October 19 - 25, 2003

Lavoro Digitale
I'11 ottobre è partito Digital work presso il V2_, Istituto di arte - media e tecnologia con sede a Rotterdam, autore dell' Dutch electronic art festival (quest'anno Data Knitting), stavolta in collaborazione con il Piet Zwat Instituut, Willem de Kooning Academie. Questa la questione: I new media hanno alterato il rapporto con il lavoro, come e quanto questa rivoluzione ha trasformato la vita contemporanea. E quanto questo diventato glamour o no, ovvero parlare di contaminazione con nuove tecnologie ?
[...] read more
:: Francesca De Nicolò ::
La situation et les problèmes des artistes plasticiens français était le thème d'une conférence qui s'est tenue à Paris mi-septembre. Fait notable, 2 ateliers étaient consacrés à l'art numérique, plus précisément au netart.
[...] read more
In mid-September, a conference took place in Paris to discuss the situation and problems of French visual artists. What was interesting was that two workshops were dedicated to "digital art;" in fact, they mainly focused on net art.
[...] read more

::Isabel Saij::

With lectures by Esther Polak and Saul Albert and the world premiere of Alexei Shulgin's latest work WIMP, yesterday's start of dorkbotrotterdam was more than interesting. But before I start with the review of the presentations, let me explain the definition and concept behind dorkbot. While the central dorkbot (dorkbot.org) site just talks of "people doing strange things with electricity," the word " dorkbot" is put together out of the words "dork," which is slang for sort of clumsy but brilliant nerd, and "bot," which refers to robot; combine these two words and you have something like a brilliant automated human or maybe a brilliant human automated. The concept of dorkbot is somehow related to the above interpretation of the word. In the most literal sense of the word, dorkbots (this is how dorkbot meetings are called) are gatherings of nerds that present geeky electronic of related projects. But, of course, this has to be seen in the widest sense, so on dorkbots, you can find software engineers that develop useless but funny programs to artists that make robots dream. The fact that most people who do presentations and visit the meetings know exactly what's goin on shows that dorkbots is not at all nonsensical. To name but a few, Adrian Ward, Kate Rich and Bureau of Inverse Technology are "famous" dorkbotters.

Like the concept of "exploding cinema," everybody with a space can start dorkbots, and since people and every location in the world has their own habits, dorkbot meetings differ per location. But what all dorkbots seem to have in common is the relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Okay, now to Dorkbot Rotterdam that was held in the space of Uberground, a large luxury private apartment in the heart of Rotterdam's high architecture area.

The afternoon began with Esther Polak who did some very detailed presentations of some of her projects, which all had to do with a sort of social mediated experience. One of her projects," Amsterdam Realtime," can be best described as a sort of psychogeographic project with high tech means (GPS devices) in which some inhabitants of Amsterdam were given GPS devices, which in turn were used to draw a new map of Amsterdam in real time. But whereas the inventors of psychogeography (the situationists) used it to understand and get more control of their personal everyday life, Polak uses the movement and the traces of several participants to draw a map that results in an aesthetic product.

After this, Saul Albert (one of the co-organizers of dorkbotlondon) took over. He explained in a rapid tempo what dorkbotlondon does and speedily led all visitors through a load of projects that in most cases had to do with the living situation of people housed in the flat where he lives or with the space dorkbotlondon is housed. Projects presented ranged from setting up a very local TV network using the old cable network in his flat to dodecalectic badminton, a game that was developed in one of the spaces of the dorkbotlondon building and is, in fact, a badminton game for 7 players.

The last--but not the least interesting--was the presentation of Alexei Shulgin who did tell an in-depth story of his DX386 concept. He explained about his preference to make a computer something more than the dead thing it is used as nowadays, pointing to the utopian/dystopian ideas people had about them in the past. As an example of this, he came up with the use of a computer that penetrates everyday life; he talked about a project he did in the streets of Helsinki using a PC as a street singer. It worked until the passersby started throwing money in the tray next to the computer.

After that project, we saw the world premiere of his latest work, which he did in collaboration with Victor Laskin, called WIMP, a sort of VJ tool that enables its user to put VJ effects on the standard elements of the Windows GUI, like, for example, shake or three-dimensionally rotate windows. As in all works of Shulgin, this work also has a certain amount of irony; using just the standard windows elements makes it a sort commercial Bill Gates would be proud of but the name WIMP (slang for dumbo) was probably methodically chosen. A free beta version of WIMP can still be downloaded at http://www.wimp.ru.

:: Peter Luining ::

It has been said that art does not happen in a vacuum. As I recently posted on video games, I find it appropriate to follow with a comparison of two reinterpretations of the famous Mario Bros Game:

Mario Battle No.1, created by Myfanwy Ashmore in 2000, presents a game environment stripped of all enemies and obstacles; all the player can do now is take a stroll across the landscape. And Super Mario Clouds by Cory Arcangel consists of nothing but the iconic clouds found in the Mario game.

Both of these pieces touch on the particular idea of leisure that is prevalent in game playing, which is actually disguised with competition* (in this case either against the machine or another player). Both artists reevaluate having time to play games by taking away the competition aspect that is usually expected from the viewer while demanding to have a disinterested experience with the objects. The principles behind these pieces are based on a by-now conventionalized postmodern tension of the object of art as a subject of contemplation vs. an ideological battle ground for power. These extreme dialogues are what make art practice interesting. We find this tension nicely exposed in both pieces not by adding, but rather subtracting from a naturalized functioning state. Purposiveness without a purpose is what these pieces present, and their power relies on the inability to offer nothing but loss of time as the ultimate privileged state of production.

*Originally the term labor was used, but competition is a better term because the game enthusiasts usually play video games for fun.
Eduardo Navas ::