July 05, 2007


Interferences ... is an interactive installation created by Matteo Sisti Sette and Maribel Pozo which consists of a back projection screen showing an artificial life system which is sensitive to electromagnetic waves emitted by users mobile phones.

In its ‘natural’ state, image and sound are in constant evolution, moving and growing as if alive. Their growth and evolution is altered in the presence of electromagnetic waves.

This work tries to draw attention to a phenomenon whose physical and material relevance we tend to ignore. Little is known about the effect these radiations produce on human body. Maybe they are not dangerous. Many elements of our environment are not, yet they concern us because of their aspect or noise or odour. If we couls [sic] see, or hear the amount of energy which is carried by electromagnetic waves and which passes through our body, would we behave the same way as we do?

The installation is created with Pure Data and Processing. [posted by Garrett Lynch on Network Research]

Posted by jo at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2007

Institute for Applied Autonomy


Tactical Cartography

In taking up the term 'tactical' in an arts context, we link cartography with 'tactical media,' an approach to art production that privileges critical social engagement. Since the early 90's the tactical media label has become something of a house brand for a host of widely divergent media practices embracing themes of politics and empowerment. Particularly, the term has expanded from its origin in interventionist art to ultimately include a wide variety of "alternative" and "indy" media strategies. In considering the term here, we emphasize its connotations of instrumentality.

At root, tactical media is about intervention - it is concerned with creating disruptions within existing systems of power and control. Less a methodology than an orientation, it is fundamentally pragmatic, utilizing any and all available technologies, aesthetics, and methods as dictated by the goals of a given action. Tactical media events are necessarily ephemeral - they exist only as long as they continue to be effective; once their utility has been exhausted, they vanish into thin air. While it may form a part of a long-term strategy, tactical media itself is concerned with temporary destabilization rather than permanent transformation.

Extending these notions to spatial representation, then, we claim that "tactical cartography" refers to the creation, distribution, and use of spatial data to intervene in systems of control affecting spatial meaning and practice. Simply put, tactical cartographies aren't just about politics and power; they are political machines that work on power relations. From An Atlas of Radical Cartography.

Posted by jo at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art


Has "activist" art exited the building for good?

"[...] This evolving hybridization has invited visual art out of the gallery and museum, and into public and unconventional spaces. Most of the art we talk about is not only critical, but also usually situated outside of traditional art venues and often in site-specific circumstances. Does that mean that "activist" art has exited the building for good, leaving only "inactive" works inside? Can socially-engaged, participatory and interventionist art retain its impact within the walls of a museum?

Stephanie Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art, has proven that indeed, this work still does have a place in a museum setting. Smith is the curator of Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art, a traveling exhibition of contemporary artists who address sustainability, activism and the future through their work. The exhibition has also been turned into a book by the same name, which showcases the works, essays and artists' statements of the thirteen artists and artists' groups in the show. In her introduction, Smith describes the multiple cultural phenomena and developments in design and art theory that have led to "this holistic, ethical, pragmatic and wildly inventive" artistic practice, and she explores the changing relationship between traditional exhibition spaces and non-traditional art..." From Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art by Sarah Rich, WorldChanging.

Posted by jo at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

Space Junk Spotting


Responsibility and Re-Use

In the more than fifty years that have passed since the conquest of space began, we have succeeded in filling orbits around the earth with surplus satellites, rocket waste, and other debris. We can view this space junk as archeology in the making or, indeed, as a garbage dump in a class of its own.

Space Junk Spotting is a tactical platform for researching this phenomenon, one that seeks to encourage various interpretations for reusing this space excavation site / garbage dump, which is already there and is constantly growing. In this phase, the project thematizes the extent of the pollution in the usable orbits around earth, the ownership of the threatening waste and, consequently, the responsibility for it, and the possibilities of recycling it...

The project shown here is composed of mechanical and programming equipment linked to a database at a U.S. government-owned space observatory; this database contains the fullest possible data on the extent of the pollution and presents remarkable scientific methods for determining the position of space junk. In this way, the wider Internet public is offered a folder of information about space debris (you'll need to download Google Earth), which is strewn across the popular three-dimensional interface Google Earth.

The tactical potential of this catalogue is the possibility it provides for finding a creative and constructive solution to the problem of reusing material whose position in usable orbits is already determined, without the enormous initial costs that arise whenever rockets are shot into space...

Collaborators: Saso Sedlacek, Boštjan Špetic, Jure Cuhalev, Anže Cesar, Almir Karic, Mirae Seo, Yosuke Hayashi,Yu Fukui Thanks to: Atsuhito Sekiguchi, Falk Wittel, Ferenc Kun, Takanori Endo, Kiberpipa, Err0r Production: Galerija Kapelica Project was supported by: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Municipality of Ljubljana, Sipronika, d.o.o., IAMAS (Institute and Academy for Advanced Media Art and Science, Japan). [via VVork]

Posted by jo at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Passage Oublié


Let's Talk About Rendition Flights

Passage Oublié is an interactive artwork allowing the public to send messages to a touchscreen kiosk located in Toronto Pearson's International Airport. Messages received are animated along flight trajectories on a map featuring airports involved in rendition flights. Passage Oublié invites citizens of the world in transit at Pearson's International Airport to send messages (sms and web) relating to these questions: Are rendition flights an acceptable means of dealing with new terrorism threats? How does their use affect a country’s credibility as a defender of liberty? Does the end justify the means when it comes to pre-emptive war on terror? Are we compromising on the liberal democracies’ cherished principal of innocent-until-proven-guilty?

How to send a message: 416 300-7669 (sms starting July 1st; the airport wireless hotspots provide free access to this URL). All messages will be curated by the artists: Maroussia Lévesque, Jason Lewis, Yannick Assogba and Raed Mousa at Obx laboratory for Experimental Media.

With the support of Year 01, Concordia University, Hexagram.

Posted by jo at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

Electronic Lens


Annotating for Civic Engagement

The Electronic Lens explores and creates new paradigms of civic ubiquitous networking with mobile technologies. We think of Electronic Lens as something of a viewfinder. Using a motion that is already familiar (think point and shoot camera phones), the citizen can use the eLens to gather information about physical objects and places.

The eLens matches electronic information with the physical environment in an innovative way. For example, eLens users can post lasting messages in physical locations, tag buildings and places, or create social networks based on interest and social affinities. eLens interactions combine the physical environment with formal and institutional information and the annotations from users’ personal experiences.

Ultimately the eLens enhances the value of the city for its citizens by making their environments more accessible, more culturally vibrant, more socially just. The eLens fosters communication among people and between institutions; as a result citizens are now better able to navigate the social, institutional and physical urban space.

Posted by jo at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2007

Squirrel and Acorn


Cell phone Air Pollution Monitor

" ... Squirrel and the companion software, Acorn, also represent a bold exercise in social responsibility and cross-border engagement. "We want to make air quality data visible, accessible and legible to raise consciousness of environmental monitoring," says Spanhake. For this, she has collaborated with Calit2 researcher Kael Greco, author of a mobile webcam application that uploads images taken by the mobile phone automatically and continuously. These images are tagged and manipulated with the sampled pollution data -- the grittier the image, the more polluted the air is -- then displayed in real time on a web page. "This, along with other visual and audible ways, will help to demystify what 20ppm is in a meaningful way," says Spanhake, adding: "Low-cost technology will also make it available and scalable to the technological, environmental and cultural needs of individuals, communities and cities."

The device is low-cost, mobile, and scalable. It is also intended to be a building block for the creation of a mobile wireless sensor network dependent upon those who breathe the air -- people. "Squirrel is meant to monitor an individual's personal exposure to the air, thus providing a means for agency in the production of air pollution data," says Spanhake. "It will enable supplemental data to the environmental protection agencies that cannot afford to scale their technology to population growth and urban sprawl." ..." From Tracking Pollution and Social Movement: Love Fest for Calit2 Technologies at 'Make Fest 2007'.

Posted by jo at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007



Empowering Individuals to Tell their Stories

The front page of the website zexe.net presents numerous faces along with a button with the phrase, 'Communities use mobile phones to webcast.' This links to seven different pages, each of them representing a social group, a location, and a date. For example, 'gypsies in Leon, 2005,' 'prostitutes in Madrid, 2005,' and 'Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica, 2006.' Created by Spanish artist Antoni Abad under the motto 'a project of cellular audiovisual communication to collectives without an active presence in the relevant mass-media,' this work was initiated in 2004 when he asked 17 taxi drivers in Mexico City to spend two months using mobile phones with integrated cameras to 'turn themselves into chroniclers of their own reality.'

Each of them now features in the website, via recorded messages (images described by key words) that they have uploaded in real time to the Internet during that period, as well as the comments posted by users that saw these broadcasts. A similar output is devised for the other segments of the project, of which a new installment has started this month in Sao Paulo. This time, young motorbike couriers--who play a significant role in the city's economy yet aren't socially acknowledged for their activity--are the ones documenting the experiences that make up their quotidian occupations. As Abadi puts it, the 'canal*MOTOBOY proposes a digital public space, where senders and receivers interact within telematic networks,' a tactic to collectively raise the profile of marginalized collectives in the present, unequal society. - Miguel Amado, Rhizome News.

Posted by jo at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

Heavy Opera: An Audio Tour to Awaken Londoners to


The Impact of Financial Systems on Climate Change

John Jordan and James Marriott’s operatic audio tour set in London’s Square Mile is intended to awaken city workers to the impact of financial systems on climate change. But not only does And While London Burns misgauge how much the suits already know, its hysterical tone also harmonises too easily with the coming new eco-order.

A fountain of water from the river Walbrook shoots up above my head, drums are pounding, a sound system’s bass rumbles. I hear cheers but I can also hear the clatter of police shields and batons around the corner. Seven years after London’s Carnival Against Capital, when protesters outside the LIFFE exchange broke a water mains sending a thirty-foot jet of water into the air, I am walking just a half a mile north of the same spot. Now I can hear the Thames rushing up the valley the Walbrook follows, bursting its banks, laying waste to the tall glass-fronted buildings as some of the most expensive real estate in London collapses around me. I’m swept up in a sonically induced fantasy driven by the tracks on my MP3player. I am taking part in And While London Burns, an operatic guided walk written by John Jordan and James Marriott, set to music by Isa Suarez and produced by the cross-disciplinary art and education group Platform.

John Jordan has played a role in both these participatory dramas, firstly as a member of Reclaim the Streets – one of the anti-capitalist groups that coordinated the Carnival Against Capital in June 1999. This time around as an artist commissioned by Platform – an interdisciplinary arts, campaigning and research group committed to longer term, less partisan approaches to transforming the activities of the financial institutions and corporations with head offices in the Square Mile. The walk is an attempt to dramatise the research Platform has conducted into climate change. James Marriott, its co-founder, explains:" from Heavy Opera by Anthony Iles, It's Not Easy Being Green, MUTE VOL 2 #5.

Posted by jo at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2007



Rewritable on both the Narrative and Code Level

spring_alpha is a networked game system set in an industrialised council estate whose inhabitants are attempting to create their own autonomous society in contrast to that of the regime in which they live. The game serves as a "sketch pad" for testing out alternative forms of social practice at both the "narrative" level, in terms of the game story, and at a "code" level, as players are able to re-write the code that runs the simulated world ... 'spring_alpha' is a game in permanent alpha state, always open to revision and re-versioning. Re-writing spring_alpha is not only an option available to coders however. Much of the focus of the project lies in using game development itself as a vehicle for social enquiry and speculation; the issues involved in re-designing the game draw parallels with those involved in re-thinking social structures. [via]

Posted by jo at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2007

DEAF: Snack&Surge Brunch: Marked Up City


You Are Not Here.org: Gaza - Tel Aviv

Marked Up City: You Are Not Here.org: Gaza - Tel Aviv :: Hosted and introduced by Nat Muller (NL) :: Saturday 14 April 2007, 11:00 – 13:30 hrs :: Location: V2_Studio :: Entrance: € 7,50 :: LIVE STREAM (REALVIDEO) - 14 april, 11:00-13:30 (Clicking on the above link before the indicated time will result in an error message!) This live stream can be viewed with the free RealPlayer.

Cities are more than their streets and squares, their commerce and inhabitants: they are part and parcel of a whole economy which brands and markets "the urban experience" to us as a commodity. Tourism is of course the latter's most logical instrument: more often than not we are sold a sugar-coated product, which discards the dynamics, frictions and population groups, which make up the city proper. Marked Up City dips into the belly of city branding and urban tourism... with a twist.

You Are Not Here.org (YANH), urban tourism mash-up project by artist Thomas Duc (US), media activist Mushon Zer-Aviv (IL/US), interaction designer Kati London (US) and new media hacker Dan Phiffer (US) :: Laila El-Haddad (PS/US), journalist and writer :: Merijn Oudenampsen (NL), specialises in issues concerning flexibility of labour, precarity, gentrification, and city branding.

The SNACK & SURGE Brunches create a performative and gastronomic theatre of operations addressing political, technological and artistic questions relating to the poetics of power. We invite the DEAF audience to kick off their day pondering the aesthetics, actions and media of resistance and critique. Part hang-out, part culinary experiment, SNACK & SURGE intends to be a caress for the palate, an opener for the mind, and a rebelliously festive wake-up for the mood.

Rise and start your day deliciously: biting at the poetics of power!

Food by: anders eten.com

Posted by jo at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2007

Urban Interface | Berlin (Olso)


Interspaces of Public/Private Urban Space

Urban Interface Berlin :: A symposium, exhibition and curatorial research project exploring the interspaces between public and private urban space :: April 15 to May 6, 2007 :: Berlin and Oslo :: Some of the works are:

Exposure, by Jussi Ängeslevä (FI) and Richard The (DE), is a spatial art installation combining smart materials, simple sensor electronics and poster design to weave micro narratives for the unsuspecting public as they navigate through the urban landscape. An array of unobtrusive, monochromatic posters is arranged along a segment of a passageway. Adjacent to the individual posters a light gate is watching when a pedestrian passes by the poster. The light gate is connected to a tele-objective camera flash and triggers it, casting the person’s shadow momentarily on the poster. The poster, being covered with fluorescent ink, captures the shadows and retains the glowing silhouette, becoming an integrated element of the poster’s graphics which gradually fade away. The work can be seen as a commentary and counter-reaction to the established disempowerment of the individual. Above and beyond the exhausted Big Brother discourse, Exposure takes a stand also on the new emergent "Participatory Panopticon", or "Little Brother", the ever present prying eye of the neighbours’ ubiquitous camera equipped digital device.


The project series Mitting operates at the interface between the sociologically and culturally different boroughs of Mitte and Wedding. For two days, the area that has been defined for the exhibition acts as a space for actions and as a starting point for mobile and stationary events. Oliver Hangl puts on two “Secret Tours” through public and private spaces that bring the coexistence of these parallel cultures to awareness. The participants, equipped with two-channel wireless headsets that enable them to choose between two alternative streams of information presented by the guides and musical liveacts, will be led through the different areas by two tour guides as well as musicians, actors, artists, DJs and a technical crew. Statements from pedestrians and local residents will flow into the liveact audio streams.

Mitting separates levels of perception while isolating the participants. On the streets, in warehouses, flats, and wherever the groups enter, they appear mute to residents and passers-by. Because of the dialogue that is sent inward through headphones, the action bears a subversive potential. But the participants should also be alert to when reality turns suddenly into fiction.

Oliver Hangl declares spaces, participants and watchers an open field of imagination, an audiovisual energy field that oscillates between performance, demo-protest and communication experiment… „Remember, that it’s all in your head!“ (Gorillaz)


Daniel Jolliffe presents the project Berliner Stimmen in the context of urban interface | berlin. His work is a mixture of mobile sculpture and performance that examines the participatory moment. Visually, Berliner Stimmen is a sculpture mounted behind a bicycle, but its main function is performative. Over a period of three weeks, Jolliffe will cycle through the borough of Mitte, Wedding and Gesundbrunnen three times a week. While he is travelling, the loudspeaker broadcasts previously recorded one-minute calls. It is possible for each caller to have his message broadcast in the public space. The past realisations of the project under the name of One Free Minute in San José and Vancouver have shown that the callers use this public platform for different reasons. The spectrum of the recorded messages includes private statements and stories as well as commercial announcements and political speeches. In times when governments and public agencies are increasingly vigilant of who is saying what and where, citizens and activists can express their opinions in Berliner Stimmen freely and without fear of repression.

Also on exhibit: Laura Beloff's Head; Zone-out of Vision.

ABOUT urban interface | berlin

The project deals with the changing notion of private and public space that occurs due to, particularly, the everyday use of communication technologies. The artworks in the context of urban interface convey the idea of public space as an accessible and contributive sphere and call attention to a more sensitive engagement with the private, physical and digital spheres.

The works are developed for individual spaces by participating artists and if possible realised in cooperation with hosts. Hosts can be private individuals as well as companies, which then communicate the artworks out of their private spaces into the public. Private becomes public, public becomes private. Art space intermixes with urban space.

In responding to selected public and semi-public sites and their inherent qualities, the artworks will become focal points of the shifting conceptions of private and public space. Being often immaterial and digital and located at the difficult-to-define boundaries of private and public space, the artworks challenge all users – perceivers, organisers and the local authorities to formulate and discuss their individual understanding of those spaces. At the same time, the dispersed and temporary nature of the artworks challenges the formula of exhibitions in public space.

This website is conceived as an archive and contributive forum which ideally could serve as a knowledge platform for other art projects dealing with or happening in public space. To that end, relevant processes between the involved parties such as artists, sponsors, organisers and the city administration will be published on this website. Hence this website can be understood as another interface between private and public, theory and practice.

The thematic discourse is extended to presentations and panels accompanying the exhibitions

Posted by jo at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2007

April 2007 on -empyre- soft-skinned space:


TechnoPanic: Terrors and Technologies

April 2007 on -empyre- soft-skinned space: TechnoPanic: Terrors and Technologies with Horit Herman-Peled (IS), Brooke Singer (US), Paul Vanouse (US), and Sean Cubit (AU); moderated by Tim Murray (US) and Renate Ferro (US).

From surveillance and mobile technologies to fears and public panic, the ambivalent attraction of technologies of terror shifts registers between post-cold war and post 9-11 sensibilities, whether from international or cross-generational zones of engagement. We will discuss how panic, paranoia, critical resistance to, and appropriation of technologies of terror are mediated by the threat and fear of violence in the interlinked networks of mobile media, domestic space, and the public sphere.

Horit Herman-Peled (IS) is a media artist, theorist, and feminist activist in Tel Aviv, who teaches art and digital culture at the Art Institute, Oranim College, Israel.

Brook Singer US) is a Brooklyn-based digital media artist and arts organizer who lives in Brooklyn. A member of Preemptive Media, her most recent collaborations, both as an artist and curator, utilize wireless (Wi-Fi, mobile phone cameras, RFID) as tools for initiating discussion and positive system failures. She is Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY Purchase.

Paul Vanouse (US) makes data collection devices that include polling and categorization (for interactive cinema), genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of identity, and temporary organizations that performatively critique institutionalization and corporatization. He teaches in the Art Dept. at the University of Buffalo (SUNY).

Sean Cubitt (AU) teaches media and communications at the University of Melbourne. Among his numerous books on cinema and new media are EcoMedia, The Cinema Effect, and Digital Aesthetics. Sean has curated numerous exhibitions and is Editor in Chief of the Leonardo Book Series for
MIT Press.

Renate Ferro (US) conceptual artist, visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Cornell University, and Timothy Murray (US), curator, the Rose Golden Archive of New Media Art and Acting Director of the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University. Their most recent collaboration has involved Renate's installation "Panic Hits Home" for the The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival in Marchl 2007. (FLEFF) is a one-week multimedia inter-arts extravaganza that reboots the environment and sustainability into a larger global conversation, embracing issues ranging from labor, war, health, disease, music, intellectual property, fine art, software, remix culture, economics, archives, AIDS, womens rights, and human rights. This year's festival will focus on new content streams: Maps and Memes, Metropoli, Panic Attacks, and Soundscaping.

Subscribe for participation at: http://www.subtle.net/empyre/

Posted by jo at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007



Platform for Virtual Demonstrations

Each individual truth has as its origin an event, according to French philosopher Alain Badiou. An event is located within a certain situation. The locus of the event is the point of departure for a radical change. Every radically transformative action has as its origin one spot. The first spot in the space of marchonline is placed by an individual, defining and positioning themselves as the initiator of a march. This spot will/will not initiate the formation of a manifestation as a truth event.

www.marchonline.org – where every individual can initiate new or take part in existing virtual demonstrations. Demonstrations, i.e. marches, are created spontaneously or in an organised way, but they must always be launched by a user. They can be initiated as an opinion about or reaction to a current local or global problem, they can be an expression of a political will, they can affirm or protest, they can be a celebration or an uprising. It is possible to have pro and contra demonstrations at the same time.

www.marchonline.org does not express its ideological position within a given situation, but offers itself as a space for organising the public, where this position is taken by users.

Posted by jo at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2007



Support the Troops

Launched yesterday, on the 4th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, microRevolt's Stitch for Senate is an initiative of knit hobbyists making helmet liners for every United States Senator. The helmet liner pattern was adapted from a support-the-troops initiative for soldiers stationed in Iraq. All the senators will receive their own helmet liner, and Senators can opt to send helmet liners to a soldier once they receive the helmet. Charitable knitting during wartime has been a tradition since the American Revolution. The Stitch for Senate website will compile testimonies from knitters reviving this cultural trend, seeking to understand what knitters express through wartime knitting: charity, allegiance, patriotism, resistance, radicalism, etc. and use the tradition of political organizing within knitting circles as a space for storytelling, discussion, exchange and protest.

Other microRevolt news: Save the date for the Nike Blanket Petition workshop at the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC, MAY 12. Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit is on view Jan 25 - June 12, 2007 at Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; and Gender Stitchery at Carleton College Art Gallery in Northfield, MN, March 30 - May 6, 2007.

Posted by jo at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2007

Vilnius Media Seminar


Strategies of Tactical Media: Noise Makes Sense

The second session of VMS (Vilnius Media Seminar) has taken place in Vilnius Art Academy on 19th of February (2007). The topic this time was Strategies of Tactical Media: Noise Makes Sense. At first during the seminar the tactical media as a concept was presented and then the significance of tactical media in Eastern Europe was discussed. The key speakers were Alexei Krivolap [BY] and Benjamin Cope [UK, PL]. The moderation was held by Vytautas Michelkevicius. At the moment we are publishing audio files and pictures from the seminar and in a meanwhile we are going to publish the presentations as a working papers here as well.

There were around 30 participants in this seminar. Alexei Krivolap presented the situation of tactical media in Ukraine and Belarus. He screened two tactical media pieces: the serial from Belarus "Web-master & Margarita" which is a remake of very popular russian soap opera "Master & Margarita" and tactical media pieces from Ukraine - "Funny Egs". Benjamin Cope has presented his experience in making radio shows to Polish radio stations. His experiences in travelling all around the country and interviewing local people without having good polish skills was very much of the tactical nature. You can listen to these presentations and discussion here.

Posted by jo at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2007

Wave Bubble


A design for a self-tuning portable RF jammer

[Image: Two Wavebubbles. Left is an earlier revision with the top removed and with external antennas. Right is v1.0 with internal antennas, fit into a pack of cigarettes.]

This website details the design and construction Wave Bubble: a self-tuning, wide-bandwidth portable RF jammer. The device is lightweight and small for easy camoflauging: it is the size of a pack of cigarettes. An internal lithium-ion battery provides up to 2 hours of jamming (two bands, such as cell) or 4 hours (single band, such as cordless phone, GPS, WiFi, bluetooth, etc). The battery is rechargeable via a mini-USB connector or 4mm DC jack (a common size). Alternately, 3 AAA batteries may also be used.

Output power is .1W (high bands) and .3W (low bands). Effective range is approximately 20' radius with well-tuned antennas. Less so with the internal antennas or poorly matched antennas. Self-tuning is provided via dual PLL, therefore, no spectrum analyzer is necessary to build this jammer and a single Wave Bubble can jam many different frequency bands - unlike any other design currently available! To reconfigure the RF bands, simply plug it into the USB port of your PC and type in the new frequencies when prompted. Multiple frequency ranges can be programmed in, each time the device is power cycled it will advance to the next program in memory.

While the documentation here is both accurate and complete (as much as possible), the construction of such a device is still an advanced project. I would not suggest this as even an 'intermediate' skill project, considering the large amount of difficult SMT soldering (multiple TSSOP and SOT chips, 0603 RC's), obscure parts, and equiptment necessary to properly construct and debug.

This design is not for sale or available as a kit and never will be due to FCC regulations. Please do not ask me to assist you in such matters.

All original content for this project is distributed open source under Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution / Share-Alike.

Posted by jo at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2007

Alyssa Wright's "Cherry Blossoms"


Empathy + Tactical Media

We were filming a brief video segment at the Lab today, with journalist John Hockenberry, on some of the non-standard interpretations of assistive technologies our group is working on. The last segment was with Alyssa Wright, and Hockenberry strapped on her pamphleteer/ performance technology, Cherry Blossoms.

Alyssa began working on Cherry Blossoms last semester, wondering how to think about — and feel about — the civilian war deaths in Baghdad. She found an artist’s site that superimposed the map of Baghdad over San Francisco; it was a lovely project, but it failed to engender the empathy and sense of tragedy that remarkable works of art can. She felt this was important, because the average American believes that about 9000 Iraqi civilians have died so far in the war. The truth is very different.

Cherry Blossoms is a backpack that uses a small microcontroller and a GPS unit. Recent news of bombings in Iraq are downloaded to the unit every night, and their relative location to the center of the city are superimposed on a map of Boston. If the wearer walks in a space in Boston that correlates to a site of violence in Baghdad, the backpack detonates and releases a compressed air cloud of confetti, looking for all the world like smoke and shrapnel. Each piece of confetti is inscribed with the name of a civilian who died in the war, and the circumstances of their death.


Alyssa’s genius was in sacrificing herself. After all, it’s not an easy piece to perform. You don’t know when it’s going to blow. It’s shocking and loud, and one has no sense of how others will react. Of course, she won’t get hurt by the compressed air, but she might well be confused for a suicide bomber (or, more appropriately, a mooninite) and arrested.

I’m writing about the project because even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, even though I’ve seen test runs, even though I worked with Alyssa from the inception of the project, I was completely rocked, as was Hockenberry, when the backpack exploded. He was brave to wear it, but he was dumbstruck by the effect of it blowing. Lives, fluttering, pale and light as souls, covered him like ash.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau considered empathy the most primary, most basic human emotion; the one that allows civilization to exist. His Second Discourse was written, for the city of Geneva, to offer a moral basis for the abolition of slavery. It’s incredible to imagine the necessity of building a moral basis to oppose slavery, but at one time it was. It’s no less incredible that the average US citizen underestimates how many innocent civilians their tax dollars have helped to kill by several orders of magnitude. Our system of public media and government has developed in a direction that systematically helps reduce empathy. And, as a result, civilization is going elsewhere.

[blogged by Chris Csikszentmihályi on Edgy Products]

Posted by jo at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

Erasing the delta:


Games that alter reality!

Here are my notes for my first Game Developers Conference talk, as part of a serious games summit panel on “Erasing the Delta - Games that Accomplish a Specific Task” The theme of the panel is about moving away from games that just prepare you to do something (learning/training games), or help you think about something (simulation games, persuasive games) and games that actually enable and indeed require you to do that thing, or to produce that thing, simply by playing them (games that work).

(Fellow ARG travelers Brian Clark and Brooke Thompson were there -- yay! we are so totally going to alter reality through play...)

(UPDATE: There's nothing that makes me post-talk happier than when multiple different communities take away ideas they're excited by. So I'm happy to see, for instance, some great responses to the talk at MTV, ARGN, and Destructoid!)

My spiel follows:

Erasing the Delta Gap is really about two different practices:

Making a new kind of serious game: Games that are designed as functions with an end result that is a measurable difference in the present state of reality. Serious games now are viewed as “resources” (for education, training, instruction, simulation) or “platforms” (for messages, persuasion). We must start to create serious games as “generative processes” or “solutions to problems”

Redefining what we define as a “serious impact”: We must move away from “preparation” and “knowledge” and “skills” and “rhetorical effect” as our only serious impacts. We can also consider for example “improved quality of life” and “better health” and “improved social organization” and “future resources produced”. In these terms, many games are already closing the delta gap, particularly in the area of health -- if we think of something like “reducing human suffering” as a serious impact (games for pre-surgery sedation) or intervening into the obesity epidemic (physical activity games) or, in the future, things like serving as a live suicide prevention resource (instead of calling 1 800 suicide) or facilitating global security through youth cooperation and co-immersion. So: What is the role of Alternate Reality Games in erasing the delta?

The new opportunities for ARGs to do work is best understood as a movement through different definitions of “realism” in gameplay

Realism in ARGs

1st wave ARGs: they’re so real! Real Life (embedded in real, working life): operational, everyday technologies, intimate
2nd wave ARGs: they’re so real! Real World (moving into real-world spaces): social, physical, face to face, everyday spaces, public
3rd wave ARGs: they’re so real! Real Impact (starting to solve real-world problems, for example: global relations/world peace, massively multiplayer science, quality of life, learning): intentional, effective. Games that alter reality!

Two factors that make this third wave possible:

Our culture is becoming more ARGlike (CI culture, participatory Web culture / 2.0, creative commons, science commons)

Our culture WANTS to be more ARGlike (the spirit of massive collaboration saving the world)

Examples of ARGs that start to erase the delta:

Past - Tombstone Hold ‘Em – putting live bodies back in cemeteries, creating a public culture for a dying public space
Present - World Without Oil – generating a massively collaborative map of potential, citizen responses to oil shock; constructing a database of lower-consumption practices that might prevent that shock from happening
Future - Massively Multiplayer Science – games with real scientific data embedded in them, and gameplay to collect, analyze and process the data in massive parallel.

[blogged by Jane McGonigal on Avant Game]

Posted by jo at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2007

Generative Social Networking


Connecting Made Easy

Generative Social Networking by xn croft & andrew schneider: ... Finding the right people to work with is hard. Finding the right people to work for you is hard. Making contacts is tough, and keeping them is tougher. Your old rolodex is getty dusty sitting on that desk, and those numbers aren't going to call themselves. The cell phone made it easier to keep your contacts about you - on your person - the babysitter can get called with the touch of a button, from where ever you might be. But with greater ability to store contacts comes a greater number of contacts to have to keep up with. Who has the time?

What if you could make your contacts work for you? The best thing about Generative Social Networking is that it does the work, literally! Our non-patented GSN system connects the dots, so you don't have to. Once you sign up (which you may already have!) our GSN team gets right to work quickly, carefully, and most importantly, discretely, collecting your private data to be implemented into generative network databases. Set your Bluetooth enabled phone to discoverable and we'll do the rest. Most clients are not even aware of the GSN team hard at work. You could be standing in line at the Starbucks and our GSN affiliates are collecting for you. We gather the entire contents of your phonebook - names, numbers, affiliations, e-mail addresses, and organizations - anything that you've entered, we can see! It's such a cinch. Watch Video.

Posted by jo at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2007

Clandestine Insurgent Rebel, Clown Army


Between Order and Chaos

“We can't start perfectly and beautifully. Don't be afraid of being a fool; start as a fool.” — Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche

Roll up, roll up - ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and foes - welcome to the unparalleled, the unexpected, the perfectly paradoxical, the grotesquely beautiful, the new-fangled world of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA).

We are clandestine because we refuse the spectacle of celebrity and we are everyone. Because without real names, faces or noses, we show that our words, dreams, and desires are more important than our biographies. Because we reject the society of surveillance that watches, controls, spies upon, records and checks our every move. Because by hiding our identity we recover the power of our acts. Because with greasepaint we give resistance a funny face and become visible once again.

We are insurgent because we have risen up from nowhere and are everywhere. Because ideas can be ignored but not suppressed and an insurrection of the imagination is irresistible. Because whenever we fall over we rise up again and again and again, knowing that nothing is lost for history, that nothing is final. Because history doesn't move in straight lines but surges like water, sometimes swirling, sometimes dripping, flowing, flooding - always unknowable, unexpected, uncertain. Because the key to insurgency is brilliant improvisation, not perfect blueprints.

We are rebels because we love life and happiness more than 'revolution'. Because no revolution is ever complete and rebellions continues forever. Because we will dismantle the ghost-machine of abstraction with means that are indistinguishable from ends. Because we don't want to change 'the' world, but 'our' world. Because we will always desert and disobey those who abuse and accumulate power. Because rebels transform everything - the way they live, create, love, eat, laugh, play, learn, trade, listen, think and most of all the way they rebel.

We are clowns because what else can one be in such a stupid world. Because inside everyone is a lawless clown trying to escape. Because nothing undermines authority like holding it up to ridicule. Because since the beginning of time tricksters have embraced life's contradictions, creating coherence through confusion. Because fools are both fearsome and innocent, wise and stupid, entertainers and dissenters, healers and laughing stocks, scapegoats and subversives. Because buffoons always succeed in failing, always say yes, always hope and always feel things deeply. Because a clown can survive everything and get away with anything.

We are an army because we live on a planet in permanent war - a war of money against life, of profit against dignity, of progress against the future. Because a war that gorges itself on death and blood and shits money and toxins, deserves an obscene body of deviant soldiers. Because only an army can declare absurd war on absurd war. Because combat requires solidarity, discipline and commitment. Because alone clowns are pathetic figures, but in groups and gaggles, brigades and battalions, they are extremely dangerous. We are an army because we are angry and where bombs fail we might succeed with mocking laughter. And laughter needs an echo.

We are circa because we are approximate and ambivalent, neither here nor there, but in the most powerful of all places, the place in-between order and chaos.


Also see http://circasd.org

Posted by jo at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

Poetic Terrorism and Guerrilla Art in the 21st Century


by Jane Crayton aka JanedaPain

"Art as crime; crime as art." Hakim Bey

One of the most relevant statements made about art by a man who walked the line of expressionism. Hakim Bey, did he see the future, or did he contemplate the past, a combination of both I would guess.

The word guerrilla is a word of Spanish descent (guerra, meaning war) first used to describe the Spanish-Portuguese guerrilleros (insurgents). Guerrilleros have existed through out time often in defense of some wrongs imposed to a group of less represented and defended peoples. They often fight a foreign invader or a ruling government and crimes against humanity. In the modern world we have seen these same groups and individuals come out in a new form of guerrilla tactics that is often non-violent and thought provoking art. Unfortunately in the post 9/11 era we are now limited in our expressions, for fear that they may be considered terrorism and not art. Mind you some of these artist push the line, evacuating neighborhood and closing down cities, all in the name of their art projects and political views. But is it the over reaction of our post 9/11 era that has taught us to react with such eager and violent haste, and condemn the works of these political artist?

Is it the art or the tactics, that deliver the fear that resonates in the unaware and suddenly captured audience? That sudden and captured audience today can be an over alerted citizen or government workers. With the heightened threat of terrorism and the orange security levels at the airports, we are all being programmed that we are never to be safe again. And what a great subject for an art project, huh? Artist around the world are finding them selves in precarious positions, and having to explain themselves to courts around the world and defend their art. These artist are the guerrilla artist of the 21st century. But are they justified in their use of guerilla tactics for making their statement? Is this a struggle to control the people and their freedom of expression? Where do we need to draw the lines for artist and government?

To be an artist has always been a daring act and a future of impoverished hell. It has always been looked down upon until or unless you achieve fame for your art. Artist usually tend to lean towards the side of interesting characters, someone daring, someone expressive of ideas and opinions, someone sending a message. Their approach when successful is usually one of great surprise and inventive nature. These artist are often ridiculed at first and later praised for their daring ability to take on a challenge when all are against them. Typically guerrilla artist have been viewed as punks spray painting on the sides of buildings, but this goes far beyond simple vandalism. There is a culture, a revolution and a style of guerrilla art that is comparable to a peaceful protest utilizing guerrilla tactics.

Banksy a graffiti and guerrilla artist from the UK has delivered some of the best examples of well engineered guerrilla art. His art is legendary, from dodging Israeli soldiers to paint beautiful scenes on the 'security' wall in Palestine. To placing a parking boot on a sculpture in a central square in London. He has placed multiple pieces of modern remakes of art like Early Man goes to Market, and The British Pensioner in the Hat and Coat, in london Museums where they were not discovered for days even weeks. What a brilliant mind, how better to get into the museum, than to put your work there, yourself, video tape it and then wait for it to get discovered. But his guerrilla art is not just self promoting, he is making political statements by painting on the security wall in Palestine, and by placing the parking boot on the historical statue in a central location of London.

Mode 2 one of the most recognized graffiti artist in the Uk. Known for his unmistakable style and technique of sketchy fill-in with detailed backgrounds and scenes. His work is more like paintings, yet his technique is definitely that of a graffiti artist. His work can be found around the streets of London and his commissioned work can be found on some large Billboards. He is considered a guerrilla artist because of his guerrilla like tactics of graffiti art. The simple fact that most of it is illegal painting on private property, makes it illegal. Although his work is relevant as a guerilla artist, this trend of guerrilla tactics has grown and become a popular way for artist and activist to render their work in public spaces.

A group of artist who seemed to pickup wisely on the term guerrilla artist is the Guerrialla Girls. "We're a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks." is how the Guerrilla Girls describe themselves. This artist based feminist performance group started in New York. They have been surprising people all over the world with their outrageous guerrilla performances that often incorporate social and feminist issues. They focus more on the issues, than their personalities and individual identities, by wearing the gorilla masks. Their feminist conscious statements and demonstrations often transform the audience, and community, addressing a specific theme the girls have decided to share with the public. Would their audience take them as serious if their faces were shown? And do they fear public and social exclusion from their peer groups if their identities are discovered?

Yes Men are a group of artist and guerrilla activist utilizing artistic guerrilla tactics. Utilizing technology, New Media and theatrical tactics to achieve their desired identity alteration or 'correction'. From redesigning dummy websites to recreating fake marketing packages, to spoof the media with live interviews of impersonated persons whose identity they wish to correct. In November of 2004 the Yes Men went on BBC with breaking news that the Dow Chemical Company, (whom they claimed to be representatives of ) were going to clean up the mess in Bhopal and compensate the victims for their companies lack of responsibility. From this "identity correction" of Dow Chemical Company, they helped show the true intension of the company which did not intend to help the victims at all. The Yes Men call out actions by industry, commercial or political persons by utilizing guerrilla tactics. They often imitate company executives, and 'big time criminals' to publicly humiliate them in order to 'correct' their public identities. Their targets have included Mc Donald's, Dow Chemical, and Elected officials just to name a few.

The South Venice Billboard Correction Committee (SVBCC) A collective group of artist who administer radical social art changes to billboards in South Venice. This group works with guerrilla tactics to redesign and illustrate their social and political agenda. This group works to recreate a new politically corrected ad in place of the old ad. The group uses the existing design and redesigns the billboard to create a new public message. These actions are obviously illegal and a defacing of private property. The group is well aware that their activities are illegal, yet they continue to execute these guerrilla tactics to administer what they call "radical social art changes" to the billboards in order to deliver their social message. These guys literally scale the billboards at night and repaint them, and create a completely different message, in this public space. The idea that public spaces are the new canvas for political generated guerrilla art is a unique phenomena of the 21st Century New Media Artist.

Artist Jason Sprinkle (1969-2005), also known as Subculture Joe, was also an artist whom seemed to only catch negative attention from the city of Seattle. On Labor Day of 1993 Jason and his accomplices tied a ball and chain around the foot of Jonathan Borofsky's "Hammering Man" stature, that graced the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum. Sprinkle's guerrilla art performances and installations ranged from celebrated to terrorism related. In 1996 Sprinkle abandon a truck with a large red metal part of an installation in it, flattened all the tires and painted on the fender read a graffiti tag "the bomb". As a result the Seattle bomb squad was called out, city blocks were evacuated and robots deployed to disarm any potential exploding devices.

"Christopher Boisvert, 25-year-old student from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, may have the next few years to think over the implications of art in public places. That's because a class project he produced involved some art placed in a very public place that unfortunately went a bit awry. The public place was Union Station, one of New York City's busiest transportation nexuses, and the public art was the placing of close to 40 black boxes at various locations with the word 'FEAR' emblazoned on them," MAYORBOB writes. "To say that this project created a stir would be a gross understatement. In this post September 11th world, a display like that is going to engender just one reaction - fear. Union Station was shut down for about five hours while the NYPD bomb squad checked out the boxes. Boisvert turned himself in when he found out that the police were questioning people about the incident." This is just another example where the artist although making a very powerful statement, should have been more aware of his actions and the potential fear that he created with his political and social statement. And if he did think of the potential dangers and the potential reactions to his art piece, should he have considered delivering it differently, or accepting the responsibility of it, or be prepared to cover yourself adequately like the Billboard Correction group or even Banksy.

But these incidents are not limited to guerrilla artist, because even artist whom simply speak of the controversial subject of terrorism are subject to suspicion. Within a few weeks of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the FBI contacted the Whitney Museum of American Art about Mark Lombardi's drawings' on exhibition there. Mark Lombardi had apparently committed suicide the year before but his controversial work illustrating the links between terrorism and the global economy were still on display in the museum. Lombardi's work is considered not only art but also pieces of detailed and researched history. His art works are obvious interest to the government in the wake of the new era of terrorism we now live in. But is it really as bad as they want us to believe, or has the technology and the tactics of terrorism just fed the fear of radical self expression to be included within these terms.

Zanny Begg, produced a work of 10 life size checkpoint US solders for exhibition in the town of Sidney as a part of the [out of Gallery] project. Each life size replica was to have the slogan "Checkpoint for Weapons of Mass Distraction." Her intension was to satirize the US search for weapons of mass destruction. Zanny was instructed to remove her life size solders shortly after erecting them by the City Counsel and Mayor Leo Kelly. She was threatened with arrest and her works were later impounded. "It's a disgraceful interference with the freedom of speech of these artists," said Council of Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy. Another exhibition in November was canceled because the title "Guerilla Art" some how "discredited the council" according to Kelly. Artist are now being censored by city councils and mayors, and art work is being confiscated in the 21st Century. Artist are no only being targeted as terrorist, but they can not even display work on the subject of terrorism or occupation. Is our own censorship not just as bad as the ones we are trying to grant to those in which we seek to give freedom through war...yeah...um... thats an oxymoron.

Columbian born painter Fernando Botero exhibited works in California that depict the Abu Ghriab prison and suspected abuse to prison inmates. His works are bold and courageous, and depict the artist disgust in US policy regarding prison inmates. "I, like everyone else, was shocked by the barbarity, especially because the United States is supposed to be this model of compassion." His goal is to make people remember the human tragedies sot hat no one will forget the unjust action of the US soldiers to Abu Ghraib's prisoners. His pictures look to shake people to disturb them, to make them think, and hopefully make them act. We have artist that are working with portraying the victims and the perpetrators of terrorism on both sides of the fence.

Nasrin Mazoi, a graduate student selected to present works at the Museum of Israeli Art in Ramat-Gan displayed six portraits of Palestinian males all she averred, were prepared "to blow themselves up in order to change the present situation." Her work has now traveled around the world, featuring these life size pictures of apparent suicide bombers or family members of one. This is not an isolated incidence of a Pro-Palestinian exhibition but it is a rather bold and very critical one. Some of these works have been lucky enough to squeak buy, but others have been subject to censorship and confiscation clearly because of the controversial subject.

Steven Kurtz is an associate professor of art at the University of Buffalo, in Buffalo, New York. He aroused suspicion in Spring 2004 when he called medical personal to his home because his wife unexpectedly died. When medical persons arrived at his home to help, they became suspicious of some medical, scientific, and technological equipment in his home. The authorities over reacted and shut down his neighborhood, evacuating people from their homes in surrounding neighborhoods, and closing streets. They took the body of his diseased wife into custody and arrested him, while dozens of agents searched his property. Mr Kurtz was now facing criminal charges as a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, "dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, radical politics and critical theory". In July of 2004 a grand jury rejected the 'terrorism' charges, but he still faces federal criminal charges today for mail and wire fraud. What is interesting about Steven Kurtz is that he was arrested not for his performance or his art per-say, but because of what they thought it could be. Gary Younge from The Guardian in Buffalo describes the situation. "What began as a personal tragedy for Mr Kurtz has turned into what many believe is, at best, an overreaction prompted by 9/11 paranoia and, at worst, a politically motivated attempt to silence a radical artist." So where is the limit between crime and art, and art as crime? How do we define Kurtz, and other radical artist that work in new mediums that push boundaries with technology, should we limit their research? These are all important questions to be asking artist and their audience in the 21st century.

Are you scared to speak out, demonstrate, or produce radical art? I am, and I think even writing about this could get me on a list of people to be watched. I fear the police-state in which we live today, wants to censor our art and prosecute our artist as terrorist. I think that each of these artist has the responsibility only to themselves to weigh these actions, for they know their art has consequence, that is why it is so potent. It is apparent that the government wants to regulate what is said and demonstrated to the people. It is obvious that the current US administration is prepared to make permanent changes to laws in order to ease the legalities of entrapment for these guerrilla artist.

That said, when Banksy is striding through the Museum with a fresh addition ready to hang, does he not consider what will happen if he is caught and apprehended. Is it not the ultimate publicity for your work to be discovered and captured or even detained? Although horrible in the case of Steven Kurtz, who was not actively presenting work at the time of his arrest. Is he still not aware of his potential surroundings and the danger his work could have to his personal life and freedoms. But as artist and as activist, I think we are all willing to take these risks in our work and activism. I think some of us have been luckier than others. And I believe that some have carefully executed plans of great detail, with wisdom of potential hazards and legal obstacles.

When we examen the most recent incident in Boston on January 31st, where two artist Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were charged with creating a panic because they placed electronic LED art that somehow caused a bomb scare. The installation was actually commissioned by the Turner Broadcasting Network and the art work depicting a popular animated character from Adult Swim's, Aqua Teen Hunger Force "flipping the bird". The artworks were actually installed for several weeks without, panic or notice throughout the entire country. What is crazy is it was a guerrilla marketing plan by the network, and they had several hundred LED boards placed in cities throughout the United States. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis called the stunt "unconscionable," while Boston Mayor Thomas Menino called it "outrageous" and the product of "corporate greed." Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, a Boston-area congressman, added, "It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt." It seems that because the city over reacted, with the resulting "snarled traffic and mass transit closings as the bomb squad fumbled to find all the LED light boards. Do they now seek revenge for their over-reaction, or should they just consider themselves lucky to have gotten a good practice run. According to a student Todd Venderlin, "It's so not threatening -- it's a Lite-Brite," he told the press, referring to the children's toy
that allows its users to create pictures by placing translucent pegs into an opaque board. "I don't understand how they could be terrified. I would if it was a bunch of circuits blinking, but it wasn't."

When we look back into history we see that the great artist, scientist and inventors of our time have often had their actions and theories mistaken for evil conspiracy driven terrorism. Even Galileo was taken into custody and held by the church for speaking his views and publicly demonstrating his support of the new heliocentric view of the solar system. The modern inventors have to be risk takers in order to produce their inventions in theory, art and science. Yet they need to exercise extreme caution when demonstrating with guerrilla tactics because their politically charged art is still subject to the new laws of the Homeland Security Act, and may end up face to face with the terrorism task-force in the 21st Century. Hakim Bey said it best, "The best Poetic Terrorism is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art."


Art of Mode 2. Retrieved Feb. 2, 2007

Begg, Zanny. Retrieved Feb. 10, 2007

Belluck, Pam. 2 Arrested in Boston Over Bomb Scare. Feb. 1, 2007 Retrieved Feb 2, 2007

Bey, Hakim. Chaos: the broadsheets of ontological anarchism, Poetic Terrorism, 1995

California Department of Corrections. Retreived Feb. 2, 2007

CNN Report. Two plead not guilty to Boston hoax charges. Feb. 2, 2007 Retrieved Feb 2, 2007

Hackett, Regina. Jason Sprinkle, 1969-2005: Celebrated acts of guerrilla art caused notoriety, changed him. Seattle Post, May 25, 2005 Retrieved Feb. 11, 2007

Guerrillagirls.com; Retrieved Feb 9, 2007

MAYORBOB. edited by John Plastic, That's not my Terrorist Attack, It's My Art Project!; Dec. 18, 2006 Retrieved Feb. 2, 2007

Munro, Catharine. Uproar over council ban on anti-war art display. The Sun-Herald; Feb. 6, 2005, Retrieved Feb. 10, 2007

NPR. The 'Conspiracy' Art of Mark Lombardi, Nov. 1, 2003 Retrieved Feb. 10, 2007

Roth, Frimet. Terrorism and Art, Jan. 19, 2005 Retrieved Feb. 10, 2007

Scigliano, Eric. Hammered man, beautiful mind. Seattlepi.com, June 1, 2005 Retrieved Feb 11, 2007

Vallen, Mark. Art for a Change. Fernando Botero Paints Abu Ghraib. Apr. 10, 2005 Retrieved Feb. 11, 2007 Yesmen.org, Retrieved Feb 10, 2007

[posted on SPECTRE]

Posted by jo at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2007

New Climates


Art, Climate Change and Networked Culture

New Climates, curated by Shane Brennan, is an online exhibition of new and existing artworks responding to the relationship between art, global climate change and networked culture. This curatorial weblog will create a flexible and open-ended space to address these ideas at a time when climate change has become a vital concern among artists. Launching in the spring of 2007, New Climates will take the form of a continuously-updated and extensive video weblog.

14 artists have been selected to create short web-videos responding to the pervasive discourse and images of the climate change crisis. The original works may include animations, documentaries, personal testimonials, appropriations, data streams and text or image slideshows. In addition, existing videos and other artworks relating to the theme will be posted and discussed.

As a video weblog—which will be aimed at a broad, heterogeneous audience of art- and non-art-world individuals—the exhibition will be distributed across both space and time: It will be open to the contributions of artists across the globe, and it will grow organically through a series of syndicated (RSS) posts over the course of several months. In this way, the theme of global climate change will intersect with the technology and language of global media. Just as the climate change debate is constantly shifting and evolving, this exhibition will remain transitive, flexible and open-ended.

This project will also explore the contemporary phenomenon of distributed curating: exhibiting artwork across a variety of spaces, networks, temporalities and audiences. It will take advantage of popular technologies (e.g. blogging and web-video sharing) to initiate a dialogue relevant at multiple levels to artists, curator(s) and visitors.

Work will appear in the New Climates exhibition between March and May 2007.

Artists Contributing New Work:

Michael Alstad
Anthony Discenza
Jane D. Marsching
Mary Mattingly
Joe Milutis
Cary Peppermint & Christine Nadir
Andrea Polli
Giles Revell & Matt Wiley
Brooke Singer
Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead
Gail Wight
Peter Eramian
Sarah Simon

Artists Contributing Existing Work:

Ben Engebreth
Michael Mandiberg

Posted by jo at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Networked Proximity - Section 5


Networks and Social Change

The third of Mills’ criteria specified the necessity to transform opinions into action even against, if necessary, the prevailing system of authority. Although a thorough examination of the relationship between technology, agency, power and social change is beyond the scope of this study, I would like to make some general observations regarding the potential for using networks to promote social change. This attempt is relevant because if, as Mills (1956) suggests, a mass cannot really claim the agency to contest the prevailing authority, then to the extent that networked ICT’s are said to transform publics into masses, they can be said to stand in the way of authentic social change.

At the center of this issue are the ways in which networks in capitalist societies commodify social participation. Borgmann (2004), for instance, rightly points out that commodification is the distinguishing feature of the online social interactions that networks make possible. "To commodify something economically is to pull something that is outside of the market into the market" (p. 64), or in other words, to transform things with no monetary value into things with monetary value —or commodities— through their subordination to the logic of capitalism. Borgmann suggests that the commodification of the social happens when a social practice is taken out of its localized context and offered in a re-packaged format online. Thus, chatting becomes online chatting, dating become online dating, etc. Borgmann attempts to establish that networked sociality robs communities of their original meaning and commodify the cultural production of social space:

The Internet is culturally commodifying by its nature. It frees us from the limitations of space and time... What happens in fact is that commodification reduces ourselves and those we encounter on the Internet to glamorous and attractive personae. Commodification becomes self-commodification, but shorn of context, engagement and obligation, of our achievements and failures, of our friends and enemies, of all the features that time has engraved on our faces and bodies—without all that we lack gravity and density. (p. 64)

Continue reading "Networked Proximity - Section 5" » [blogged by ulises on ideant]

Posted by jo at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

Now Art Grant


Call for Applications

Artists creating work that engages dialogue about current social issues will receive grant funds (minimum $500), three months mentorship by damali ayo, a second mentor who has specific experience in the project field, and the exposure to ayo's mailing list of over 3000 people.

Now Art holds that the primary role and responsibility of art is to mirror the dilemmas of society to its citizens, offering a catalyst for change and development; evolves as society evolves; values the artist's use of a wide range of media; integrates contemporary and emerging technologies; prizes the power of individuals to effect change, discarding divisions between personal and political; honors and engages the work of its predecessors, recognizing that art builds upon art.

Now Art Grants combine the small donations of many individuals and make these available to artists whose work creates art that catalyzes social change. These artists often work with no pay and slim budgets because the activist nature of their work is often dismissed as "not fine art" or because art remains devalued as a viable career choice by society. Members of the damali ayo and now art mailing lists donate any amount they choose to the grant pool. This money is combined and granted to artists who show their commitment to social change through their work.

The art created by Now Art Grants will have a component that is delivered directly to those who have donated the grant funds as a direct return of the funders' investment.

To be chosen to receive a Now Art Grant, the artist/art must:

* Take place outside of a gallery or limited-access space.
* Engage a wide audience in a dialogue about a current social issue.
* Have a component that delivers an aspect of the art directly to those who have funded it.
* Show ability to fully accomplish the proposed project over six months.
* The artist will be rigorously researched by the Now Art selection committee so that artists will not be required to spend critical art time writing extensive applications or budgets.

Projects can be created specifically for this grant money or can already be in process, as long as they are completed within the six month time frame. Money can be used for any aspect of the project including artist fees. Mentoring helps to assure the success of the project. Artists should send their project ideas and a short bio to nowart[at]damaliayo.com.

Grants will be made on a rolling basis. All artists who sign up on ayo's "now artists" mailing list at damaliayo.com or myspace.com/nowartists artists will receive regular information about various grants and support for artists engaged in social change.

Make a donation, ask a question, join the mailing list and apply by contacting nowart[at]damaliayo.com

Now Art is a mentality that art must be current, accessible and an agent of dialogue and social change. Many members of my audiences expressed frustration that they could not see my work, as it was housed in a gallery in one city often out of reach. I agreed. I dropped my art gallery and have devoted myself to creating art that provides accessibility, impact, and ways for individuals to participate and experience the work.

Now Art is immediate, accessible, participatory, low-cost, and deals with current issues that we face as a community/society. When you participate you create a dynamic moment- something that happens in the "now" and hopefully generates a cascade of thought and change for the future. I will send you concepts, instructions and sometimes even a full kit to enact each work. Your collaboration is what makes it work. Let's make art together. We're really going to have some fun. Sign up >>

Posted by jo at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2007

Ultimate Shopper


Circumvention and Architectures of Control

"...Rob Cockerham’s ‘Ultimate Shopper’ is one of the most famous (and apparently successful) ‘white hat’ attempts to subvert a loyalty card system: Rob replicated the barcode (scanned by the cashier) from his Safeway Club card, and sent out dozens of copies of it to friends and readers of his website, with the aim of creating an ‘interesting’ customer profile on Safeway’s system: one who bought vast quantities of products each month, right across the country:

I want to take the credit for all of my shopping, and for your shopping too! ... Anyone who does this will be lumping their shopping data together with mine. Together we might amass a profile of the single greatest shopper in the history of mankind.

You will still get club card savings, but you will miss out on the odd promotions they have from time to time. Actually, some promotions are awarded at the register, so you may continue to benefit from those, although the rewards will be utterly unpredictable.

Actually cloning the data on the magnetic strip, to create a more foolproof (and less detectable) set of cloned cards, would be another step. Depending on the structure of the supermarket’s loyalty scheme, there may well be thresholds above which the ‘rewards’ for customers increase substantially, and assuming the participants in the cloning scheme can work out a fair or acceptable way to share their rewards, this could mean greater benefits for all of them than actually using their cards individually..." From The fight back: loyalty card subversion by Dan Lockton.

Posted by jo at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2007

Visual Resistance


Liberating Public Space

Visual Resistance is a crew of 8 or 9 artists and activists based in Brooklyn. We first came together to organize the No RNC Poster Project in summer 2004. We use art to transform and liberate public space. We are involved in local struggles around public space, urban development, freedom of speech, and political repression.

We aim to explore the spaces where art and activism interact and help develop a visual language for political action. Our blog features political art and innovative projects aimed at raising awareness of urgent social issues through visual media. Our zine on common and useful techniques used in street art was printed in January 2005 and is currently being revised.

We love to hear from other artists and activists and good folks in general: drop us a line at visual.resistance[at]gmail.com to let us know what you’re up to. Peace.

Posted by jo at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2006

Eric Kluitenberg


The Network of Waves: Public Agency in Hybrid Space

The Network of Waves: Public Agency in Hybrid Space by Eric Kluitenberg

The office space above which I live, in a corner house in the Indische Buurt, somewhere in Amsterdam East, used to house a local police station. At that time I was not yet living there. The place was briefly in the national news because of a fair-sized riot which took place there. A couple of Moroccan youths were brought to the station for some minor offence. Their friends thought that this was not right, so they followed the police back to the station to besiege the policemen there. It was not just a few friends who ran after the policemen, but a much larger group which suddenly turned up at the station, coming from nowhere at the precise moment when the youths were brought in. At that time this phenomenon, later known as a 'flash mob', [1] was still relatively new. The police on site were unpleasantly surprised, and had to issue a hasty call for reinforcements to negotiate with the besiegers. When it was all over a police spokesman said that it was a disgrace that the Moroccan youths had used their mobile phones to mobilize a mob. How else could these youths all have known at the same time that something was going on at which their physical presence was 'urgently desired'? And exactly where they needed to be? What the spokesman meant was that the youths had compiled mailing lists for text messages and then used texting to get together as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Texting with mailing lists was a popular application, because at that time text messages could still be sent and received free of charge.

A few years ago 'flash mobs' received a good deal of attention from the mass media. Semi-spontaneous public gatherings of groups of people, hardly if at all known to one another, nondescript, with no determining characteristics such as banners, uniform or logo, briefly performed some collective synchronous action, and then dissolved back into 'the general public'. Directions and information about the gathering were sent out by text messages, or e-mails, telling participants where, when and what. These short messages could easily be sent on to friends and acquaintances with the aim of starting a chain reaction resulting in the appearance of an unpredictably large mob at a predetermined time and place.

Reclaim the Mall!!

The 'flash-mob' phenomenon is thought by some people to have originated in a few relatively unmanageable actions in large shopping centres in American towns, disorganizing them temporarily and playfully. These actions generally had no political significance. This all changed at the end of the 1990s. The 'Reclaim the Streets' movement, [2] highly active at the time, which used to organize illegally orchestrated 'street raves' in the public spaces of large towns, made intensive use of text and e-mail address lists to organize quasi-spontaneous street parties. They did however give these street parties a layered political agenda. The parties were generally given concrete political and social themes and were linked to particular actions, such as support for a strike by London Underground staff. The movement's desire to also use these actions to free public space from its economically determined function (for instance transport, shopping or advertising) was succinctly expressed in the slogan 'The streets for people!'. The parties followed a fixed procedure. The evening before, a sound truck with a generator, a DJ kit and a large number of loudspeakers would park in a wide street. Shortly before the start a double collision would be staged at the beginning and end of the street. The crucial factor here was the provision of information for the participants, who were, in principle, unknown to the organizers. Participants therefore received a short message containing simple directions to the place, the date, the time and a few instructions, such as 'wait for the orange smoke -- that's when the rave will begin'. The double collision meant that at the agreed time the street was closed to all traffic. The cars used were fitted with smoke bombs which were set off by the mini-crash, producing enormous plumes of orange smoke, visible for miles around. This was the sign for which the 'Reclaim the Street' mob was waiting. Suddenly the street was flooded with people, sometimes more than a thousand at a time, while music began to boom from the previously parked truck or bus.

These examples demonstrate that we are living in a space in which the public is reconfigured by a multitude of media and communication networks interwoven into the social and political functions of space to form a 'hybrid space'. Traditional space is being overlaid by electronic networks such as those for mobile telephones and other wireless media. This superimposition creates a highly unstable system, uneven and constantly changing. The social phenomena which occur in this new type of space can not be properly understood without a very precise analysis of the structure of that space.

The way the Moroccan youths in Amsterdam East used text message address lists to mobilize themselves rapidly and effectively against what they saw as unjustified police violence provides an interesting example of a social group which finds itself in a socially segregated and stigmatized position appropriating a newly available technology. Mobilization was possible because at that time real-time mobile communication (texting) was available essentially free of charge. Shortly after that incident, texting became a paid service, though the reasons for this were economic rather than political, and its use for this purpose quickly lost popularity. It was simply too expensive to send so many messages at the same time. The specific relationship between time, space and technology, and to a lesser extent simple economics, determined the way in which this social phenomenon manifested itself. More than e-mails, which almost always have to be downloaded from a terminal or laptop (e-mailing on a mobile telephone is extremely laborious and inefficient), the brief phase during which text messaging served as a free public medium provided an important indicator to a changing relationship in the use and organization of public space. The mobility and immediacy of the medium gave birth to new social morphologies, like the 'flash mob', which still seem mostly to indicate a kind of mobile 'just-in-time-community' in physical public space.

The Place of Flows...

The question here is what this new kind of social morphology might mean. What lies behind the gimmick? What social, economic and technological transformations give rise to new phenomena of this kind?

So far the most important sociological theory about this is set out in Manuel Castells' Rise of the Network Society, the first part of his trilogy on the information age. [3] In it he describes the rise of flexible social network connections which resulted from economic and social transformations in late industrial societies and were strengthened by the introduction and wide application of new technology, primarily communication and information technology. Castells postulates that the network has become the dominant form in a new type of society that he calls the network society. He treats the influence of the network form as a social organization in physical and social space and establishes a new kind of dichotomy. According to Castells there are two opposing types of spatial logic, the logic of material places and locations (the 'space of place') and the logic of intangible flows of information, communication, services and capital (the 'space of flows'). [4]

The particularly striking thing about Castells' theory is the strict separation between the two kinds of spatial logic. Whereas the space of places and locations is clearly localized and associated with local history, tradition and memory, Castells sees the space of flows as essentially ahistorical, location-free and continuous. This last mainly because it moves across every time zone and so in some sense is not only location-free but also timeless. [5] Castells believes there is a fundamental asymmetry between the two kinds of space: while the vast majority of the world's inhabitants live, dwell and work in the space of places and locations, the dominant economic political, social and ultimately also cultural functions are increasingly shifting to the place of flows, where they make possible location-free ahistorical network connections, international trends, power complexes and capital movements. Only a very small part of the world population is represented in the bodies which take decisions about the organization and use of new location-free spatial connections. But increasingly the decisions made within such self-contained systems determine the living conditions in those places and locations where the vast majority of the world population attempt to survive and where their knowledge, experience and memory is localized. Castells feels that it is not surprising that political, social and cultural bridges need to be deliberately built between the two spatial dynamics, to avoid society's collapse into insoluble schizophrenia.

The attractive thing about Castells' theory is that it makes it possible to grasp and clarify a multiplicity of asymmetric social developments in a single image -- an image that has certainly not left popular culture unmoved. At the same time Castells' suggested contrast between physical locations and places and the intangible space of flows is misleading and ultimately even counterproductive for his political agenda: the deliberate building of bridges between physical space and informational space. Instead of a strict separation between physical space and informational space, all technological and social trends clearly indicate that these two 'spheres' are becoming more and more closely interwoven. A generic model of the sort suggested by Castells is totally unsuited to the analysis of this closeness and to gaining an understanding of how possibilities for public and private action come about within it, the central question posed in the present issue of Open. What threats to the autonomy and inviolability of the subject, the group, the community or cultural self-determination could possibly manifest themselves here and how can something be done about those threats?

Hybrid Space as a Polymorphous Concept

Against the placelessness and continuity of Castells' ahistorical 'space of flows' stands the discontinuity and multiplicity of hybrid space. The hybridity of this spatial concept refers not only to the stratified nature of physical space and the electronic communication networks it contains, but every bit as much to the discontinuity of the 'connectivity' or degree of connection between the multiplicity of communication networks. After all, even the universal presence of a telephone connection can not be taken for granted. More important still is the connection between local social and electronic networks: who communicates with whom, and in what context, is determined differently from one region to another, sometimes even from one day to the next. Because the space of electronic communication is rooted in local networks, it is also linked with local history. And questions about who controls electronic space or becomes familiar with electronic space are by no means easy to answer. Ravi Sundaram for example, co-founder of the Sarai new media initiative in Delhi, is constantly drawing attention to the coming into being of what he calls 'electronic pirate-modernity', [6] which comes about when local groups or individuals, illegitimately and without permission, gain access to television, telephone or the Internet -- 'Never ask permission, just appear!'.

Hybrid space is never exclusively local, as in the case of the idyllic hippy commune at the beginning of the 1970s. Small local networks, hacked or not, never remain limited to the local bazaar or the vegetable market in the next village. Local networks interweave with the international networks into which they force their way. Thus, says Saskia Sassen, the local is reconstituted as a micro-environment with a worldwide reach. Free-software geniuses in Sao Paulo's favelas find no difficulty in downloading the results of the latest interchange between the Amsterdam Waag (the Society for Old and New Media) and the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, but nobody pulls his or her local roots out of the ground.

Diktat of Visibility

The thing that strikes one about current discussion and the associated criticism of the rise of electronic media in public space is the preoccupation with the visual forms in which these media manifest themselves, such as screens, projections and electronic tagging. [7] It is a sort of extended visual criticism, closely connected with a tradition which assumes that the visual arrangement of observable reality is a necessary precondition for any ability to exercise power over that reality. However, the thing that stands in the way of this preoccupation with the visual is a critical analysis of the more invisible processes which are rearranging public space and imposing a different utilization logic. Relatively invisible forms of social compulsion, which bring these processes into play, may well have a much greater significance for the way in which public space can and may be used in future.

The concept of the perfect visual arrangement, expressing a social reality in which power structures are completely unambiguous and transparent, still always refers to Alberti's 'legitimate construction' and Piero della Francesca's ideal city, both of which reflect a visual articulation of daily life suggesting that everything, social and public, is completely controllable and constructible. Although the unifying point of view of a linear perspective has long been rejected, the street screens still stipulate for us a single perspective: a correct viewing distance and direction, while social relationships are radically altered.

The street screen is also the embodiment of spectacle in its most repressive form. Today spectacle is no longer alone in controlling the inner life, the interior of the alienation of the average TV junkie. The street, the classic stage of modern theatre, is overloaded with marching electronic screens and projections, so erasing the public functions of open space. Public functions become blurred by the flow of light and images drenching us in a fetish of alienating desires as we follow our necessary route through the city, from A to B.

Limitations of the Screen

Another point of criticism of the new urban visuality is its inherent limitation. Virtually every screen is rectangular and flat and has limited resolution (the number of pixels which determine the quality of the image). Media artists recognized these limitations years ago and have, with varying degrees of success, developed a multitude of strategies to attempt to overcome those limitations by, for example, a spatial type of installation, interactive media in which the screen itself also becomes an object capable of being moved and manipulated, projection on walls, fabrics, curved screens, screens that are not rectangular, [8] mirrored projections, moving projections, projections on glass materials and so on. Some artists, as for example the members of the Knowbotic Research collective, even leave out screens entirely, replacing them by new haptic interfaces and stereoscopic helmets from the Virtual Reality research laboratory or, as during the 1996 Dutch Electronic Art Festival, an installation on the roof of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, where network manipulations translated into sound and stroboscopic light. [9] Yet another example of the movement to bypass the screen is the Xchange network, in which artists collectively explore the sonic dimension of the Internet. [10]

The new generation of media-architects can learn from media art that the screen is ultimately a dead end. It is interesting to see how these attempts at iconographic liberation keep on recurring. Avant-garde painters carried out endless experiments in their attempts to break away from the frame of the painting and the surface of the canvas, their ultimate aim being to announce the death of the 'retinal' object. This same death announcement is repeated by today's media artists, but this time in relation to the screen. Media architecture again venerates the screen as a window on a space first seen as boundless, but later recognized as being largely subject to limitations and conventions.

Ultimately the screen dissolves into the architecture, becoming less a screen than a membrane between physical and medial reality. Here the 'image' functions less and less as an autonomous object, but increasingly coincides with the architecture itself, its skin, its inner life and its internal processes, finally disappearing from the consciousness of the user of that architecture. The image ecomes subliminal, 'vernacular', commonplace, merged with the environment, self-evident -- in the end the spectacle neutralizes itself. Media theorist Lev Manovich was still positive about this new medially enhanced architecture in his essay entitled The Poetics of Augmented Space, that had Learning from Prada as subtitle and was based on the success of Koolhaas's creation. [11] By now we know that the concept has failed completely, screens have disappeared from the scene or have been cut back to a minimum. The lesson of Prada is that the strategy of visibility can quickly turn into its opposite.

The Problem of Invisibility

In the present phase, the most important change in computer technology and its applications is that they are steadily beginning to withdraw themselves from sight. The European Union has for some years now been subsidizing a wide-ranging programme of multidisciplinary research and discussion with the remarkable title The Disappearing Computer. This title alludes less to the disappearance of computer technology than to its ongoing miniaturization and the way that it is beginning to turn up everywhere. The programme is investigating the migration of electronic network technology into every kind of object, to built environments and even to living beings. The thesis is that miniaturization and steadily reducing production costs are making it simpler to provide all kinds of objects with simple electronic functions (chips containing information, tags that can send or receive signals, identification chips and specialized functions in everyday objects). This is more efficient than building ever more complex pieces of multifunctional apparatus and mean the abandonment of the old idea of the computer as a universal machine capable of performing every conceivable function. [12] In fact, this is how technology becomes invisible. A decisive step, with dramatic consequences for the way people think about and deal with spatial processes.

This assimilation of computer technology in the environment introduces a new issue: the problem of invisibility. When technology becomes invisible, it disappears from people's awareness. The environment is no longer perceived as a technological construct, making it difficult to discuss the effects of technology.

Lev Manovich speaks of 'augmented space', a space enriched with technology, which only becomes activated when a specific function is required. [13] Wireless transmitters and receivers play a crucial role in such enriched spaces. Objects are directly linked with portable media. Chips are incorporated into identity cards and clothing. Even one's shopping is automatically registered by sensors. Screens and information systems are switched on remotely, by a simple wave of the hand. Miniaturization, remote control and particularly the mass production of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags is bringing the age-old technological fantasy of a quasi-intelligent, responsive environment within reach of digital engineers.

Of course these applications are not exclusively neutral. Combinations of technologies of the sort described above make it amazingly simple to introduce new and infinitely differentiated regimes for the control of public and private space. The application to public transport of RFID smart cards, which automatically determine the distance travelled, the fare and the credit balance, still sounds relatively harmless. Fitting household pets with an identity chip the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin, has become widespread practice. Indeed most health insurance schemes for household pets prescribe the insertion of such chips as an entry condition. Recently, however, first reports have turned up of security firms in the United States which provide their employees with subcutaneous chips allowing them to move through secure buildings without the use of keys or smart cards. Such systems also allow companies to compile a specific profile for each individual employee specifying those parts of the building or object to which the employer has (or is denied) access, and at what times

It is not difficult to extrapolate these practices to society as a whole. Who has the initiative in such matters? If the initiative lies exclusively with the constructors, the producers of these augmented spaces, and their clients, then the space we are living in is liable to total authoritarian control, even if there is no immediately observable way in which that space displays the historic characteristics of authoritarianism. The more widely the initiative is distributed between producers and consumers and the more decision-making is transferred the 'nodes' (the extremities of the network, occupied by the users) instead of at the 'hubs' (junctions in the network), the more chance there is of a space in which the sovereign subject is able to shape his or her own autonomy. The articulation of subjectivity in the network of waves is also an opportunity for the last remnants of autonomy to manifest themselves.

The Strategic Issue: 'Agency' in Hybrid Spaces

The concept of 'agency' is difficult to interpret, but literally combines action, mediation and power. It is not surprising therefore, to find it applied as a strategic instrument for dealing with questions about the ongoing hybridization of public and private space. Unlike Michel de Certeau's tactical acts of spatial resistance to the dominant utilitarian logic of urban space in particular, the action of this instrument in new ('augmented') hybrid spaces has mainly strategic significance. A tactical act of spatial resistance, which is after all no more than temporary, is hardly comforting to anyone faced by such an infinitely diversified and adaptive system of spatial control. New hybrid spaces must be deliberately 'designed' to create free spaces within which the subject can withdraw himself, temporarily, from spatial determination. Given the power politics and the enormous strategic and economic interests involved, and the associated demands for security and control, it is clear that these free spaces will not come about by themselves or as a matter of course. I would therefore like to suggest a number of strategies to give some chance of success to the creation of such spaces

Public visibility: 'maps and counter-maps', tactical cartography

The problem of the invisibility of the countless networks penetrating public and private space is ultimately insoluble. What can be done, however, is to remake them in a local and visible form, in such a way that they remain in the public eye and in the public consciousness. This strategy can be expressed in 'tactical cartography', using the tools of the network of waves (gps, Wi-Fi, 3G, etcetera) to lay bare its authoritarian structure. An aesthetic interpretation of these structures increases the sensitivity of the observer to the 'invisible' presence of these networks.


Emphasis is always placed on the right and desire to be connected. However, in future it may be more important to have the right and power to be shut out, to have the option, for a longer or shorter time, to be disconnected from the network of waves.


Deliberately undermining the system, damaging the infrastructure, disruption and sabotage are always available as ways of giving resistance concrete form. Such measures will, however, always provoke countermeasures, so that ultimately the authoritarian structure of a dystopian hybrid space is more likely to be strengthened and perpetuated than to be thrown open to any form of autonomy.

Legal provisions, prohibitions

In the post-ideological stage of Western society it seems that the laws and rights used to legalize matters provide the only credible source of social justification. But because a system of legal rules runs counter to the sovereignty of the subject it can never be the embodiment of a desire for autonomy. It can, however, play a part in creating more favourable conditions.

Reduction in economic scale

New hybrid systems of spatial planning and control depend on a radical increase in economic scale in the production of its instruments of control. Thus the political choice to deliberately reduce economic scale would be an outstanding instrument to thwart this 'scaling-up' strategy. [14]

Accountability and public transparency

In the words of surveillance specialist David Lyon, 'Forget privacy, focus on accountability'. It would be naive to assume that the tendencies described above can easily be reversed, even with political will and support from public opinion. A strategy of insisting on the accountability of constructors and clients of these new systems of spatial and social control could lead to usable results in the shorter term.

Deliberate violation of an imposed spatial program

Civil disobedience is another effective strategy, especially if it can be orchestrated on a massive scale. Unlike sabotage, the aim here is not to disorganize or damage systems of control, but simply to make them ineffective by massively ignoring them. After all, the public interest is the interest of everyone, and no other interest weighs more heavily. [15]

The formation of new social and political actors -- public action 'Agency', the power to act, means taking action in some concrete form. The complexity of the new hybrid spatial and technological regimes makes it appear that the idea of action is in fact an absurdity. However, new social and political players manifest themselves in public space by the special way they act, by clustering, by displaying recognizable visuality, by marking their 'presence' vis-a-vis (the) other(s).

The manifestation of concrete action by new social and political actors in public space is 'gesture'. The action, in this case, is the way the space is used, though there is still a difference between the use of a space and more or less public actions in that space. The use of space becomes agency when that use takes on a strategic form.


1. For a description, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/flashmob.
2. Reclaim the streets website http://rts.gn.apc.org/.
3. Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996).
4. Ibid.
5. Consider for example the concept of the 24-hour economy.
6. 'Electronic pirate modernity': see also www.sarai.net.
7. See also www.urbanscreens.org or the Logo Parc symposium held in Amsterdam on 16 November 2005, a cooperative project undertaken by the Jan van Eyck Academy, the Premsela Foundation and the Art and Public Space Lectureship (Rietveld Academy and the University of
8. These 'shaped screens' do incidentally form a curious counterpart to Frank Stella's Shaped Canvasses.
9. Anonymous Muttering: http://www.khm.de/people/krcf/AM/.
10. Website of the Xchange network, http://xchange.re-lab.net. 11. Lev Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space: Learning from Prada (2002), see www.manovich.net
12. The so-called Turing Machine, named after the mathematician Allan Turing -- the machine that is capable of simulating any other machine.
13. Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space, op. cit. (note 11).
14. The mass production of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags compelled producers to minimize the security provisions incorporated to allow the tags to be applied cost effectively to virtually any conceivable consumer product. A policy of giving priority to the safety and reliability of the chips and the information stored on them would make them much too expensive, restricting their development to specialized 'niche' markets.
15. Examples of a new kind of civil disobedience include deactivating RFID tags with the aid of an adapted mobile phone, hindering the operation of smart cards, regularly swapping client cards, deliberately supplying false information when registering online and using 'anonymizers' on the Internet, 'encrypted' (coded) mobile phones and local gsm blockers.

This essay was written for the new issue of Open (#11), cahier about art and the public domain - "Hybrid Space". The essay introduces the overall theme of the issue, and suggests some strategic considerations on the use of hybrid space.

More information on the issue can be found at the website of NAi Publishers:

and at the website of Open:

The journal was presented at De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics in Amsterdam, on November 18, with the annual SKOR lecture, delivered this year by Saskia Sassen: "Public Interventions - The Shifting Meaning of the Urban Condition". The lecture is available on-line at: http://www.debalie.nl/terugkijken See also: http://www.debalie.nl/artikel.jsp?podiumid=media&articleid=85601 [via nettime]

Posted by jo at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2006

Environmental Awareness through Eco-visualization


Combining Art and Technology to Promote Sustainability

Abstract: Eco-visualization technology made by media artists offers a new way to dynamically visualize invisible environmental data. Eco-visualization can take many forms. My own practice of eco-visualization involves animating information typically concealed in building monitoring systems, such as kilowatts or gallons of water used. A public display with real time visual feedback promotes awareness of resource consumption and offers a practical alternative to remote meters concealed in utility closets. The long-term goal of most eco-visualization practitioners is to encourage good environmental stewardship using hybrid practices of art and design. This essay contextualizes the emerging field of eco-visualization and its interdisciplinary trajectories. Environmental Awareness through Eco-visualization: Combining Art and Technology to Promote Sustainability by Tiffany Holmes, Neme.org.

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November 20, 2006



Issue 11

Welcome to Glowlab Issue 11! The projects in this issue examine the presence of surveillance within public space, and the ways in which ubiquitous technologies, such as electronic tags, global positioning systems, SMS messaging, and other locative media are informing the ways in which we interact within urban environments. These artists utilize these technologies to create mobile orchestras, jam turnstiles, observe the observers, and put the means and the media of production into the hands of ordinary citizens. This issue also includes independent curator Anuradha Vikram's review of Psychogeography by Merlin Coverly.

Transparent City: The ethics and aesthetics of mass-surveillance technologies by Derek Lomas :: Mobile phone carriers track our location and keep a record of everywhere that we have been. TRANSPARENT CITY is a prototype surveillance interface demonstrating how widespread mobile phone technology could be transformed into an apparatus for massive governmental control.

The Warbike and Wardriving: Geeks Don't Know it's Psychogeography by David McCallum :: The Warbike is a mobile, interactive artwork that sonifies WiFi networks during a bike ride. This article describes the process of creating the system, and touches on the links between psychogeography and wardriving.

Inner city locative media: The Media Portrait of the Liberties project by Valentina Nisi :: The Media Portrait of the Liberties is a modular collection of anecdotal stories drawn from a disadvantaged Dublin inner city neighbourhood called the Liberties. The narratives are displayed as short video clips on a location-aware handheld computer.

TXTual Healing by Paul Notzold :: TXTual Healing is an interactive project that enables members of the public to interact with large speech bubbles that are projected onto flat surfaces, such as the facades of public buildings, using SMS messaging.

arphield recordings by Paula Roush :: Arphield Recordings is a project documenting impromptu arphid sound performances produced by people scanning their oysters cards in their daily routines of accessing London tube stations.

Fête Mobile and Inflatable Art by Marc Tuters, Fête Mobile :: Movable Feast/ Fête Mobile is a 6-meter blimp equipped with surveillance and communications capabilities that enables participants to remotely view their surroundings and exchange media files through a wireless file server. In his article, we discuss the development of the project.

Book Review: Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley by Anuradha Vikram :: Psychogeography is a primer on the practice and its precedents, inspired by the neo-psychogeographic revival in London over the past two decades, and focusing specifically on the theoretical lineage of contemporary British writers.

Glowlab is an artist-run production and publishing lab engaging urban public space as the medium for contemporary art and technology projects. We track emerging approaches to psychogeography, the exploration of the physical and psychological landscape of cities. Our annual Conflux festival, exhibitions, events and our bi-monthly web-based magazine support a network of artists, researchers and technologists around the world.

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October 17, 2006

Gregory Green


Strategies for Empowerment

Gregory Green explores the evolution of empowerment, with conceptual artworks and performances that suggest explosive devices, such as pipe bombs packed into briefcases or hollowed out books with nuclear warheads. His purpose is to stimulate creative thought about freedom and personal responsibility. Many of his artistic investigations have focused on terrorism and the possibilities for sabotage of the physical infrastructure, and the ease in which individuals, armed with readily available information, can endanger the status quo.

One work suggests how to manufacture large quantities of LSD as a form of civil disruption (an idea originally proposed by Abby Hoffman), and resulted in the 1995 brief jailing of Feigen gallery director, Lance Kinz.

Green also created guideable missiles that could be armed with conventional or nuclear devices. These pieces contain no explosives but are carefully designed to be potentially functional. Fascinatingly beautiful, the threat of these works lies in their illustration of society’s negligence in discounting the hazards presented by the outcast, the eccentric, the individual.


40 years to the day after the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space, Green installed Gregnik Proto II, a prototype radio transmitter modeled after Sputnik in Brooklyn. Mounted on a rooftop, the silver orb with five antennas broadcasted unedited artist-created messages over a low frequency fm radio signal to local residents. [left: Genetron MP39 and Gregnik Proto II]

More art bombs and missiles: Criket Activated Defense System; Mel Chin's WMD Weapons of Mass Distribution; Little Japan byKazuya Kanemaru; Tom Sachs' Sony Outsider; Johann van der Schijff’s toy machines that play with the notion of military and manufacturing industry’s power; ceramic hand grenade, landmine or rocket designed as delicate presents; Postapocalyptic survival gear; Fabrice Gygi's Aesthetics of control.

And non-artistic: Titan Missile II silo. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not-art]

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October 05, 2006

Global Anxiety Monitor


a foundation for multi-visual research

Global Anxiety Monitor and "Historiographic Tracer" represent an instance of research (in the general sense of collecting/analyzing data) and symbolic framing. They are "tactical media" by assuming the role of a "tool" for engaging/ studying a given situation as well as consciously politicizing the data and its means of collection (the tool itself).

These projects and much, if not all, of deGeuzen's work also builds on the practices and theories of people like Martha Rosler and Alan Sekula who practice a "critical documentary" in which the potential for affect provided by photography is neither abandoned nor surrendered to, but engaged to find instances where desires to change reality can be made politically reflexive. viaiDC list

Posted by michelle at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2006



for The Politically Impaired

META[CC] -- by CONGLOMCO MEDIA NET -- seeks to create an open forum for real time discussion, commentary, and cross-refrencing of electronic news and televised media. By combining strategies employed in web-based discussion forums, blogs , tele-text subtitling, on-demand video streaming, and search engines, the open captioning format employed by META[CC] will allow users to gain multiple perspectives and resources engaging current events. The system we are developing is adaptable for use with any cable or broadcast television network.

We hope that you will take a moment from your viewing time to add the RSS feed of a blog you find noteworthy; the META[CC] search engine is apolitical and influenced only by the news and information sources supplied by viewers. We apologize, but at this time podcasts and vlogs are not supported.

Posted by jo at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006



the best thing to happen to activism since oppression itself

Protester™ is a free platform for developing, tracking, and valuating real-world social applications. Protester™'s project incubator allows activists to propose actions, meet and collaborate with others, and measure the success or failure of their work. Protester is designed for those who understand the need for creative approaches to the world's social justice issues.

How is real social progress achieved? How can social actors tell if they are making any progress? While value-creation remains simple for the economist, the artist is plagued with smoke and mirrors. Worse yet, the rise and fall of economies is at best a poor indicator of the happiness of society's cultural producers. For those people caught in the vague uncharted territory outside of business politics, art, dissent, community, or terror; there are clearly other standards. Is culture for everyone? It turns out that the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" is just as great whether we're talking about economic capital, or "cultural" capital. Yet, the concept of Cultural Capital; - a quantitative measure of cultural value - has not been sufficiently explored as tool for evaluating the activism industry.

By logging in to Protester, activists access tools which enable them to see real time results of their political action. There's no reason to sit on the couch in frustration, watching carefully crafted messages twisted into knots by the media. By adding projects to the Incubator, networking with users, and maturing their Social Applications, Protesters gain skills and develop projects while growing their Cultural Capital. Watered-down legislation constructed by the nonprofit industrial complex becomes irrelevant in the face of the DIY direct action of Protester. Time spent bickering with other activists or groveling for foundation money can be maximized by cultivating a much more renewable resource: Cultural Capital.

Projects, matured in the Incubator, may graduate into fully realized Social Applications. These apps are valuated in part by our new RTMARK Cultural Capital Index. To help encourage creative apps, we have created a tool to identify Intangible, or foreseeable future events that present an opportunity for a viral critique or clever reaction. We have also created a marketplace for the exchange of futures - speculative wagers of the future value of an app. Buying and selling futures allows activists to grow their Cultural Capital while indicating support or predicted success for a particular Social Application™. In the process, Protesters can send messages to other users, add collaborators, and discuss private projects. Activists see their social network grow in less time than it takes to make a maltov cocktail!

Our progressive ecosystem allows the development of knowledge products for dismantling corporate memes and detourning conventional ideologies. Protester is the best thing to happen to activism since oppression itself. [via artificialeyes.tv reBlog]

Posted by jo at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2006

Regine Debatty


Interview of Tom Igoe + Tad Hirsch's Tripwire

I subscribe to the feed of several del.icio.us tags such as tangible_computing, physical_computing and you know how this works, if a webpage or a person is regarded as particularly interesting resource, they get tagged again and again, that's how i get to read the name of Tom Igoe every week. Igoe is Area Head for physical computing classes at Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University. His courses invite students to explore ways to allow digital technologies to sense and respond to a wider range of human physical expression and i've blogged dozens of projects that come right from his courses. Tom Igoe's background is in theatre, and his work today centers on physical interaction related to live performance and public space. Along with Dan O’Sullivan, he co-authored “Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers.” His own projects include an internet-aware player piano; a clock that reads emails (my favourite); 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, etc.


[...] As far as physical computing artwork that's impressed me lately, there's one piece that I really liked, featured at ISEA this year: Tad Hirsch's Tripwire. He basically made sound sensing coconuts that he hung in the trees in San Jose, and each time the noise levels from planes exceeded the acceptable maximum, the coconuts called the city's noise abatement complaint line. He's done a number of really smart activist works like this that use humor tactically. The other thing that impressed me about this piece was that it was the one from the festival that made the most earnest attempt to try to address a real problem of the city hosting the festival. Many of the other pieces could have been done in any city, but this one attempted to give something back to the citizens of San Jose, by drawing the attention of the city bureaucracy to something it tends to ignore. I thought that was very gracious of him. [read the full interview at we-make-money-not-art]

Posted by jo at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2006

Preemptive Media's AIR


Launching September 14

"Allowing you to explore your neighborhood and urban environment for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots." :: The AIR project will launch on September 14, 2006 in Lower Manhattan at the AIR headquarters located in 125 Maiden Lane (map). Release party from 5-7pm!! The headquarters will be open daily from 12-7 pm from 9/15-21.

AIR is a public, social experiment in which people are invited to use Preemptive Media's portable air monitoring devices to explore their neighborhoods and urban environments for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots. Participants or "carriers" are able to see pollutant levels in their current locations, as well as simultaneously view measurements from the other AIR devices in the network. An on-board GPS unit and digital compass, combined with a database of known pollution sources such as power plants and heavy industries, allow carriers to see their distance from polluters and other AIR devices. In addition, the devices regularly transmit data to a central database allowing for real time data visualization on this website.

While AIR is designed to be a tool for individuals and groups to self identify pollution sources, it also serves as a platform to discuss energy politics and their impact on environment, health and social groups in specific regions.

Posted by jo at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2006

[iDC] Interactive City: irrelevant mobile entertainment? Part 2


Mark Shepard's Response

It's encouraging to find such an outpouring of interest and critique on the subject of locative media and its relation to pyschogeography, mapping and urban play. While we had originally planned on addressing many of these issues in September as part of the Architecture and Situated Technologies thread, I think the current discussion provides an opening to address how an evaluation of certain locative media practices (and their failures) might provide a "sandbox" for thinking through the opportunities and dilemmas of a near-future world of networked "things". From locative media to atoms, bits and ubiquity.

As someone whose interest in the Situationists predates my work in new media, I have long felt uncomfortable with media art practices that claim or aspire to transpose concepts of pyschogeography and tactics of the dérive or detournment to contemporary urban environments. It is critical to remember that the dérive emerged in a specific historical context, one that I would argue no longer holds. In part a response to 20th century urban planning strategies promoted by modern architects associated with CIAM (Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne), the dérive sought to reclaim a space for the creative capacities of an imaginative subject in face of an onslaught of the functional rationalization of modern capitalism. CIAM's strategies aimed to reorganize the city - perceived as an ailing beast in need of a cure - through a strict functional segregation of dwelling, work and recreation (leisure) zones connected by rationalized transportation corridors.

Citing a 1952 study by Parisian sociologist Chombart de Lauwe that mapped the movements made in the space of one year by a student living in the 16th Arrondissement, Debord expresses outrage that her itinerary "forms a small triangle with no significant deviations, the three apexes of which are the School of Political Sciences, her residence and that of her piano teacher." [1] To a certain extent, the dérive was conceived to explicitly counteract this rationalization of patterns of movement through the city and the corresponding limitations imposed on the diversity, messiness, and richness of urban life. Understood as a form of ludic play, the expressed aim was to free people from "their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there." With regard to kanarinka's comment about the gentleman invited to drift with them who "summed it up nicely" by saying "Sorry, I can't go with you. I have to work here until 8PM and then I have to go to my other job," I would argue that it is precisely this mentality that the dérive sought to address.

In evaluating locative media projects claiming or aspiring to a Situationist agenda, I often find myself questioning to what extent their deployment of mobile technologies ends up actually reifying this rationalization of patterns of use or movement. Put another way, to what extent do conventions for the use of consumer mobile technologies actually contribute to CIAM's agenda in their codification of modes of interaction with and within the contemporary city? Perhaps the most pertinent question for locative media might be: how might these technologies be (mis)used in an attempt to counteract (rather than reinforce) an ongoing rationalization and commodification of urban life? It would seem less a question of "locating" oneself, perhaps more one of getting lost...

Brian Holmes' critique of locative media [2] focused on a perceived noncritical ("naive") adoption of GPS technologies and Cartesian mapping systems in the context of Situationist aesthetics. Specifically, Holmes attacks the non-reflexive use of technologies developed by the military and their domestication in the context of scenarios of play, where aesthetics becomes politics as decor. This critique was originally delivered at a workshop held at the RIXC center in Latvia in 2003. Since then the field has expanded significantly, and while early locative media projects may have relied heavily on these technologies, it would be difficult to identify locative media exclusively with either GPS or Cartesian mapping today. At the same time, some contemporary projects built on GPS are far more reflective of the dark side of locative media. [3] This is not to say Holmes' critique no longer holds. Quite the contrary, as it would seem it has been in many cases internalized by the field. While this year's ISEA / ZeroOne San Jose symposium and exhibition presented a few GPS-based locative media projects, they were by no means the majority. Drew Hemment et. al.'s LOCA project is one example of a "pervasive surveillance project" aimed at raising public awareness of how certain consumer technologies (bluetooth in this case) enable tracking in ever more subtle ways. [4] Alison Sant's paper "Redefining the Basemap" [5] addressed the fact that many locative media projects still "remain bounded by datasets that reinforce a Cartesian and static notion of urban space" and made a call for alternative methods of mapping the city, particularly ones addressing the temporal dimension of urban experience.

The critique of GPS and Cartesian mapping systems is by no means new. Laura Kurgan's exhibit "You Are Here: Museu" (1995) [6], addressed the uncertainties that arise when relying on satellite tracking systems to know "where we are." Architect Stefano Boeri's essay "Eclectic Atlases" (1997) [7] addresses the failure of satellite imagery to adequately represent the contemporary metropolis and calls for alternate methods for mapping the city as experienced "on the ground." The exhibition and catalogue for "The Power of the City: The City of Power" (Whitney Museum of American Art, 1992) [8] explores alternative mapping practices of conceptual and performance art from the 60s and 70s in terms their relation to Baudelaire's Flaneur, Jameson's notion of cognitive mapping, and (then) contemporary readings of Situationist aesthetics. Kevin Lynch, in his oft cited treatise "The Image of the City" [10], acknowledged that the emotional dimension(s) of his cognitive maps were beyond the reach of his research methods. More recently Marina Zurkow, Scott Patterson and Julian Bleecker's "PDPal" (2003) [9] asks what might an "emotional" GPS look like?

Perhaps the most interesting take on the relevance of locative media today is that of Marc Tuters and Kazys Varnelis as expressed in their essay "Beyond Locative Media," published by Leonardo in conjunction with the Pacific Rim Summit [11]. Acknowledging that locative media has been attacked for its ambivalence with regard to commercial interests and its reliance on Cartesian mapping systems, they find these critiques nostalgic, "invoking a notion of art as autonomous from the circuits of mass communication technologies", which they argue no longer holds. Moreover, they make the case for locative media as a "conceptual framework by which to examine the certain technological assemblages and their potential social impacts. Unlike net art, produced by a priestly technological class for an elite arts audience, locative media strives, at least rhetorically, to reach a mass audience by attempting to engage consumer technologies, and redirect their power." At the dawn of an age where ubiquitous networked objects outnumber humans as generators and receivers of information, this effort is more important than ever.


[1] Guy Debord. "Theory of the Derive" - http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/314

[2] Brian Holmes. "Drifting Through the Grid: Psychogeography and Imperial Infrastructure" - http://www.springerin.at/dyn/heft_text.php?textid=1523&lang=en

[3] See the Institute for Applied Autonomy's "i-SEE - Now More than Ever" - http://www.appliedautonomy.com/isee.html or Annina Ruest's "Track the Trackers" - http://www.t-t-trackers.net/

[4] LOCA - http://www.loca-lab.org/

[5] Allison Sant. "Redefining the Basemap" - http://www.intelligentagent.com/archive/ia6_2_interactivecity_sant_baseline.pdf

[6] Laura Kurgan. "You Are Here: Museu" - http://www.l00k.org/youarehere/you-are-here-museu

[7] Stefano Boeri. "Eclectic Atlases" in The Cybercities Reader (NY: Routledge, 2003)

[8] Cristel Hollevoet, Karen Jones, Timothy Nye. "The Power of the City: The City of Power (NY: The Whitney Museum of American Art, 1992)

[9] Marina Zurkow, Scott Patterson and Julian Bleecker. "PDPal" - http://www.pdpal.com/

[10] Kevin Lynch. "The Image of the City" (MIT, 1960)

[11] Marc Tuters and Kazys Varnelis. "Beyond Locative Media" - http://netpublics.annenberg.edu/locative_media/beyond_locative_media

mark shepard

iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org) iDC[at]bbs.thing.net http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc

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Posted by jo at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006



Virtual Biopolitical Agora

DemoKino: Virtual Biopolitical Agora by Davide Grassi :: An Anti-entertainment interactive movie, that develops according to your vote! :: DemoKino is a virtual parliament that through topical film parables provides the voters (participants) with the opportunity to decide on issues that are, paradoxically, becoming the essence of modern politics: the questions of life. The project questions not only the utopia of contemporary virtual forum that is supposed to open ways for a more direct and influential participation but also points out a much deeper problem of modern democracy (virtual as well). With its reduced narrativeness - the story is built on the "pro and contra" inner dialogues of the protagonist who is led around his home in a parliamentary kind of way by the "voters", based on their decisions - Demokino shows how these ethical dilemmas of modern life suddenly become the core of our political participation.

When the issue of life enters the political arena and modern politics becomes biopolitics the democratic decision reaches an impasse: in the political arena laws are being debated on issues that can actually tolerate no decisions and any kind of majority rule is problematic in itself, any political regulation a publicly legitimated act of violence. Demokino is a virtual parliament that clearly displays how politics comes before law. Law is just a utopic and redundant technical procedure to cover the political essence. [via]

Posted by jo at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2006

Darfur campaign in Second Life


Embedded Social Messages

Darfur_Campaign [originally uploaded by eliane_alhadeff] (Rubber bracelets have made it into virtual life, as have hairy arms. Amazingly weird.) I found this on Flickr, and I'm rummaging around to find out what was going on - there was an interesting, Star-Wars style committee meeting for this online kidscamp project - maybe? - and a game has been produced, one of many to be produced by teens, each with a message:

Playing 4 Keeps is an innovative youth media project, in which a team of Global Kids Leaders at South Shore High School are gaining leadership and game design skills that they will use to develop and produce a socially conscious online game each year.

This is seriously impressive stuff.


High quality, solid message:

Ayiti: The Cost of Life is a role-playing video game in which the player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti. Over the course of the game, the player must choose among and balance various goals, such as achieving education, making money, staying healthy, and maintaining happiness while encountering unexpected events. The player must make many decisions that contribute to or detract from achieving his or her chosen goals.

Global Kids Digital Media Initiative - lots of interesting, game-based political and cultural activities, produced by and for teens,

SaveDarfur.org - the campaign [blogged by Alice in Wonderland]

Posted by jo at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

Loca - Location Oriented Critical Arts


Grass-roots, Pervasive Surveillance

Loca is an artist-led interdisciplinary project on mobile media and surveillance. It forms part of an AHRB funded research programme exploring the shifting boundaries between art practice, the event and data systems. Loca is grass-roots, pervasive surveillance. A person walking through the city centre hears a beep on their phone and glances at the screen. Instead of an SMS alert they see a message reading: We are currently experiencing difficulties monitoring your position: please wave you network device in the air.

Loca is an exercise in everyday surveillance, tracking digital objects in physical space. What happens when it is easy for everyone to track everyone, when surveillance can be affected by consumer level technology within peer-to-peer networks without being routed through a central point?


The project foregrounds secondary characteristics of mobile communications, such as the ability to locate consumer mobile devices in real-time and near-real-time, and the kinds of peer-to-peer pervasive surveillance that is possible as a result. Loca explores the shifting nature of surveillance as it ceases to be the preserve of governmental or commercial bureaucracies.

Pervasive surveillance has the potential to be both sinister and positive, at the same time. The intent of Loca is to equip people to deal with the ambiguity and to make informed decisions about the networks that they populate.



On Sunday 13th August the newspapers were full of a story of 3 Palestinian-Americans facing terrorist charges for being caught in possession of 1000 cellphones, which the authorities suspected were to be used for surveillance or as bomb detonators. The following day San Jose Police Department seize and impound a cellphone wired up to a battery and hidden in a San Jose hotel lobby. Little did they know, but they had stumbled across a genuine case of DIY surveillance. This cellphone was running custom-made software by art group 'Loca' as a part of the ZeroOne festival and was a part of a surveillance network covering the downtown area.


In 'Loca: Set To Discoverable' at the ZeroOne festival the Loca art group were able to track and communicate with the residents of San Jose via their cellphone without their permission or knowledge, so long as they have a Bluetooth device set to discoverable. Over 7 days more than two thousand people had been detected more than half a million (500,000) times, enabling the team to build up a detailed picture of their movements. People were sent messages from a stranger called Sly with intimate knowledge of their movements, written in such a way as to leave them unsure if they had not unwittingly joined a social network called Loca. The messages drew inferences based on the 'urban semantics' of the places they had been: “You were in a flower shop and spent 30 minutes in the park; are you in love?” Over the course of the week the messages became gradually more sinister, the would-be friend mutating into stalker, 'coffee later?' changing to 'r u ignoring me?'. The aim of Loca: Set To Discoverable was to enable people to question the networks they populate, and to consider how the trail of digital identities people leave behind them can be used for good or ill.


Each Loca 'node' consisted of a cellphone running custom made software, plus an additional battery so that the nodes could run independently for up to 5 days. Some were installed in concrete casings on lampposts, street signs and walls. Others were put in black plastic boxes in hotels, cafes, venues, cinemas and restaurants. They were hidden in flower pots, underneath a chaise longue, in the foot of the podium used by the cinema ticket collector, buried in the earth by a popular bar terrace. The project aims to raise ethical questions, not to be an irritant or prank, and permissions were obtained where appropriate.


One node had been placed behind some plants in the lobby of the Sainte Claire hotel in downtown San Jose. Permission had been obtained from the hotel management to place it there, but it was found on the last day of the project by staff who had not been informed. The police were called, and on arrival found a plain black box containing a cellphone, positioned in a way inconsistent with someone leaving their personal cellphone to charge. The device was taken away as a suspicious object and 'booked in evidence'.

When the artists arrived at the hotel to collect the device later that day, Monday 14th August, the hotel duty manager informed them of what had happened. They were given the Crime Reference number and directions to the police station, and headed out to talk to San Jose Police Department. The duty sargeant told them that items booked in evidence are returned after a case has gone to court and that they would have to wait until they had been proven guilty or innocent to retrieve it.

[...]'As far we we were concerned, the police confiscating one of the nodes was as much a part of the project as us climbing ladders strapping nodes to street lights, or people engaging with the messages or receiving a print out of their movements at the exhibition stand. We set out to be fully transparent with the police, to see what their response to the project would be, and to document this at every stage.' - Loca

The only thing the artists forgot to mention was that the cellphone was continuing to scan while it was being held at the police station, providing Loca with surveillance data on people's movements at the station, whether they be officers, criminals or the innocent.

Loca is a group project by John Evans (UK/Finland), Drew Hemment (UK), Theo Humphries (UK), Mike Raento (Finland).

Posted by jo at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2006



Improvised Empathetic Device

The current U.S. led war in Iraq has suffered enormous casualties, where the toll on civilian lives is vague and many times unreported. The number of U.S. casualties is reported and monitored, many of which are the result of I.E.D.s (improvised explosive devices). Overall, the media coverage of these atrocities is given very little attention, often overshadowed by more personal and spectacular stories, such as child abductions and runaway brides. SWAMP's I.E.D. project aims to give real and physical presence to the death and violence occurring in the Middle East, by creating direct physical pain from the event of killed soldiers, whose toll and details are silently relegated to small or no print.

A Custom software application continuously monitors a web-site (icasualties.org) that updates the accumulation and personal details of slain U.S. soldiers. When new deaths are detected the data is extracted and sent wirelessly to custom hardware installed on the I.E.D. armband. The LCD readout displays the soldiers' name, rank, cause of death and location and then triggers an electric solenoid to drive a needle into the wearers arm, drawing blood and immediate attention to the reality that someone has just died in the Iraq war that is raging far away.

SWAMP--Doug Eastery and Matt Kenyon--is an organization whose primary goal is to find creative expression within elements of culture that are inherently counter-creative.

Clusters of fast food chains are proportioned around residential subdivisions like feedbags strapped to the demographical heads of the middle class. Shopping malls tesselate around the structures of the automobile, leaving our phantom limbs to sleepwalk strapped in our seatbelts. At home, social spaces are replaced with control spaces: chairs and sofas rotate to obsequiously receive the glowing radiation from hundreds of channels whose collective voice weaves "BUY-NOW" messages into every facet of the meme-machine mislabeled 'creative programming'.

Posted by jo at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2006

Raqs Media Collective


For the Record

"From the (below) list it will be evident that the kind of practices that we are talking about range from comics to high theory, with software, web-based work, radio, documentary filmmaking, and self-published broadsheets in between. Crucially, each of these might involve either a level of sociality in the production of cultural processes or a willingness to engage with a discursive register (and sometimes both). This unties art and cultural work from decorative or propagandist demands and enables it to claim a space for forms that are generative of questions, thought, reflection and communitas." -- Monica Narula, Raqs Media Collective

A Place Like This, A Time Like Now: Sometimes it feels like things are beginning to get really interesting. We imagine that Calcutta in the 1940s and ‘60s (or in the 1880s) and Bombay in the 1920s and ‘50s or Delhi in the 1850s and (briefly) in the 1970s, might have been really rewarding times and places to live in. We have a sense that Delhi, today, in the first decade of our young century, is again showings signs of quickening to the possibilities of a new life.

A Place Like This, A Time Like Now

Sometimes it feels like things are beginning to get really interesting. We imagine that Calcutta in the 1940s and ‘60s (or in the 1880s) and Bombay in the 1920s and ‘50s or Delhi in the 1850s and (briefly) in the 1970s, might have been really rewarding times and places to live in. We have a sense that Delhi, today, in the first decade of our young century, is again showings signs of quickening to the possibilities of a new life.

This new life does not come upon us without its share of pain, because it exists simultaneously with the cruel transformation of the city that evicts hundreds of thousands of people, and destroys their carefully built frameworks of existence. It is not without its share of paranoia, as the shadow of the deep state, through a variety of surveillance networks, leaches into every street corner. It is not without its vulgarity as new money explodes and talks tough and dirty. Perhaps it is at times precisely such as this one – when large structural conflicts play themselves out on the urban landscape – that the forging of critical and reflective cultural practices seems all the more urgent and compelling. Perhaps that is why we sense them so keenly when they begin to intimate themselves to us.

And so, even as our city re-invents itself through escalating conflicts over extant and looming habitation and property, new migrants re-define the face and voice of the street, women take an increasingly visible place on the precincts and old urbane certainties crumble; a new sensibility takes hold. Delhi has outgrown the destiny of being a small town with a violent past and burdened with Imperial grandeur. It is now just a city, just another very big city. A city that has set out on a journey to find the world.

Circuits and Cities

Interesting connections are being formed, between Delhi and Bangalore, between Delhi and Lahore, Delhi and Kathmandu, Delhi and Berlin, New York, Beirut, Bandung. There is also a relationship with mofussil towns, and regional centres in north India which is not only extractive. Traffic between Delhi and Benaras, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Ballia, Patna, Jabalpur and Jaipur has a different cultural significance now. People bring new thoughts and voices from these places, and return to them with the connections that they make in a place like Delhi. Within our city, entire worlds, like those of the resettlement colonies of Dakshinpuri or of the threatened riverside settlements like Nangla Machi or of inner city squatter zones, are finding a voice. The sense of Delhi being a place that contains entire worlds is more vivid today than it has ever been.

Writers, artists, practitioners, performers and audiences travel between spaces more than before, and the magnet of Mumbai, which necessarily took away the best of Delhi, seems to have weakened, replaced, in parts, by a genuine conversation. We can no longer think of our milieu only in terms of the physical boundary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, of the Republic of India, or even of the South Asian region, but crucially, in terms of how different sub cultures and scenes in Delhi function as nodes in an expanding network that intersects at key points with other networks which may have originated in other cities. Here, the distance (or proximity) between Delhi and Bangalore or Mumbai, or for that matter Beirut or Bandung, becomes a function not of geography but of the affinities and interests that transcend frontiers of one kind or another.

What’s going on? Where?

In the domain of the imagination, images, sounds and thought, there is a quiet ferment that marks our city. Its signs are muted, nascent, fragile. There is nothing overt or spectacular about these symptoms and we must not rush headlong to any conclusions or prognoses. Everything is uncertain. But the symptoms of a specific sensibility are insistent on revealing themselves. They demand from us a renewal of the terms of engagement which have hitherto ruled the domain of cultural praxis and artistic work. New publics beckon us to join them at play. So many things wait to be done.

This is as good a time as any to initiate a conversation that indexes some of these developments around us, points to things further away that might be of interest, and pauses to take stock of what might lie head.

First, to take a look at what is around us:

Spaces like Khoj in Delhi which provide an excellent context of hospitality for new and emerging work, cross-border initiatives in modest and unconventional public spaces by artists and practitioners in India and Pakistan like Aar-Paar, and the recent initiatives taken by documentary filmmakers to challenge censorship in exhibition are signs that there exists a strong desire to re-write the terms within which cultural practice occurs in our milieu.

Younger practitioners are trying out new forms – lawyers (such as in the Alternative Law Forum) are making comic books and html works against intellectual property and censorship, and the comic book or graphic novel is emerging as an interesting complex new form (see the work of Sarnath Bannerji, Vishwajoyti Ghosh and Parismita Singh, among others), as its practitioners explore difficult zones in personal experience and history. Architects and urban theorists, such as Solomon Benjamin, are experimenting with performance based presentation formats. A new generation of photographers is making edgy and personal work, without obligatory colourful turbans and the tyranny of the ‘well made photograph’. There is a new energy in the documentary, and the short and experimental film making scenes, made possible in part by more accessible technologies of production. Zines appear and disappear with an interesting frequency and broadsheets inaugurate the advent of a serial image-text essay form, and a new kind of critical fiction as well as non-fiction writing is making its presence felt in English, Hindi, Bangla, Tamil and Malayalam on Blogs. It appears that things are stirring.

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

At times like this, it also becomes useful to try and see what may be going on in other places and in other milieux. In our travels over the last six years, we have had the good fortune of observing many initiatives and practices all over the world that we think might serve as interesting provocations, so as to begin a conversation about what might be possible. We are placing this list on record also to register our kinship and solidarity with the people who have actualized these practices.

We are mentioning here only those spaces and initiatives that we consider to be modest. We need to focus on situations and processes that can be initiated and sustained with limited resources. What we have noticed in each of these instances is that a tight budget, or a lack of expansive resources, has not by any means implied a handcuffed imagination. Exciting things can also be done in small spaces, with little money, with no captive audiences, and by people who have full time jobs and next to nothing in terms of social security.

We have also restricted this list to instances where we have actually encountered the concerned practitioners personally. The list of practices and initiatives that we have found interesting, exciting and challenging which we have read about in addition to these, or seen in a show or on the internet, (although we may not have met the people involved with them) is far longer, and would require separate writing! This list is not exhaustive, and we intend to update and expand it from time to time so as to maintain a public database of the conceptual, intellectual and practice based context that we are nourished by.

There is no specific design or hierarchy implicit in the order in which they appear in the list below:

Queen's Nail Annexe, San Francisco

A verymall not-for-profit exhibition space (two rooms) which also doubles as a recording label in the Mission district in San Francisco, sustained by the innovative work of two dynamic persons. They work as community pedagogues, artists, facilitators and curators. The Queen’s Nail Annex offers space to young and old practitioners and curators who are able to offer a rigorous argument in their work. When we visited the Annex (which borrows its name from its neighbour - a Nail Beauty Parlour) we saw the opening of an exhibition devoted to videos and music produced by and in collaboration with the veteran experimental architecture and urbanism practice Archigram.

AndCompany, Frankfurt

A group of performers, theatre artists, musicians and theorists, based mainly in Frankfurt. We collaborated with them on a 'reading performance' in connection with 'The Wherehouse', a process and work that reflects on the relationship between cities and people termed as illegal migrants. What attracted us to Andcompany&Co's work was its practical adventurousness, which took in a strong interest in the legacy of Brecht's work, along with theatre, music, acrobatics and theory with a sense of enjoyment in working together as an ensemble. Their commitment to music, fun and philosophy, within the constraints of a modest working style and a commitment to working with all available materials was interesting to engage with.

Mongrel, London

A collective of software programmers, artists, technicians, writers located in and around London. Mongrel considers its practice to be a kind of art hacking, and is founded on meticulous, almost obsessive research often initiated by Mongrel Graham Harwood in collaboration with itinerant theorist Matt Fuller. What continues to attract us to Mongrel's diverse productivity is its eclecticism and serious irreverence. They are just as happy doing cut and paste xerox comic books and newsprint broadsheets as they are writing complex bits of code for a piece of software or hacking games and applications.

Park Fiction, Hamburg

An ensemble of people and practices located in close proximity to the depressed Saint Pauli district in Hamburg. A very successful instance of how cultural action within a community/neighbourhood context can stall the designs of urban redevelopment that might have resulted in eviction and demolition.

Atelier BowWow, Tokyo

An innovative architecture practice located in Tokyo, initiated by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Mayomi Kaijima, with whom we collaborated on the making of Temporary Autonomous Sarai (TAS) in Minneapolis in 2002. Atelier BowWow's investigations in what they call 'da-me' or 'not good' and 'pet' architecture, with their accent on researching informal and improvised architectural interventions in dense urban spaces is something we have a great deal of sympathy for. BowWow’s take on built form in urban space privileges that which may seem marginal at first, but is actually vital to the life of a neighbourhood or a street. It gestures to a density of contact, a plurality of usage and function, to the animatedness of interstitial spaces, and to a democracy of the sidewalk, the verge and the back alley that we find resonant with the urban forms of our city. It would be interesting to see what could occur if architectural practices in South Asia began taking an active interest in the informal city as an expressive of an architectural language.

TOROLAB, Tijuana

Another architectural practice, like Atelier BowWow with a strong presence in contemporary art venues. Torolab is based in Tijuana at Mexico's northern frontier with the USA, and much of its work is by way of an imaginative and focused reflection and research on the special conditions of the border zone, the peculiar relationship between the twin cities of Tijuana in Mexico and San Diego in the USA and the forms of improvised and 'emergency' architecture, using discarded automobile bodies, car tyres, crates and cardboard boxes that are a hallmark of subaltern urbanism in Tijuana.

Arab Image Foundation, Beirut

An archival initiative undertaken by a group of photographers, critics and theorists spread across the Arabic speaking world, and in the Arab diaspora, to archive and document popular photographic and image making practices, especially with a view towards the destabilization of the 'Arab Image. They have spoken in Delhi, at an invitation from Khoj.

The Atlas Group Archive, Beirut/New York

A somewhat disembodied entity centred around the personage of Walid Raad that invokes an archival register to explore the contemporary history of Lebanon through mixed media installations, single channel screenings, visuals and literary essays and lectures/performances. What we find interesting in the work of the Atlas Group is the close attention to history, a sense of archival irony and a highly sophisticated visual language. What the Atlas Group Archive does is to use a historical imagination to weld a set of philosophical statements about the politics of seeing. The invocation of an image by the archive becomes an occasion for thinking about truth claims and uncertainty. Images, even the memories of images, become things to think with, not just objects to look at or recall. It may be interesting to see what happens were we to transpose aspects of this register of thinking with images and memories to the fractured history of our city.

Common Room & The Bandung Center for New Media Arts, Bandung

A dynamic cluster of self-organized spaces in Bandung, Indonesia, with a special interest in expressing the enormous vitality of urban youth culture in Bandung, with its distinct political and critical edge and commitment to having a very good time, with music, murals, experimental video, street fashion, new media, publishing and comics. The Common Room and the Bandung Center are object lessons in the ability to organize a dynamic public space and presence that is non-commercial, that has little or no funding, and that survives because of a close relationship to a young public that nurtures it with time and with improvised resources.

Long March Foundation, Beijing

A highly intense ensemble of artistic, cultural and archival practices, developed over many years and within the matrix of a densely collaborative framework, particularly interested in areas such as migration within China, that emerges from the space of the Cultural Transmission Center in Beijing. We found this practice, which we encountered for the first time at the Taipei Biennale 2005, to occupy a different, more nuanced but far more quietly subversive register of expression compared to the by now formulaic visual sensation of contemporary art from China.

kein.org: collaborative media production, Internet/Munich

kein.org is a peer to peer network of cultural practices that encompasses software, theory, performance, events and conferences - kein.org has in its history been the site for very precise and focused online and offline interventions ('Kein Mensch ist Illegal' and 'Deportation Class') against the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants in Germany and Europe.

Metareciclagem, Rio de Janeiro/Sao Paulo

Metareciglagem is a loose ensemble of people and practices that embody a critical free and open source practice with software, machines, people and spaces in Brazil. Equally distant from the NGO scene and the imperatives of self-consciously political language, metareciclagem is basically interested in initiating a set of creative processes that reclaim autonomies for human presence and subjectivity in all processes involving technological mediation, especially, but not only in those that use computers (accessible, assembled hardware) and software.

Chaos Computer Club, Berlin

A pioneering group of hackers and who were and continue to be active in the Berlin scene, intervening critically and through cultural and artistic work in areas to do with intellectual property, electronic surveillance and technological creativity.

Radioqualia, London, Bacelona, Auckland

An online art collaboration by New Zealanders Adam Hyde and Honor Harger, it was founded in 1998 in Australia and is currently based in Europe. Using various streaming media softwares, r a d i o q u a l i a experiments with the concept of artistic broadcasting, using the internet and traditional media forms, such as radio and television, as primary tools, and aims to explore broadcasting technology within the context of philosophical speculation.

Bureau d'etudes, Paris/Strasbourg

A practice consisting of researchers and cartographers who map flows of power and control in politics, economy, society and culture and render their work through elaborate diagrams, often exhibited within contemporary art venues and events.

Visible Collective, New York

A collective of artists, documentarists, legal practitioners, designers, programmers, cartographers and activists - creators of the 'Disappeared in America' project that documents the detention and disappearance of people in the United States of America following September 11, 2001

Temporary Services

Temporary Services is a group of three persons: Brett Bloom, Salem Collo-Julin and Marc Fischer. Their work draws on their varied backgrounds and interests to produce creative exhibitions, events, projects and publications. Within their work they create socially dynamic situations and spaces for dialogue. They are distinguished by their fondness of self published pamphlets, and public projects that are temporary, ephemeral, or that operate outside of conventional or officially sanctioned categories of public expression.

We were especially struck by Temporary Services collaboration with a prisoner serving a sentence of life imprisonment that resulted in a project called 'Prisoners Inventions' consisting of a collection of ingenuous inventions made by a prisoner, a book and the replica of a prison cell.

Red 76, mainly Portalnd, Oregon

Red76 is the title used by a group of people working on collaborative projects in Portland, Oregon. The guiding constructs holding Red76 projects together are the facilitation of thought in public space and the examination of how to define what and where that space can be. The wish to charge space, to create an atmosphere where the public may become hyper aware of their surroundings and their day-to-day activities – such as making a lecture series in Laundromat shops – is an important construct for them.

Critical Art Ensemble, dispersed locations online

A collective of artists, theorists and scientists known for their critical research and creative work located at the intersections of technology, biology, cybernetics, feminism and a trenchant critique of the military-industrial-information technology complex. CAE produces events, performances based on laboratory experiments, books and web-based renditions of research themes and ideas.

Middle Corea

Middle Corea describes itself as a virtual networked territory actually located in the Internet, and ideally located within the ecosystem of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It realises itself through a variety of artistic and documentation activities undertaken by a group of artists, practitioners, photographers, theorists and curators loosely located in and around Seoul.

Mute and Metamute, London

A print journal and website devoted to a wide ranging critical discussion of the politics and culture of new technologies of communication

Improbable Voices

Improbable Voices is an archive of reflections in the form of interviews from inside a women’s prison, and a proposal for a monument to the prison-industrial system. The Improbable Voices project emerges out of a collaboration between a California based artist, Sharon Daniels, a group of ten women inmates who are incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, CA - the largest female correctional facility in the United States and Justice Now, a human rights organization that works with women in prison to build a safe, compassionate world without prisons.

From the above list it will be evident that the kind of practices that we are talking about range from comics to high theory, with software, web-based work, radio, documentary filmmaking, and self-published broadsheets in between. Crucially, each of these might involve either a level of sociality in the production of cultural processes or a willingness to engage with a discursive register (and sometimes both). This unties art and cultural work from decorative or propagandist demands and enables it to claim a space for forms that are generative of questions, thought, reflection and communitas.

Many of these formal approaches might seem somewhat alien to the current milieu of art exhibition practices in places such as Delhi, but we are certain that there is a change in the offing. New spaces will emerge and are emerging where new forms and new people will be at play. This is nascent now, but we think that this will take on a momentum of its own in a matter of years.

What is also evident is that as in other areas of human creativity (science, music, filmmaking) the rise of collectives, ensembles and networks will accelerate a vibrant cultural milieu. We hope that this listing provides everyone in our milieu with reasons for reflection, and we look forward to carrying forward a conversation.

We look forward to more interesting times in our city!

August 1, 2006

Monica Narula
Raqs Media Collective
29 Rajpur Road
Delhi 110054

Raqs Media Collective: For the Record [posted to Saria by Monica Narula] [Related entry]

Posted by jo at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

Unravel: the SIGGRAPH2006 Fashion Show


Wonderland - The Disappearing Dress

This project aims through the innovative marriage of art, science, fashion, technology and education to engage public consciousness through more positive currency, through humor, imagination and wonder, both on behalf of the next generation of consumers as well as existing ones. The Disappearing Dress is part of this wider project.

The garment is constructed of a water soluble polymer. When dissolved the fabric turns into a tiny amount of liquid gel which can be reconstituted into a solid once more or used to grow plants. The dress is a dramatic illustration of how the material behaves.

The Disappearing Dress will be at Unravel: the SIGGRAPH2006 Fashion Show on July 31, 2006. In future exhibitions, in London, Sheffield and Belfast in 2007, there will be a series of dresses which will dissolve over the course of 3 weeks and these will be the introduction to the other half of the project - ‘Ideas that can change the world’, practical and inspiring ideas for environmentally sound products and recycling methods.

The Disappearing Dress project is by Prof. Helen Storey of The Helen Storey Foundation; Prof. Tony Ryan of The Polymer Centre at Sheffield University; Patricia Belford and Aoife Ludlow, Interface at University of Ulster. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. More information about Wonderland and Ideas that can change the world is available at:

Posted by jo at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2006

BioHome: The Chromosome Knitting Project


Blurring the Lines Between Home and Laboratory

BioHome: The Chromosome Knitting Project :: A performance/installation featuring live biotechnologies :: Performance by Catherine Fargher, with live sound mix by Terumi Narushima.

BioHome presents a new form of hybrid performance, incorporating live biotechnology in an interactive installation. It also features video, interactive sound using DNA sonification, live DNA knitting and live performance and text. The live 'wet biology' practices, namely knitting DNA and displaying live cell cultures on stage, will be used to explore reproductive futures and bio-technologies.

Opening: August 16, 2006 5.00 p.m. by Natasha Mitchell, ABC Radio National Science Unit. Performance: 5.30 p.m. August 17th, 2006: Performance 5.30 p.m. Installation hours: August 16 - 25, 9-5 p.m. The artist/performer will be in attendance to maintain live cells at select times during the duration the installation. 'we assume all products are hazardous'.

FCA Gallery, Room 112, Building 25, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, North Wollongong. Light refreshments available.


:: Writer, performer, devisor - Catherine Fargher
:: Direction and corporeal dramaturgy: Nikki Heywood,
:: Textual dramaturgy, Noelle Janascewska, Nikki Haywood, Merlinda Bobis.
:: Visual dramaturgy: Brogan Bunt, Virginia Hilyard.
:: Knitted elements: Pamela Drysdale,
:: Plasma Screen performers: Terumi Narushima, Catherine Fargher, Denise Cepeda.
:: Interactive sound creation: Terumi Narushima.

Catherine Fargher
writer/editor/doctoral candidate University of Wollongong
PO Box 178
St Pauls NSW 2031
ph/fax: (02) 93145121
mob: 0415 442 209

Posted by jo at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2006

Omni Zona Franca:


Hacktivism and Networking with a Low Budget Technology

"How does the concept of "new media" function when technology is difficult to find? Is it possible to talk about hacktivism in geographical, political and social spaces where the lack of technology prevents from developing practices and activities that involve exclusively the Internet? ...

[W]e need to construct networks within the people. Without a real internet ... working on the island (a basic internet connection costs 6 to 10 dollars an hour, about half the average Cuban salary...). For [OMNI] the network is the city, the streets; the relationship between the peoples ...

The use of digital media and their forcing are definitely hacker practices that bring communication and interactivity. The creative use of digital media, in the Island available only from the black market if you’re Cuban and have no official reason to buy it) make the work of OMNI an action of critical, conscious and highly ethic hacktivism, which brings together all the media you can use, to experiment without limits and conditions ... Naked from every superstructure, technology becomes one of the greatest ways to realize social action..." From Omni Zona Franca: Hacktivism and Networking with a Low Budget Technology by Lucrezia Cippitelli, newmediaFIX.

Posted by jo at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2006

Europe Lost and Found


Join The Lost Highway Expedition

A massive movement of individuals will pass through Ljubljana, Zagreb, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Skopje, Priština, Tirana, Podgorica and Sarajevo. The expedition will generate projects, art works, networks, architecture and politics based on knowledge found along the highway. Projects developed from the expedition will lead to events in Europe and the US. LHE is a project by the School of Missing Studies and Centrala Foundation including: Azra Akšamija, Katherine Carl, Ana Dzokić, Ivan Kucina, Marc Neelen, Kyong Park, Marjetica Potrč and Srdjan Jovanović Weiss, together with partners in the cities of The Lost Highway Expedition.

The Lost Highway Expedition is a tour to explore the unknown future of Europe. It was initiated by the School of Missing Studies [SMS] as the first event of Europe Lost and Found (ELF), a multi annual and three-phased project. ELF is an interdisciplinary and multi-nationally based research project to articulate and imagine the current evolution of new and transforming borders and territories of Europe.


The subject is the continent of immigration, and its depopulation and aging, and the need for redefinition of states, sovereignties and citizenships. Challenged is the established belief and practice of nation-state, including non-representative and technocratic construction of European Union yet to vision more open and alternative definitions for populous in movements. The rejection of constitutional referendum and the riots in France signal the contradiction between homogeneous and multiple identities, the fluidity of capital and containment of labor, the liberation of individuals and their restrictions under sovereignty. Clearly, Europe cannot subsist by itself, and is already being redefined by "the others" in its quest for a self-identity. In such contexts, ELF suggests the future of Europe is best seen in the Western Balkan.

Posted by jo at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

GLOWLAB 09: july :: august 2006


Networks, Mobility, Interventions

The projects in Glowlab 09 examine urban architecture by investigating the social spaces enabled by public networks, mobile communication devices and direct intervention. In viewing the work, one might re-imagine the city as space which is defined through the nature of the interactions that take place within it.


Public Broadcast Cart by Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga: Transforms a shopping cart into a mobile radio station, transmitting via miniFM and the Internet. The Public Broadcast Cart is designed to enable any pedestrian to become an active producer of a radio broadcast by reversing the usual role of the public from audience to producer.


Hundekopf by Brian House and Sue Huang (Knifeandfork): A location-based narrative project utilizing SMS text-messaging to explore the experience of riding the Berlin Ringbahn.


Relay: Toronto by Germaine Koh: An architectural intervention that turns a building into a sort of urban lighthouse, relaying text messages received on a mobile phone by flashing the building lights in Morse code.


Lee Walton's Western Shift by Allard van Hoorn: An open-environment collaboration between researchers, architects, designers, artist, curators and all kind of cultural producers. Its aim is to stimulate fresh ways of looking at urban living and discover alternative solutions.


SpeedWave by Otino Corsano: A photographic based performance piece inspired by the established location of a regularly monitored Toronto speed trap. A camera on a tripod replaces the laser gun to document waves of local traffic.


Talking Cities [magazine review] by Krista Jenkins: A review of the recently published Talking Cities magazine, the print accompaniment to the exhibition of the same name, taking place at Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Germany.

Glowlab is an artist-run production and publishing lab engaging urban public space as the medium for contemporary art and technology projects. We track emerging approaches to psychogeography, the exploration of the physical and psychological landscape of cities. Our annual Conflux festival, exhibitions, events and our bi-monthly web-based magazine support a network of artists, researchers and technologists around the world.

Posted by jo at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2006



Urban Intervention and Information Correction Machine

mimoSa: Urban Intervention and Information Correction Machine began as "a continuous workshop that moves around Brazilian cities collecting people's stories using recycled and reconstructed technologies." The stated goal of the project was to "alter the Brazilian mediascape." After a false start in Rio de Janeiro in late 2005, mimoSa took root in Cachoeira, Bahia, close to Salvador (Brazil's first capital). The intent was for mimoSa to be portable, however, early on project organizers realized that it made more sense to create multiple local mimoSas (Tatiana Wells).

A mere six months later there are five additional mimoSas, two in Sao Paulo, and others in Curitiba, Tibau do Sul, and Santarem. There are now eighteen "closely involved" individuals who build, promote, and archive the multimedia, and some of these individuals have small groups who regularly assist them.

mimoSa won a Beyond award at memefest 2006 and will be participating in Futuresonic 2006. Two core members of the original group, Ricardo Ruiz and Tatiana Wells helped get Upgrade! Salvador underway; Jose Balbino and Tininha Llanos are now responsible for running the node as well as mimoSa Salvador.


More about mimoSa

During the workshops groups of artists, programmers, and activists create and operate the machine. It records stories, stores them in a database, broadcasts them on FM, and records them to CD. It also prints telephone numbers and instructions on city streets and walls so that people passing by are able to access the stories via their mobile phones. mimoSa maps these activities via its web portal from which visitors can access both audio and video interviews.

"...mimoSa is also the machine constructed during these workshops, where the machine object is embodied, humanized..." (Ricardo Ruiz)


"mimoSa: Urban Intervention and Information Correctional Machine" is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

mimoSa is a midiatatica.org action

ALEXANDRE FREIRE: mobile programmer, responsible for setting up the audio mobile server.
ETIENNE DELACROIX: MIT fellow and teacher at University of Sao Paulo. Works with discarded computers and other technological garbage. Responsible for assembly of a portable PC and the machine's backbone.
GIULIANO DJAHDJAH: free-radio practitioner and documentarian, responsible for workshops and urban interventions.
LUÍS "ASA" FAGUNDES: hacker, PHP, C++ programmer.
MURMUR: a group collecting personal stories on mobile phones in Toronto, Canada. Responsible for mobile connectivity.
RICARDO RUIZ: media practitioner, responsible for workshops, construction of the machine and urban interventions.
ROMANO: radio artist and audio designer, responsible for audio recording.
TATIANA WELLS: new media researcher, responsible for urban interventions and collecting stories.

Posted by jo at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Gaming McDonalds:


RTMark & Abrupt Social Change

On Monday at the International Serious Games Event in England, "McDonald's Interactive" director Andrew Shimery-Wolf announced that "We can no longer stand by while McDonald's corporate policies help lead the planet to ruin." The group, he added, was breaking away from its parent company to directly address the fast-food giant's unsustainable ways. Inspired by the training videogame America's Army, MI devised a game that can simulate various environmental and business conditions and how manipulating different aspects can affect both the bottom line and ecological problems like deforestation. By running sims, they realized that Abrubt Social Change (ASC), not mere "ethical consumerism," is the answer. Shimery-Wolf told attendees at the games conference:

The concept of Abrupt Social Change, or ASC, is an old and respectable one, a shortcut from rationality to the nerve centers of power that has often accomplished what more systemic approaches cannot. The British Occupation of India, the Vietnam War, even feudalism in Europe were only ended through ASC movements.

And just as governments and NGOs have sometimes assisted ASC movements abroad, so we can be a force for Abrupt Social Change here at home. We in the Interactive Division are using all of our autonomy within McDonald's to do so.

1. For one thing, we are appealing to McDonald's franchisees to allow their restaurants to serve part-time as meeting areas where plans for mobilization can be developed, hatched, and acted upon. We have commitments so far from seven owners in Decatur, Illinois, Tucson, Arizona, and Troy, New York.

2. We will offer direct financial assistance from our divisional budget to groups actively involved in effecting ASC, within or outside of franchisee restaurants.

3. We will help develop technologies useful to mass mobilization, such as the cell-phone text broadcasters so useful in the Ukraine in the recent Orange Revolution. As for McMarketplace, it will serve as a tool to explore methods for change, and to learn just how governments might be forced to adequately control corporations.

Again, we strongly feel that legislation is indeed our only hope, and what we must fight for via Abrupt Social Change.

"Ethical consumerism" or other market-based approaches will not help. A recent poll showed that 83% of UK consumers intend to purchase ethically on a regular basis; 5% actually do. And boycotts and other forms of consumer pressure are valiant but ineffectual, capable of producing only momentary, localized changes in corporate policy. As for "ethical investment," its potential is sadly quite small.

No, economic forces won't save us; there's a reason we have governments, voting, and laws that must be obeyed. But since governments won't create the right laws without popular pressure, helping to generate that pressure is the only responsible choice, the only true CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility].

If it sounds too good to be true, that's cuz it is. The presentation, which followed the release of the free McMarketplace video game, is reportedly the work of Yes Men-like art/activist consortium RTMark. As far as I can tell, the actual McDonald's has not yet responded publicly to the presentation.

Download the Powerpoint presentation here. [posted by Paul Schmelzer on Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas]

Posted by jo at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006

Urban Typhoon Workshop in Shimokitazawa


To Produce Alternatives

[Posted by Yukihiko YOSHIDA] We invite creative spirits from Japan and abroad to brainstorm on the present and future of Shimokitazawa, at a time when the government is planning a 26 meter-wide road cutting through its culturally vibrant streets. The Urban Typhoon Workshop--Tokyo, June 26-29, 2006--is a global experiment in participatory design, and includes architecture & design studios, art installations, political cafe, oral history, graphic communication, video, etc.

The objective is to produce alternatives to the government's plan as well as a multimedia testimony to the unique spirit of Shimokitazawa. The workshop itself is a joyous and participatory takeover of the city. Registration deadline: May 31, 2006; Registration fee: 10,000 yen (payable upon arrival at workshop); info[at]urbantyphoon.com

* Urban Typhoon welcomes registration from students, architects, urbanists, artists, designers, media & communication specialists, social scientists, activists, creative people, dreamers, and idealists of all kinds. The number of registrants is limited. Each unit has a small number of participants.

* There are a limited number of homestays available to foreign students, free of charge.

* All workshops will be conducted in English and Japanese.

Workshop units:

* a|Um Studio / New York, Carla Leitao
* Koba. Arch. Lab. / Tokyo, Masami Kobayashi
* CAt /Tokyo, Kazuhiro Kojima & Kazuko Akamatsu
* Save the Shimokitazawa / Tokyo, Kazuho Kimura & Kenzo Kaneko
* Art Harbour / Tokyo, Lehan Ramsay & friends
* Yehuda Safran / Paris, New York
* Studio SUMO / New York, Yolande Daniels & Sunil Bald
* Supersudaca / Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Pablo Corvalan, Felix Madrazo, Manuel de Rivero
* Shimokita Oral History / Tokyo, Taro Taguchi
* Team Un-simultaneous / Tokyo, Hidenori Watanabe
* Alto Majo / Tokyo, Alejandro (Alex) Jaimes, Tomo Takeda, Matias Echanove, Joanne Jakovich

Partners: The University of Tokyo, Meiji University, Cultural Typhoon, Future University-Hakodate, Yoshimi Lab, Save the ShimoKitazawa, Shimokitazawa Forum, Archi-media, coelacanth and associates inc., sumo, a|Um Studio, supersudaca, Misatikoh, sakura mapping project, urbanology.

Posted by jo at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2006

Make Podcast:


Graffiti Research Lab's Throwies at the Maker Faire

James Powderly sat down with me and walked me through the process of making throwies. They are easy to make and fun to throw on things. Graffiti Research Labs brought in a bus and they let people make throwies to throw on things. In this video (see original post), James explains that throwies are more than little lights to throw around. GRL takes it conceptually deeper by exploring political issues around prison time for graffiti artists and bringing those issues to communities in a gentle way...

Previous Throwie Articles: howto, throwie talkies, on/off tabs, and motion sensitive. Thowie instructions and interesting discussion is over at instructables and for subscribers, here is the Digital Edition Throwie Article. I used a few seconds of footage from two GRL videos that you can watch here and here. Both vids are great. Go watch them too! Click here to get the video (MP4) delivered automatically with iTunes. This video will play on PC/Mac/Linux/PSPs and iPod video devices - Link. Make Podcast. [Posted by Bre Pettis on MAKE Blog]

Posted by jo at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2006

Winning (and Losing) the First Wired War


Network Hierarchies + the Connectivity Gap

defensetech.org writes on a digital divide, of sorts, that has put a strangle-hold on the theory that with communication, command and control tethered via digital networks, the armed forces of America would be more effective at conquering soverign states. Such is turning out not to be entirely the case. Most of the command units are able to make use of these networks, but evidently their effectivity plummets because units taking care of firing and dodging bullets and IEDs are off the grid, largely. And yesterday I heard a news story about two armored fighting units that could not communicate with each other — despite the fact that they were only a few meters away. Why? Incompatible communications gear. The radios were literally incompatible. Boggling, but maybe not so much considering the proprietary nature of so much of the gear.

To the US Forces pre-breakup AT&T, the insurgency is playing John Draper aka Cap'n Crunch.

Winning (and Losing) the First Wired War:

This war in Iraq was launched on a theory: That, with the right communication and reconnaissance gear, American armed forces would be quicksilver-fast and supremely lethal. A country could be conquered with only a fraction of the soldiers needed in the past.

During the initial invasion in March 2003, this idea of "network-centric warfare" worked more or less as promised -- even though most of the frontline troops weren't wired up. It was enough that the commanders were connected.

But now, more than three years into the Iraq conflict, the network is still largely incomplete. Local command centers have a torrent of information pouring in. But, for soldiers and marines on the ground, this war isn't any more wired that the last one. "There is a connectivity gap," a draft Army War College report notes. "Information is not reaching the lowest levels."

And the insurgency has taken on a hacker sensibility:

And that's a problem, because the insurgents are stitching together their own communications network. Using throwaway cellphones and anonymous e-mail accounts, these guerrillas rely on a loose web of connections, not a top-down command structure. And they don't fight in large groups that can be easily tracked by high-tech command posts. They have to be hunted down in dark neighborhoods, found amid thousands of civilians, and taken out one by one.

Why do I blog this? Institutions like the military, while barely prone to the social practice adoptions that one finds in democratic formations, in many ways test some of the directions that open society social practices can go under particular situations. Could this be an indicator of how net neutrality plays out if networks get all gummmed up with non-open standards and proprietary protocols? [blogged by Julian Bleecker on techkwondo]

Posted by jo at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Régine Debatty's Interview with Marc Bohlen


"Machines are their own species"

Marc Bohlen's website has provided me with some amazing stories ever since i started blogging: from the Open Biometrics Project that i posted back in 2004, to the Universal Whistling Machine, first prize at Vida 7.0, and the cursing Amy and Klara.

Marc is trained in Stone Masonry (sic), Art History and Electrical Engineering and Robotics. He has been an invited speaker at Cornell University, Harvard University, The Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the Banff New Media Institute and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, etc. Marc is currently directing the MediaRobotics Lab at the University of Buffalo (Department of Media Study).

Shoeveillance sounds like "souveillance." Is there a hint of activism behind the project?

Certainly! My approach overlaps to a strong degree with that of art-activisism. It is also different. If you leave the development of technology to market forces alone, the solutions leave out too many market-irrelevant, but important, interesting and pleasurable factors. Realtechsupport tries to cast engineering problems in a light that includes their social/cultural context, and tries to make this a design parameter that needs to be 'solved'(addressed, discussed, solved) with the same diligence as the isolated technical problem.

Shoeveillence is a good example of this approach. Shoeveillence is capable of monitoring the passage of people in to and out of a room (and by extension a building). It acknowledges the fact that, in this world, this might be necessary [There is a fire in a 100 story building – is there anyone on the 91^st floor?]. At the same time, it counters data-creep and prevents data that is not "needed" from being collected. [The camera sees only feet and legs up to knee height; the machine algorithm finds directionality of motion and objects that look like shoes only].

In this regard shoeveillence is related to previous work in biometrics. The Open Biometrics Project included the design of a fingerprint analysis system that made its probabilistic results apparent so one could watch the machine in action. Having complex machines make binary decisions about us is really a problem.


A friend of mine told me about an interaction designer who had devised a way for people living in a not very posh neighborhood of London to pass through the streets of their area and yet avoid the gaze of the CCTV network. But it turned out that people were not happy with the idea, they actually liked to be on surveillance camera. Do you think a system like Shoeveillance could make everyone happy: maximum data collection and minimum invasion?

Yes. Let's make everyone happy! Shoeveillence plays with the desire to be seen to some degree. Parading your shoes is a special kind of pleasure, an accepted form of exhibitionism. It is one I would like machines we share the world with to be fluent in. We will have to wait for compliments, though, the appreciation of good shoes is beyond AI today. In HCI (Human Computer Interaction) community, some people speak of 'shy sensors', sensors with low-bandwidth input (such as a button) from which you derive information based on the sensor's location. If you want to know if someone is sitting in a chair without watching them on a camera, for example, you put a button in the chair. Shoeveillence, however, takes in high-bandwidth data (streaming video). It is tamed physically (by its position on the ground and its lens system), disciplined programmatically (by its algorithm) not to notice anything but shoes and incapable of being invasive but geared to be persistently and maximally shoe centric. This is a new kind of problem solving, I think.

Shoeveillance has found a first application in 8-bit Architecture. Can you tell us something about that project? how does shoeveillance fit in 8-bit A?

8-bit Architecture is a concept for a new joint between lived spaces and synthetic systems in the widest sense. To date, our new technologies are add-ons to the buildings in which we live and they enforce a master-slave relationship. The "smart home" got it all wrong. We don't need more convenience in our lives.

8-bit A wants to find out if there can be new ways of bringing the separate entities of synthetic and controlling systems together with lived spaces. Think about Cory Arcangel's Mario Brother game hack where he removed from the game engine everything but the scrolling clouds to create a 'game' the technical staff never imagined. 8-bit Architecture will try to find solutions like that (but different) for built and lived systems. Home automation has got to deliver more than garage-door openers that can be activated from the armchair and lights that dim on command.


I like one of your older project: Advanced Perception. Are you still investigating the field of "animal machine interaction design"?

Yes! That project really set the path for my work. The Universal Whistling Machine project continues the thrust with the question of communication beyond species boundaries. And the Glass Bottom Boat will move from land to sea creatures. I think we should replace HCI (Human Computer Interaction) with HAMI (Human Animal Machine Interaction). Animal activism meets robotics. The new world must have space for all of us.

How affected were the chicken by the presence of the robot?

At first indifferent. Once the robot moved, they were very frightened. But having the robot 'announce' its motion prior to actually moving (by activating the motors for a fraction of a second as to make a noise) made the chickens accept the machine much more readily. The robot was then instructed to avoid the feeding corner, so the chickens had their reserved territory. That seemed to help as well.

The results of these robot-chicken experiments were presented to both the scientific as well as the art communities. did they react in a different manner?

I had a famous chef (Rudi Stanish) cook omelets from the eggs of the chickens. In the gallery we had a taste-the-interaction session. People enjoyed the omelets and, hopefully, thought about a future world where animals, humans and robots roam freely.

I presented parts of the work in two scientific venues. There the interest was on "robots in adverse environments" (you can't sell omelets to the scientists). They were keen in hearing about how to deal with the messy side of things (dirt, chicken droppings, reliability over time, control mechanisms). But, in the end, the discussion also went to the 'high end' topics of shared spaces for different species. But the technical diversion was necessary to get to that point.


You seem to mingle with the artisitc as well as with the scientific communities. What's your crowd? How open is the scientific community to art projects?

(left: Advanced Perception gourmet performance) My crowd: Mixed. I think people who are trying to (experimentally) find ways of living with the fallout from automation technologies respond to my work. I am not a visual artist. The science community is selectively appreciative of the work. I do solve problems and deal with the same kind of messy and complicated information processing issues the engineering sciences do. The criticism I get from the sciences is that I am weak on evaluating my "results". But I am really not into handing out questionnaires and doing factorial designs experiments. I understand the critique, and understand where it comes from, but limit myself in accepting it in order not to loose the thrust of the work.

On the other hand, one does have to really understand the questions the sciences are concerned about. You can not speak the dialect of art (and expect to be understood) when you play the science game. Else you are delegated to a beautifier (and your voice is not taken seriously beyond that task). This was an important insight into really getting discussions going across disciplines: you have to be in the disciplines. This is a huge problem with much of the current "art meets science" endeavors. It really takes more than talk to move between different domains of knowing.


(Left) Amy and Klara and The Universal Whistling Machine) Other recent projects on your website deal with the replication of human features in artificial systems as well. Do you feel that the quest for the machine that will look and sound exactly like we do is senseless?

Yes, the quest for the synthetic system that looks, feels, acts and sounds like us is a dead end, in my view. Synthetic systems designers (from literature, cybernetics, robotics, and AI) have always been attracted to the mimesis of human features. Mostly because humans see humans as the pinnacle of evolution. If you are going to make synthetic life, why not work off the 'best' example you can find, the human, so the argument goes. But there is a different argument I am more attracted to. What the machine affords (in the sense of what is is capable/incapable of) is fundamentally different from how we are.

Machines are their own species, they are aliens, in a way. Sensors can see and hear things outside of our human perceptual boundaries. We have no access to microseconds as a computer does. Entities that can access this kind of 'stuff' are different, in a similar way as a dog that can hear sounds I can not hear, is different from me because of that.

Thanks Marc!

More on the projects discussed here at Realtechsupport. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not-art]

Posted by jo at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Gustav Metzger, Works


Auto-Destructive and Auto-Creative Art

Gustav Metzger’s first Manifesto for an Auto-Destructive Art from 1959 proved directional for one of the most uncompromising artistic careers in our time. Auto-destructive art is made to be self-destroyed. The act of destruction is crucial to the work.

In London in the 1960s one could see Metzger’s actions (such as his painting performance involving acid and nylon canvases) or hear his lectures. In 1966 he gathered large parts of the avant-garde of the time for the legendary Destruction In Art Symposium (DIAS). At the first Fluxus exhibition in London his work was censored, since the organisers didn’t understand his project of plastering a wall with all sheets of a newspaper. In a later reconstruction the work reveals itself as strongly historically charged. It coincided in time with the revelations about Soviet nuclear bases in Cuba and the most serious political crisis of the post-war period, when the world was at the brink of nuclear war.

The boundary between art and political activism has always been kept open in Gustav Metzger’s art. He was among the pioneers of the struggle against nuclear weapons, and he protested already in the 1950s against new motorways and increased pollution in London. His auto-destructive art is best understood against this background, as an answer to and an attack on the destruction that happens around us all the time. Destruction, however, is not all negative. It is also a precondition for change and creation. Metzger has spoken of both auto-destructive and auto-creative art.

Many of Gustav Metzger’s projects have remained unrealised and exist only as proposals and models. His practice is more to do with today’s art than with the period when it was created. In 1972 he was supposed to participate in Documenta 5 in Kassel with the work Karba, consisting of four cars whose exhaust fumes fill up a large plastic cube. For unknown reasons the work was never realised. This also happened with Stockholm, June, a proposal for the UN Environmental Conference in Stockholm the same year, for which 120 cars were to be encased in plastic, overheat and self-combust. It is only now that Karba, the work for Documenta, is realised for the exhibition in Lund. It is both sculpture and process, a protest as well as an ambiguous monument.

Gustav Metzger’s art reveals a strong interest in processes. His works are at the same time art and investigation. Technology and science have clearly influenced him, for instance his experiments with chemical and physical processes, his automatic art and his early interest in the possibilities of the computer. Sometimes this open-endedness has spawned unforeseeable results. His experiments with projected images of heated liquid crystals that create short-lived, ever-changing colour fields were integrated into the psychedelic aesthetic of the 1960s by bands such as Cream and The Who. In addition, it was Gustav Metzger's lectures that inspired Pete Townsend to end The Who's concerts with the destruction of all the instruments.

Metzger’s practice is founded in a dark vision of Man and History. Born 1926 to a Polish-Jewish family in the German city of Nuremberg, he was fascinated as a child by the spectacular Party Days that the Nazis organised there every year. He had an early interest in German art and culture, and has remained attached to the German language. Most of his family, including both parents and an older sister, perished in the Holocaust, while he and his brother Mendel escaped to England in 1939.

Throughout the 1990s Gustav Metzger has continuously elaborated the series Historical Photographs, in which images relating to difficult moments in history are made hard to access or altogether hidden to he viewer. Several of the works deal with Nazism and the Holocaust, but the artist also addresses topics such as the massacre on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and violence against the environment.

During the last decade a series of exhibitions have highlighted Gustav Metzger, making his importance for post-war developments in art ever more obvious. The exhibitions have also given him the possibility to realise several new projects, such as Eichmann and the Angel (2005) and In Memoriam (2006). Both these works reflect on memory, history, the Holocaust and in particular the fate of the philosopher and writer Walter Benjamin.

Pontus Kyander
Curator of the exhibition

Gustav Metzger, Works: 20 May - 27 August 2006; Opening 19 May 5 - 8 pm; Lund Konsthall, Mårtenstorget 3, Box 2051, SE-220 02 Lund; Phone: +46 46 355295; Fax: +46 46 184521. [via e-Flux]

Posted by jo at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2006

experimental geography


how to interpret the world around us

The work of Trevor Paglen is tactical media, speculative non-fiction - an "experimental geography" - as he calls it, accompanied, of course by "experimental lectures". The online component of his work has a travel-logue quality, with interventions and alien inspired expeditions validated by documented, journalistic interviews. Paglen is a cross-disciplinary practitioner and tactitioner in writing, installation, photography, lectures, performances, interventions, and exhibitions. He appropriates technologies and practices and originates the necessary techniques. One such, "limit-telephotography", was developed for The Secret Bases project to examine the non-space of secret bases and their supposed non-existence.

In projects like Carceral Landscape the Prison Infiltration and Surveillance Suit was performance attire developed to enable covert videography for the project. Documentation is shown from these visits. Pagen co-opts the stealth technlogies to spy back on the spies and uncover the covert, which he weaves together in speculative, but plausible narratives to help us interpret the world around us.

Posted by michelle at 04:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

Pneumatic Parliament


Instant Democracy

The icon that combines the western democracies and that self-legitimizes them in a millennial historical tradition is the parliament, the physical place where the people's designated representatives rule. This icon has also become the holy symbol of the western crusades against the so-called 'regimes'. These are forms of government, just located in economically strategic areas not by accident, that employ less linear elective systems. The Pneumatic Parliament project by Peter Sloterdijk and Gesa Mueller van der Haegen brings a sarcastic thrust to the pretended western democracies' supremacy, and to their claim of exporting their own model to other states. The work has been developed in the context of the 'instant democracy' project and it consists of a structure for parliamentary assemblies that can be air-dropped and that self-opens into almost the final form. After minimal corrections of positions it automatically becomes self-sufficient also for its own energy supplying. Perfectly placing itself in the psychological territory of the so much pushed 'fight the international terrorism' propaganda, the project narrates of fictional (but sadly plausible) institutions, that commissions to a single entity the building of the supporting infrastructure of their invasive politics. [via neural]

Posted by jo at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006



Media Revolution

Having survived colonisation, dictatorships, and inflation of 2639%, Brazil entered the 21st century with nearly half of its population living in extreme poverty and its media tightly controlled by Rede Globo, one of the biggest conglomerates in the world. Enter mimoSa--an 'urban intervention and information correctional machine'--inspired by the belief that a new system of public broadcast is a means to achieve better distribution of power, representation, and visibility. Employing free and open source software, the machine facilitates the recording, uploading, and transmission of public stories. 'mimoSa' is now travelling throughout Brazil holding workshops at which people can build their own machine and take control of their own media. Telephone numbers and instructions are also painted on city walls and streets so that anyone can participate via their mobile phone. Created by Brazilian activists midiatactica.org, Canadian group Murmur, and individual artists and programmers, 'mimoSa' was commissioned by Turbulence.org in October 2005. Look out, Rede Globo! - Helen Varley Jamieson, Net Art News, Rhizome.

Posted by jo at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

Urban Tapestries


Feral Robot for Public Authoring

The first of 2 planned Robotic Feral Public Authors has been completed and is ready for its first field trial in London Fields next week: The robot has two sensors (air quality and carbon dioxide) and GPS location sensing. The sensors were selected to reflect the concerns voiced in our community pollution mapping workshop back in November, which identified air pollution as the key environmental issue of local residents. The robot communicates its Lat/Long position and sensor readings back to the Urban Tapestries public authoring system via a WiFi connection. For the field trial in London Fields we will be meshing two battery-powered Locustworld meshboxes with SPACE's own public WiFi network. more >>

February 03, 2006: The first live trial of the Proboscis/Birkbeck Feral Robot took place in London Fields today: A group from Proboscis ... and Birkbeck College Computer Science dept ... braved the freezing weather to test the robot out in the field. We adapted a Locustworld meshbox to act as a battery powered mobile mesh node with SPACE Media's wifi network broadcasting into the southern part of London Fields. more >>. A short film (1 minute Quicktime MP4). Documentation from last November's Community Mapping Workshop in London Fields. [via Urban/Social Tapestries]

Posted by jo at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Do It Yourself Survival


Learning the Right lessons

"It is clear from the outset that this book addresses the area of practice that, a decade ago, some of us dubbed ‘tactical media’ – although C6 wisely avoid a term that has already become quasi-institutionalised. Nevertheless most aspects of what could be described as tactical media are represented in this book.

The term was originally coined to identify and describe a movement which occupied a ‘no man’s land’ on the borders of experimental media art, journalism and political activism, a zone that was, in part, made possible by the mass availability of a powerful and flexible new generation of media tools. This constellation of tools and disciplines was also accompanied by a distinctive set of rejections: of the position of objectivity in journalism, of the discipline and instrumentalism of traditional political movements, and finally of the mythic baggage and atavistic personality cults of the art world. This organised ‘negativity’ together with a love of fast, ephemeral, improvised collaborations gave this culture its own distinctive spirit and style and helped to usher in new levels of unpredictability and volatility to both cultural politics and the wider media landscape." From Learning the Right Lessons by David Garcia, Meta Beta. [Related posts: DIY Survival, Sold Out] [via Rhizome]

Posted by jo at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2006

Khan Artist


Provocative Questions About Art and Consumption

[...] Khan Artist, by Osman Khan (see also: "What's your net worth?" and "Sur la table"), looks just like a credit processing machine in front of the Artist. The Artist actually is registered as a validated merchant with the machine, and the Artist (or through a sales rep proxy) asks the visitor to make a purchase. When a purchase is made, no product or service is returned in kind at the time of transaction. The Artist's name will show up on the itemized list of the visitor's monthly statement.

This work is partly inspired by what happened after the tragedy of 9/11.

For the macro well being of a capitalist system, what is actually bought or sold becomes secondary to the actual act of consumer transactions transpiring. We saw this occur, as the government urged people to begin spending and purchasing in an effort to revive the American economy after the tragedy of 9/11. It was not important what was bought or sold, as long financial transactions kept flowing through the economic machine, the path to recovery would be under way. Perhaps it can be seen that a consumer society is actually more dependent on the acts of purchasing then the exchange of goods or services.

Simple as it looks, this work asks several provocative questions about art and consumption. Khan Artist was selected as Jury Recommended Works out of the finalists of the 2005 Japan Media Arts Festival. Related projects by the same artist: net worth, data dump, and art dispensing machine (ADM). [blogged by manekineko on we-make-money-not-art] [Related: The Swipe Toolkit]

Posted by jo at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2006



A Global Resource for Using Cell Phones in Social Activism

Mobile phones have emerged as a civic and campaign organizing tool across traditional socio-economic and cultural boundaries. Cell phone campaigns have swung elections through innovative get-out-the-vote activities, have been used to ensure impartial elections through monitoring, have resulted in massive collective action to free political prisoners or stop illegal logging, and are being used in public health strategies.

MobileActive convened in Toronto in 2005 to bring together, for the first time ever, activists from around the world to explore the use of mobile phones in civic action campaigns. This wiki and MobileActive site is an aggregation of the learnings from this convergence, stories from participants and their projects, and resources for activists interested in using mobiles in their campaigns. (For write-ups about MobileActive 05 go to our press page).

The goal of MobileActive is to grow the network of mobile activists, to share knowledge and skills, and to provide a peer network, training and resources to those interested in exploring mobile phones in their civic engagagement, mobilization, and civic action campaigns.

We aim to better understand the strengths and limits of the medium, explore available technologies for campaigners, and share lessons learned, campaign examples, and tech tools to increase activists’ ability to organize our constituencies.

If you used mobiles in your campaign, please share your story! If you need or have resources, let us know! And if you want to join this growing network of activists from around the globe send us a note: info[at]mobileactive.org.

Posted by jo at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

Emvelope Inserts


Complete Protection

The Emvelope® Wallet Insert is an innovative, patent-pending product that provides a simple, convenient, and easy way to contain the wireless signals being emitted by RFID chips. Simply place the insert into the bill area of your wallet and press firmly around the edges. Close the wallet and you'll have a Faraday Cage small enough to slip in your pocket. Don't let the size and simlicity fool you. Emvelope® inserts will block RF frequencies up to 2.4Ghz. More than enough to insure your safety. And it will do so for the low cost of $10.

"It is our goal to give our customers the comfort and security of knowing they choose when and where their every day items share their identities and credit accounts with those around them. We hope to solve this problem before it starts."

Posted by jo at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2005

Free Soil's F.R.U.I.T.


Exploring your City and its Connection to the World via Fruit!

Join an online demonstration. Your words will be part of a two year traveling exhibition. Remember to fill out the survey and add your urban plan dreams!! F.R.U.I.T. takes up the challenge of elevating the ecological knowledge of consumers and encouraging a way of life that is friendly to the environment. We want consumers to be conscious of the entire life of a product, from production to utilization, and not just what they see in the stores. Consumers must be aware that every phase of a product's life influences the environment and ourselves.

Free Soil has produced a run of F.R.U.I.T wrappers, a website, and a traveling installation as part of an initiative to inform people about alternative food systems and local food movements. The wrappers are disseminated throughout the food chain by piggybacking on oranges. Information will be carried through the food system and into the hands of consumers. The wrapper holds information on a variety of aspects concerning food movements, transport and urban farming. Get your daily dose!

Posted by jo at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2005



Let 1,000 Machines Bloom

Mobicasting. Let 1,000 Machines Bloom by Stevphen Shukaitis, Sophea Lerner, and Adam Hyde

Let us suppose that life is a dance, a chaotic unfolding of bodies in motion, repeating but utterly unique gestures tracing lines of flight over the unfolding of the new earth these steps create: the resistance of fleshy bodies and their collisions embodying the limitless nature of human experience, from the antagonism of the unexpected blow to the warmth of the gentle caress. Each interaction always exceeding our capacity to enunciate its experience but paradoxically embodying the very basis from which we come to communicate, to relate, to describe in common.

Stepping back from the metaphor consider: is the art of political communication all so different from this? Moments of creation, resistance, and expression--from the collaboration of gardeners growing a patch of vegetables in a community garden to mass actions in the streets--are constituent elements in an on-going process of creating new forms of sociality and community, new forms of life. But in the same way the experience of motion always exceeds our ability to express them, forms of political communication stumble on the gap between an ever present sensation of movement and our attempts to describe it. The intricate weaves of affective bonds, experiences, and memory tatter and fray from their immediacy in the shaping of representation. And all too often attempts to describe become methods of capture, transforming vibrancy into pallid reflection.

The tension between the inside and outside of experience, between the emic and the etic, has long frustrated attempts to communicate the immediacy of experience beyond itself. From the bodies in streets proclaiming their collective desires to busy hands of artists and philosophers shaping singularities with creative technics, we find ourselves caught in a dynamic where the description of an experience or event forces one to step outside of it into the logic of removed narration. When asked "so what happened" one can attempt to piece together a sense of the event through collections of its bits and pieces or to attempt to grasp the whole through description, binding oneself away from the event through the separation of inscription. Such dynamics find themselves seeping into even the most earnest forms of independent media where all too often logics of professionalization and attempts to gain legitimacy lead to communication constrained by format and expectations.

Mobicasting is a new platform of media technology by Adam Hyde and Luka Princic developed for "Capturing the Moving Mind" that provides possibilities for addressing these dynamics. It is at once two ideas. The first is technical: build a system to deliver 'pseudo-live' video from any device capable of delivering images by email. The second is tactical: build a system that enables the production of video reports positioning the mobile phone as a networked 'outside broadcast' studio. The first goal is an exercise in developing models of 'broadcasting' that employ the simplest technologies possible. Simple technologies are the ones we already know how to use. So simple is the idea: send a sms or an email with attached images, sound, text or video. In the subject line of the email put the name of a video program. This is your new 'program.' This, material is then compiled into a video as either a 'live' stream or as a downloadable video file. That's the tech, but the pay-off is the tactical side, for which the tool was built. With this mechanism it is possible from any device capable of sending email to make collaborative online video content. This can be used for capturing moving minds, or it can be directly used as a device for reporting on events that are normally out of the reach of wired or wireless internet connections.

Sitting in tension between the fragmentary ingestion of experience and the formation of a narrative flow, this represents an attempt to move beyond the logic of post-production. As a pragmatic solution to challenges around limited bandwidth, instead of a smooth stream, which always represents an almost-recent-now over a fragile connection, fragments of media can be aggregated from numerous sources into a continuously flowing output subject to repetitions, sporadic updates and an ad hoc alphabetical editorial algorithm. It is both processed and raw at the same time. An open archive of media materials formed from the multiple experiences and perspectives embodies of a wealth of ingredients that can be creatively redeployed, mixed, interspersed, and scrambled proliferating into journals, art exhibitions, films, manifestos, and forms of media art. Not knowing what others will be contributing or what they are intended for Mobicasting is a platform designed with a high degree of user hackability; it creates an interface for the flexible shaping, reshaping, and ordering of media materials for creative uses, many of which may not have been anticipated beforehand.

Rather than shaping the description of an event afterwards into an accepted narrative framework, Mobicasting allows for the on-going modulation of an event representation as part of the production of relations and interactions that construct the event itself and networks of relations formed out of it. As a social technology of dispersal and transmission Mobicasting exists in their interstices between the technical apparatus of media production and corporeality and immediacy of experience. It creates a space and method where an emergent collectivity and the flesh of the event can construct and shape its representation in a process immanent to its own unfolding.

The goal is not to construct a high tech other within the created social space, but rather to open up a space for the collective shaping of self-representation and narration as a part of the unfolding event whether a conference on a train making its away across Siberia or any other gathering at which Mobicasting could be useful. It is a platform for the enabling of emergent narratives, an indeterminate media form in that the frameworks, structures, and memes generated are open to the situation in which they find themselves created and are shaped out of them. It allows for forms of media production that are enmeshed within the aesthetics and affective conditions of their creation. Things like Mobicasting in this sense could not just be one more trick up the sleeve of media activists but potentially offers a format and for collective mediation shaped through the technological environments we find ourselves in. By enabling collective participation in the shaping of an event?s representation and the technology through which this is done it transforms the dynamics of attempting to capture experience into those of creation beyond and through the collectively created experience.

This is not to say that tension between capture and representation, between experience and articulation, has been finally and successfully addressed through the promises of yet another piece of high tech gadgetry. Far from it. And perhaps the very dynamic that new forms of independent media attempt to address the ones that are the most important are the hardest to handle: why does one want to capture a moving mind in the first place? What fuels this desire for mobile communications to transcend distance as if they could become transparent and now for the first time create an ideal speech situation and democratic public sphere? Emerging from today's cybernetic salons develop new privileged forms of mobility that desire constant connection with distributed forms of community created by their owns movements; these traces and reflections, recorded through mobile media forms, often constitute its own self-referential and self-contained audience. The dividing line between reality TV style titillation and collective documentation, between the corporate media logic of rolling news coverage and grassroots media, increasingly blurs and breaks down. It very well may be in that trying to capture a moving mind we are captured by our very desire to form coherent forms of self-representation; have we formed a polyvalent and participatory media panopticon where the inmates all watch each other, recording every motion, utterance, and moment from multiple angles and modes of inscription? Mobicasting by building itself on a open platform suggests possibilities for reshaping its usage and deployment in new forms that are open to the multiple and fluctuating forms of desire, motivation, and connections we bring to media communication.

The multiplication and expansion of new forms of movement, experience, and life must find ways to escape, to move through and beyond a logic of representation which confines them into updated versions of the same old story. It is a form of walking while asking questions, not only about the world and our shared experiences, but also questions about how we pose and represent these questions to ourselves. It may stumble awkwardly trying to find its footing, perhaps even tripping over its own immaturity at points, but is ultimately in strengthened within the molecular proliferations from which it emerges. Rejecting both uncritical techno-utopianism and na?ve Luddism the task is to seize upon possibilities for political communication by working from the social dynamics of technology and the technical forms extended across the entire social field. Let then a thousand machines of life, dancing, celebration and movement bloom across the endless fields of human experience.

The mobicasting system is free software, and is documented at

The system was realized in context of the Transsiberia web documentation project produced by in collaboration with m-cult and Kiasma. http://www.kiasma.fi/transsiberia/stream.php

Stevphen Shukaitis is non-vanguardist social researcher and President of the Thomas M?nzer Fan Club. Sophea Lerner is a sonic media artist based in Helsinki and an avid fan of intergalactic underwater basket weaving. Adam Hyde is a new media artist working at the convergence of broadcasting and Internet technologies and is currently the Chinese Travel Scrabble World Champion. [Related]

Posted by jo at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2005

Tool for Armchair Activists


Shout it Out

Troika, the U.K. design firm that brought us the SMS Guerilla Projector, has unveiled their latest project: Tool for Armchair Activists. Where the projector displayed the text of an SMS message on a distant surface, the Tool for Armchair Activists will shout it out loud. The rig can be strapped to a lamp post and thanks to an embedded mobile phone, can vocalize messages from anywhere.

The Tool for Armchair Activists is currently located in Troika's studio. Give them a shout by texting here: +44(0)7790272804. [blogged by Josh Rubin on Cool Hunting]

Posted by jo at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

The Starbucks Challenge


Join the Fair Trade Challenge

Regardless of politics, most of us agree on one thing: If a company makes a promise, it should stick to it. According to its own policy (PDF), Starbucks will make fair trade coffee for you, any day of the week, in the 23 countries it is licensed to including: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.

But just how easy is it to get a fair trade coffee in a Starbucks in one of those countries? We aim to find out. Join the challenge: 1) Simply visit your local Starbucks and ask: "Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?" 2) Tell us what happened next. Was it hard or easy to get a cup? You can see our first posts here. BLOGGERS: simply blog about what happened and tag it with "starbuckschallenge" (all one word) on del.icio.us (put the Starbucks location in the "extended" description). We'll pull all articles into a feed and run that on our site - you can run the feed too, of course, if you'd like. ALSO help us get feedback by telling people about this challenge on your blogs. Read more about The Starbucks Challenge.

Posted by jo at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2005



"If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where the decline of the Empire sees this map become frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts--the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an Imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing)--then this fable has come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.

Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation of models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory--PRECESSION OF SIMULACRA--it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire but our own: The desert of the real itself."

Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra" [about RADICAL CARTOGRAPHY via]

Posted by jo at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2005

MayDay NetParade


Political Videogames Against the Dictatorship of Entertainment

The MayDay NetParade--by Molleindustria--is a virtual demo that runs thru a heavily guarded and branded city put under siege by insurgent legions of brain+chain+temp workers and assorted anarchists, commies, queers and greens. The marching avatars are digital simulacra of today's exploited masses of neoliberalism: précaires, precari@s, precari, cognitarie, contingent knowledge and service workers. We are a mixed bunch, a heterogeneous multitude of precarious jobs and lives. Yet we have not spawn out of fordist assembly chains, but out of dystopian retail chains and office spaces. Why don't you give your pictorial contibution to this multicolored parade, and reclaim that visibility that mainstream media, unions, parties are denying us? Make yourself heard! Voice your anger and/or irony! You will be able to be part of a piece of collective net art. But do it fast, cos after May 1st, the NetParade will remain visible online, but it will no longer be possible to join. By clicking on JOIN, you'll be able to create your avatar, singular and (un)crazy as you want it to be. You'll have to answer a few multiple choice questions first, but these will be totally anonymous, private and dissociated from your avatar.


About Molleindustria

We can no longer consider videogaming as a marginal element of our everyday lives. In recent years, the turnover of the videogame industry has exceeded that of cinema, and there are a growing number of adult and female players. There are more frequent overlaps with other media: there are videogames for advertisements (advergames), for educational purposes and for electoral propaganda.

How did videogames become such a central element of the mediascape? During the second half of the nineties, major entertainment corporations extended their activities in this sector and extinguished or absorbed small producers. Now videogames are an integral part of the global cultural industry, and they are in a strategic position in the ongoing processes of media convergence. These developments inhibit the political and artistic emancipation of this medium: every code line is written for the profit of a big corporation.

One solution: Gamevolution! We believe that the explosive slogan that spread quickly after the Anti-WTO demostrations in Seattle, "Don't hate the media, become the media," applies to this medium. We can free videogames from the "dictatorship of entertainment", using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art. But if we want to express an alternative to dominant forms of gameplay we must rethink game genres, styles and languages. The ideology of a game resides in its rules, in its invisible mechanics, and not only in its narrative parts. That's why a global renewal of this medium will be anything but easy.

Molleindustria is an italian team of artists, designers and programmers that aims at starting a serious discussion about social and political implications of videogames. This will involve media activists, net-artists, habitual players and critics and detractors of videogames. We chose to start with online gaming in order to sidestep mainstream distribution channels and to overcome our lack of means. Using simple but sharp games we hope to give a starting point for a new generation of critical game developers and, above all, to experiment with practices that can be easily emulated and virally diffused.


Also, see //////////fur////: fighting massive-single-user-isolation, //////////fur//// develops art entertainment interfaces for multidimensional multiuser involvement: software-programs in mechatronic artefacts that create dynamic action-spaces for two or more participants. [via]

//////////fur////'s guiding idea is the alternative interface which goes beyond providing solely a visual navigation, manual control and massive single-user isolation.

Posted by jo at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Workshop on Tactical Media by Sarai Media Lab


Writing On The Surface Of The City

Workshop on Tactical Media by Sarai Media Lab: Writing On The Surface Of The City: The Tactical Media Lab will focus on the interplay of form and content through the production of broadsheets. The workshop will move towards a conceptual understanding of tactical media - broadsheets in particular. A broadsheet as envisaged by us is a light, playful form that also allows engagement with serious concerns. The content for the broadsheets produced during the course of the workshop will be developed through interaction among the participants during the concept building phase. The issue that will be explored through various text and image forms will be ''information society''.

The workshop will be useful to individuals interested in tactical media, urban studies, journalism, writing and issues of information society. If you want to participate please email namita@altlawforum.org by 25th September. Applicants will be chosen on a first come, first serve basis.

Dates : 1st and 2nd October from 9 to 6
Venue: Mahiti, Domlur (Bangalore)
Free of cost , lunch included.
Only 20-25 participants.

Anyone interested in attending may contact namita[at]altlawforum.org

Posted by jo at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

Net Worth


How Great is Your Net Presence?

The Internet is now the primary aggregator, disseminator and communicator of information. Individuals with greater net presence are deemed more significant. Net Worth explores a new value system for our information dependent society.

The visitor is invited to swipe one of their purchase cards in a kiosk with a magnetic card reader that stands in front of a monolith-like structure. The name contained on the magnetic stripe of their payment card is parsed and googled. The number of hits returned from the search is represented by positioning or ranking their name on the projection. Their name appears on the projection among others who have swiped as well as celebrities (whose names were fed into the system not only as a litmus test for the visitors but also as a reflection of our social condition: who has more Google hits Paris Hilton or William Shakespeare?)

The result is full of hits corresponding to people who happen to have the same name, but here the projected name is perceived as a true embodiement of the visitor.

Net Worth explores current conditions where information is given more prominence than the corporeal. The work also examines individuals' narcissism and hubris, much like carnival hammer hit games where physical muscle was tested, Net Worth gives chance for visitors to flex their data bodies.

By Osman Khan (see also one of his other works: Sur la table). Design Distinction in the Concepts Category in I.D. Magazine's 51st Annual Design Review. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not] [Related]

Posted by jo at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2005

Artivistic ::



Artivistic is a transdisciplinary event on the interPlay between art, information and activism. The bilingual event will bring together diverse practitioners and theorists of activist art and communication through performances, art exhibitions, interventions, workshops and roundtables.

The event includes a *benefit* for Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble) and Robert Ferrell on the evening of the 22nd September, towards the CAE Legal Defense Fund. The artistic and free-form conference asks three overlapping questions in order to consider new + different possibilities: * Why is Activism Associated with the Street? A question here on the notion of space and the politics that underlies it; * Who Owns your Body_Mind? A question for analysing the authority of scientific knowledge in relation to society; * Who is Allowed to Communicate? A question on communications and media, information as a right and vector of freedom.

The event is an independent and interuniversity initiative. It aims to promote open transdisciplinary + intercultural dialogue and research on activist art, to create and facilitate a human network of diverse peoples, and to inspire, proliferate, activate.

For the complete program and for conference registration, please visit: http://artivistic.omweb.org

Inquiries/registration : artivisters[at]graffiti.net

Conference location: 2013 St.Laurent, 2nd floor, t. 514 849 8246

3 days of conference, including workshops, meals/coffee and conference package (excluding special events):

$18 student/unwaged
$40 faculty/waged

Registration form.

--= special events =--

(The Upgrade! Montreal / [ctrl] collective) benefit with djs, performance & a silent art auction with Canadian & international artists:

$5-$15 (door, suggested donation)
@ SAT (Society for Arts and Technologies)
1195 St.Laurent, t.514 844 2033

Urban Happening with public-active installations, performance, music and live painting:

Location TBA

'Volatile Shorts' + closing event with djs, vjs, performance & tactical media screenings (Volatile Works et al.):

$5 suggested donation
@ Café Toc Toc
6091 ave. du Parc

Posted by jo at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2005

Vuk Cosic's File Extinguisher


For a Safer Internet

ICA's Digital Sudio, in London, is welcoming Vuk Cosic's XL L M Slovenia, his first solo show in the United Kingdom. Cosic is one of net art's pioneers, having coined early in the 90's the term net.art when referring to artisitic practices that use Internet and its specific characteristics as a creative medium.

The show will be on from September 6th until October 2nd and it will include projections of works forgotten in the artist's computer and done during what is now known as net art's heroic period. Besides these works, a new comission, specifically done to be shown at this exhibition, will be presented, called "File Extinguisher".

The new project, "web's first file extinguisher" as it is said on the site, was first done in 1998 but never shown. After that it was commissioned by Hamaca in Barcelona but that never materialized. And since Cosic had all the files, design and all, he decided to put it up for his show at ICA.

But what is this File Extinguisher all about? It is that, a simple File Extinguisher. Cosic departs from Paul Baran's memorandum on distributed communications network and assumes that this document was published with a tremendous omission. As he says: "Baran insisted that the true last line of defence of any distributed network would be a file extinguisher. However, he indicated this function with a red dot; due to the limitations of 1960s-era black-and-white printing, this key element was not visible in his publication. We can now recognize that today's internet vulnerabilities are a direct result of this tragic mishap."

So there you have it: Baran's model of distributed network, intended to survive an eventual nuclear attack, was published without something very important: the file extinguisher. But Cosic made that final step and created one. Now the internet is finally safe as Baran wanted. So if you have any files or websites you need to delete just use Cosic's new safety tool and extiguish them.

File Extinguisher, Vuk Cosic, 2005

commissioned for
XL L M Slovenia
ICA - Digital Studio
06 September - 02 October

Posted by luis at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

Capturing the Moving Minds


The Connection Between the War Against Terrorism, Economics and Media-Art

Researchers, activists and media-artists meet on the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow to Beijing September 11th - 20th 2005. The conference Capturing the Moving Minds gathers a pack of people--artists, economists, researchers, philosophers, activists--who are interested in the new logic of the economy, the new form of war against terrorism and in the new cooperative modes of creation and resistance, together in a space moving in time. Spatially moving bodies and bodies moving in time (through the different time zones) creates an event, a meeting that not really 'is' but 'is going on'.

Is this project about economics, is it political activity or a work of art? This "boundlessness" or "indeterminacy", which always characterizes the creation of new, is where the energy of the project is coming: The enterprise expresses and exposes itself the "knowledge economy" in which it exists. It is something the orthodox conceptions about work, action, economy and art are unable to grasp. In this organizational experiment everybody is "alone together" like a pack of wolves around a fire having neighbours to the left and to the right but nobody behind their backs exposed to the desert.

There are 50 participants on the train involving well known media-artists, frontline contemporary thinkers and political activists. The project has been invited to participate in the International ARS2006 biennial at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki and to arrange an exhibition at the Villa Croce Museo d"arte contemporanea di Genova during summer 2006.

Press Conference and Opening Seminar Wed 7.9., 15:00-19:00, Hemeentie 33 A, 2nd Floor, Helsinki
15:00-15:20 Intro to the project, its themes and methods (Tuula Karjalainen, Jussi Vhmki, KlausHarju)
15:20-15:40 Launching of the mobile documentation (Minna Tarkka, Adam Hyde et al.)
15:40-16:00 Trans-sib as a work of art (Akseli Virtanen, Anna Daneri, Genova)
16:00-17:00 Questions, interviews, refreshments
17:00-19:00 "Aesthetics of Resistance" seminar with Bracha L. Ettinger (Tel Aviv), Pierre Guillet de Monthoux (Stockholm), Jordan Crandall (Los Angeles), Steffen Boehm (London).

Mobicasting brings the event directly for all: The Trans-siberian conference is documented and broadcasted through an audiovisual mobicasting platform to the internet. The documentarists, photographers, artists and researchers produce discussions, ideas, interviews, texts and films along the route. The documentation will be projected in Kiasma during the journey and it will also be available on several international www-channels. The webpages http://www.kiasma.fi/transsiberia will be opened on September 7th. See also http://trans-siberianradio.org

Further info on the conference and the participants: http://www.ephemeraweb.org/conference

Further info on the mobicasting platform: m-cult, Netta Norro +358 40-561-8004

Further info on the opening seminar: Akseli Virtanen +358 400-302010 akseli.virtanen[at]hkkk.fi

The event is organised by Ephemera, Tutkijaliitto, Kiasma, Frame, m-cult, Helsinki School of Economics and the Chydenius Institute.

Posted by jo at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2005

Surface Tension


Mobile Art Projection Program: Call for Proposals

ANAT is now calling for proposals from South Australian artists or artists groups, for dynamic temporary public projection artwork. Four artists or artist groups will be commissioned to produce projection works that are experimental, conceptual, and respond to Surface Tension's guerrilla-style approach of presentation and use of mobility to take art to the audience. Selected artists will present their Projection Artworks consecutively in the period November 2005 - March 2006. To download a Surface Tension program outline and proposal guidelines, please go to the ANAT website, 'Surface Tension: ANAT's mobile projection project call for proposals' News Item.

Deadline for proposals is: September 2, 2005
Notification date is: September 12, 2005
Successful artists will be required to complete their artwork by late October.

For further information, please contact
Jen Brazier
tel: (08) 8231 9037
m: 0413 564 474

Gus Clutterbuck
m: 0407 721 532

Surface Tension has been made possible through Adelaide City Councils Public Art program, and will be delivered in negotiation with Council by the Australian Network for Art Technology (ANAT).

Posted by jo at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

Activated Spaces + Crawling through Network Cable


Sounding Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg

"Abstract: Successful political sound art comes in a variety of forms. Interactive sound art can upend entrenched social relations around the consumption of media. Work articulating obscured spacial or social power dynamics can provoke deep thought and discussion. Work incorporating explicit documentary material can dovetail successfully with social movements, enlivening events, and serving as a mechanism for fundraising, awareness raising, or mobilization. These different tracks can be employed, singly, or in combination to make effective political art work for a variety of settings. This thesis follows one sound artists' path through the multiplicity of potentially rewarding approaches to creating artwork with political and social themes." From Activated Spaces by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg.

Crawling through Network Cable is a framework for group improvisation, exploring the social conditions of live distance collaboration. Musicians and video artists are in two remote locations, connected by networked computers running iChat AV or other videoconferencing software. The performers improvise responding to other performers in their own location and the remote location, paying special attention to the features of improvising with physically remote collaborators.

As source material, performers in Crawling through Network Cable should start with the physical infrastructure that connects the two locations: copper network cable, projectors, computers, routers, firewalls.

Crawling through Network Cable was composed by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg. Musical performance at Rensselaer by Nik Kanter (keyboards), Pauline Oliveros (concertina, harmonica, goat hooves), Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg (laptop). Musical performance at Wesleyan by Dave Kadden (oboe), Angela Opell (clarinet), Anne Rhodes (voice). Live video by Kathy High and Caterina De Re at Rensselaer and Will Swofford at Wesleyan.

A score for structured improvisation for video artists and musicians in two locations, connected by networked computers running videoconferencing software. View the performance score (PDF). Audio and video from Crawling through Network Cable will be posted in Fall 2005.

Posted by jo at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2005

Career Moves


Players Can Create Their Own Semantic Systems

Career Moves--by Mary Flanagan--explores the contradictory world of women in corporate America through an interactive, computer controlled board game. Work is a troubling condition internationally for all women. Women represent 50 per cent of the world adult population and one-third of the official labour force, but they perform nearly two-thirds of all work hours, receive one-tenth of the world income and own less than 1 per cent of the world's property...

This commercial style is intended as a critique of the historical sequence to which the popular board game belongs: many games have traditionally supported social "norms," including heterosexuality, consumerism, and especially non-liberatory positions for women. However, as players progress down the board, it becomes clear that it is they themselves who are determining the rules of the game, and the collective and individual goals become apparent...

To participate in Day of the Figurines, the player must first visit a physical place. Here, they find a large scale model of an imaginary town at table height. The model is 1:100 and extends for several metres in all directions. The image is a mix of computer graphics and photographic collage.

The town has identifiable buildings such as the YMCA, the Big Chef, Video Zone, the XXX Cinema and the Battle of Trafalgar Square. There are other features such as a Cemetery, a Gasometer, a canal, a Level Crossing and an Underpass.

To play the game the visitor selects from a display of one hundred plastic figurines. They give the figurine a name, answer a few questions about him or her and then watch as she or he is placed at a random location into the model town. As they leave the space the player is given a small map of the town and a set of rules for the game.

An hour or so later the player will receive their first text message from the game, asking where their figurine would like to go. By replying to the message with the name of a place in the town the player’s figurine is set on the path towards that destination. Each hour a turn is executed and the invigilator moves each figure a small distance towards their destination. There are 10 turns a day for 24 days.

Intermittently each player receives text messages to alert them to nearby figurines in the model city, to their figurine’s arrival at a destination or to other events in the town. Each destination has a short description. For example, if you arrive at the The One Club you receive the SMS: “Home of the 2 Fs. The lock ins are legendary, the fire escape stairs have seen it all.” The goal of the game is “to help others”. Texting messages to other players may provide opportunities to do this.

The project is deliberately targeting low-end phones: it is playable on any phone that is able to receive SMS. Instead the technological focus is on orchestration and management tools. During the long-term test period, 8 players have been given phones that log Cell ID and upload this information to a server. We aim to use this data to assess when players are engaged, when they are most likely to play and how the game fits into their daily activity pattern. We will also carry out phone interviews with selected players at key moments, to study the interaction between game play and daily life.

Posted by jo at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

Trans Siberian Radio


Mobile Lab for On-Air Experimentation

Trans-Siberian Radio is a low-power FM station that will operate on the train from Moscow to Beijing via Novosibirsk, during the conference Capturing the Moving Mind: Management and Movement in the Age of Temporary War, September 11–20.

The station will be a mobile lab for on-air experimentation, featuring music and ideas created collaboratively by passengers on the train and accessible to everyone along the Trans-Siberian route. As curator Natilee Harren writes, the ever-moving symbol of the train fits the conference's theme: "The spirit of the conference is to cross fixed boundaries and to create an environment that is open to the 'contaminating influences' of the communities through which the train will pass. In fact, the point of having the conference on a train is to escape any restrictions relating to a particular time or place." Visit the project's site when the train is rolling to contribute with audio works or hear—and manipulate—audio clips from the ride. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]

Related: "Last year, artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla used micro-radio transmitters to create a re-volt. That is, by helping community members build nearly 500 micro-radio transmitters, they initiated a process by which power was redirected from the corporations who most profit from the publicly owned airwaves to individuals who can express a diversity of commercial-free viewpoints. Their project Radio Re-volt , created during a residency at the Walker Art Center, culminated in October with a narrowcast the length of University Avenue in Minneapolis. More than 50 micro-radio stations aired from homes and businesses along the route for the benefit of their neighbors or anyone driving the avenue with their radio on." ...More on Radio Re-volt at WiredNews. Click here to read an interview I did with Allora and Calzadilla last spring. [posted by Paul Schmelzer on Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas]

Posted by jo at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005



KISSS Project launch and Press Conference

August 25, 2005, 6-8pm
The Auditorium
Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
80 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
London, E1 7QX
+44 (0)20 7522 7888
Admission Free

This KISSS: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression event will feature a series of performances, video screenings and presentations from Coco Fusco, Anne Bean, Deej Fabyc, Joanna Callaghan, Paula Roush, Raresonick, Camilla Brueton, Season Butler and Maxine Hall. Due to high demand bookings are advisable: kisss[at]elastic.org.uk. Related.

Posted by jo at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

A Measure of Anacoustic Reason


Turning a Deaf Ear

A Measure of Anacoustic Reason--by Raqs Media Collective--is an installation that registers a process of thinking about forms of reasoning that insulate themselves from listening. The installation sees the act of 'turning a deaf ear', as the unwillingness or inability to listen to the voices that refuse to be accommodated into the master narratives of progress, of instrumental reason and the domestication of space through the geomancy of corporations and nation-states. The visitor is invited to undertake his/her own audit of anacoustic reasoning through a meditation on a series of dialogues and rebuses that encrypt a set of paradoxes about the grandiose follies of seeking to rule the world by not listening to it.

A Measure of Anacoustic Reason is an installation consisitng of 1 projector, 4 screens, 4 dialogues, 4 lecterns and a lightbox. It was shown at ICon: India Contemporary at Venice Biennale 2005 (14 June-31 July, 2005)

Raqs Media Collective is produced at the Sarai Media Lab, Delhi and
at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga.

Additional Credits
Sound Editing: Iram Ghufran
Print Design: Mrityunjay Chatterjee
Production: Ashish Mahajan

For images of the installation please see

Posted by jo at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

Center for Tactical Magic:


Tactical Ice Cream Unit

Grand Arts is pleased to present the latest project from the Bay Area-based Center for Tactical Magic, the Tactical Ice Cream Unit. Combining a number of successful activist strategies (Food-Not-Bombs, Copwatch, Indymedia, infoshops, etc.) into one mega-mobile, the TICU is the Voltron-like alter ego of the cops’ mobile command center. Incorporating an alternative strategy of utopian potlatch, the Tactical Ice Cream Unit is envisioned primarily as a mobile distribution center for free ice cream and information produced by local community groups.

Although the TICU appears to be a mild-mannered vending vehicle, it harbors a host of high-tech surveillance devices, including a 12-camera video surveillance system, GPS with satellite internet, and a media center capable of disseminating live audio/video. More than creating an undercover Mission: Impossible aesthetic, the TICU’s full surveillance suite provides grassroots access to mobile communications technologies. Whether used to produce independent community news or to monitor corporate dumping or police activity, the TICU will investigate the limits of “neutral technologies”.

At various times the TICU will invite visitors to explore the interior, view documentation of the street operations, or collaborate on “missions”. In addition to it’s regular cruising of local neighborhoods and streets, community groups may suggest uses for the Tactical Ice Cream Unit such as beach clean-up, block parties or supporting a strike. The Unit is prepared to augment any event and should the TICU wander into the vicinity of a rally, protest or civil uprising, the Unit is equipped to serve as a mobile oasis, where the activists can quench their thirst, reload their cameras, document unfolding events, and protect themselves from various airborne dispersants.

In short, the TICU seeks to protect, provide, energize, invigorate and educate its audience. Whether lurking in a corporate park or chillin’ in a neighborhood park, the Tactical Ice Cream Unit promises to attract people from all walks of life, thus serving as a mobile nexus for community activities while providing frosty treats and food-for-thought.

The Center for Tactical Magic is an organization dedicated to the extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts.

The Tactical Ice Cream Unit would like to extend an invitation to you to join an elite corps of embedded journalists during our ground operations in Kansas City. A few, select journalists will be permitted to ride along with the TICU crew as we begin our civic tour of duty. Participating members of the TICU Embedded Journalist Corps (EJC) will gain a behind-the-scenes and in-the-streets look at the Tactical Ice Cream Unit. This revolutionary, new project designed by the Center for Tactical Magic is preparing to take to the streets by August 20. Contact us if you feel you are up to the challenge!

For further information, contact:
April Calahan-McDonald
Grand Arts Assistant Director
(816) 421-6887

Posted by jo at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005



Adaptation, Access, Regulation, Open Source

HINGES ON is an interactive film installation on the informal and formal economies of India's "ICT capital", Bangalore. Visitors enter through a sparsly lit sound tunnel, where they are exposed to an audio experience of failed efforts to retrieve information. (The sound works can be downloaded from the site.) Finally, one is released into the room hosting the video installation. Multiple door-shaped screens in the centre of the space serve as projection surfaces for the four simultanous projections. The screens are on hinges and invite the visitors to turn them into the angel required to catch the projection they wish to watch. (You can find information on the themes and issues in the backdrop section). A switch board provides the interface to the speakers featured on video. (In depth documentation of the process including a list of interviewees and the 'making of switch board, doors and software patches is accessible here!'

HINGES ON at Ars Electronica, opening September 1, 2005, 15:30, Campus / Kunstuniversität Linz. The work was realized by ambientTV.NET during the Tactical Media Lab at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, India; with Thomas Abraham, Salam Hidish Singh, Ishan Ghosh, Nishita Kavadia, Siddharth Muthyala, K.T.Thomas, Pratima Kalmadi, Divya Viswanathan, Umang Razdan Bhattacharrya, Ramyah Gowrishankar, and Priyanka Dilip. Lab led by Manu Luksch and Mukul Patel.

Posted by jo at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

Orchestra of Anxiety


The Concept of Security

In Orchestra of Anxiety, London-based artists Manu Luksch and Mukul Patel expand their ongoing explorations of the concept of security. While 'security' can be seen as desire, as ideology, as illusion but never as a guaranteed status quo, socio-political measures of control, ... have been implemented in the name of security. The security industry is one of the fastest growing sectors this decade, and is worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. A participative installation piece--to be shown at Watermans Gallery--Orchestra of Anxiety deploys security and surveillance technologies in an unusual and playful context, prompting visitors to reflect on their personal sense of security and their relationship with public fears (of petty crime, terrorism, etc.).

The central focus of the installation at Watermans is a harp, traditionally regarded as a sacred or metaphysical instrument associated with tranquillity, love and goodness. However ambientTV.net’s harp differs from standard harps as it is strung with razor wire, requiring the harpist to wear protective gloves while playing. The protective gloves complete data circuits when a string is touched, triggering multiple projections and sound sources in the gallery. Before playing, the harpist must first overcome the instinctive anxiety the instrument provokes.

Orchestra of Anxiety is produced by inter-disciplinary arts production company ambientTV.NET. ambientTV.NET highlights models of networked and collaborative practice. Techniques and effects of data transmission provide theme, medium and performative space for works spanning installation, performance, documentary, dance, gastronomy, and live sound and video art. Much of the film and music production is freely disseminated through the website.

Posted by jo at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

Hitching Stealth with Trevor Paglen


Experimental Geographer

"...Experimental lecturer and all around academic outlaw Trevor Paglen is a new breed of researcher for the University of California at Berkeley. He has been more aptly called by his peers an underground geographer, armed with a telescope, a GPS device, some light field military listening equipment, a car trunk full of cameras and maps, and one hideously nondescript corporate infiltration suit. Swapping between his other outfits as an intervention artist, and investigative journalist, a prison-abolition activist, punkrocker and total sound head, not to mention a third degree master in the art of panoptic trespass, he takes a wildly experimental approach to studying the strategic and practical boundaries of contested public/private space.

Altogether, he's concocted his own strain of what he prefers to call 'experimental geography' that he uses to trace the immense networks of undisclosed borders, shadow lairs and underground finanscapes edified by corporate, state and national defense collusion..." From Hitching Stealth with Trevor Paglen; Text by Bryan Finoki/Photos by Trevor Paglen, Bryan Finoki, & Bill Luoma, Archinect. (2005) [via]

Posted by jo at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005



Predict the Future by Inventing It

The fellows from Flexilis went for a world record attempt on reading RFID tags from a distance. The end result was a bit over 69 feet on top of the roof of DEFCON. Project details will be in our audio show, for now, a photo gallery of the gear....[via] [Speaking of world records, check out iFiber Redwire, winners of the Wifi Shootout Contest]

Every day new discoveries make it possible for hackers to steal data from mobile devices. You are at risk no matter what you carry. Cellphones. PDAs. Smartphones. All are potentially vulnerable to data theft.

Flexilis, Inc. starts as something simple and stunning: an idea. Through our collective vision and creative nurturing, the idea continues to grow, a concept metamorphosing into reality. The key to revolution is imagination; without it, change is impossible. By employing emerging technologies, flexilis possesses the potential to create entirely new industries or inexorably alter the course of existing ones. In short, we are capable of influencing the movement of technology, and, by extension, society itself.

Flexilis believes in the inherent necessity of taking controlled risks, actively seeking opportunities to create new markets and develop new avenues for implementation. The possibilities are restricted only by the limitations of our imaginations. flexilis will not only respond to the changes in emergent technology, but help to steer its course.

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July 19, 2005

From Image to Interface:


Preemptive Media

"The Preemptive Media Collective (PM) reengineers your thinking about mobile digital technologies imbedded in everyday environments. In live performances and real time actions, the PM art, technology and activist collective disturbs, dislodges, and redesigns new media technologies that we often ignore, like the bar codes on driver's licenses or radio frequency information devices used for EZ pass on highways...

At the forefront of what is called locative media, Preemptive Media repositions highly specialized technologies within the democratic discourse of low-tech amateurism. The emerging locative media movement has gathered steam and attention since 9/11 and the 2001 Patriot Act, which authorizes unprecedented data mining, invasions of privacy, wiretapping, and internet surveillance." Read From Image to Interface: Preemptive Media by Patricia R. Zimmermann, MediaChannel.org, July 8, 2005.

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July 18, 2005

Rocketboom: Daily with Amanda Congdon


Rocketboom is a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City. We cover and create a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture. Agenda includes releasing each new clip at 9am EST, Monday through Friday. With a heavy emphasis on international arts, technology and weblog drama, Rocketboom is presented via online video and widely distributed through RSS.

We differ from a regular TV program in many important ways. Instead of costing millions of dollars to produce, Rocketboom is created with a consumer-level video camera, a laptop, two lights and a map with no additional overhead or costs. Also, Rocketboom is distributed online, all around the world and on demand, and thus has a much larger potential audience than any TV broadcast. However, we spend $0 on promotion, relying entirely on word-of-mouth, and close to $0 on distribution because bandwidth costs and space are so inexpensive. While TV programs have traditionally been uni-directional, Rocketboom engages its international audience in a wide range of topical discussions.

Posted by jo at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)



Streamed, Spontaneous Chat with Real People!

Talkaoke consists of a doughnut shaped mobile table, hosted by a man in the middle with a microphone. Up to twelve people can sit around the table. Talkaoke is an active means of participation that is totally dependent on the context in which it is performed. There is no fixed agenda or expected outcome. Conversations are recorded for the on-line archive and can be webcast live. The people speak at Talkaoke.

Talkaoke is the brainchild of artist Michael (Mikey) Weinkove. Mikey had been working on video installations and live pieces constucting real and fictitious conversations. These were shown in UK and European galleries. In January 1997 Mikey was invited to create a one off performance at the Hydra Club, a live art club in London's East End. Mikey created Talkaoke, which was a scaled down version of a performance called "It's your shout!"

This was a previous performance with 100 invited people attending a forum with audience driven subjects and discussion. The Talkaoke format was so popular that it soon became a regular feature at Hydra.

In 1998 Talkaoke became part of the Duckie crew at their then upmarket Friday night West End club, Duckie Dancehall, where Denise joins the Talkaoke crew. Talkaoke became part of the furniture there too, and by spring Talkaoke had chewed the fat at a few of london's more leftfield clubs. In August Talkaoke did it's first festival gig at Summer Rites, a gay and lesbian festival in Brockwell Park. It was crazy stuff.

chat is the new rock n' roll

By the end of the year the Talkaoke team had given up fighting the deafening noise, late nights and intoxication of the clubs and began experimenting with a series of Talkaoke-with-accompanying-DJ-type events. The first was in winter '98 with a shortlived sunday residency at the Bug Bar, then in 99 at the Shoreditch Electricity Showrooms and the Crowbar. '99 saw Talkaoke at a number of underground parties too.

Although Talkaoke has had a website since '98 it was only when James Stevens of Radiospace witnessed Talkaoke at a party that the webcasting potential of Talkaoke was realised. The first Talkaoke streamed live by Radiospace was in April 2000 from Coffee@ Brick Lane. Webcasting rapidly became a successful Talkaoke feature. Talkaoke was invited by the Pleasance Theatre to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where all the gigs were webcast.

like a chat room but in real life

This was the beginning of the format we see in public Talkaokes today with many behind the scenes technical developments: 2 mics, speakers in a battery powered table, video projection, web streaming, Djs providing background music. Talkaoke is seen mostly at festivals and the studio sunday sessions but who knows where we will be invited next?

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July 13, 2005

Zapped! Workshop


RFID Keychain Detector

Zapped! Workshop by Preemptive Media (Beatriz da Costa, Heidi Kumao, Jamie Schulte and Brooke Singer): July 15, 2005 - 6:30 - 9:00pm at Eyebeam, NYC.

You may have heard the term RFID and possibly even brought one home unknowingly. But what exactly is a Radio Frequency Identification tag? Why are Wal-Mart, the Department of Defense and the Food & Drug Administration sinking big bucks into these little chips and paving the way for mass implementation? After a brief overview of the technology and its potential impact on our lives, each participant will receive a Zapped! RFID Kit complete with a colorful workbook and materials for the hands-on portion of the workshop. Preemptive Media will guide the group through building an RFID keychain detector that plays a jingle when a reader is within range and scanning the airwaves for data. Participants can program tags that "talk back" to a RFID reader uncovered by a Zapped! keychain. Registration fee is $25 general public, $20 for Eyebeam members. Sign up here.

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July 05, 2005

Tactical Media Cookbook



Tactical Media Cookbook is a web project organized by Finishing School that will share data related to the practice of tactical media. TMC will present various working theories that are associated with the practice of tactical media, supply concise project recipes from various tactical media practitioners, and present a directory of tactical media practitioners.

Finishing School will be exhibiting TMC in “Urban Networks”, an exhibit organized by curator Susan Joyce for Art Interactive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA in June 2006. The project will also be available permanently at tacticalmediacookbook.net.

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June 23, 2005

The GHI of Tactical Media


Art with a Captial A and Activism

"Abstract: Tactical media are the field being worked by artists adopting a positive attitude towards contemporary digital technology, in a critical, innovative spirit. Media artists reveal a preoccupation with aesthetics as a concept, not with a particular style. This trend is part of the creation of a new language for the communications network era, a user language which is successful as art because it transmits an effective activism. Media activists are a hybrid of artist, scientist, theoretician and political activist that shuns labels and categorizations. Their creations are characterised by integration of user and machine in the work itself, so that interactivity has an important place within it. The concept of tactical media allows Art with a capital and grassroots political activism to be combined and, in this sense, we could include in it the tactical struggle that is part of anti-globalisation movements. Media activists point to the power of tactics as a means of breaking down the barriers between mainstream values and alternative ones, between professionals and amateurs and even between people who are creative and those that are not." From The GHI of Tactical Media, conversation between David García, Geert Lovink, Andreas Broeckmann, Artnodes.

Posted by jo at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2005

At a Distance:


Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet, 2005

At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet, 2005 — Edited by Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark.—Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.—486 p.—Includes an index.—Include a chronology of network art.—ISBN 0262033283. Reviewed by V.B. for The Daniel Langlois Foundation.

In their anthology, Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark assemble essays by authors who examine the networked collaborations of the 1960s and 1970s (Fluxus, mail art, cable video) as well as those of the 1980s (telematic art). Chandler and Neumark classify these practices under the heading of "distance art" to underscore the fact that they were not dependent on technological communication modes. They did, however, share a vision to utilize the space (physical, geographic, cultural, etc.) between the information transmitter and receiver in a performative fashion. And with an emphasis on programs rather than form, they introduced network art, experiments in augmented space, and the net.art of the decades that followed.

Norie Neumark's essay — which also serves as introduction — presents an overall view of the appropriation of communication tools by artists during the 20th century. The author goes on to suggest that the notion of distance could signify any combination of physical discrepancy, the time span between two events, and the division of object and subject in scientific observation. Neumark pursues her commentary by citing that the postal system was the first communication mode to close geographic distances. Broadly speaking, this system survives today, says the author, through the more sophisticated modes of technological exchange that have since emerged (telematics, Internet).

The book's first section, "Critical Perspectives on Distance Art/Activist Practices," is a collection of contributions that seek to trace the theoretic premises of these practices as they developed concurrent to the global implementation of communication modes from the 1960s onwards. The contributors assess, among other aspects, how these practices have historically been categorized according to technological progress, while the cultural contexts of their emergence and the way that participants and spectators identify with them have been largely neglected. To this end, in "Interactive, Algorithmic, Networked: Aesthetics of New Media," Johanna Drucker states that the precursors of network art reflected the technical aspects of their projects within a mainly conceptual and metaphorical perspective. By placing the accent on process rather than material repercussions or technological advances, these experimental practices allowed many artists to shed the formalist yoke of the previous decade. In "Immaterial Material: Physicality, Corporality, and Dematerialization in Telecommunication Artworks," Tilman Baumgärtel discusses the impact of exhibitions such as "Les Immatériaux," which was presented at the Centre George Pompidou (Paris, France) in 1985. According to Baumgärtel, through this multidimensional event that united theorists and artists, curator Jean-François Lyotard succeeded in defining the paradigm of an open and performative artwork. In his essay, Baumgärtel also highlights the innovative practices of the 1960s, such as the N.E. Thing Company, an entity both real and fictional created by Canadian artists Ian and Ingrid Baxter. The author states that this collective reflected the artist's public identity by parodying the protocols surrounding the exchange of economic information between a company and the outside world.

Like Baumgärtel, Reinard Braun in "From Representation to Networks: Interplays of Visualities, Apparatuses, Discourses, Territories and Bodies" reiterates the notion of dematerialization used to qualify conceptual art practices. He adds, however, that the telematic art projects of the 1970s went beyond this concept by taking into account the impact that locations transmitting and receiving information had on the significance of artistic proposals. With "The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies," John Held Jr. addresses the problem of exhibiting mail art works. A number of representatives of the movement (including Ray Johnson) felt that these works should not become mere relics displayed in a gallery or museum. The author nevertheless makes an attempt to assemble a chronology of such exhibitions by describing the strategies used by the curators to present the works outside the network as still lively traces. In "Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity and Connectivity," Owen F. Smith describes the sites of communication created by the Fluxus events, where communicational transparency took a back seat to humour, parody and play.

The second section presents case studies of important "distance" art projects. The studies are written either by the artists themselves or by participants who were witness to these practices. Annmarie Chandler interviews Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, artists who experimented with videoconferencing and satellites as early as 1970. They discuss the genesis of projects such as Satellite Art (1977), Hole in Space (1980) and Electronic Café (1984), ambitious planetary telecommunication undertakings presented to an audience that reached far beyond the perimeters of the art world. In "An Unsuspected Future in Broadcasting: Negativland," Don Joyce discusses the importance of the Negativland audio art collective of the 1980s, whose primary creative medium was the radio. One of the features of their radio show saw Negativland members inviting the public to call in and even join the broadcast (radio jamming). In "Mini FM: Performing Microscopic Distance," Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark interview Tetsuo Kogawa, a precursor of radio art in Japan. Kogawa describes the emergence in the 1980s of a community of young Japanese artists who used mini FM radios to communicate among one another, despite broadcasting regulations that normally filtered out this type of transmission. In "From the Gulf War to the Battle of Seattle: Building an International Alternative Media Network," Jesse Dew reports on the "Gulf Crisis TV" project, produced by Deep Dish TV Network and Paper Tiger Television (New York, U.S.A.) between 1990 and 1991. A series of cable programs documenting protests by Americans opposed to the Gulf War, the project constitutes for the author a counter testimony to the images being broadcast at the time by the mass media.

With "The Form: 1970-1979 and Other Extemporaneous Anomalous Assemblings," Melody Summer Carnahan summarizes her mail art work that began at the end of the 1970s and was derived from an alternative use of administrative procedures.

In "Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana," Craig Saper interviews the artist known as Anna Banana, whose work drew on the paradigm of network psychoanalysis (using mail art), where participants could alternately play the role of analyst and analyzed. In "From Mail Art to Telepresence: Communication at a Distance in the Works of Paulo Bruscky and Eduardo Kac," Simone Osthoff offers a detailed analysis of the work of these Brazilian artists in the 1980s, when they primarily exhibited in South America. Osthoff studies Bruscky's fax and network art experiments and the early holography and telematic performance efforts by Kac.

"Distance Makes the Art Grow Further: Distributed Authorship and Telematic Textuality in La Plissure du Texte" by Roy Ascott recounts the collective writing experiment of 1983, which used the ARTEXT electronic textual network to capture the imagination of participants in cities around the world. In "From BBS to Wireless: A Story of Art in Chips," Andrew Garton discusses his involvement in various network projects, interweaving an autobiographical account into a history of communication technologies that he would use successively throughout his career. With "REALTIME-Radio Art, Telematic Art, and Telerobotics: Two Examples," Heidi Grundmann comments on a series of radio programs that she has curated and produced for Kunstradio in Austria since the 1970s. She also discusses the origins of the CHIP-RADIO (1992) and REALTIME (1993) projects, telerobotic musical performances that saw musicians play using motion sensors to remotely activate their instruments.

The third section focuses on the impact of the network on the art in the decades examined earlier in the publication. Contributions to the section study the emergence of artistic communities created through communication technologies. In "Estri-Dentistas: Taking the Teeth Out of Futurism," Maria Fernandez applies the notion of network as defined by theorist Armand Mattelart to examine the literary projects of the Mexican group Estridentistas, who produced works in their own country between 1920 and 1930. Among the group's influences were the Italian futurists. The author explains that the technological tools of the era were not directly accessible to the members of Estridentistas. However, they experimented with writing techniques inspired by their observations of communication and transport modes (telegraph and railway), which at the time constituted networks that bridged the physical distance between two points.

With "Computer Network Music Band: A History of the League of Automatic Music Composers and The Hub," Chris Brown and John Bischoff write about their use of telematics in musical improvisation and composition. The "League of Automatic Composers," which they created at Mills College, Oakland (California, U.S.A.) in the 1970s, was a precursor to today's widespread networking of computers by musicians and composers. In "Assembling Magazines and Alternative Artists' Networks," Stephen Perkins analyzes the phenomenon of magazines created by artists in the U.S. and South America in the early 1970s. Perkins emphasizes that by availing themselves of underground distribution methods, the artists succeeded in circulating subversive content outside of the mainstream media and in doing so escaped the grip of the authorities (particularly in countries under the stranglehold of a dictatorial regime).

In "The Wealth and Poverty of Networks," Ken Friedman, following the example of John Held Jr.'s text, returns to Fluxus and its derivatives, this time to analyze the concept of intermedia described by Dick Higgins in the 1960s. The author adds that the creators of these networks focused on relational aspects at the expense of the networks' sustainability. As a result, very little is left today with which to chronicle their historical path.

"From Internationalism to Transnations: Networked Art and Activism," by Sean Cubitt, underscores the extent to which the highly diverse political and social contexts of the collaborative projects impact their significance. Within a broader perspective, Cubitt maintains that the globalization of capital has the paradoxical effect of producing marginal networks that reinforce cultural particularities (demonstrated, says the author, by the artistic practices emerging from these networks).

Finally, the anthology includes a conclusion by Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark as well as a chronology of the role played by the network in art between 1921 and 2001, which encompasses all of the projects studied by the book's contributing authors.

V.B. © 2005 FDL

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May 31, 2005

One Free Minute


Anonymous Free Speech

You are invited to participate in the inaugural performance of One Free Minute, a mobile sculpture designed to allow for instances of anonymous free speech. Callers to One Free Minute's cell phone are connected to an amplifier and have their speech projected in public space for exactly one minute. One Free Minute also houses a digital archive of calls made to its answering machine, which are played back randomly between live calls.

There are two ways to participate in One Free Minute: (1) Call the archive number and leave a message for future performances: 614-441-9533. (2) Call live during the first performance Friday June 3rd, 5-7PM EST. Your calls during this time will be projected in the public green space of the Ohio State University Oval. 614-288-7248

The principal intent behind One Free Minute is to investigate how public discourse, and the human communication that makes it possible, has been changed by technology. Cellular phone technology has increasingly brought private space into the public realm, metering human interaction in billed-by-the-minute increments. One Free Minute inverts the private nature of cellular technology, using it to break the soundscape of public space with unpredictable acts of improvised, anonymous free speech.

A secondary intent of One Free Minute is to create a tool to facilitate anonymous free speech in public places. Governments everywhere are increasingly vigilant of who is saying what and where: One Free Minute puts a bit of a blur on the 'who' and 'where', meaning that participants can speak without fear of recrimination. For information on how to borrow One Free Minute (free) for demonstrations or similar events, please email info[at]onefreeminute.net

Posted by jo at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005

The Future of the Reciprocal Readymade:


An Essay on Use-Value and Art-Related Practice

"The Future of the Reciprocal Readymade: An Essay on Use-Value and Art-Related Practice" by Stephen Wright [via 16 beaver group]

In a late text, Marcel Duchamp set out to distinguish several different types of readymades. Of particular interest here is the genre which he punningly described as "reciprocal readymades." Anxious, he claimed, "to emphasize the fundamental antinomy between art and the readymade," Duchamp defined this radically new, yet subsequently neglected genre through an example: "Use a Rembrandt as an ironing-board."(1) More than a mere quip to be taken at face value, or a facetious mockery of use-value, Duchamp’s example points to the symbolic potential of recycling art – and more broadly, artistic tools and competence – into the general symbolic economy of everyday life. For in that respect, the reciprocal readymade is the obverse of the standard readymade, which recycles the real – in the form of manufactured objects – into the symbolic economy of art.

Historically speaking, the readymade is inseparably bound up with objecthood: it refers to a readymade, manufactured object .Yet, it would be reductive to confine the readymade to its objective dimension alone, if only because it provides such a strong general image of the reciprocal logic between art and the real.

In the same way that framing an object in an art context neutralizes it as an object (distinguishing it, as it were, from the mere real thing), can the de-framing of an artwork neutralize it, in reciprocal fashion, as art? This is an important question, and one to which Duchamp was expressly alluding, because it would enable art to produce a use-value. Since Immanuel Kant’s influential championing of “purposeless purpose” and “disinterested satisfaction” as defining features of our engagement with art, it has been broadly held that art cannot produce use-values. Kant argued in effect that art, unlike design, could not be evaluated and appreciated on the basis of its objective purpose – be it external, regarding the utility of the object, or internal, regarding the perfection of the object. In so doing, Kant sought to preserve art from the realm of the “merely useful”; and in the contemporary world where utilitarian rationality and the sort of cost-benefit analysis to which it leads reign supreme, where art is regularly co-opted by such profit-driven, subjectivity-production industries as advertising, to even mention use-value tends to smack of the philistine. Of course one might say that in such a context there is something circular about defending art on the basis of its uselessness alone (or even its “radical uselessness,” as Adorno put it), for it would seem to suggest there is something worthwhile and thus useful about something ostensibly lacking use-value…

In any event, I have found that many contemporary artistic practices in the public sphere cannot be adequately understood unless their primary ambition to produce a use-value is taken into account. In trying to grasp what is at stake and at play in many of the art-informed practices which are, today, self-consciously concerned with generating use-value by injecting artistic skills into the real, it is useful to anchor their approach in art-historical terms; I want to argue that one way of understanding these works is as attempts to reactivate the unacknowledged genre of artistic activity conceived by Duchamp. For though he never got beyond the speculative phase – never actually putting his thoughts on the reciprocal readymade into practice – Duchamp clearly saw it as a way of “de-signing” art, of removing the signature by using an artwork to produce a use-value. For it is quite difficult to imagine how an artist-signed artwork (a “Rembrandt”), put to use as an ironing board, could then be re-signed as an “artistic” ironing board. Indeed, Duchamp’s point was that it would revert to non-art status – the price to be paid for acquiring use-value, though it would assuredly be a most uncommon ironing board.

That’s just art!

By that reckoning then, Kant was quite right: use-value and art, at least as it is now conventionally understood, are mutually exclusive terms. But is it perhaps possible to envisage dealing with use-value in substantively different terms? In terms literally reversing the dominant mode of twentieth-century artistic production? By thinking of art in terms of its specific means (its tools) rather than its specific ends (artworks)? In contexts often far removed from art-specific spaces and time, the past few years have witnessed the emergence of a broad range of such practices, which, in spite of certain affinities and indeed, in some cases, of undeniable family ties, can only be described as art-related rather than art-specific activities – often laying no particular claim to art status. The particular form of these activities suggests that they may be motivated by the desire to escape what is surely one of the most enfeebling accusations with which art is often, implicitly or explicitly, targeted: that it’s not for real; or to put it bluntly, that it’s just art. For much of modernity, this could be dismissed as quite an unfair charge, and in any case situating art tautologically as what it is would not have been seen as disqualifying its role or impact in the public sphere. Much twentieth-century aesthetic philosophy was devoted to placing art in invisible parentheses, in an effort to separate art objects from the “mere real things,” as analytical aesthetics cleverly puts it. Comparing a readymade to the “mere real thing” is certainly an elegant way of underscoring art’s ontological privileges; but there is something insolent and obviously fraudulent about describing non-art as “merely” real, particularly as art has often shown itself all too ready to fall back on its status as the “mere” partner of the real. Invariably, when some artwork or other is threatened with censorship, the artworld’s reaction is to assert the work’s art status, upholding the privileged status it enjoys in the symbolic order. Ironically however, in so doing, it is implicitly acknowledged that it is merely art, not the dangerous, and thus potentially censorship-deserving, real thing. In other words, cordoning art off from the real has, in many cases, afforded art a place in the public eye, but it has done so at the considerable cost of stripping art of its capacity to find a way to have any real use-value and undermining its claim to do much damage to the dominant order of signs.

Art without artists, without artworks, and without an artworld

What happens when art crops up in the everyday, not to aestheticize it, but to inform it? When art appears not in terms of its specific ends (artwork) but in terms of its specific means (competence)? Well, for one thing, it has an exceedingly low coefficient of artistic visibility: something is seen, but not as art – for without the validating framework of the artworld, art cannot be recognized as such, which is one reason why it is from time to time useful to reterritorialize it in an art-specific space through documentation. The four collectives whose work I shall consider in a moment – The Yes Men, bureau d’études, AAA Corp, and the Grupo de Arte Callejero – all confront a common operative paradox: though informed by art-related skills, their work suffers from – or, one could say, enjoys – impaired visibility as art. Yet this impaired visibility may well be inversely proportional to the work’s political efficiency: since it is not partitioned off as “art” – that is, as “just art” – it remains free to deploy all its symbolic force in lending enhanced visibility and legibility to social processes of all kinds. It is a form of stealth art, infiltrating spheres of world-making beyond the scope of work operating unambiguously under the banner of art. The art-related practitioners I mention here, and many others like them, have all sought to circumvent the reputation-based economy of the artworld, founded on individual names, and have chosen to engage in collaborative action; they use their skills to generate perception and produce reality-estranging configurations outside the artworld. As the wide range of tools developed by these collectives show, this has nothing to do with shunning or banning image production; art has no reason to renounce representation, a tool it has done much to forge and to hone over its long history. The question is the use to which such tools are put, in what context, and by whom: tools whose use-value is revealed as they are taken up and put to work. Specifically, then, how can art-related skills and perceptions be channelled in such a way that they empower rather than impress people? In other words, what do reciprocal-readymade practices, which see art as a latent activity rather than as an object or a process, physically look like?

The Yes Men: donning the fictional garb

The device which The Yes Men have most effectively gleaned from the toolbox of art history is verisimilitude, which they deploy in a framework of what might be described as deferred-disclosure tactics. The group is perhaps best known for designing fake-functional websites that parody, imperceptibly and incisively, those of socially pernicious political and business organizations, including the G.W. Bush campaigns in 2000 and 2004, and perhaps most notoriously, the World Trade Organization (WTO). So un-artlike – that is, so unidentifiable as art – was The Yes Men’s parallel WTO website design that it actually led to the group being invited, on several occasions, to represent the WTO at prestigious gatherings of various sectors of the business community, invitations which The Yes Men were only too pleased to accept. Asked to represent the WTO at a textile-manufacturers congress in Finland, one of The Yes Men took the podium and proceeded to deliver a keynote address on the virtues of free-trade and the evils of protectionism, which appeared to most audience members so WTO-like that they barely cringed when the speaker went on to argue that the abolition of slavery was an unreasonable interference in a market-driven economy. This impeccably designed performance was only revealed for what it was – a radical and thought-provoking spoof on the absurdity of laissez-faire discourse – when the impostor stripped off his three-piece, pin-striped suit and, clad only in a skin-tight bodysuit, proceeded to deploy a four-foot long phallus-like object attached to his midriff. Deadpan as ever, he described this Priapic excrescence – to the dismay of the security guards and the guffaws of the audience suddenly shaken from its ideological torpor – as a managerial tool for keeping close tabs on labour activity on the factory floors of the world. Such antics are made possible only by the deployment of art-related, fiction-design skills to infiltrate spheres well outside the world of art.

Perhaps a still more caustic fiction-based instance of “subversion of corporate subversion,” as The Yes Men put it, was the genuinely fake press release they designed and sent out by email to thousands of people, ostensibly from Dow Chemical Corporation, on the eighteenth anniversary of the accident in Bhopal, India, which begins as follows:

December 3, 2002
Contact: mailto:press@dow-chemical.com
Company responds to activist concerns with concrete action points

In response to growing public outrage over its handling of the Bhopal disaster's legacy, Dow Chemical (http://www.dow-chemical.com) has issued a statement explaining why it is unable to more actively address the problem.

"We are being portrayed as a heartless giant which doesn't care about the 20,000 lives lost due to Bhopal over the years," said Dow President and CEO Michael D. Parker. "But this just isn't true. Many individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal disaster, and many individuals within Dow would like the corporation to admit its responsibility, so that the public can then decide on the best course of action, as is appropriate in any democracy.

"Unfortunately, we have responsibilities to our shareholders and our industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible. And being clear about this has been a very big step."

In many cases unaware that what they were reading was art, public reaction was one of outrage. Dow’s reaction was to use its corporate influence to immediately shut down the ThingNet – the New York-based Internet provider The Yes Men had been using (along with tens of thousands of other subscribers) – which offers stinging testimony as to how the corporation assessed the action’s veritable use-value, and gives some insight into the limits of corporate respect for the Internet as a public domain. In light of this action (further information on which can be found at www.theyesmen.org/dow/), I emailed The Yes Men the following question:

If threatened legally for having defamed, slandered or libellously depicted the WTO, the GATT, the Republican presidential candidate, DOW Chemical or whomever, would you argue that, ontologically speaking, your work is in the realm of fiction, rather than in the realm of the real, and therefore no more subject to prosecution than a character in a novel can be judged in a court outside of that novel’s fictional framework? In other words, do you consider yourselves to be intervening in the real or in fictional representation?

To which I received the following, unambiguous reply:

In the real. Using fiction very truthfully, is how we see it. Providing transparency through truth masquerading as fiction. Actually not even masquerading, for that implies dressing-up, and there's no dressing-up – it's by donning the fictional garb that the nakedness is achieved. (2)

All too often, art’s engagement with the real is construed in terms exemplified by the fruitless efforts of Don Quixote to set the world aright: the cockeyed knight’s self-detrimental though sublime misapprehension of reality has led many to the melancholic conclusion that art is well advised to remain in its own sphere, rather than combating an order of reality entirely foreign to it. The Yes Men, however, seem to take fiction by the horns, reversing the logic of Quixotic antics, thereby suggesting that today the conventional relationship between fiction and reality has itself been reversed. Rather than fighting a reality anachronistically misconstrued in terms of fiction, The Yes Men “don the fictional garb” to smuggle a public reality check right to the foreground of the stage-managed theatrics devised to conceal big business interests, exposing the naked truth beneath the mantle of legitimacy which media consultants – the real fictioneers of today – spend their days carefully spinning.

bureau d’études: autonomizing cartography

The truth-value of fiction, particularly when wielded with humour, can be powerful indeed. But in the end, the point is to incite people to look at the real – and to do something about it. Mapping information, power and influence networks, producing flowcharts that link the often invisible, overlapping interests of technological, bureaucratic and economic power – in short, the component parts of biocracy in the era of the post-national state – has been the project of the art collective, bureau d’études over the past eight or so years. The Paris-based group has produced a dozen or so cognitive maps in an attempt to foster autonomous knowledge – autonomous, that is, from the monopoly held by the information-production regime of contemporary capitalist society. While many of the maps are denunciatory, revealing the collusion between pharmaceutical, biotech, telecommunications, media and resource-extraction interests, others contribute to solidarity by drawing attention to networks of alternative knowledge and power (social centres, alternative media coops, squats, etc.). Typically, the group produces hand-out maps (60 x 84 cm), which are distributed in contexts where such autonomizing cartographic information may be empowering – in demonstrations or social forums, for instance. What is significant is that nothing whatsoever indicates that the maps have anything to do with art: of course, if one thinks about the extraordinary intricacy – and no less remarkable legibility – of the maps’ design, one might well conclude that they are informed by art-related, graphic-design skills. Yet, situated outside the legitimating frame of the artworld, from which they have freed themselves financially and ideologically, they lay no claim to artistic status, and as such are diametrically opposed to Kant’s “purposeless purpose” of aesthetic delectation: their objective purpose is clearly the production of autonomous knowledge. For it would be a mistake to reduce bureau d’études’ work to graphic design alone: the maps are not an end in themselves, but an art-informed contribution to a far broader resistance to the transnational production line. Unfolding the map, one is confronted with an almost dizzying accumulation of information; bewilderment however quickly yields to fascination and – thanks to the index of proper names on the back of the map – to the desire to investigate these unnoticed ties of power more carefully. The maps designed by bureau d’études have often been compared to the wonderfully detailed maps, hand-drawn by the late New York-based artist Mark Lombardi. The information presented is indeed comparable – but after all, the information is all publicly available and verifiable, and appears seditious only because the links are seldom explicitly drawn. The difference lies in the very different artistic status of the two projects, and the entirely different gaze to which that status leads: whereas Lombardi produced unique artworks whose coefficient of artistic visibility was consequently maximal, bureau d’études batch-print and distribute their maps by the thousands, inviting an entirely different perception.

AAA Corp: the use-value of the artworld

What bureau d’études does in figurative terms – pulling apart the intricate semiotic machinery of post-Fordist capitalism and reassembling it in unconventional ways – the group AAA Corp, also based in France, does in entirely literal, hands-on fashion. With technical means and an esprit de bricolage comparable to what one might find in an automotive repair shop in the outskirts of Africa, the group’s members recuperated the carcass of a Mercedes 508 diesel truck, which they entirely redesigned and re-outfitted into a mobile and (more or less) roadworthy silkscreen studio, which they drive from event to event, making the silkscreen equipment available to those who wish to use it to print stickers, etc. Behind this low-tech, autonomous media truck, known as AAA Corp Serigraphik (2001), they tow a mobile pirate FM radio station (AAA Corp Transmission, 1999), comprised of a sound and broadcasting studio which is also open to all those desirous to disseminate alternative information. A second trailer has been revamped as a fully functional refinery for extracting oil from such oleaginous plants as rape seed. The oil produced serves a double purpose: as an edible oil for salad dressing and French fries, and as a fuel oil used for running the group’s expanding fleet of vehicles. In this instance, AAA Corp’s slightly blurred, yet nonetheless undeniable, visibility on the radar screens of the artworld is a crucial tactical component in the group’s work: just as the legitimacy of using a pirate radio broadcasting unit is dependent on the group’s quasi-art status (“It’s just art!”), so too their provocative use of self-pressed (and thus of course road tax-free) fuel oil to run their trucks escapes prosecution because of the exceptional status of art-related activities as opposed to their merely real counterparts. In this respect, AAA Corp is playing a double game; however, the contradiction is a productive one, for it enables them to engage in a reciprocal questioning both of the use-value of art and of the artworld (which in this light appears to be founded less upon a commitment to freedom than on the extension of privilege). The group’s point is not to suggest that the world should abandon fossil fuels, nor even to merely condemn the wars waged to ensure their extraction, in favour of rape seed fuels – which would necessitate growing vast tracts of pesticide-concentrated monoculture. The point is to offer a tangible and infectious example of do-it-yourself autonomy.

Grupo de Arte Callejero: Making absence felt

Its name notwithstanding, the Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC, “Street Art Group”) is, of the four groups mentioned, undoubtedly the one with the lowest coefficient of artistic visibility, though its contribution to enhancing the visibility of popular movements in Argentina has been highly significant. Founded in 1997 in Buenos Aires, it is currently made up of eight members, some of whom have formal artistic training, while others are bio-chemists or graphic designers. The group works in situations of public participation, rather than art-referenced contexts, using its graphic-design and art-related competencies to challenge the public consumption and foster the public production of signs. Over the past few years, the GAC has worked with the steering committee of the H.I.J.O.S. movement (“Hijos” is the Spanish word for sons and daughters, and was founded by the children of some of the 30,000 people those who were “disappeared” by the military dictatorship), in organizing public actions with the objective of drawing attention to the ongoing presence in Buenos Aires’ residential neighbourhoods of those who, in one capacity or another, took part in the criminal activities of the military government. These actions, highly specific to the Argentine context, and developed by H.I.J.O.S. in 1995, are known as escraches. An escrache is a sort of collective performance, where the production of memory and knowledge is inseparable from the production of form. The point is not so much to demand that the perpetrators of the genocide and political repression – which were of course not carried out by a handful of officers and their henchmen but required an extensive network of profiteers from all walks of life – be brought to trial, nor certainly to lynch them in a further miscarriage of justice, but to shed light on the role they played and their ongoing impunity, in order to constitute a sort of social memory and a popular understanding at the neighbourhood level of how the dictatorship actually functioned, so as to prevent its re-emergence. To this end, the GAC has developed a full array of tools – street signs indicating the location of clandestine detention centres, city maps showing the addresses of the perpetrators of repression – that the group deploys itself and makes available to others.

To a greater extent than the other examples I have mentioned, the GAC has chosen to inject art-specific competence into social processes as a tangible form of energy, while at the same time maintaining art as such in a state of objective absence. What they do is not art, yet without art it would not be possible to do it. This paradox underscores an ethical imperative: how could art adequately reconcile form and content to represent the absence of the 30,000 people assassinated by Argentina’s military regime some two decades ago, for it is not their presence which is absent, but their absence which is so devastatingly present. In such circumstances, and others too, art must have the grace to respect that absence with its own.


An earlier version of the above text was first published in the leaflet accompanying the exhibition “The Future of the Reciprocal Readymade,” shown at Apexart, New York, March 17 – April 17, 2004.

1. Marcel Duchamp, “Apropos of ‘Readymades’”, was initially given as a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 19, 1961; first published in Art and Artists, 1, 4 (July 1966), it is included in Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson (eds.), The Writings of Marcel Duchamp (New York: Da Capo, 1989), p. 32. The text is easily accessible online, at http://iaaa.nl/cursusAA&AI/duchamp.html. In a spirited television interview with Guy Viau on Radio Canada, first aired on July 17, 1960, Duchamp gave an even more explicit description of his notion of reciprocal readymades. A transcription of this little known conversation is now available in French on the website of the online journal Tout-fait (vol. 2, isue 4, january 2002):

2. The Yes Men, email correspondence with the author, April 27, 2003.

Posted by jo at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005



RASTA Software

dyne:bolic is shaped on the needs of media activists, artists and creatives as a practical tool for multimedia production: you can manipulate and broadcast both sound and video with tools to record, edit, encode and stream, having automatically recognized most device and peripherals: audio, video, TV, network cards, firewire, usb and more; all using only free software!

You can employ this operating system without the need to install anything, and if you want to run it from harddisk you just need to copy a directory: the easiest installation ever seen!...dyne:bolic is RASTA software released free under the GNU General Public License. This software is about Digital Resistance in a babylon world which tries to control and market the way we communicate, we share our interests and knowledge. Read the manual here.

Posted by jo at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

How to Disappear


Don't Disappear!

Hidden in pornography vending machines on the street, the whole game of buying the How to Disappear kit personifies the dilemma of gaining attention when wanting to hide. It is a practical do it yourself kit containing all the tips and gadgets you need to fight surveillance. Packaged in anonymous video cassette cases you will find a selection of 'disappearance-articles' along with usage instructions, a catalogue with more gadgets and tips, and of course, a lot more information on the subject.

We hope, that by making this extreme kit, we can provoke the visitor, NOT to disappear, but to take part in the debate and demand the respect for their own private life we feel is an essential part of a democratic society. [via Guerilla Innovation]

Posted by jo at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005



Art and Environmental Activism Converge

The Canadian Film Centre’s Habitat New Media Lab in collaboration with the SEED Collective will unveil an innovative interactive art installation, SEED, during the –scopeNew York Art Fair, March 11th to 14th at Flatotel, 135 West 52nd in New York City. This public interactive art installation invites participants to use their cell phones to plant "seeds" to grow a virtual forest.

"SEED is the first cell-phone driven interactive installation whose purpose is to effect environmental change in the real world. The ultimate goal of this evolving project is to buy a virtual tree seedling to plant in this installation; your cell phone provider will bill you, and the proceeds will be used to reforest certain endangered portions of our planet," said Napoleon Brousseau, artist and founding member of the SEED Collective.

"It is rare to see interactive art projects that have such a direct impact on the health and well-being of the environment. Habitat is thrilled to be co-producing SEED and sees this version as just the beginning of a much larger project – one that will include software tools being developed, formal collaborations with other institutions and the creation of a new type of art collective dedicated to environmental interventions," said Ana Serrano, Director, Canadian Film Centre’s Habitat New Media Lab.

SEED explores the convergence of rich media and wireless technology in the creation of a collaborative and evolving work of art. Through sound and imagery users create and populate a forest together. By dialing a particular number, each audience member will be given a “seed” to grow using the keypads of their cell phones. With each punch of the keypad, audiences have the ability to grow their seeds, choose the type of trees they want to plant, and change their texture and colour. After the three days at the scopeNew York Art Fair, the end effect is that all trees created by audience members will reveal a virtual forest.

Founded in 1988, by Academy Award winning director Norman Jewison, the Canadian Film Centre is Canada’s foremost film, television and new media institution dedicated to advancing Canadian creative talent, content and values worldwide through training, production, promotion and investment. Visit our website at www.cdnfilmcentre.com.

The Seed Collective is comprised of a group of artists, and producers, including founding member artist Napoleon Brousseau, Gabe Sawhney, and Galen Scorer; and producers Caitlin O’Donovan and Ana Serrano. More information can be found at http://www.seedcollective.ca

Posted by jo at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

The Shape of Locative Media


Mute, Locative Media and the End of Suburbia

The Shape of Locative Media, by Simon Pope MUTE 29:: 9.02.05.

"...(W)hat I found most interesting in this article is the focus on spatialising practices, tactics and strategies. He draws out an interesting tension between locative media projects working on a tactical level by resisting 'official' histories (through, for example, public authoring) and at the same time being implicated in institutional strategies of funding, research and development. He also points at tensions between Situationism, especially psychogeography, and Conceptual art as they may play out in locative media projects:

"There’s a wilful skimming of the surface of psychogeography, taking it to mean an unconstrained movement in the streets, and apparently less of an alignment with the wider project of anti-urbanism. This can leave an impression of a practice whose relation to ‘the city’ is closer to the disinterestedness of Conceptualism than the supposed engagement of the SI...[Situationist] devices for mapping the interactions and perceptions of human desires onto Paris, for example, were driven not by chance, as were the preceding scorned Surrealist interventions, but rather as a direct and conscious operation on the city..." [blogged by Anne Galloway on purselipsquarejaw]

The map, for Conceptual artists, seems more useful as a simple, generic method for recording the spatial aspects of a sculptural practice on an expanded scale...This leaves me wondering how those developing locative media understand themselves to be implicated in the spaces that they construct, record and annotate..."

This certainly resonates with my own wondering about how Situationism is being applied to locative media and pervasive computing. I have noted in the past that I'm troubled by the use of superficial Situationism to justify playful design practices rather than for socially and culturally critical approaches to technology and urban life. I've also expressed bewilderment at the lack of discussion about how the structure of GPS, absolute positioning, computing algorithms etc. actually conflicts with more fluid (social and cultural) understandings of spatial experience..." Anne Galloway

Posted by jo at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005



Democratic Optics

The Co-Opticon (a.k.a. the ShareCam) is a machine for democratic optics, allowing a network of participants to cooperatively control the viewpoint of a shared video camera. The co-opticon combines a networked robotic video camera with a graphical user interface that allows many internet-based viewers to share simultaneous control of the camera by specifying desired viewing frames. Algorithms compute the optimal camera frame based on all requests, and position the camera accordingly.

Posted by jo at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005



Spaces of Absence

Haque Design and Research asks the question "in an urban environment that is so data-saturated can a distinction between public and private space really claim to exist"? It is the contention of (Floatables) that private spaces are increasingly scarce. All spaces are public, except spaces of absence. If privacy once existed in the home, now such a space no longer needs to be tied to a particular location."

"...The aim of the floatable jellyfish-like vessels that drift around cities is to create temporary, ephemeral zones of privacy: an absence of phone calls, emails, sounds, smells and thermal patterns left behind by others. Through various electrical systems they are also able to prevent access of GPS devices, television broadcasts, wireless networks and other microwave emissions. Finally, by creating a "blurry barrier" and a ground-plane camouflage pattern, they provide shielding from the unembarrassed gaze of security cameras and surveillance satellites." [via]

Posted by jo at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

A r/c tivism in Physical and Virtual Spaces


Free Communication

"Reclaiming the streets, producing an emancipatory public sphere - how does that work in a society that many call the information society, in which it seems that the spectacle has taken the place of political debate, in which urban space is progressively trimmed to neoliberal/economic imperatives. What has thrust itself onto the stage of a globalized public sphere since the protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle[1], politically ambiguous[2] yet unmistakable in the potpourri of forms of expressions, represents a practice of dealing with these kinds of questions.

What happens behind the scenes of the colorful video images of protest, which, in fact, largely still adhere to thoroughly traditional patterns in terms of form, mode of production and discourse? What is going on in the virtual and physical workshop spaces of the globally networked movements?[3] How does the virtual space of the Internet relate to geographically definable, "real" locations? Can they still be clearly distinguished, how do they merge? How is the understanding of space and communication changing within the relatively small, relatively privileged[4] group of those active in alternative media with the rapid appropriation of information technology?" From A r/c tivism in Physical and Virtual Spaces by Marion Hamm.

Posted by jo at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

Version>05>Invincible Desire



Version is an international festival about art, media, technology and politics. Our fourth annual convergence, Version>05> Invincible Desire, will examine the activities of local configurations and external networks that use visual art, innovative social practices, artist initiatives, creative uses of new technologies, organizing strategies and public interventions in order to engage in cultural reclamation. Through a diverse program featuring an experimental art expo, artistic disturbances, networked urban events, screenings, interactive applications, performances, workshops, art rendez-vous, parties, and action, Version>05 will investigate the urgency for interventions in everyday life, the organization of our shared interests, and the distribution of our ideas.

We will convene in Chicago for a ten day open laboratory to explore a diversity of tactics and strategies to activate our communities and amplify our ideas. The city of Chicago will be used as a map to examine microactions. Blueprints will be unveiled to strengthen emerging alliances and counter institutions. Alternative spaces will be open for staging actions. Public spaces and corporate places will be terrains of intervention.

We seek to explore methods to enjoin the public in a dialogue about pressing issues and ideas of our age. We want to share your actions as well as projects and activities that can help us to transform personal and shared environments. It is our hope that the issue will offer ways to engage in meme warfare, practice social engagement and produce instruments of transformation during these dark ages.

Posted by jo at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005



Giving Bush An Inaugural Ear Full

Announcing TellBush.org, An Experiment In Telephonic Democracy. Call 1.800.734.1463 to leave a voice message for bush. Your voice message will appear on TellBush.org--and a flag gradually builds on the web site--and get itself emailed to Bush at the Whitehouse.

Posted by jo at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

Tactical Media



Critical Art Ensemble's definition of Tactical Media:

"Tactical Media is situational, ephemeral, and self-terminating. It encourages the use of any media that will engage a particular socio-political context in order to create molecular interventions and semiotic shocks that contribute to the negation of the rising intensity of authoritarian culture."

Posted by jo at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2004

Questioning the Frame


Thoughts about maps and spatial logic

"...Terms such as "mapping," "borders," "hacking," "trans-nationalism," "identity as spatial," and so on have been popularized in recent years by new media theories’ celebration of "the networks"—a catch-all phrase for the modes of communication and exchange facilitated by the Internet.

We should proceed with caution in using this terminology because it accords strategic primacy to space and simultaneously downplays time—i.e., history. It also evades categories of embodied difference such as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us from understanding how the historical development of those differences has shaped our contemporary worldview.

..." Read full article Questioning the Frame: Thoughts about maps and spatial logic in the global present by Coco Fusco, In These Times, December 16, 2004. Responses to the article culled from Locative and nettime:

Responses to the article culled from locative and nettime:

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 22:26:27 +0000
From: Pall Thayer
Subject: [Locative] Questioning the Frame
To: locative@x-i.net

hmmm.... I just wish she would mention some of the mapping projects she's talking about. She really seems to have a narrow understanding of what artists are doing with locative media. She seems to suggest that one of the problems is that the artists have too much control over the social picture that the maps portray. And other artforms don't? I'm going to have to read this through a couple of times to make sure I really understand what she's saying but after a couple of scans it really looks rediculous and I almost get the feeling that she regrets not being a "hacker".


Ewen Chardronnet wrote:

well, she always comes with interesting art critics and post-colonial discourses, but use same dialectics each time. I remember reading same dialectics in her critics on "art and science" hipe and "critical art ensemble trial" hipe. And now the "locative media" hipe... You can be sure there will be a critic on "pervasive arts" and "space arts" soon, etc. and of course better if those arts are done by white male artists


Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 17:08:14 +0100 (CET)
From: Brian HOLMES
Subject: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco

As a critic it's important to read your peers, and try to assess the pertinence of your own work in the mirror of theirs. So I was curious to read Coco Fusco's recent article on mapping [www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/ questioning_the_frame]. However, I must say that her continuous assertions of cultural authority leave me feeling highly ambivalent. On the one hand, the threads of historical memory she brings up are extremely welcome. On the other, her unwillingness to engage with current conditions and projects tends to reduce the past to a complaint: Why isn't it the present anymore?

It's true that the raw fact of being older than the majority of the people in a given crowd can make you feel uncomfortably lucid. When I went to a conference on so-called "locative" or GPS-based media at the RIXC center in Latvia, I found most of the projects quite naive, developing a few stylistic traits of situationist psychogeography in the absence of any geopolitical critique of power relations, or any philosophical critique of instrumental rationality. In effect, a Cartesian worldview has been built into the computerized technology of graphic information systems, which are undergirded by megaprojects of military origin, or what I call "imperial infrastructure." But rather than just giving a disciplinary lecture with all the answers stated in general terms, I tried to show how changing conditions had made the once-subversive traditions of psychogeography quite superficial, to the point where the aesthetic forms the artists were using seemed to render the very infrastructure of their projects invisible. And when I recently published that paper out of context in Springerin, I took the time to name all the artists and projects in question, so as to establish the precise referents of the critique [springerin.at]. I wish Coco Fusco would make that kind of minimal effort, as it would bring her sharp observations into contact with actual projects, and open up a space of possible transformation.

More to the point: When I began my work on mapping, about four years ago now, as a direct result of involvement in demonstrations against the policies of the WTO and IMF, I too felt that the most important reference was the history of the Third World movements of national liberation, in their relations to the Western civil rights and new left movements of the 60s and 70s. In an early text that was finally published in the book Moneynations, I tried to show how the very concept of the Third World, and then above all, the reality of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, acted to open up new imaginary and real spaces within the dominant bi-polar map of the Cold War [http://2002.memefest.org/en/defaultnews.cfm?newsmem=15]. I asked the question whether the emergence of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre could be compared to the Bandung Conference in 1955. Obviously, the answer was that it could not: both because the current antisystemic movements do not (yet) have the strength that Bandung represented, and because the operative modes of opposition may well have changed fundamentally since 1955.

The global importance of the Third World movements lay in the new kinds of international solidarity that they helped provoke. But something important remains unstated in Fusco's references to these movements, and this is the fact that the major links that tied them to the First World do not exist anymore (nor, indeed, do the movements themselves, for we are talking about specifically national movements in the period of decolonization). One of these links was an aspiration to create a non-Stalinist form of communism, according to the examples given by the successful Cuban and Vietnamese guerrilla insurgencies, and also by Yugoslav self-management (one must remember that the non-aligned movement came officially into existence in Belgrade). Another powerful link was the notion of cultural authenticity, or inherent difference from the Western norm, as a liberating foundation upon which newly independent nations could be built. This Third World concept served as a basis for the struggles toward a multicultural society in the First World. Today, however, the egalitarian aspiration to a self-managed communism has no objective touchstone in reality, leaving those who feel its lack in a deep state of ideological disarray. At the same time, the notion of cultural authenticity has been largely usurped by nationalist or fundamentalist projects which, although they have fortunately not eradicated all work towards equal rights in a multicultural society, have nonetheless made it very difficult to raise the banner of cultural or ethnic difference as a rallying-point for international solidarity.

Instead of relying on the old internationalist slogans (Third Worldist or proletarian), the transnational movements of dissent that gathered strength throughout the 1990s tried to use the communicative power of the discourses of human rights that had gained currency in the 80s, largely through the resistance of people in the former Eastern bloc to totalitarianism, and in Latin America to dictatorship. It was subsequently necessary, in the late 90s, for the Western participants in these transnational movements to take the further step of putting their own bodies on the line, of taking direct action against the international economic institutions, in order to go beyond the abstract character of the human rights discourse. This was a way of responding, in the overdeveloped countries, to the sacrifices of the many "IMF riots" that had been held, often at great cost of life, in what was now being called the Global South. Anyone who believes this step was taken by middle-class white kids acting on internet fantasies, in the absence of direct input from social movements around the world, quite obviously didn't go to any of the demonstrations and paid no attention to the planning process or the reports.

The point, however, is not to suggest that a brief flare-up of worldwide protest has brought about any substantial change. It is rather to recall what a difficult and long-term effort is really needed, both to grasp the way that transnational state capitalism now functions, and to articulate large-scale resistance. When Josh On [www.theyrule.net] or Bureau d'Etudes [http://utangente.free.fr/index2.html] make their complex charts of contemporary power relations, one can be assured that the cold and abstract character of the results is very painful to them. I can testify, particularly in the second case, that they are acutely aware of what is missing from such documents: namely, some affective indication of resistance from below, who does it, how they work and why. What has been achieved in such cartography projects, however, is a contribution to the very large-scale effort to rebuild a critical grasp of the oppressive forces that create the dominant map of the world. This kind of power-mapping is a necessary prelude to any effective resistance or counter-proposition. The fact that the difference between such efforts and the current military maps used by the Pentagon does not appear clearly on American TV is hardly something you can blame the artists for! There is a difference between general culture critique and constructive critique directed toward people carrying out specific projects.

Somewhat like Coco Fusco, I often wonder why contemporary artists appear so broadly unable to infuse the dominant map with representations of - or even better, direct links to - the many and diverse dissenting groups and alternative philosophies that are now emerging in the world, or that have remained active over decades. Unlike Coco Fusco, however, I don't think it's useful or necessary to berate artists today for not having been born earlier. The great philosophical frameworks of national liberation and egalitarian self-management that were able to articulate far-flung resistance movements in the past are inoperative in our time. The urgency is for real individuals of all generations, on all continents, to put their heads and hearts together and create new articulations. The specific job of writers and organizers is then to give those articulations conceptual clarity and popular currency, so that they can effectively challenge the absurd world-views presented on American TV.

As to artists, for whom the naked power structures of the contemporary world must now be quite visible, I encourage them to delve more deeply into the diverse efforts that are being made to resist the imposition of a homogeneous control structure on the entire world. This requires looking outside the boundaries of class, ethnicity and nationality, as certain artists and intellectuals of previous generations effectively did. To live up to the great examples of the past then means imagining something quite different for the future. Need it be said that certain kinds of imagination can serve as the first steps towards a transformation of reality?

Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2004 04:13:32 +0000
From: Saul Albert
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
To: Brian Holmes

Hi Brian,

I read both Coco Fusco's piece and your response with interest and a little bemusement. You addressed the lazy generality of CF's rant very well, and touched on a couple of things that provoked me to write back:

Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism?

Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic, but that criticism in your text is as widely and as targetlessly applied as Coco Fusco's. Many people are using these technologies (GPS/mobile phones/internet/high-tech gizmos), the social movements that you use as your reference points as much as anyone. In fact, it's not like we really have the choice about using these technologies , being subjects in a technocracy... and it's only out of the appropriation and reuse of these technologies that critique can form and attempt to reconfigure the social and political relations that produced them in the first place. Even on a non-technical level, using these technologies and observing their effects and deployment has been instrumental in the development of a number of political discourses: information and affective labour, precarity, [cyber]feminism etc. The critique develops as much from practice as practice develops from critique.

example: London Free Map - http://uo.space.frot.org/?node=LondonFreeMap


Jo Walsh and Schulyer Erle have been working on the 'London Free Map' This project encourages participants to walk, drive, cycle or skate through city streets with GPS units and then use the 'traces' of points representing latitude and longitude that these devices generate to help create publicly licensed geodata. They are also working on adapting existing open source software to enable people to annotate and extend these maps in a very flexible way. The example linked to above shows straight lines representing GPS traces made wandering the streets of Limehouse, East London, an area undergoing a huge urban regeneration process in preparation for the proposed Olympic games in 2012. The labeled points are the locations and names of approved planning permission applications made to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the last five years, automatically retrieved from the council's website and plotted onto a scanned out-of- copyright historical map of the area from 1916. This is just one potential use of the London Free Map, a way of visualising physical and historical changes to a space undergoing a huge social and economic upheaval. The potential for further uses and the development of new, as yet unimagined maps from this project seems evident.

Secondly, I found the distinction between these technologically specific, less overtly political projects, and the 'power-mapping' practices of (the wonderful) Bureau D'Etudes and many many others to be a bit thin. I know you share their frustration at having to use the language of power to map power, but the problem is not just in the inability of this form to represent the fertile heterogeneity of the social movements. 'Power mapping' deals in the currency of power, and its representational structure can reinforce the dynamics of the relationships it represents. More worryingly, the unnerving coherence of these representations can also become ised easily - the currency of power made visual, or (worse) 'data visualisation' knits neatly into artistic and authorial currencies and relationships that can become as reactionary and totalising as the military-industrial technologies you were warning against earlier.

I know you know this, your descriptions of the playfulness of the Bureau's maps illustrates the path they choose out of this bind : 'solidarity with aliens'. But people using similar or derivative techniques seem to embrace the solemnity and darkness of their maps without having the escape pod provided by their humour.

What encourages me about initiatives like the London Free Map and many of the projects in the orbit of the 'locative media lab' is that they often work, on a very basic level, to avoid totalising representations. To some extent this is emerging as an informal agreement on technologies, open Semantic Web standards and other esoterica that I'm not really equipped to explain. Also, many of these projects are based on public workshops, working with people and groups on producing representations of themselves, spaces, movement and relationships. Of course none of this is inherantly interesting. Public workshops and 'open' technologies carry their own wealth of dead ends, vices and travesties, but they certainly are politicised - and politicising, in a very different and more subtle sense than that of 'power maps'. The contingency on input from the map-users is the most obvious distinction between these forms of mapping and the two examples of 'power mapping' you mentioned. Of course this aspect of 'participation' in the making of the map is just as worrying in terms of which currencies it evokes, auteurship and the 'framing' of 'public use' in the interests of pseudo-ehthographic artistic value creation etc. etc.. But the locative media lab's engagement with corporations, the way some of it is like cheap corporate R&D in exchange for getting to use fancy devices, the links with 'community groups' funded and instrumentised by arts bodies, and with governments for use of geodata is all messy, difficult, and suspect, but necessary if the technology, and the discourse are going to develop.

This probably warrants more examples, which I'm too tired to start with now.

I guess the problem is that criticising something is difficult because you have to explain why, whereas blithering pleasantries about things you like is not so demanding.

keep up the good work brian!



Date: Sun, 26 Dec 2004 23:48:54 -0800
From: John Hopkins
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
To: locative@x-i.net

>>Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism? Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic, but that criticism in your text is as widely and as targetlessly applied as Coco Fusco's. Many people are using these technologies (GPS/mobile phones/internet/high-tech gizmos), the social movements that you use as your reference points as much as anyone. In fact, it's not like we really have the choice about using these technologies , being subjects in a technocracy... and<<

Why no choice? If no choice, isn't that technological determinism to the extreme degree?

It is an incremental process -- each mile you drive onwards in your fossil-fuel burning device, or crank open the thermostat in the house, that drives the social system further onward in its dominance. (it propels the US military machine a bit further in its desparate mission to secure the true power/energy-base of the social structure that is is an integral part of). each time you don't do those things de-poweres that same system.

each time you watch one minute of centrally organized media you give that structure more power. each time you cross social-structural boundaries and engage an Other human directly, you depower those ordained structures.



Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:32:20 -0000
From: "Armin Medosch"
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco

Hi Saul, Hi Brian,

let me first make some sort of disclaimer: I am happy that Coco's article (which I have not read, but can roughly imagine what it contains) triggered this discussion about locative media which was long overdue. I think many people have felt uncomfortable with the unarticulated political 'content' or 'meaning' of locative work but have not spoken in public. One reason for that might be that they felt, as I did, that there is a lot of potential in that field and that the (mostly young) people involved did not deserve to be bashed for all their good intentions, even though those intentions sometimes gave relatively weak results. Finally the lid has been blown off and that is a good thing. I now do neither want to argue for or against Saul or Brian but just throw in my two-pence. I also have to say that writing something really meaningful about that whole area would take at least a day and I simply don't have that time right now. So please excuse the immaturity of my words which are quickly written in a sort of email improvisation which I guess was once the spirit of internet discussions which is now often sadly missed.

Saul said at the very beginning of his reply:

>> Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism?

What does this statement mean? It is indeed important to 'get away from technological determinism'. But what this statement should not mean is that we should not consider or discuss technological determinism.

Saul continues:

>> Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic,

I would go further and say that 'can be problematic' is not strong enough. It _is_ problematic, always. The instrumental power that is contained in those technologies is a central issue of our time, and by 'our time' i do not only refer to the last couple of years or so but to the last 50 or even 100 years. Therefore I think such statements about technological determinism and military-industrial technology should not be used to quash any discussion about those issues. Those issues should exactly be the starting point of any discussion about 'locative' projects and indeed media art and net art projects. This is where the media art community has failed over the last 20 years which I was able to witness as a grown up person. It is one of the big failures of that community and possibly one of the reasons why it made so little real progress over that period of time. When I say 'real progress' I of course don't mean technological progress, of which we have seen plenty, but a progress in the social use of those technologies, in their accessability and applicability, in their ability to have an actual impact on the improvements of the situation of people.

I am arguing from a point of view of art that is based on a definition of art whose main reason to be is political. Such an art should be able to transcend the current power system. By 'transcending' i don't refer to metaphysics but to the actual socio-historic situation. In this situation and its projection of possible futures it should open up spaces, spaces for alternative ways of thinking, spaces that offer people different opportunities, for instance to realise alternative viewpoints outside the dominant system, or, more practically speaking, to be able to develop ways of resistance and at least limited ways of autonomy. Of course we cannot ask too much from art and the current level of oppression is so high, the ideology of technological determinism so deeply entrenched that it has become very hard to imagine anything that makes a real difference. But at least people should try. I am afraid I could not see that in most locative projects and in most of the discussions that have been had about the topic so far.

Most of the projects (I am aware that such generalisations without reference to particular projects are always lame but simply have not the time to go through bookmarks and list archives now) simply continue the master trope of the narration of hypermodernity, which is about expansion of technological mastery, coupled with economic growth, all under the banner of 'usefulness' for the people. This is how new communication technologies are being advertised. The mobile phone gives you freedom, it improves your social life, you can use it to form Rheingoldian Smart Mobs and if you put a little FOAF into it you can even realise alternative politicised virtual communities with it. Of course you can do all this stuff, it is even true. But by doing so, you are not leaving the established playing field, a field that has been established by the forces of techno-rationality in the service of capitalism.

I know it is a bit unfair to mention that here but the most significant 'locative' projects in that regard are Blast Theorie's mobile games. The critical content of those projects is nil. The whole thing blew up at futuresonica last year but most people could not read the signs on the wall. Of course their projects are resourceful, maybe well programmed, maybe even entertaining. But they are fundamentally affirmative of the world we live in and completely one-dimensional.

Now, to come back to the core question: it is simply wrong to ask if we are allowed to use military-industrial technologies. of course we should use them (and I do that by simply typing an email) but if we do it matters how we do that. do we contribute to the disguise of the political content of those technologies and thereby continue the positivistic narration of expansion and 'usefulness'? or do we use them to expose that which is always subconsciously present, that in this system, as Herbert Marcuse said 40 years ago, power is transferred into technological systems and that our dependency on those system makes us to their reified subjects? It is a general trait of this society that the powers that be try to cordon off the political. The positive side of things (technological things, gadgets, gps, pda's) gets highlighted but not what comes with it, not this hard to pin down element of power that has become nameless and faceless because
it has been inscribed in, is contained in the technological system.

Now, coming back to locative per se, I think Brian is right to say: "In effect, a Cartesian worldview has been built into the computerized technology of graphic information systems, which are undergirded by megaprojects of military origin, or what I call "imperial infrastructure."

Maybe he ment to say Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS combined with GPS and so forth truly signify the victory of Cartesian space over real space. Of course this victory is only a fake victory and never a final victory but it defines the current state of the arts in 'mapping'. Is it therefore forbidden for artists to use GIS? Of course not. The project by Jo Walsh and Schulyer Erle that Saul mentions, 'London Free Map' is a very good example. It is maybe not an art project but that does not matter. It tries to democratize GIS power, democratize in the sense of direct bottom up democracy and not fake vote rigging mind manipulating democracy (oh, that word, can someone suggest a better one?). It is experimental and utopian, it relies a lot on FLOSS and is probably difficult to use for people who are not tech-savvy, but that does not really matter at this point; it does not entertain in the way Blast-ed projects try to but that is effectively its strength. It involves fun, but of a different kind. We need more projects of this kind and we need a discourse that is better able to differentiate between projects that open up those other spaces and projects which simply fall into the technological deterministic trap.

I hope we can begin conversations that are critical and constructive and not about our personality disorders of which we all suffer to a certain degree, necessarily, because they are a function of that system we are subjected to. In this sense I agree that a lot of the 'psychogeography post-situationist' talk sounds naive. But at least it shows a desire to get away from Cartesian space and to reconceptualize the highly regulated spaces we live in. It makes a lot of sense to link FLOSS, art and the history and presence of liberation struggles, but that debate needs updates and rejigging too.

Hoping to be able to talk about those issues in a more elaborate way soon and also hoping to hear from other people now


Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 02:21:22 -0800
From: karlis
Subject: [Locative] Don't be shy
To: locative@x-i.net

...Executive Summary:

While studying locative media projects, a computer user realizes the value in talking to people.

Extended Commentary:

A romance of the aesthetic of the internet. Be somewhere, anywhere, it doesn't matter, "jack in" to the internet, and you're home, with your office and your contacts and connections. The presently inhabited city, be it Riga, Ljubljana, or Vancouver, is like wallpaper or decor in a restaurant. The principal interaction with the world is through the internet, and the information available there, the rest is somehow peripheral. So naturally when we approached the ability to make computing mobile and location aware, there seemed to be an answer of integration; finally the drift and nomadism would be informed and fulfulled with the power and potential of the network computer. All your revolutionary fantasies come true. Except the devices are retarded and complicated and expensive; they don't work properly, and they make you into a Steve Mann cyborg, someone more appopriately dressed for a mid 1990's DefCon hacker fair in Las Vegas than any part of life in public.

We tried to simplify the gear and determine what it was supposed to do, which was connect us to the network, make us contextually aware within that network, and informationally aware within that spatial context. The equipment had to be "naturally human", so that it is still possible to interact with the environment and the local culture without handicap.

No cyborg head displays or cybergloves, or star-trek tricorders. It also has to be inexpensive and uncomplicated and break-proof.

A beautiful natural language interface was developed (using selective evolutionary algorithms, no less). Billions of client terminals connected to a global information network have been deployed, planet-wide, that use this natural language interface.

They're called people.

Sitting behind my computer and obsessed with the internet for ten years, I totally missed the obvious connection that local people are connections to the whole network, the network of all information connections which includes the internet but also "old Joe Smith" with whatever he's got to offer. It's the same reason why I haven't needed a watch since I was 15 - someone around me always knows the time. The connection to the network is not limited to a GPS satellite signal reciever and a 2.4GHz wireless internet supercomputer laptop. Rather it's just a link to the next node with different information that what you can access on your own. The easiest, most locative way to access that network is by talking to people, and if these studies are urban, there's going to be people. Forget WiFi and GPS. Ask for directions. Ask the nearest person, or if you're aesthetically driven, ask the nearest good-looking one. If they don't have the answer, they might know someone who does, or can suggest an alternative. If they don't speak your language, they'll likely direct you to someone who does.

Maybe that's should be obvious. But as a bedroom caveman computer hack, to look around and find that this perfect system has already been implemented is amazing. It's multi-modal with multiple redundancies. Ubiquitous. Reliable. All-weather. Fuckable.

Maybe an internet legacy of the military paradigm has poisoned our preconceptions about the reliability and desirability of technology vs people. But if we are nice and friendly and not locally despised imperial soldiers, we don't have to bring all our knowledge in a computer. We can talk to the nearest person.

When I was in an busy new space I formerly looked around and saw great potential for overlaying great collections of information and data or media texture in location, if we could develop the system to realize it.

Now I see that this network is already in place, mobile info nodes are walking all around, ready to be engaged, connected to vast networks of people and information. Standard APIs. It's amazing. Sometimes you have to ask a bunch of times, even before you realize the right question to be asking. But if the information is there, someone has it, and you can find it.

The mention of technological determinism and political action, brought up in the context of locative media, seemed to make this "amazing" revelation relevant again. It has been called a serious political action to find ways beyond the gap between people in the very technically-focused and alienated population. Techno-fetish locative media projects made me realize how important and powerful it is just talking to people.



Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 14:15:32 -0800 (PST)
From: coco fusco
Subject: Questioning the Frame

In response to Geert's request, below is my commentary that was published in IN THESE TIMES recently. The comments were based on my lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in November, 2004. The series is entitled:


and the school's description of the series is:

"This lecture series examines the work of artists, artist-collaboratives, and film/video makers whose works address or proceed from shifts in articulations of global culture, politics of the border and dilemmas of transnational or diasporic identities--identity as a spatial concern. Special attention will be given to artists who use the gesture and organizational logic of mapping, cartographic sciences and the grid to locate identity as well as its displacements."

I found this description so baffling and overladen with jargon that it prompted my response.

I have not had a moment yet to respond to Holmes's post. I found it a bit surprising that he would locate a response to an article in a left-wing Chicago newspaper on a list-serve with a primarily European readership (of his allies, I would add). A decision to locate his response HERE as opposed to THERE seems more like a rallying cry to his nettime readership than an address the substance of my argument or to the public in Chicago, a city with a long and venerable history of community and labor organizing, activist media, and radical black politics.


Posted by jo at 10:19 AM | Comments (4)

December 27, 2004



Emerging Infrastructures of All (Inter)net Research

Dr. Reinhold Grether's network research | netzwissenschaft site maps the "emerging infrastructures of all (inter)net research endeavours. net.science as an anthropology of connectivity is trying to overcome the constraints of specialist method transfers on net matters. the protuberance of technical networks necessitates a professionalization of human net knowledge. neither the isolation of concepts as in basic research nor the encapsulation of processes as in applied sciences will ever be able to adequately describe the complex autopoiesis of networks. net.science is undoubtedly developing into a scienza nuova of its own right."

Check out his Mobile Art and Virtual Performance research areas.

Posted by jo at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

The Leonardo Awards Program


Award Recipients

Leonardo/ISAST, through its Awards Program, recognizes artists and organizations involved in the use of new media in contemporary artistic expression. Artists and organizations are nominated by Leonardo/ISAST Associate Members. The following award recipients have been named:

Steve Mann (Canada) is the recipient of the 2004 Leonardo Award for Excellence. In his winning article, the author presents "Existential Technology: Wearable Computing Is Not the Real Issue" as a new category of in(ter)ventions and as a new theoretical framework for understanding privacy and identity. Mann has written more than 200 research publications and has been the keynote speaker at numerous industry symposia and conferences. His work has been shown in museums around the world, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Triennale di Milano and the San Francisco Art Institute. He received a Ph.D. from MIT in 1997 and is now a faculty member at the University of Toronto. Read his Leonardo article [PDF].

Critical Art Ensemble (U.S.A.) are the recipients of a special 2004 Leonardo new Horizons Award for Innovation in recognition of their artistic work in fields such as biotechnology, robotics and tactical media. Their performances and installations have reached viewers around the world and have broken new ground in the often controversial area of new technologies. The Leonardo/ISAST Governing Board voted to give CAE this special award to affirm the principle that artists should engage emerging technologies and be willing to take critical stances that may be at odds with those of the mainstream. Freedom of artistic expression and research form a part of the foundation of an open society. For more information on Critical Art Ensemble, please visit http://www.critical-art.net.

Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha (The Netherlands) were the recipients of the 2003 Leonardo Award for Excellence for their article "Electric Body Manipulation as Performance Art: A Historical Perspective," published in Leonardo Music Journal 12. Arthur Elsenaar is an artist and electrical engineer who ran his own pirate radio station and built the transmitters for many illegal radio and television stations throughout the Netherlands. Elsenaar’s recent work employs the human face as a computer-controlled display device. Remko Scha is an artist, DJ, and computational linguist. He has built an automatic electric guitar band ("The Machines"), designed an image generation algorithm ("Artificial"), and developed a theory about language-processing ("Data-Oriented Parsing"). Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha have jointly developed a series of automatic performance pieces and video installations that involve computer-controlled facial expression, algorithmic music, and synthetic speech. These works have been presented at scientific conferences, theatre festivals, and art exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Elsenaar and Scha also explore the use of automatic radio stations as a medium for computer art. Read their Leonardo article [PDF].

See full list of recipients.

Posted by jo at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2004

Grand Thieves Audio modologues


We're tired of stealing cars. So we're stealin' the soundtrack...

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, an earth-shaking game of theft, prostitution, , and beautifully animated racist depictions of Cubans and Haitians. You are free-wheeling Tommy Vercetti, driving any car you can pop the lock on, taking s out to the lighthouse, enjoying all the pixilated pleasures the 80s can offer you. Bunk is making the game that much better because we're putting somebody in the car with you. We're carjacking the game with a mod of our own...This is only the beginning, the first in a series of monologues (or modologues) and performances we're testing out. Send us yours and we'll feature them on the page...(Modologue: Machinima-style dubbing that modifies game-play through an alternate narrative.)

"On Bunk, we've published the beta of the "Grand Thieves Audio" project. These MP3s constitute our attempt to carjack the audio on "GTA: Vice City." These audio files attempt to recontextualize the playing experience along subversive avenues. The idea is to create the illusion of new (subversive) nonplayer characters in the game through the audio."

These modologues combine the audio dubbing of machinima with the infiltration of game mods (since sticking them in your MP3 folder does not alter the code of the game). Unlike Machinima, which dub sound tracks over edited clips of game play and turn the player into a spectator, these monologues, or "modologues," let the user play in a different narrative context.

These files represent the first attempts to infiltrate the game. I hope other performers will record some and send them our way so we can build a library.

Current downloads include: Army Recruiter (since video games are now tools of recruitment), Mama Vercetti, The Driver's Ed Instructor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (though this last is anachronistic and probably more suitable to "San Andreas")."

Posted by jo at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004

Tactical Media

"The age of distributed media has facilitated political awareness and activism to a mass audience. From clicking to feed the hungry at www.thehungersite.com, to experiencing in real time first hand accounts of the bombing of Belgrade on the (original) Syndicate mailing list, to more recently the Salam Pax blogs from Bagdad, world issues seem very close to home. We've clicked to email politicians and institutions about local arts funding issues and global art sackings, and there were many eager mouse-clicking soldiers in RTMark's Toy Wars campaign, who jointly plummeted the stock price of a corporation that tried to destroy an online art group.

Today we take it for granted that mainstream media has a vested interest, and artists and writers use their skills to create another point of view. These artworks come under the banner of tactical media--'do it yourself' media, where mass distribution networks are used to critique and respond to social issues. They never present a monolithic perspective, but rather are individuals or loose collations defined by their activity that intervene, often subverting or reformatting, the images, texts and icons of mainstream culture."--Melinda Rackham, empyre, Thursday, 3 Jun 2004.

Posted by jo at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Affective Turbulence


Tactical Urban Maphack

Mirjam Struppek has posted photographs of DEAF04: Affective Turbulence. The Tactical Urban Maphack: Open_Brunch Sensing Location (presentation) included an introduced by Marc Tuters, and the following projects:

FRIDA V [Free Ride Data Aquisition Vehicle]: A W-Lan mapping bicycle by Luka Frelih (SI). Frida V. is a rugged and comfortable bicycle equipped for efficient exploration and mapping of public urban spaces. It carries a small computer, GPS positioning device, 802.11 wireless network transciever and a basic audiovisual recording unit. The consolidated software and hardware assembly enables automated mapping of stumbled wireless networks, easy creation of location-tagged media and opportunistic synchronization with a server resource on the internet.

Cartographic Command Center: Display for locative media by Marc Tuters, Jaanis Garancs. The Mobile Cartographic Command Center (MC3) is the forward command post to engage free and open GIS, educational and commercial geographic institutions, and the tactical media art community in active discourse related to locative media, military conversion, collaborative cartography, and tactical public visualization. The purpose of the project is to actively create and display locative media and free GIS applications (such as, for example, gps3d, GPS satellite monitor/world view, gpsdrive, path tracking, vterrain, earth and SaVi- satellite Visualization).

Biomapping: Mapping the stressfactor in public space by Christian Nold. Bio Mapping is a research project which explores new ways that we as individuals can make use of the information we can gather about our own bodies. Instead of security technologies that are designed to control our behaviour, this project envisages new tools that allows people to selectively share and interpret their own bio data.

Posted by jo at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

SMS Guerilla Projector


The SMS Guerilla Projector is a high powered, home made projection device that can be used to project SMS messages on to buildings, signs or any other surface. Made by Troika, the London based collective of designers and artists, it consists of a mobile phone, camera lens and slide projector.

Posted by jo at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2004

Net Guerrilla Ballet


wireless illegal remote-controlled net-ballet invasion

Ballettikka Internettikka is an ongoing study of the internet guerrilla performance.

Slovenian ballet dancer Igor Stromajer and composer Brane Zorman will be replaced by toy-robots which will invade the kitchen of the famous [theatre x] and dance an illegal wireless roboballet there. The robots and cameras will be remotely controlled from a mini-van parked in front of the [theatre x].

Live internet broadcasting of the guerrilla ballet performance will start on November 13th 2004 at 20:00 GMT+1 and will last 10 to 15 minutes; the location will be made public on November 13th at 18:00 GMT+1. [Via]

They will enter the kitchen of the famous [theatre x], where bio-food for artists is prepared. The kitchen of the [theatre x] is an excellent example of a modern cooking laboratory for healthy food. It is automatized and meets the highest hygienic standards. The artists will use two remote-controlled toy-robots with two wireless web cameras. Robots and cameras (algorithm of the ballet choreography and MP3 orchestra) will be remotely controlled from a mini-van parked at the north-east side of the [square x] in front of the [theatre x].

This time, Stromajer and Zorman (as ballet dancer and musician) will be replaced by robots, lonely and sad icons, automatized units, which will have no major problem to invade the kitchen of the famous [theatre x] and dance the net-ballet there. Toys transform into guerrilla-ballet dancers.

Stromajer and Zorman will approach the [theatre x] full of respect towards the [theatre x] and its rich history.

Artists will use hi-tech mobile and wireless equipment for the invasion and live broadcasting (portable computers, mini digital camera, MP3 audio systems, mobile WAP telephones etc). A laptop and MiniDV cam, together with Webcam32 (version 6.0) software will be used for broadcasting the video signal (running over Intima Virtual Base FTP server). Another laptop and MP3 player with online interface SHOUTcast (version 1.8.3/win32), will be used for live sound broadcasting (running over Beitthron FTP server). A local GSM mobile phone operator will be used for GPRS mobile internet connection.

# Timetable of the action in [theatre x] - 13. 11. 2004:

11:00 - test and calibratethe equipment, micro-locate at ground zero
19:30 - park mini-van at the north-east side of the [square x] in front of the [theatre x] and secure the location
19:45 - robots enter the kitchen of the [theatre x]
20:00 - start of the live internet broadcasting
20:15 - end of the internet broadcasting
20:20 - robots exit the kitchen of the [theatre x]
20:35 - leave [square x] in front of the [theatre x] and secure the material

Dancing an illegal wireless roboballet in the kitchen of the [theatre x] represents a big conceptual and strategic challenge to the Intima Virtual Base, therefore the preparations have been taken serious, safety measures have been calculated, and the previous experience from the Bolsh.oi Theatre in Moscow has been very welcome.

Note: [theatre x] does not voluntarily co-operate in the project, but was selected based on the conceptual strategy of the project. The management of the [theatre x] is not a co-producer of this project and does not co-operate in the process of its realization.

Project supported by The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia

About the authors:

Igor Stromajer is an mobile intimate communicator. He researches tactical emotional states and traumatic low-tech strategies. He has shown his work at more than a hundred exhibitions in forty-two countries and received a number of awards. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Moderna galerija Ljubljana, Slovenia; Computerfinearts Gallery, New York.

Brane Zorman is a composer and sound manipulator. Between 1982 and 1986 he was frontman for the Slovene punk group O!KULT. He is a pioneer of Slovene techno scene. Since 1987 he has been composing music for both Slovene and international theatre, dance and multimedia performances and projects. and has made guest appearances throughout Europe. Recently he works with Irena Pivka on a
series of audio-visual installations ZONE.

Ballettikka Internettikka PRESS (2001 - 2003):

...The eleven minutes of live webcasting were watched by more then 400 people. An amazing amount, which even the artist did not expect. Not only did they see Igor Stromajer dancing, but they also saw the conductor of the 'mp3 orchestra' - as Stromajer calls MC Brane - who ironically conducted the mp3's on his laptop like a true Herbert von Karajan. The video of the whole event catches the excitement of the event well. Shot in black and white it leaves one a bit with the feeling of watching an avant-garde performance straight from the early twentieth century, if it weren't for the laptops and mobile phones of course. Both dancer and conductor wear a kind of miners light on their heads. The movements of the light, the speed and accuracy of the operation, the bare abandoned basement and the concentrated moves by Stromajer and MC Brane create a sense of conspiracy that replaces the so called interactivity of on line art without it being missed. In a way it is still there, in the intimacy of the small circle of people who watch this event live, while the management of the Bolsh.oi theatre watches a classical ballet.--# "Claiming the Stage: Ballettikka Internettikka pt 2" by Josephine Bosma, Cream, Amsterdam, Nizozemska (25.04.2002)

Posted by jo at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004



Alternative Categories

"In preparation for Wednesday's Urban Gaming lecture, we thought we'd make a map. We've mapped psychogeography, nomadic communication and technologically infused public space as enablers of the urban gaming explosion. Gaming is the perfect structure for experimenting with these new tools, places and communities. The dynamics between online and offline players, person and space, space and technology, person and technology are being stress tested and observed in the form of games in media labs, art collectives and companies throughout the world. And it's evolving to be a mechanism for social activism as well- so there you go!" From community-centric.

Posted by jo at 01:12 PM | Comments (1)

October 14, 2004

Enough is Enough


Message in a Matchbox

"A clever and daring under-ground movement has sprung up in Zimbabwe that is stoking public opinion against Robert Mugabe's government. Zvakwana - which means 'enough' in the Shona language - has launched a bold campaign expressed through graffiti, emails and condoms to encourage the Zimbabwean people to rise up...A black Z on a bright yellow handprint is appearing mysteriously on the walls of bus stations, on busy streets and over billboards across Harare and other cities. Thousands of 'revolutionary condoms' have been distributed, emblazoned with the letter Z and the double-entendre message 'Get up! Stand Up!'. Matchboxes stuffed with resistance messages are left in public places to be picked up by unsuspecting citizens. Thousands of Zimbabweans are led to the Zvakwana website."

Read full article. And this is a paper about mobile phones and civil society organisations in the developing world. (Thanks)

Posted by jo at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2004

The Temporary Travel Office


non-rational connections

The Temporary Travel Office produces a variety of services relating to tourism and technology aimed at exploring the non-rational connections existing between public and private spaces.

How is corporate biotechnology shaping the spaces we live in? The Travel Office's tour of the Chicago Technology Park is a guided audio experience that places the city's current investment in the "new economy" within the historical, and ongoing, practices of social engineering through urban planning. A story of spatial eugenics emerges out of the juxtaposition of texts and statements from disparate sources that include Official state and city press releases, corporate documents and activist archives. Neither the Travel Office nor this tour represent the Chicago Technology Park, the Illinois Medical District Commission, or any affiliated government or private entities. [left: A Travel Office representative conducting a walking tour of the CTP] [sampled audio of Chicago Transit system from www.chicago-L.org]

Posted by jo at 02:59 PM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2004

Julia Scher


danger dirty data

On Tuesday night we went to Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD) to listen to a lecture by Julia Scher. The lecture was the first in a series organized by Bill Seaman, head of the Digital Media MFA Program at RISD.

Scher creates temporary and transitory web/installation/performance works that explore issues of power, control and seduction. She forces her 'actors' and 'audience' to question their roles in regulated space and each to "match the gaze" of the other. She facilitates the 'return' of a person's captured image in the form of a video print, thus bringing into play issues of identity and the internal/external body. Most of the performances Scher discussed involved video cameras and security guards; today, surveillance methods are more sinister--as ACCESS attests--and pervasive than ever: Chicago has 2,000 cameras in place and plans to add an additional 250 in the coming year (see "Chicago Moving to 'Smart' Surveillance Cameras," STEPHEN KINZER, New York Times, September 21, 2004).

Securityland and Wonderland are elaborate online projects Julia Scher created with äda 'web, "launched in 1995 and 1997, respectively; they were preceded by an introductory trailer titled danger dirty data in 1995. Scher offers various areas for user exploration, many of which raise issues of control and personal privacy. All manner of psychologically and physically invasive services and products are seductively pitched at the visitor, promising to alleviate problems caused internally and externally. Loosely based on architectural and clinical models, securityland and wonderland completely destabilize the notion of neutral or straightforward interchange, using inflections that are libidinal, gendered, quasi-institutional and subtly threatening."

Posted by jo at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Hot Enough?

Art, Activism and Wireless Technology During the Republican Convention

Monday, September 27, 2004 @ 7:00 p.m. $8

Unexpectedly, the Republican National Convention...provide(d) a common focus and purpose to diverse and divergent initiatives and, in hindsight, enable(d) us to assess their efficiency. Wireless technology is one of the most exciting new developments for political activism. Relatively inexpensive, accessible, and packing tremendous punch with at times just one individual at its origin, it can be used as a tool of protest or opinion-making--the flip side of the near-pervasive electronic surveillance under which we now live.

This panel examines how artists employ wireless technology to reach unprecedented masses, to recast the concept of "collaboration," to redefine and politicize the urban environment, and to achieve unparalleled levels of immediacy. Participants include: Yury Gitman (The Magic Bike ); Natalie Jeremijenko, The Bureau of Inverse Technology, and onetrees.org ( clean air?, antiterror line, sparrow line ); Joshua Kinberg (Bikes Against Bush ); neuroTransmitter and others to be announced. Organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, on occasion of Spectropolis: Mobile Media, Art, and the City, a wireless event organized by NYCwireless, Downtown Alliance, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Co-sponsored by the Design and Technology Department, Parsons School of Design, and the Department of Communication, The New School.

Posted by jo at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2004

Life: A User's Manual


Subverting Surveillance Tactics

Life: A User's Manual is a public performance by media artist Michelle Teran where she dresses up like a bag lady and carries an antenna made out of a soup can while pushing a shopping cart full of televisions along a designated route in Brussels, Belgium. The antenna is connected to a 2.4 GHZ X-10 video scanner which picks up signals from wireless cameras deployed by stores, homes, or police in the buildings and neighborhoods she passes. The found signal is then displayed on the TV in her cart. This type of surveillance is a theme of Teran's work that attempts to make hidden or private CCTV streams into public performance and online mappings. Really interesting take on the act of subverting existing surveillance tactics by displacing the context of the medium.

From her description: “The city is a game board, where every story, every piece stands on its own, but is part of an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Both public physical spaces and private interior spaces contain traces of fragmentary personal [hi]stories tied together by an invisible network of media. How people inhabit the hidden ‘image spaces’, discovered by a wireless surveillance camera scanner, while at the same time inhabiting physical outdoor spaces, is revealed through the practice of walking.” From jonah at coin operated.

Posted by jo at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2004

Bikes Against Bush


Breaking News! Josh Kinberg Arrested!

Josh Kinberg (see our Bikes Against Bush post) was arrested [watch video] while being interviewed about his Road Writer bicycle. This news comes after I personally road in Critical Mass last night and a person in our riding group was arrested. HERE IS THE EMAIL about Josh word for word:

"...about 40 minutes ago Josh was doing an interview with Ron Reagan and in the middle of it the police pulled up. 20 minutes later a captain came down to the scene (all still while on camera with Ron reagan) and after some time arrested Josh. they took the bike too. Josh is OK. We were all shocked that it would happened like that. a crowd had formed and many journalist wondered into it. Josh was little shocked but, it was all peaceful and calm just very very frustrating and absurd. - YURY GITMAN"

From | alison | juliaset, 08.28.2004: 13.19.35

Read an article.

"Joshua was released from police custody at 11:00 AM on Sunday. Lawyers from the National Lawyer Guild believe that the case is a clear violation of the first amendment and should be thrown out. Joshua's bicycle, laptop, and cell phone have all been confiscated, however, and are being held until his court hearing. The court date has been set for Friday, 9/3, after the end of the RNC. An alternative link to the video can be found at http://dv.open4all.info/?postid=70"

posted by: yatta on juliaset

Read Josh's account of what happened.

Posted by jo at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

Media Psychosis


Live Rant

Rant/Rant Back/Back Rant, by G.H. Hovagimyan and Peter Sinclair, samples and re-mixes news report catch-phrases cycling through the global information environment. The work looks at the use of targeted language within the framework of mass media, and posits a media overload psychosis embodied by the live performance word jam created by Sinclair and Hovagimyan. Two live performances will be performed at Groningen Museum and STEIM, Netherlands and streamed live on August 23rd and August 26th.

Peter Sinclair and G.H. Hovagimyan have been artistic collaborators over a number of digital performance and installation works. Mr. Sinclair who is a well-known sound artist lives in Marseille, France while Mr. Hovagimyan who is a multi-media artist lives in New York City.

Sinclair’s works have recently been highlighted in the French contemporary art magazine artpress. (Art Press special edition, number 24, 2003. Le Burlesque. Une Aventure Moderne.) One work, A SoaPOPera for iMacs done in collaboration with Hovagimyan will be included in a historic exhibition called Le Burlesque that will be on view in Paris at the National Galeries Jeu du Paume Museum in 2005. Documentation and video of this work can be seen at: http://nujus.net/gh_04/gallery3.html

Part of the inspiration for the work Rant/ Rant Back/ Back Rant developed out of xenophobic rants that Sinclair encouraged Hovagimyan to do for their 2001 Interactive sound and laser installation work titled Shooter. You may view documentation and video here: http://nujus.net/shooter-new-site/index.html

Their latest work Rant/Rant Back/ Back Rant will be performed in the Netherlands at the Groningen Museum, August 23rd and August 26th at STEIM, Amsterdam.

While investigating synthetic voice programming in 1996 Hovagimyan met Peter Sinclair. The two began to collaborate on a series of works that used text and synthetic voice as an element for robotic performance and installation work. Sinclair brings to the collaboration a fascination with the mechanic possibilities inherent in programming and digital art as well as his expertise in the realm of sound art and performance works. Indeed, before meeting Hovagimyan, Sinclair was quite accomplished as a performance artist in France. A survey of his works can be seen at: http://www.nujus.net/peterhomepage/html/

Hovagimyan brings to the piece a long history of using text within his work both individually and in collaboration with Sinclair. In 1994 Hovagimyan did a billboard campaign for Creative Time in New York City. The billboard , Hey Bozo… Use Mass Transit, used a block of text somewhat in the manner of rap lyrics. Documentation as well as an NBC news report can be seen
at: http://nujus.net/gh_04/gallery2.html

In 2000-2001 Hovagimyan created a series of rant performances for the palm pilot called Palm Rants. Documentation can be viewed at: http://nujus.net/gh/html/rants.html. An example can be seen at http://nujus.net/gh_04/video/entertainMenow.mov

As far back as 1974 Hovagimyan has been using agit-prop as part of his work. Indeed a 1974 work Tactics for Survival in the New Culture was shown in a 1978 group show called Manifesto organized by Collaborative Projects in New York City. Subsequently, in 1994, Hovagimyan updated the piece, turning it into a hypertext work and one of the earliest examples of what is now known as Net Art. The work can be viewed online at: http://www.thing.net/~gh/artdirect/tactics.html

Their collaborative works as well as their homepages can be accessed via the web at: http://nujus.net (note the site uses pop-up windows and javascript. Enable scripting and pop-up windows to view the site)

Posted by jo at 11:28 AM | Comments (1)

More RNC

There are already lots of projects out there that respond to the RNC. You might want to check back on John Perry Barlow's Dancing in the Streets or TXT mob, a free service that lets you share messsages with others during the convention. Or take a look at: Free Speech TV, moport, CoDeck, or politics.technorati.com, which is keeping an election watch, and indymedia and their march from Boston to NYC. There are others -- all creating spaces for independent expression. As the Screensavers say, "There are going to be thousands of people textblogging, audioblogging, videoblogging, photoblogging the RNC, most with RSS feeds and most with open content licensing. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web syndication protocol that is primarily used by news websites and weblogs. There is going to be all of this RSSified RNC content sitting out there ripe for cultural/artistic aggregation."

Good luck to all!

Posted by newradio at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)




Each night of the RNC, Screensavers, a media collective that uses developing technologies and digital art in public social systems to generate, disrupt and synthesize the socio-political landscape, in association with the Thing will present the RNC Redux Open Doc Tour, a real time performance created by pulling a broad selection of the day's blog text, photos, audio, and video to mix it into a narrative of the day's events. One of Screensavers’ principal interests is to leverage synergistic energy, building off of existing events and capturing real time content streams to transform public expression and awareness around timely issues. This live, collective documentary will be generated through a gestalt remix of rich 'personal is public' content.

See Schedule

Posted by newradio at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

Autonomous Radiobodies


radiophonic graffiti

Autonomous Radiobodies is a public art performance/installation that involves people wearing or carrying units equipped with a Radio Graffiti Device for creating localized radiophonic art/graffiti spaces. As the technology of traditional radio hangs on the edge of artistic obsolescence and state-financed broadcasters use the medium to construct and enforce a national voice, newer mobile technologies are springing up and grabbing the public attention for commercial communication and artistic expression. This technological hype for the new presents an opportunity to exploit and reinvestigate the older wireless medium of radio and it’s renewed use as an art-space. Read more>>

Posted by jo at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2004

a mobile phone reporting tool



It's a new mobile phone reporting tool that Brooke Singer and Jamie Schulte of The SWIPE Toolkit fame will be launching in time for the Republican National Convention. If you'll be in NYC for the RNC, please consider joining the first ever Moport (a.k.a. MObile phone rePORT). 15,000 media representatives will be in attendance, but Singer and Schulte don't think they can necessarily handle the job--especially with 250,000 protesters expected to join the fun. If you are unable to participate, stay tuned and watch the RNC Moport unfold online starting August 30th. And, most importantly, help spread the word and recruit Moporters! For this first run, they're taking a "more the merrier" approach (or merry until their server comes to a screeching halt...).

About MOPORT.org:

MOPORT.org is a free service for generating and sharing mobile phone reports. This site allows people to collectively report about important events in real-time using mobile phones.

Features of a MOPORT:
• Enables Group Reporting using Cellphone Cameras or Digital Cameras and Email
• Instantly Updates when New Submissions Arrive
• Integrates News Feeds from Major Media Sources for a Quick Comparison of Event Coverage
• Sorts Images by Keywords that are Pre-defined and Dynamically Creates New Keywords Based on MOPORTER Submissions
• Sorts Images by MOPORTERS (Identities are Anonymous) for Individual Perspective and Commentary
• Accepts Submissions and Updates for Duration of Event and Later Archived on MOPORT.org for Viewing Purposes Only

How do I join: http://www.moport.org/f_equipment.html
What equipment do I need: http://www.moport.org/f_equipment.html
Why did you build this: http://www.moport.org/about.html
Demo of a Moport in progress: coming soon to http://www.moport.org/active.html

Posted by newradio at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004

Silent Cell Network


Silent Dystopia

After taking part at the International MICRO performance in Ljubljana/Slovenia, Silent Cell Network performs live again: August 11, 2004, 1:30 AM, GMT+1 (Paris/Berlin time); performed at an unknown location and broadcast live on the net. Silent Cell Network is an international group of multimedia artists, this time joined by Hooman Sharifi. Sharifi is an established Iranian performer, dancer and choreographer, living and working mostly in Norway and Belgium.

Posted by jo at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Ballettikka RealVideo Internettikka


Tactical Ballet

Ballettikka RealVideo Internettikka is the third self-contained action in the tactical project Ballettikka Internettikka, which began in 2001 with the exploration of Internet ballet. The second installment, in March 2002, consisted of Stromajer and Zorman carrying out an illegal ballet invasion in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater and transmitting it live on the Internet. In Part 3, Grassi, Stromajer and Zorman brought together two Moscow performative acts: the ballet break-in in the Bolshoi and the Chechen terrorist act in the Dubrovka Theater in October 2002. The condensed version of Ballettikka RealVideo Internettikka consists of a video with Morse-code dramaturgy. The net performace Ballettikka Internettikka: ilegallikka robottikka, by intima, will take place in November 2004. (more)

Posted by jo at 05:38 PM | Comments (1)

Help is on the way


A free service that lets you share text messages with friends and strangers. Designed for protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, it's being/been revamped for use in New York at the Republican National Convention.

Posted by newradio at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004

Painting the Street


Bikes Against Bush

From "Bike Writer Pedals for Protests" by Leander Kahney, Wired News, August 2, 2004

New Yorker Joshua Kinberg is a bike messenger of a different stripe. Instead of ferrying legal papers between lawyers, he uses a homemade, wireless, bicycle-mounted dot-matrix printer to spray protest messages in the street...[Bikes Against Bush is] "painting on the street, but on the Net, too," said Kinberg, a post-graduate student at Parsons School of Design.

Continue reading at Wired.com

Posted by jo at 10:37 AM | Comments (1)

August 02, 2004

iSee Wireless


iSee Wireless

We are in the midst of two wireless revolutions, one defined by large corporations that buy spectrum, the other defined by ad hoc networks and open standards. We are focused on contributing to this second, more democratic revolution.

Julian Bleecker (Art Cache Machine, WiJacker, Proximity Wireless projects utilizing WiFi Toolkit software.) explores practical and playful uses of WiFi through a series of projects created with the WiFi Toolkit, a set of software APIs Bleecker developed as Engineer in Residence at Eyebeam. Art Cache Machine, the WiJacker and Proximity are three WiFi-enabled applications developed to investigate the possibilities of "partially connected" WiFi social networks using access points deliberately off the public internet. Art Cache Machine is a mobile WiFi node that provides an access point for specific digital art that can only exist within the locale of the Machine's WiFi node. WiJacker assumes the role of a WiFi node by hijacking the activity of users. Proximity is an ad-hoc communication service that enables connections between devices without user intervention.

iSee is a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments. With iSee, users can find routes that avoid these cameras - paths of least surveillance - allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being "caught on tape" by unregulated security monitors.

Who should use iSee
The past several years has seen a dramatic increase in CCTV surveillance of public space. Video cameras peer at us from the sides of buildings, from ATM machines, from traffic lights, capturing our every move for observation by police officers and private security guards that often act with very little public or legislative oversight. While the effectiveness of these devices in reducing crime is dubious at best (see below), recent cases of misuse by public and private authorities serve to question the appropriateness of video monitoring in public space. Here is a short list of people who might legitimately want to avoid having their picture taken by unseen observers:

One of the big problems with video surveillance is the tendency of police officers and security guards to single out particular people to monitor. It is hardly surprising that the mentality leading to racial profiling in traffic stops has found similar expression in police officers focusing their cameras on people of color. Indeed, a recent study of video surveillance in the UK, the leading user of CCTV surveillance systems, says that "black people were between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half times more likely to be surveilled than one would expect from their presence in the population." It is worth pointing out that, in this study, 40% of people that the police targeted were picked out "for no obvious reason," other than their ethnicity or apparent membership in various subcultural groups. In other words, they were singled out not for what they were doing, but simply based on how they looked.

It appears that police monitors just can’t seem to keep it in their pants when it comes to video surveillance. In a Hull University study, 1 out of 10 women were targeted for “voyeuristic” reasons by male camera operators, and a Brooklyn police sergeant blew the whistle on several of her colleagues in 1998 for “taking pictures of civilian women in the area ... from breast shots to the backside."

Young men, particularly young black men, are routinely singled out by police operators for increased scrutiny. This is particularly true if they appear to belong to subcultural groups that authority figures find suspicious or threatening. Do you wear baggy pants or shave your head? Smile – you’re on candid camera!

The Hull University study also found a tendency of CCTV operators to focus on people whose appearance or activities marked them as being "out of place." This includes people loitering outside of shops, or homeless people panhandling. Not surprisingly, this group includes individuals observed to be expressing their opposition to the CCTV cameras.

Experience has shown that CCTV systems may be used to spy on activist groups engaged in legal forms of dissent or discussion. Indeed, the City College of New York was embarrassed several years ago by student activists who found, much to their dismay, that the administration had installed surveillance cameras in their meeting areas. This trend shows no signs of abating: one of the more popular demonstrations of CCTV capabilities that law enforcement officials and manufacturers like to cite is the ability to read the text of fliers that activists post on public lampposts.

Everyone else
Let’s face it – we all do things that are perfectly legal, but that we still may not want to share with the rest of the world. Kissing your lover on the street, interviewing for a new job without your current employer’s knowledge, visiting a psychiatrist – these are everyday activities that constitute our personal, private lives. While there is nothing wrong with any of them, there are perfectly good reasons why we may choose to keep them secret from coworkers, neighbors, or anyone else.

But what’s the harm?
Clearly, video surveillance of public space represents an invasion of personal privacy. But so what? Having one's picture taken from time to time seems a small price to pay for the security benefits such surveillance offers. It's not like anyone ever sees the tapes, and let's be honest being singled out for scrutiny by remote operators without your even knowing about it is not at all the same as being pulled over, intimidated and harassed by a live cop.

Unfortunately, this is not entirely accurate. The fact is, there is very little oversight of video surveillance systems, and the question of who owns the tapes and who has the right to see them - is still largely undecided.

The fact is, many of the cameras monitoring public space are privately owned. Banks, office buildings, and department stores all routinely engage in continuous video monitoring of their facilities and of any adjacent public space. The recordings they make are privately owned, and may be stored, broadcast, or sold to other companies without permission, disclosure, or payment to the people involved.

Similarly, video footage that is captured by public police departments may be considered part of the "public record," and as such are available for the asking to individuals, companies, and government agencies. At present, there is precious little to prevent television programs like "Cops" and "America's Funniest Home Movies" from broadcasting surveillance video without ever securing permission from their subjects.

Sound far-fetched? Already in the UK the country that so far has made the most extensive use of CCTV systems (although the Canada and US are catching up) there has been one such case. In 199X, Barrie Goulding released "Caught in the Act" a video compilation of "juicy bits" from street video surveillance systems. Featuring intimate contacts including one scene of a couple having sex in an elevator this video sensationalized footage of ordinary people engaged in (mostly) legal but nonetheless private acts.

Similarly, there has been a proliferation of "spy cam" websites featuring clandestine footage of women in toilets, dressing rooms, and a variety of other locations. A lack of legislative oversight allows these sites to operate legally, but even if new laws are passed, the nature of the Internet makes prosecutions highly unlikely.

As video surveillance systems evolve and become more sophisticated, the opportunities for abuse are compounded. Sophisticated video systems can identify the faces of individuals (matching video images to databases of known faces for example, the repository of driver's license photos maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles), the objects they carry (including, for example, reading the text on personal documents), and their activities. These systems enable the creation of databases that know who you are, where you've been, when you were there, and what you were doing. Databases that are conceivably available to a host of people with whom you'd rather not share such information, including employers, ex-lovers, and television producers.

All of this says nothing about the societal impact of our increasing reliance on surveillance, and our growing willingness to put ourselves under the microscope of law enforcement and commercial interests. Once a cold-war caricature of Soviet-style communist regimes, the notion of the "surveillance society" is increasingly employed to describe modern urban life in such bastions of personal liberty and freedom as the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

While the nature of such a society has been long theorized by philosophers, critics, and sociologists, the psychological and social effects of living under constant surveillance are not yet well understood. However, the impacts that CCTV systems have on crime are beginning to be known.

Video Surveillance and Crime
Touted as a high-tech solution to social problems of crime and disorder by manufacturers selling expensive video surveillance systems to local governments and police departments, CCTV has gained much popularity in recent years. These manufactures claim that CCTV which often costs upwards of $400,000 to install in a limited area will dramatically decrease criminality, and provide a measure of security heretofore unknown to the general public. As these CCTV systems are often purchased at the expense of other less-oppressive, less-expensive, and proven law-enforecement methods such as community policing, the claims of CCTV merchants should be carefully scrutinized.

CCTV is often promoted with thinly veiled references to the threat of terrorism: hence their widespread use in the UK, which has long lived with bomb threats and other violent actions. Already, in light of the September 11 attacks, video surveillance manufacturers have begun to court the American public with some measure of success as evidenced by recent gains in these companies' share prices.

Attempting to capitalize on an international tragedy to sell product in this manner may seem tastelessly opportunistic at best. Given the track record of CCTV systems to date, this strategy seems downright cynical. According to studies of the effectiveness of video surveillance in use throughout the UK, there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of CCTV has any impact on local crime rates. While there have been examples of reduced criminality in areas where CCTV has been installed, these reductions may also be explained by other factors, including general decreases in crime throughout the UK. Indeed, in several areas where CCTV was installed, crime rates actually increased.

Given the widespread use of these systems, it is surprising how infrequently they lead to arrests. According to one report, a 22-month long surveillance of New York's Times Square led to only 10 arrests (those cameras have since been removed). Furthermore, the type of crime against which CCTV is most effective seems positively mundane when compared to its advocate's claims of stopping terrorism and kidnappings. A study of CCTV use in the UK found that the majority of arrests in which video surveillance played a significant role were to stop fistfights. Again, this was a relatively infrequent occurrence, and hardly seems to justify the price tag and loss of privacy these systems inherently engender.

More disturbing, however, was the finding that incidents of police brutality and harassment captured by CCTV surveillance were routinely ignored. The tapes of these events also had a tendency to be "lost" by operators.

The effect of video surveillance on criminal psychology is also not well understood. One Los Angeles study found that cameras in a retail store were perceived by criminals as a challenge, and in fact offered became an inducement towards shoplifting.

At best, CCTV seems to not reduce crime, but merely to divert it to other areas. According to one Boston police official, "criminals get used to the cameras and tend to move out of sight."

A final thought...
Given heightened awareness of public safety and increased demand for greater security in the face of growing threats of terrorist violence, projects that undermine systems for social control may seem to some viewers to be in poor taste. It is the Institute for Applied Autonomy's position that such times call out all the more strongly for precisely these kinds of projects. As spytech dealers stumble over themselves in their haste to auction off our civil liberties - wrapped in the stars and stripes, tied up tight with memorial ribbons - to right-wing politicos who drool and salivate in anticipation of railroading their own Orwellian wet-dreams of social control through our legislative bodies, there is a vital need for independent voices that cry out against such cynical exploitation of legitimate human fear and suffering for political power and monetary gain. The Institute for Applied Autonomy is such a voice. iSee is our statement.

- Brought to you by the Institute for Applied Autonomy "now more than ever"

Posted by michelle at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2004

From Hactivism to Tactical Media

Hacktivism (electronic resistence within the network) has fed into tactical media: urban, mobile performance events.

Being 'wired' has become mobile, ubiquitous, sentient, pervasive, OMNICIENT monitored, computing. As we desire our movies and games to be more realistic - hyper-realistic - we now inhabit our computer-mediated, if not computer-generated worlds. We interact through joysticks that exert pressure to our response. We track oursleves with GPS-equipped devices, we pass and receive data streams: enveloped, engaged, connected, linked.

There's a surge in public events - happenings - Kaprow's "Environmental Theatre" of the collective, enabled by wi-fi technology and taken to the streets: MOBILized.

From: The ABC of Tactical Media by David Garcia and Geert Lovink
Tactical Media

"In fact we introduced the term tactical to disrupt and take us beyond the rigid dichotomies that have restricted thinking in this area for so long: dichotomies such as amateur vs professional, alternative vs mainstream. Even private vs public. Our hybrid forms are always provisional. What counts are the temporary connections you are able to make. Here and now, not some vaporware promised for the future. But what we can do on the spot with the media we have access to. Here in Amsterdam we have access to local TV, digital cities and fortresses of new and old media. In other places they might have theater, street demonstrations, experimental film, literature, photography. Tactical media’s mobility connects it to a wider movement of migrant culture."

OUTmontage.jpg O.U.T.: Operation Urban Terrain :a live action wireless gaming urban intervention
When: August 30, during the Republican National Convention, New York City.
Two women in gear are on the ground. One with a laptop and the other with a projector pointing onto building walls in 3 key locations in the city. They are connected through a mobile wireless bicycle to an online team of five game players located around the world. They intervene on servers in a popular online military simulation game with performance actions carried out by the whole team.The live projections in the city can also be viewed through a web cam on the OUT website.

yurigitman.jpgMagicbike is a mobile WiFi (wireless Internet) hotspot that gives free Internet connectivity wherever its ridden or parked. By turning a common bicycle into a wireless hotspot, Magicbike explores new delivery and use strategies for wireless networks and modern-day urbanites. Wireless bicycles disappear into the urban fabric and bring Internet to yet unserved spaces and communities. Mixing public art with techno-activism, Magicbikes are perfect for setting up adhoc Internet connectivity for art and culture events, emergency access, public demonstrations, and communities on the struggling end of the digital-divide.

Posted by michelle at 01:51 PM | Comments (1)