised performances, the work takes on a life of its own fueled by the creative energy of our players which really shows through. Also, many times, it's the surprises and unintended actions that make the work really come alive!

MAN MICHINAGA: Performing in Second Life gives Second Front the opportunity to work at scales they would not normally be able to work in if done in the physical world, and often has the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Our level of preparedness is dependent on the context for the event.
In regards to whether we use code or not, Second Front is using a growing set of code-based interventions in its performances, thanks to our techno-doyen, Mama Gaz Babeli. In regards to our avatars, and props, almost nothing we use is ‘standard’, but some of us retain a few basic props like specific wings, or even old beginner’s props like hair as a sign of their past as newcomers to Second Life.

WIRXLI FLIMFLAM: When we rehearse and plan scripts for major public performance events, we still have to rely on individual improvisation. Nothing is ever entirely scripted so each member can do their “own thing” and have breathing room yet at the same time not be confused as to what they should be doing. We use scripts and rehearsals etc. as a guide to help the performing member to feel secure with the thematic manner with which they wish to improvise. This allows for group cohesion both on an optical and practical level.

GREAT ESCAPE: Second Life offers a unique space for performance. Without the normal constraints of the body ― the usual center of performance - and without a traditional audience, we can try and do things that have been previously thought to be impossible.

TRAN SPIRE: Performing in Second Life introduces variables and situations that complement and push further the understanding and comprehension that the members of the group share as a sense of what is real. By engaging the contrived space of an online gaming environment the challenges to perform are exaggerated by the parameters that persist as the interface with the context, the others members of the group, audiences and the templates of performance as an art medium. All of the tropes of performance are available to the group to use at will, hopefully to ends beyond the surface of what may appear evident around us.

GAZIRA BABELI: The real performance starts with login, the rest is performance record. The avatar just tries to forget being a code.

DQ: Do you prefer, for your performances, a public space or an art venue?

MAN MICHINAGA: Second Front chooses its venues to fit the context of the piece and the performance. In the case of Border Control, it was done at Ars Virtua, therefore the context was that of an art space. For our Breaking News and Abject Apocalypse pieces, these were context specific (the Reuters building and the Star over the Christmas Tree at the US’s NBC Rockefeller Plaza), and were performed in situ, with the product being the documentation.

WIRXLI FLIMLAM: Personally, I prefer a large and well-known public venue that is not usually within the context of high-art. So for example, IBM, Sears, American Apparel, Wired, and Reuters are all great examples of the kind of venues I think are really inspirational for me. Again, this is a personal preference and not necessarily reflective of Second Front as a group.

GREAT ESCAPE: It depends on the nature of the performance. An art venue is interesting because it brings Second Life into the physical space. I think it is ideal to broadcast the performance at an art venue while engaging a specific site in Second Life.

GAZIRA BABELI: In art venues you can be welcomed with cheers, in public spaces with bullets. I prefer the latter, as death doesn’t exist.

DQ: What kind of audience are you looking for? Do you think that a performance in Second Life could be displayed also in the real world?

MAN MICHINAGA: We are interested in reaching out to audiences who are interested in Second Life, and are curious of the possibilities that avatar-based performance art can have. Currently, Second Front is performing in hybrid venues, such as simultaneous events in its home, the BitFactory in Han Loso, and in physical spaces, like Vancouver’s Western Front, and Chicago’s Gallery 416. We do hope that in addition to our performances in Second Life, Second Front can have exhibitions of its performances, imagery, video, and ephemera in the physical as any and all possible media. We do not wish to be limited by media, and also wish to spread our curiosity to the widest possible audience.

GREAT ESCAPE: One thing I think we’re looking to do is to question the underlying assumptions of Second Life and what it means to be a virtual being in that space. A dominant trend in Second Life is to shop, make friends online and participate in a virtual economy. We think this can be a venue for unique artistic expression.
In this way, anyone in Second Life is an appropriate audience. The possibilities for the space haven’t been fully explored as of yet and so I think people are much more receptive to performances that they might be in real life. Because it is so new, we can have a huge affect on people’s thinking.

TRAN SPIRE: I like the idea that the notion of an audience is being blurred by my own participation in this group. I am conscious of the fact that during all the stages of our performances from pre-production planning emails to after-party videos, I am both a performer with the group and an audience to the many things taking place. Anything that contributes to challenging this space and dichotomy between creator and audience I think is an interesting thing to pursue.

ALISE IBORG: We are looking for open-minded audiences who are not afraid to be part of the performance. And absolutely, Second Front could be displayed in the real world. The term that I use to describe this intervention into the real world, is 'virtual leakage'.
I define virtual leakage as a two way exchange between the virtual and the real, through which new hybrid meanings can be made. Meaning-making can no longer operate within the hermetic cases of the real vs. virtual, but instead, becomes a back and forth exchange in which ideas migrate by osmosis. While we as Second Life avatars become more real in the virtual world, so too, that we as human inhabitants of the real world become more virtual.
In my opinion, there is an amazing opportunity for Virtual Reality (VR) to stake its own territory but in order for VR to produce meaning that breaks from the real and from past artistic social practices, and to become a medium that produces singular works, the binary of the real vs virtual must be dismantled. Only then, will we be able to look at VR not as a simulation of the real, but as a simulation of itself.

GAZIRA BABELI: I prefer an unaware audience, an audience who does not necessarily have to understand what’s going on. Second Life is a real world.

DQ: Can you tell me something about the performances you had till now? How did your approach changed from the first one?

MAN MICHINAGA: Like any experimental troupe, we are always learning, and this affects our performance process. In addition, for Breaking News, many of us were only recently active, so our first performance was a really interesting experience. In short, Breaking News was an absurdist play on the 18th Century idea of the Town Crier, played out in the latest of 21st Century news facilities. By shouting out non-sequiteur, moment-to-moment headlines, Second Front hoped to perhaps jam the usual flow of information in the Reuters space, and possibly (ridiculously enough) barge into Adam Reuters’ office itself! On the second occasion, we did get an audience, as passers-by stopped and sat to listen to our tabloid headlines. Of course (we assume) they did not take us seriously.
For Border Control, we knew we would have an audience, and that we would need to fill a fairly set period of time with detailed orchestration, we experimented at the BitFactory, rehearsing a series of vignettes that fit the context of JC Fremont & Rain Coalcliff’s Mexican Border installation. The first act, “Border Patrol” was a Dada-esque performance of the increasing militarization of the borders throughout North America. Following that, “Red Rover” was a play on the creation of a border in the traditional children’s game, but in our case the border decided to break down the audience instead of the other way around. Lastly, the final act, “Danger Room” was a piece that was intended to inspire a gestalt of danger and chaos in the age of Terror, but unexpectedly, chaos erupted and the sim actually crashed, whether by our actions or a combination of us and the audience isn’t really clear.
The approaches for the two pieces are quite different, as one is ad-hoc and the other following a set choreography and set. Are we changing? Of course; it wouldn’t be interesting if we weren’t. We learn new things each performance, and while certain things get easier, we then try to push the envelope harder in other areas.

TRAN SPIRE: I like to think that part of the script of each performance is written in the code of the place or environment in which it is situated. This lets the content be influenced by not only the art or non-art context but also by the different terrains that can exist in the real life as well as Second Life.

DQ: What do you think about art in Second Life? Is performance the only possible way to make art out there?

MAN MICHINAGA: Absolutely not. While Second Life has limitations like any medium, the members of Second Front are excited to see individuals working in many different forms of expression, such as live music, ‘painting’, sculpture, even fireworks and aerial ballet. While Second Life is relatively new, the possibilities for expression in virtual worlds has yet to be fully explored. That’s why Second Front was created!

WIRXLI FLIMFLAM: Context is extremely important here. Part of what makes Second Life itself is the fact that every moment seems like part of a performance. The fact that everything can be customizable in Second Life as well as the fact that just about any object can be wearable enhances my personal impression that performance art is the most “authentic” medium of Second Life in that Greenbergian sense.

GREAT ESCAPE: Right now, the Second Life galleries are mostly replicating paintings and sculpture, enhanced with visual effects in Second Life. These are what you’d expect with the first generation of art-making in any new medium. I think that what we’ve seen so far in Second Life is only a glimpse of what the future holds.

ALISE IBORG: Absolutely not. Second Life has offered the ability for anyone to create in VR which means that there is boundless possibilities for creativity and unprecedented work. In my opinion, VR is in itself a new medium but what is unique about VR is that through its technology, it can create work that can free itself from past art practices, though, there is also amazing avenues of creation by referencing precedent artists and works, For instance, our Last Supper performance appropriates one of the most canonic religious events by producing an event of binging and purging art itself!

GAZIRA BABELI: Second Life is a frame-space which can include all sorts of artistic perversion. I call it performance, anyway. But if you find a better definition, please let me know.

DQ. What is your relationship with your Real Life counterpart?

MAN MICHINAGA: There really is none. Patrick Lichty does not exist. Only I am real, and I control him.
On a more serious note, the relationship between Man and Patrick is completely in line with my RL life. I am very sensitive to context, and the way I act in one context may be very different from another. In Second Life I feel that one has to be “Larger than Life”, and that's what Man is – He’s a big dark, figure – part angel, part rock star, part architect, part actor. That is, all the things that Second Life gives the individual more freedom to be if they so desire. I think that most of Second Front do this with great effectiveness and aplomb.
My greatest concern is “the risk of the Artist”; that is, the bleed between worlds that I take by making potentially controversial art in Second Life. I think that Second Life is the first place where we can say that sometimes our action online DO matter, and this is very perplexing.

GREAT ESCAPE: I think that the avatar Great Escape occupies a strange nook in my subconscious. In many ways, Second Life operates as a fantastical dream state. We can fly, teleport and pick up houses and cars. My avatar has purple skin and fire out of his hair. When I go to sleep at night, images of the other Second Front members often fill me head. So for me, my avatar is embedded in my psyche, rather than an extension of my self.

WIRXLI FLIMFLAM: In a lot of ways, the relationship between Wirxli and Jeremy is much more closer than one might think from first seeing me.
I did intentionally want to make Wirxli more of an alien than human or perhaps as a kind of first-generation “post-human”. I was also reading up about the stereotypical shaman in most cultures who is gender-ambiguous... so in this case, there is a slight departure here from my Real Life self.

TRAN SPIRE: I prefer to triangulate, dimensionally shift my relationship to each of the entities constituting themselves as versions of me. Therefore, I am waiting for the two to have a discussion and then ask me to join in on the conversation. I am interested to hear what they come up with and how they define themselves in regards to existence in a spatio-temporal plane, and whether they recognize each other.

GAZIRA BABELI: My body can walk barefoot, but my avatar needs shoes.


Second Front -
Gazira Babeli -
The BitFactory -
Ars Virtua Gallery -
Imaging Place -

Domenico Quaranta is an Italian art critic and curator focused on New Media Art. He is the author of the book Net Art 1994 – 1998: La vicenda di Äda'web (Milan 2004) and, together with Matteo Bittanti, the editor of GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames (Milan 2006, He curated several exhibitions in Italy, including: GameScenes (Turin 2005), Radical Software (Turin 2006), and Connessioni leggendarie. 1995 – 2005 (Milan, 2005). He teaches “Net art” at the Accademia di Brera in Milan.

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Rhizome Digest is supported by grants from The Charles Engelhard Foundation,The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Marisa Olson (marisa AT ISSN: 1525-9110. Volume 12, number 6. Article submissions to list AT are encouraged. Submissions should relate to the theme of new media art and be less than 1500 words. For information on advertising in Rhizome Digest, please contact info AT

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