:: Saturday, September 25, 2004 ::

Artwork (and why not digital?) for a new journal on Cultural Politics

It is not often that we publicize here academic journals that put out calls for artworks.. And much less when the topic is cultural politics.

A bit on the topic: What used to be a sub-discipline of cultural studies is now being redefined. In a nutshell, the new directions of cultural politics embrace the idea that neither political theories nor interpretations can be completely part of cultural studies. Instead, cultural politics looks at transnational cultural identities and processes, and beyond the analysis of political problems.

Given the current rich landscape of digital art pointing at political activism, why not submit a piece to this new intersdisciplinary journal?

For more information look here and don't let the guidelines for the artwork intimidate you. We are still at that stage when we create the standards in what digital art is concerned, even when it comes to submitting an artwork to a journal. The theme and scope of the journal are worth it.

Ana Boa-Ventura

:: ana boa-ventura [+] ::
:: Friday, September 24, 2004 ::
The Yes Men, A Documentary

Remember the parody websites, gwbush.com and gatt.org (now 'legally' claimed by the W.T.O.), set up a few years ago? No? Well if you missed them they were set up by self-styled anti-corporate activist-pranksters The Yes Men who use the internet and peoples (mis)trust in the validity of domain names to influence and subvert. Think of them as Jackass with conscience, social / political / moral and probably every other type you can think of.

Essentially The Yes Men set up websites with domain names very similar to the real websites of global corporations / organisations. The domain name might simply have another extension, a .org instead of a .com, or the domain name itself is very similar to the real organisation's name, G.A.T.T. became interchangable with W.T.O. for example. Everything is set up as you would expect on these 'official' websites. Correct colours and layout, priority over information, communication and accessibility rather than design. Functional, corporate and carefully branded The Yes Men build their 'organisations' image and then wait to see what happens.

The results often include emails from duped government representatives or better still invites to speak / moderate panels at events which they "set out to shock their unwitting audiences with darkly comic satires on global free trade".

The good news here is that thanks to the likes of Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock and Mark Thomas (on English television), there is a growing space for this sort of social comment in documentary / comedy form on the big screen and television so The Yes Men have made a movie to hit screens in America (initially in New York and Los Angeles) on September 24.

Is it net.art I hear you cry? Well when you consider the extremely close connections of art and activism with the likes of RTMark and etoy then yes, The Yes Men would seem to be fit right into this category of net.art / activism.

For those of you who followed the release of Michael Moore's recent movie Fahrenheit 9/11 and Morgan Spurlock' Supersize Me, The Yes Men A Documentary, already with a list of awards and nominations under its arm, is sure to be well worth a watch.

:: Garrett Lynch [+] ::
Selected News

First it was a Mac "thang" then real-player kicked in, now Sony joins the mp3-player Frenzy.

The state of e-mail: standards nowhere in sight.

The real deal with google may be a browser(?)

Are you addicted to the Web?

:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 ::
Here's my review of the Read_Me festival 2004. In the first part I give a chronological review of the events (the conference and the the Dorkbot city camp) and in the second part I explain what makes Run_Me/ Read_Me so totally different from all new media presentations and festivals around.

This years Read_Me festival had 2 parts, a conference part (held on the first two days) that was aimed at an academic discourse and a Dorkbot city camp part that existed for the biggest part of 20 minutes presentations. First let's start with the conference part that was held at the University of Aarhus. What we saw here was an effort to deepen the emerging discourse of software art and cultures. The lectures were about subjects as different as the history of Phillipinian bulletinboards (Fatima Lasay), the contextualization of software art (Jacob Lillemose), the consumer power of internet communities (Mirko Schaefer) and live coding (toplap.org group).
What all this diversity made clear is that the discourse as a whole is still very fragmented but also that some parts are developed already quite thoroughly (e.g. socio political aspects and implications of software) and that others still seem to be in a very early stage, as for example the research of histories of bulletin boards.
What the lectures also made clear is that software art is still a hard to grasp term. Here we can see a similarity with the term conceptual art that arose in the 60's and even today is still hard the define. Interesting to note in this case is that at a certain level somebody remarked in a discussion that the definition of software art should not become too rigid because else software art could easily be declared dead as (he remarked) happened to net art. Though this sounded reasonable it did miss the point what software art is about. I think it's good to have discussions about definitions because as long as there is discussion the term is alive, and futhermore they help to define what an artform is. However the misunderunderstanding here seemed (especially because it was compared with net art) that software art was looked at as a movement, and movements rise, fall and in the end are declared dead. To get back to a term net art, net art isn't dead, what is in my eyes dead is a movement that was made of it by some critics and theorists. The artists that belonged to this group (also referred to as the netdotart group) were seen as a movement because they were in contact with each other and shared some common ideas (for this I want to refer to the exhibition "Written in stone" held in the the museum of comtemporary art of Oslo last year). But seen at large the group of artists doing net art was/ is of course much bigger. Now back to software art and it's definition, as I said software art shouldn't be looked at as a movement and though there's a group of people that share some ideas, the diversity in software art is so big that critics can't make a movement out of it. Software art is a category and should defined that way, though a definition will have the same difficulty as defining conceptual art, there are so many currents within it that grasping it as a whole is a complex task.
I think the conference part was a succes not only because it started discussions but also because it gave an impression of the wide variety of subjects software art and cultures can deal with. What also is worth mentioning here is that outside the lecture halls the organizers had created a good atmosphere that made connecting very easy.
The second part of Read_Me was the Dorkbot city camp. Which was oppossed to what some might think not a camp with tents that were somewhere put up in the city. For the camp the Read_Me team worked together with the organizers of Dorkbot New York and London. And for those who don't know, Dorkbots are informal meetings where artists, etc. do presentations of their work. Dorksbot's slogan is "people doing strange things with electricity", for the Read_Me festival this slogan was changed in "people doing strange things with software", a slogan that was also printed on a t-shirt that was handed out to all participants. The city camp was for the largest part held in Aarhus Art Academy that besides a presentation space put several spaces at the disposal of the festival, one of them being made into a special chill out (meeting) space. In the evening a local underground club and an artspace were used for some special performances.
The first day of the city camp part started off quite nervous, on forehand all partcipants were told that they got 20 minutes for their presentation because there had to take place 60 presentations in two and a half days. The presentations had something of small performances, people got 20 mintues and after that a computer started to play a tune. When time was up there was a quick change of computers and another presentation started. Used to the formula and also because the tech part worked better the second day of presentations became more relaxed. Ending on the third day in even a more relaxed atmosphere. Although on forehand a littlebit sceptical about this way of presenting projects I think the formula worked well. Especially after the first day when the situation became less tense and interfering with questions within the presentations themselves became more usual. A point of critique could be that because of the high pace- and the enormous quantity of the presentations you start to loose concentration fast. Although I see this as serious critique I think the whole setup of the space and the easiness with which you could walk in and out of the presentation space created also an atmosphere that didn't oblige you to stay and sit, you could chill out, meet and talk to other participants and audience whenever you wanted to. And also here as with the lectures we also saw here a large variety of projects as for example Sergey Teterin's project "Minced Cinema" that used an old style Russian meat mincer to control digital movies or the Rand()% project by Tom Betts and Joe Gilmore who set up a live streaming net radio program that plays especially by artists developed software that creates random sound and music.
A last thing that I shouldn't forget to mention is that in the evenings performances were held in Musikcafeen (an underground place) and the local artspace Rum46. Here the performers used their own software to perform. Performances ranged from unpretending VJ work (salsaman) to live coding (toplab.org, slub.org) to a gigantic laptop performance orchestrated by Amy Alexander in which material playing on a large number of laptops of Read_Me participants was mixed.

Now to the second part of this review in which I want to try to give a picture of Run_Me/ Read_Me as a whole. The project started online in 2001 with a call entries, while the first festival was held in Moscow in 2002. This first festival, that entirly dealt with software art, was still structured like new media festivals as we know them. There was a jury who choose some winners and there was a jury statement that was used to define software art. Besides that there was a publication in the shape of a DVD.
The second edition took place last year in Helsinki and what was new to the structure of the festival, or better to all new media festivals that were organized before it, was that the process of choosing winners was abandoned for the catalog. Everyone who submitted a piece to the runme site was reviewed and got a space in the printed catalog. This catalog is only for that reason already an interesting work because it translates the spirit that comes with software art, and what is even more interesting is that it holds a moment of "artistic" software production that isn't based on (personal) curatorial choices. To a certain extend it is comparable with Lucy R. Lippard's book "Six Years" that gives a good impression of the production of conceptual art between 1966-1972. Though the difference is that Lippard in the end made personal choices what to include in and exclude from her book.
In relation with this I think it's also important to note that when software art became hyped last year and the Run_Me crew got invited to the Ars Electronica, the Run_Me team made a radical gesture for the Ars catalogue by just summing up all urls of the runme.org entries. With this pointing to the people (urls) without whom Run_Me and software art would be impossible.
In this years festival the concept was developed further and deepened. In the first place all the people that did submit a work in the past to the runme site were invited to meet in real. Secondly a conference to deepen the discourse was added. And in the third place the publication that came with this years festival became a real source book, full of publications of the lectures and with loads of reviews of recently submitted works to the runme site.
The trickiest part of the whole festival probably was the split of the conference and Dorkbot city camp part, this because many theorists left the festival after their lecture. So here not that mix of theorists, artists and other participants. Though it's interesting to know that some of the speakers told me that they did stay longer than they had planned because the presentation and the social part of the last days of the festival exceeded their expectations.
From my description above it might be clear that Run_Me/ Read_Me is different from what we know. It is a model that breaks away from the traditional structured festivals in the sense that it wants to grow by adapting and deepen itself but not for the sake in itself or the carreers of the people involved but for the sake to pose a social alternative to institutionalized new media festivals and organizations: it brings together people that are involved in and it builds a discourse around software art and cultures, and it does this without creating hypes or stars ("Read_Me decided to reject awarding prizes and choosing the winners" as Olga Goriunova states it in the Read_Me 2004 book), instead it offers people as different as academics, professional artists, diehard activists, VJs a platform where all can connect, exchange ideas, mix, etc. Thus we can say that Runme offers a real alternative to the institutionalized forms of art- presentations and the way nearly all new media festivals are set up nowadays. Looking at it this way the whole Runme project can be seen as institutional critique. And a very succesfull form of it, because the model it uses works and perfectly fits the subjects it deals with: software art and cultures.

http://www.runme.org (main site)
http://readme.runme.org (Read_Me 2004)
http://www.dorkbot.org (main site)
http://www.kopenhagen.dk/net.art/blog (blog that contains a minute by minute report of the whole Read_Me 2004 festival with loads of pictures)
http://www.museet.no/english/exhibitions/netart (Written in Stone, A net.art archelogy)

:: Peter Luining [+] ::
:: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 ::
Selected News

Searches get personal, and them some--check the new search engine.

The dangers of online commerce.

After being accused and waiting trial, Sven Jaschan, the wiz-kid, lands a job.
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
Two additions to the New Media Fix:

http://www.liminar.com.ar is an online resource offering interviews and thematic essays on new media.

marina-zerbarini.com.ara site offering theory and archives of net art and emerging technologies.

These sources were kindly recommended by Ignacio Nieto.
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
:: Sunday, September 19, 2004 ::
Possibly of interest to those who followed the recent events of Steve Kurtz's arrest for bioterrorism (recently relegated to mail fraud) is the following event...

"Creative Biotechnology: A Userís Manual

Locus+ invite you to celebrate the launch of Creative Biotechnology: A Userís Manual

An on-line publication by Biotech Hobbyists NATALIE JEREMIJENKO & EUGENE THACKER

Sept. 23, 6-8pm
Henry Wellcome Building for Neuroecology
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Framlington Place, NE2 4HH
Refreshments will be served.

A limited edition Locus+ publication will be available at these launches."

For further info please see the site.

:: Garrett Lynch [+] ::
Winged Sandals is an Australian site dedicated to bringing the stories and characters of ancient Greek mythology to life for a new generation. The site is primarily targeted towards 6-12 year olds but is not so over simplified that adults cannot enjoy and learn from it. In fact, it was my friend (an adult) from CourtTV.com that sent me the link because he was captivated by the Flash animated interpretations of the stories of Orpheus in the Underworld, Perseus and Medusa, Demeter and Persephone, and How Apollo got his Oracle.

The story of Orpheus in the Underworld is my particular favorite, because it has an interesting modern spin. In this version, the plot is the same as in the ancient myth, but here Orpheus is a romantic rock musician and his wife Eurydice turns quite Goth when she is in the land of the dead. The music has a modern alt rock feel, but synchs with the story and captures the mood.

Winged Sandals also has in-depth character information called "Who's Who in Greek Mythology," as well as the history of ancient Greece, descriptions, and interactive games and activities meant to educate about Ancient Greek lifestyles, art, and culture.

This project has been developed from an original concept by Rosie Allimonos.
Concept Development: Rosie Allimonos, Dee Hannan, Dr Christopher Mackie, Annabel Orchard, Abby Robinson.

:: Kristen Palana [+] ::
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