July 30, 2009
Works by k0a1a.net

re:buntu came through a mailing list announcement about a week ago (might have been nettime) but there are a few other works by k0a1a.net, none of which I had seen before, which have caught my attention. I’ll write about two here, unrelated apart from having ideas of networks / connecting etc. and I’ll come back to a third later.

Master / Slave (image above, video below) is a work which visually has similarities with some of the connected performance work of Stelarc yet rather than extend control, user to performer over a distance, Master / Slave extends control over time. The artist describes the work as:

an experience of taking control on another person by physically connecting to his/her immaterial image. The image represents a person who interacted with the installation before and by doing so left snapshots in the system. By pulling the strings you can play a ‘puppet’ of your predecessor and see how your own moves are ‘influenced’ by your on-screen opponent. The process is a continuous progression and over/inter -layering of mutual intercourse (intercommunication), after all – among the real people.

Netless (image above) is a parasitic form of network device proposed as a system of sharing information. It is:

is an anamorphic structure of nodes that is capable of holding some amounts of digital data. each node is a small, low-power wireless digital transponder. there is no permanent network connection. every time any node would appear in the vicinity of any other node – they would establish a wireless link and swap the data that was stored internally…using city transportation grid as its data backbone. nodes of the network are attached to city vehicles – trams, buses, taxis and possibly – pedestrians. information exchange between the nodes happens only when the carriers pass by each other in the city traffic. digital data switches its routes just the same way you’d switch from tram #2 to bus #5.

The artist argues that the routes of digital communication networks and public transport networks would have similarities, both serve flows and tend to priortise the densest populated areas. This cleverly builds on much existing network theory (see Manuel Castells, the Space of Flows) and poses the question:

why not to [sic] use already existing city transportation network for digital data transfers?

A video presentation of Netless at Breakthrough, Berlin last month (25/06/2009) is available here in ogg format.

Posted by: Garrett @ 12:11 pm
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July 27, 2009
Even more print accessible!

Just another update to make the site more accessible and useful as a resource. QR Codes have now been added to every page of the site. Most importantly they will now appear on print versions of pages so everything printed can be linked / connected back from the ‘real’ to the ‘virtual’. This should prove useful as a means of passing people information (yes I know, the trees, but sometimes it’s useful), archiving, teaching handouts (very useful for me) etc.

I’ve also added a QR Code help page here for anyone who does not know how to use them.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:08 am
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July 26, 2009
Murmur Study

Murmer Study (image above, video below) by Christopher Baker is (currently showing at the Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota until August 23th, 2009) a twitter visualisation installation of sorts it’s not the graphical visualisation common in information design (more typical of these) but the visualisation of the flow of ‘virtual’ information and what it would amount to in ‘real’ terms if it were manifested as traditional print media.

This installation consists of 30 thermal printers that continuously monitor Twitter for new messages containing variations on common emotional utterances. Messages containing hundreds of variations on words such as argh, meh, grrrr, oooo, ewww, and hmph, are printed as an endless waterfall of text accumulating in tangled piles below.

One might describe these messages as a kind of digital small talk. But unlike water-cooler conversations, these fleeting thoughts are accumulated, archived and digitally-indexed by corporations. While the future of these archives remains to be seen, the sheer volume of publicly accessible personal — often emotional — expression should give us pause.

In a sense what this installation is visualising is not so much the constant updating conversations occurring on Twitter, one of several Web 2.0 services to do this, but how networks, global and ‘virtual’, allow this accumulation of information which prior to new media would not have been practical. It is a visualisation of an always on, always connected and automatically archived society.

Similar(ish) works include Whose Life is it Anyway? and Spamtrap.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:27 pm
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July 25, 2009
Theory of Telephony in new media

I’ve just been reading some telephony (and related) theory by Adriana de Souza e Silva, Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University, which I stumbled on via an article she published in Leonardo that mentions Art by Telephone, Art by telephone: From static to mobile interfaces published in the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA). It seems that Art by Telephone can probably be traced back to Laslo Moholy Nagy:

Laslo Moholy Nagy, considered one of the first artists to create a telepresence piece, experimented using the telephone to transmit directions for fabricating enamel tile paintings. He wrote: In 1922, I ordered by telephone from a sign factory five paintings in porcelain enamel. I had the factory’s color chart before me and I sketched my paintings on graph paper. At the other end of the telephone, the factory supervisor had the same kind of paper, divided into squares. He took down the dictated shapes in the correct position. (It was like playing chess by correspondence.) One of the pictures was delivered in three different sizes, so that I could study the subtle differences in the color relations caused by the enlargement and reduction [3]. Eduardo Kac suggests that nobody knows whether Moholy-Nagy’s story is true or not, because his wife stated that in fact she ordered the paintings in person. Moholy-Nagy’s work, however, whether actual or apocryphal, demonstrates that the artist could be removed from the location of artmaking.

Adriana’s website has a mass of theory worth reading, her publications page is worth a visit, the following caught my attention:

Also in the appendix of Art by telephone: From static to mobile interfaces there is a link to Stephen Wilson’s online appendix for Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. Even though many of the links to older works and research seem to be broken, the list of names and artists is useful for further research.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:05 pm
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July 18, 2009
Art by Telephone

Art by Telephone was a conceptual art exhibition which dealt with networks through it’s formal structure. Conceived by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 1968 the intention was to record the growing trend of conceptualization in contemporary art however also reflected the effect of global mass communication i.e. the reduction of time/space and ideas of neighbourhood and an ever diminishing natural world, essentially ideas and concepts discussed in great detail by Marshall McLuhan in The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) and Understanding Media (1964) as his “global village”.

The exhibition was to include conceptual art heavyweights such as Sol LeWitt, John Baldessari, Joseph Kosuth, Jan Dibbets and Hans Haacke as well as others who became associated with other or numerous movements at the time such as Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Serra, Robert Morris and Richard Hamilton. Formally the exhibition would consist of

works in different media, conceived by artists in this country (America) and Europe and executed in Chicago on their behalf. The telephone was designated the most fitting means of communication in relaying instructions to those entrusted with fabrication of the artists’ projects or enactment of their ideas. To heighten the challenge of a wholly verbal exchange, drawings, blueprints or written descriptions were avoided.

This exhibition was conceptual in many ways, although one of these was not intended.

Foremost as a conceptual exhibition the format of calling work in was surely the first of it’s kind and yet in a sense has comparison with the long tradition of apprenticeship/assistant within an artists studio (except here at distance, removing the single location of the studio) which has continued today in new media art under the appropriated name of outsourcing.

Secondly the exhibition, scheduled for the spring of 1968 was abandoned because of technical difficulties so in 1969 the Art by Telephone phonograph (image above, sound file below), the recordings of the artists calling in their works, was released and served as both the exhibition and catalogue for the exhibition.

The exhibition has achieved somewhat of a mythical status, the conceptual art exhibition which remained conceptual, however despite this documentation is rather poor with the best being the covertext of the phonograph and it’s recording here on ubuweb. Sadly the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago simply acknowledges the ‘exhibition’ with a line in their history timeline.

Posted by: Garrett @ 3:12 pm
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