Image of Decoy         

by Jane Prophet is a piece that deals largely with time, nature and construction.
The piece consists of several digital images of man altered landscapes displayed on plasma screens, primarily images from the surrounding grounds of various English country homes, that have been given an overlaying of graphically designed natural bodies. Examples of such overlays are computer generated trees that animate and grow from the ground, or a stream that has been filled in with computer generated grass. Prophet’s piece focuses on the factor of time when applied to a landscape and how it changes. The ways in which she positions the growth of her “decoy” trees can allude to both the past when the grounds were covered in a more natural, irregular landscape and also the future, in which the trees may grow in plotted lanes or walkways due to man-made intervention. These implications point to an overall theme of the relationship between man and nature and our striving to control it. There is also a recurring theme of natural vs artificial, not only in the sense of naturally placed elements in the photo with artificially added objects; there is also a natural vs artificial theme with regards to the ways the objects are placed, such as the randomly placed objects found in nature and the organized, path marking objects of man.

[1]: Image source and information

My Little Piece of Privacy


Niklas Roy is an artist working out of Berlin, Germany. For his piece “My Little Piece of Privacy,” Roy took inspiration from the window in his ground-level studio. The large window offered a full view of the studio from the busy street outside.

Roy designed a curtain which was “small but smart (1).” Affixed to a clothesline-like apparatus with a motor, the curtain can move back and forth the width of the window. With the help of a surveillance camera installed outside and a software program, “My Little Piece of Privacy” detects those who walk by and moves the curtain in front of them.

Of course, the curtain tends to have the opposite effect; those who witness it become intrigued and are therefore more likely to violate his privacy by attempting to see inside. “The whole setup works really well.” Roy states, “but in the end, it doesn’t protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now!” (2)


The Murmur Project

The Murmur Study by Christopher Baker in 2009 bears a resemblance to The Listening Post, tackling the same ideas in a new way. The piece consists of 30 thermal printers that monitor Twitter for tweets consisting of “emotional utterances” such as ‘argh’, ‘ugh’, ‘ewww’, ‘grrr’ and so on. It then prints these statuses onto a long, thin strip of paper, accumulating more and mores statuses as time goes on. Over time the papers begin to pile on the ground in a huge tangled pile. A comment on what Baker refers to as ‘digital small talk’, Baker seeks for audiences to understand the permanence of this chatter, as companies record and archive these fleeting thoughts. It also makes one pause to see the sheer volume of these tweets, just a tiny fraction of what is actually being said on the internet. There is also an interesting play between what is analog and what is digital. Unlike the Listening Post, which displays things digitally, the Murmur Study gives something digital actual form. We have interplay between the seemingly impermanent (digital), and the permanent (analog). Baker’s piece is an excellent commentary on many’s lack of awareness concerning what they post online and it’s lasting effects.



Interesting fact: The
paper from this piece is 100% recycled in other projects.


Source: (

Photos by Christopher Baker and Marton Andras Juhasz

Drei Klavierstücke op. 11

Drei Klavierstücke op. 11 is a reinterpretation of Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 op. 11 Drei Klavierstück; 100 years after the piece was written, Cory Arcangel decided to remake it editing together youtube videos of cats playing the piano.
The work has been realized cutting and pasting roughtly 170 different cat videos.

On his website the artist explains that the choice of making such a work comes from the increasing similarity between the kind of art he likes and youtube content.

Technical Info from the artist’s website:

So, I probably made this video the most backwards and bone headed way
possible, but I am a hacker in the traditional definition of someone who
glues together ugly code and not a programmer. For this project I used
some programs to help me save time in finding the right cats.

Composite Fax Image

Composite Fax Image

Using fax machines connected to a conference call phone line, in 1972 artists Lief Brush in Iowa City, Sonia Sheridan in Chicago and Willard Van De Bogart in Pittsburgh created one of the first realtime, multinodal, remote collaborative artworks.  This work builds on the history of artists’ use of telecommunications, ranging
from Moholy-Nagy’s Telephone Paintings of 1922 and Bertolt Brecht’s
theory of Radio as an Apparatus of Communication (TE p. 228) and mail art in the 1960s.  It anticipates the use of two-way communications such as satellite by Galloway & Rabinowicz and computer networking by artists including Adrian and Ascott in the later 1970s and 1980s.  As described in a local newspaper,

“The sounds of raindrops in Iowa City, an infra-red photograph of the sun transmitted from Pittsburgh and ‘sequential drawings’ transmitted from Chicago produced this ‘composite joined image.’  The image was made by transmitting the three sets of signals, in a conference phone call, and picking up the ‘composite image’ on ‘facsimile machines’ located in the three cities.”  Iowa City Press Citizen, December 2, 1972, p 3A.

Pirates of the Amazon

“Pirates of the Amazon” was an artistic parody, part of a media research and developed at the Media Design M.A. course at the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Under the supervision of our tutor Denis Jaromil Rojo and former course director Florian Cramer. 

It was a practical experiment on interface design, information access and currently debated issues in media culture. The work received strong reactions for instance one day after publishing it received a take down request by the legal department of Dutch anti-piracy foundation Brein supposedly also requested the Rotterdam University to remove the controversial add on from the internet. The Rotterdam University decided to concede to these demands. 

Ultimately, the value of the project lies in the strong reactions that were provoked. It was a ready-made and social sculpture of contemporary internet user culture. 

Edward Shanken responded to this work on the net time mailinglist:

“Regarding “critical scholarly work on the internet,” Pirates of the Amazon seems a bit “lite” to warrant such a lofty moniker. It is a clever exercise/hack that demonstrates what anyone who is net-savvy already knows. Maybe I’m being too critical. Nonetheless, as a form of creative expression, I agree with Tobias’s point about the importance of it being protected from censorship. If there is a critical scholarly moment to be identified here, I believe it pertains to questions of the censorship of particular types of software. If they were my students, I would encourage them to take that as the starting point of their next project.” 

by Dr. Edward ShankenUniversity of Amsterdam, via, December 6, 2008


From the artist’s website

“A site-specific artwork that auto-generates films based upon narrative data collected from Facebook profiles. Using a combination of status updates, YouTube uploads and video portraits, the work looks at people in Barrow-in-Furness from a range of different perspectives, each one a form of surveillance.

The project uses status updates and demographic profiles, from Facebook users who live in Barrow, to automatically generate video narratives. Data from Facebook is combined with related footage from YouTube and selections from a database of video portraits to create one new video each day. The result is a dynamic snapshot of how we fit into the network of stories that we participate in every day. The videos evolve to keep pace with how we change, both individually and collectively.”

The status updates that the project selects are typically from a number of different users, as the software will seek out the best combination of available posts until it finds something that can be considered a story. This ‘script’ will then be used to construct a short film: a split screen in which one half consists of clips from a video portrait database filmed in advance, with people from Barrow who match the demographic profile of each status post; and the other half is footage automatically found on YouTube, with tags that match the text in the status post.

According to the artist, this is the first artwork to be made inside Facebook. By joining this application, data from your Facebook profile — age, gender and status updates — will be analyzed for narrative content, and potentially used to generate a short film. Your name will not be used, and your identity will remain private.


TODAY, TOO, I EXPERIENCED SOMETHING… in relation to other works

Linking social media and surveillance, this work creates intimate, yet somewhat confusing ‘collage portrait’ combining different data streams from various not nessecarily in any way related people. The data is mined and combined automatically, the work by the artist being in defining the boundries and patterns in software and coding, the result being computer generated. By being computer generated, the work follows up in certain ways on other works that concern coded form and electronic production, such as Yoichiro Kawaguchi’s Ocean or Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen’s Listening Post, which both in their own way combine streams of data to create a virtual world which reflect on the ‘real’ world.

At the same time, it evokes works such as Johannes Gees and CALC’s Communimage, which in a similar way uses a computer controlled algorithm to make visible the webs that are woven by and through online communities, through the stream of data generated by people connected by the internet.

This can be seen as fulfilling what Roy Ascott calls “the grand aspiration of networking in art, where the art work, the transformations of ‘creative data,’ are in perpetual motion, an unending process. I this sense the art itself becomes not a discrete set of entities, but rather a web of relationships between ideas and images in constant flux…” (Ascott 1984, p. 232-233)


Links and references

Ascott, Roy. Art and Telematics: Towards a Network Consciousness, 1984. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 232-233.

James Coupe

Link to Facebook application (only Barrovians can join)

Link to daily Youtube video subscription


Underground British artist Giles Walker is no stranger to robot art. For the last 20 years, he has been creating kinetic sculptures and robots, using discarded materials found in scrap yards all over Europe. He is a member of the guerrilla-art group THE MUTOID WASTE COMPANY.

His 2007 work entitled Peepshow, exhibited for the first time at Trash City, Glastonbury Festival, has been a massive success in the underground scene.

Peepshow consists of two female ‘exotic’ robotic pole dancers, accompanied by a robotic DJ and what appears to be a drunk robotic viewer. The two females are fully animated and controlled via PC, using a DMX lighting programme. They are powered by two V12 car wiper motors, found on a scrap yard, along with the other materials.

What is rather poignant about this piece is that the heads of the two female pole dancers are not normal, humanoid robotic heads. Rather, both heads are a CCTV camera. Walker wanted to show that we are “now all living in a peepshow. Continually being watched by mechanical peeping toms on every streetcorner.” [1] Keeping this in mind, Walker wondered whether “it was possible to literally make a CCTV camera sexy using simple mechanics…and by using the imagery of a pole dance question the roles played in voyeurism.” [2]

There is a lot of criticism concerning CCTV cameras, and whether or not it is necessary to watch the public using these cameras. Like Walker said, there is something remarkably voyeuristic about these cameras: you know you are being watched but not by whom. By turning the CCTV cameras into strippers, Walker had created a role reversal. In stead of us, the public, being watched in a (perhaps sexual) way, we now watch the cameras. The cameras perform for us, are degraded by their sexual and exotic act, and we, the public, may feel like we have gained some form of leverage on these invasive cameras.

Another fascinating aspect of Walker’s Peepshow, is the movement of the strippers. The sway of their ‘hips’, the tilt of their ‘arms’, they all perfectly mimic a natural, human movement. Walker has stated that he has seen “many robots and met many robot builders and I think where mine are different are that I try to give them movements that create character and not to perform a function.” [3] Function, thus, is something Walker is not interested in. He creates robots to create robotic characters, to have those characters interact with their audience, rather than have his robots be functional things, only able of performing a predestined path.

Giles Walker - Peepshow

Peepshow is somewhat similar to Security by Julia [4] created by Julia Sher. Both artists have used their artworks to expose the CCTV (and general security recording systems), clearly placing them ‘out in the open’, by deliberately using them in the wrong context. As Shanken said, “Sher can make the technologies of an otherwise closed and private system accessible to the public, opening up a space to question the widespread use of these same technologies in modern society.” [5] Peepshow by Walker enables an audience to question the use of CCTV as well, opening up the debate by placing them in such an erotic and racy environment.

But why would Walker use robots to expose the CCTV? Eduardo Kac states that “[r]obots make room for social criticism, personal concerns, and the free play of imagination and fantasy.” [6] By using his pole dancer robots, Walker opens up a space for debate and deliberation, one that seems to be available to robots only.


Artist’s Website


[1] [2] Walker, Giles. Pole Dancers. Retrieved from

[3] Walker, Giles. Robots. Retrieved from

[4] [5] As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp 127.

[6] Kac, Eduardo and Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca. Robotic Art (1997). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp249

Street With A View

From the project’s website

Street With A View introduces fiction, both subtle and spectacular, into the doppelganger world of Google Street View.

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors and other participants from around the city staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more…

Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.

An incredible cast of real-life characters contributed their time, energy and talents to creating pseudo-street life on Sampsonia Way. Please check out the scene breakdown,  the participant page and the video documentation to learn more about the artists, groups and participants that made Street With A View possible. 


Blurring reality and fiction

In a grand attempt to blur the lines between reality and fiction the two artists gathered a large group of other artists and willing contributers from the local community to ‘rig’ the Street View car sent by Google to record the streets as they are. This is the only known artistic large scale intervention in Google Street View. Assembling various disciplines of art and other community services as well as clubs, Street With A View includes many different scenes, to which a guide is linked above, including but not limited to a marching band, confetti throwers, a tableau vivant of people moving house, a fictive marathon, a medieval sword fight, an appearance by the local butcher and many more things. Extending works like the Aspen Movie Map, which was a project intended to virtually recreate reality, Street With A View projects that which is fictional, yet obviously exists in our reality (as we thought of it) into the virtual space.

It also challenges the perspectives on surveillance, by showing a heightened awareness of the fact that life is being recorded, whether this is liked or not, and making use of this fact; injecting it with artistic value.

Street With A View: Marching Band

The work also explores cinematic values, as the staged and the spontaneous leak into eachother, within the artwork manifesting as local youth and passerbys walking into the directed scenes and the ‘actors’ of the scenes interacting with them in turn. In a certain sense, this is a form of ‘expanded cinema’, which challenges what is real and what is directed, how static images are given narrative, even though the framerate is only as high as the speed with which the viewer clicks through the street in which the scenes play and to where the spectator looks while clicking on. It is, nevertheless, the user which controls the speed of the images and the window and thus the viewpoint. In this sense “the technologies of virtual environments point to cinema that is an immersive narrative space, wherein the interactive viewer assume the role of both cameraperson and editor.” (Shaw 2002, p. 263)


Links & References

Jeffery Shaw. Movies After Film – The Digitally Expanded Cinema, 2002. In:
Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:

Phaidon, 2009, p. 263.

Street With A View Homepage

Direct Link to Google Street View


You Are Here

You Are Here is a networked art work by Scott Snibbe, that tracks and displays the paths of visitors walking in a specific public sphere. “The system displays the aggregate paths of the last two hundred visitors along with blobs representing the people currently being tracked. When viewers approach the work, they can display the live video image with the paths of currently tracked visitors superimposed.” The art work consists of two important parts: the overhead tracking that is done by six networked firewire cameras and a comera that integrates the images and tracks. “The custom tracking software integrates the cameras’ disparate views into a single composite data stream by correcting for lens distortion, then transforming each image into a common coordinate system.” [1]

The red arrow points to the visitor that is now looking at the installation. This viewer can also rewind the art work to see where and how the visitors travel throughout the designated area. This piece was made possible by new GPS technology, that is increasingly being used in other public spaces, as the streets, airports, shopping malls etc.. Unlike in the ‘real’ world, anonymity is guaranteed with You Are Here. There is no data collected and the only use of the gathered information is to show visitors their tracked paths. Because of the art work, the viewers get an understanding of surveillance systems capabilities and a visual representation of information that is normally only accessible as dry statistics. Also, the tracking shows the interconnectedness of visitors with other visitors to the space by giving them a sense of the aggregated presence of people over time. [2] The artwork makes the participant realize that they can be watched anywhere. This can be a paranoid experience, but making the people aware of existing GPS technology in the ‘real’ world at least informs the participants about its possibilities.

Because of the use of locative technology to track something, You Are Here is quite similar to Milk from Esther Polak, Ieva Auzina and Marcus The. Milk uses GPS technology to track and visualize the continuous global flow of milk. It follows the milk from the cow in Latvia to the consumer in the Netherlands. It is also possible to follow this ‘milkline’ on the internet through their website.

Willoughby Sharp, in Worldpool: A Call for Global Community Communication (1978), discusses how businesses are becoming linked with communication technology in a globally connected network, anticipating subsequent developments in digital culture. Because You Are Here makes the people aware of the possibilities of GPS technology, you could say that this artwork also makes people aware of the increasing network that they find themselves in because of the surveillance in the ‘real’ world.



[1] Snibbe’s website

[2] Snibbe’s website

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 139

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 229, 230


A Bicycle Built for 2,000


Bicycle Built For 2,000 is a collaborative artwork in the form of a song comprised of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service. Workers were prompted to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard. The recorded sound clips were collected and organized into the original pattern.

The song “Daisy Bell,” originally written by Harry Dacre in 1892, was made famous in 1962 by John Kelly, Max Mathews, and Carol Lockbaum as the first example of musical speech synthesis. At the end of the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ (1968), the computer/cyborg HAL is singing ‘Daisy Bell’. In contrast to the 1962 and 1968 versions, Bicycle Built For 2,000 was synthesized with a distributed system of human voices from all over the world.

Bicycle Built For 2,000 can be listened to here. By clicking ‘Computer’ you can listen to the computerized speech version wich parts where sent to the workers.

Via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service, people from 71 different countries (The top ten were the United States, India, Canada, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Philippines, Germany, Romania, Italy, and Pakistan.) where collectively put to work. These workers were asked to imitate what they heard, they were not given any additional information about the project. Every worker was paid $0.06 USD for his efforts. [1]

Relations to other artworks

Bicycle Built For 2,000 is most similar to an older and perhaps more interesting art project by Aaron Koblin, entitled Ten Thousand Cents (2008, see linked entry); “Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing,” “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.” [2]

Both artworks can be compared to Andy Deck’s Glyphiti (2001, see linked entry), which also employs mass-collaboration. A vital difference however, is that the participants/creators in Glyphiti knew what they were doing. Since the ‘workers’ in Koblin’s art projects were not aware of the goal of their input, and on top of that were paid to participate, one could call the collaboration slightly involuntary. This practice can also be seen in light of the traditions of networks and culture jamming. By keeping the workers in the dark, Koblin and Massey have succeeded in realizing the exact opposite of what Roy Ascott enthusiastically theorized as ‘Network Consciousness’ (1984). [3]  Bicycle Built for 2,000 seems to be making a much more sober, if not somber, commentary on the potential of computer networks to exploit, rather than liberate, users.  The bicycle is, arguably, built for only two – the artists themselves – through the menial labor of 2,000 low-paid, anonymous creators.

More information about the project, Bicycle Built For 2,000, can be found here.

More information about the artist, Aaron Koblin, can be found here.

More information about the artist, Daniel Massey, can be found here.


[1] Bicycle Built For 2,000 Website, <>

[2] Ten Thousand Cents Website, <>

[3] Roy Ascott, “Art and Telematics: Toward a Network Consciousness,” in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 231

AR Magic System

AR Magic System is an interactive system inspired by magical illusions performed by illusionists. Clara Boj and Diego Diaz, the artists behind Lalalab claim that there was an Ancient Egyptian magician who interchanged the heads of chickens and ducks and made people believe it was really magic, this was the inspiration for this work.

Based on an augmented reality system, AR Magic System allows users to exchange faces with their neighbours in real time by looking at themselves in a mirror-like video projection. Audiences participate enthusiastically in the augmented reality system, their interactions are intuitive. The produced effect is funny and magical; people pull rather unbecoming faces when their faces appear on their neighbour’s bodies, as if they were trying to make the rest of their neighbour’s body look silly. In an interview, the artists said, “It is really amazing how people react when they look at themselves and see another face that is smiling or talking and they cannot control the expression. It is as if somebody has supplanted your identity. For us it was a real surprise how people enjoyed this very simple idea and they played for a long time and called their friends to see how it feels to be the other. […] Almost everybody who played with the piece took a picture of their transformed face. We found dozens of those pictures on Flickr, which for us is a sign of how people enjoyed the experience.” [1]

It is a rather confusing sight, as the participants’ faces and bodies are mixed up, resulting in a sense of disembodiment. This somehow distances the participants from their sense of visual identity which then allows them to interact intuitively and freely with the other person’s body. By playing with technological simplicity, Lalalab raises complex questions about one’s sense of identity and how it is constructed.

AR Magic System recalls Paul Sermon’s artwork Telematic Dreaming (1993, see linked entry), which created a hybrid space that joins real and virtual forms of presence. Two separate beds, video cameras and a projector were connected by a telecommunications line. These were used to create a very eerie effect where a participant would lie on the bed with the projection of the other participant next to him or herself. Both AR Magic System and Telematic Dreaming challenge human perception, space and privacy through the intermingling of real and virtual forms of presence. However, AR Magic System differs from Sermon’s work by including identity in its subject matter, which heightens the sense of disembodiment and freedom in the virtual world.

Lalalab’s augmented reality system could be seen as a visualised form of Eduardo Kac’s concept of telepresence, where, he saw “telepresence art as challenging the teleological nature of technology.” The camera is no longer used to record what stands before it, nor does the screen display what has been recorded in AR Magic System, revealing what Kac calls a “phenomenology of perception” [2] and a new form of communication with others and one’s identity.



[1] WMMNA Interview with Lalalab

[2] Kac, Eduardo, Telepresence Art, 1993, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 237

Smoke and Hot Air

Designed by Italian artist Ali Momeni and Robin Mandel with the help of artist Matthew Brackett, Smoke and Hot Air is an installation which responds to the unceasing threats aimed at Iran by more fortunate countries (the USA, UK and Israel being amongst them) in recent years. The system which controls the installation scans Google news for phrases containing “attack Iran” which are then spoken using a text to speech synthesizer. The detached, computerised voice which utters the Iran threats is magnified by a microphone, analysed and then is emitted as rhythmically corresponding smoke rings from a quartet of smoke ring makers.

As Niranjan Rajah wrote in 2000, “The near instantaneous connectivity of computer mediated communications seems to have eliminated geographical distance as all ‘points’ on the Internet exist in virtual proximity. […] The Internet is a new kind of terrain, one that transcends geography – a ‘cyber terrain,’ whose ‘frontiers’ are being ‘opened up’ in which ‘claims’ are being ‘staked.” [1] Yet, upon viewing Smoke and Hot Air, one begins to question whether the proximity and immediacy of the Internet and news services actually leads to truth or whether it is a smoke screen. Since the Internet is mainly North American it reflects the world’s most powerful countries’ opinions and their widespread hysteria surrounding terrorism, yet it does not reflect the entire globe’s view on the situation in Iran.

Through the artists’ artwork, the viewer is urged to reconsider his or her stance on the media landscape which frequently depicts Iran as the country making threats, instead of receiving them. However, a recent turn of events, namely the uprising after the 2009 Iranian elections, Iran has received much global support. Thus, this only proves how easily our opinions can be moulded by the media. As the threats directed at Iran are puffed out as smoke rings, the room becomes hazy and one begins to ponder whether the opinions we have on Iran are a mere smoke screen put up by the global press agencies. The smoke rings also recall smoke signals sent out as calls for help, or even mushroom cloud rings produced by nuclear weapons, the analogies are endless in this case. One begins to wonder why we have been made to see only one side of an issue so politically and culturally complex.

Antonio Muntadas’ work The File Room from 1994, explored similar issues to the creator of Smoke and Hot Air, where he delved into the history of censorship. Now a web-based archive, the public can access it to sort through cases of censorship by geographical location, date or reason for censorship. Similarly, the work also reveals why we are made to believe false truths.


[1] Rajah, Niranjan, Nation, National Culture and Art in an Era of Globalization and Computer Mediated Communications, 2000, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:

Phaidon, 2009, p. 241

Ali Momeni’s website

WMMNA article on Smoke and Hot Air

“Helena” by Marco Evaristti

“Ten white Moulinex Optiblend 2000 mixers were placed on a simple table. Each of these was filled with water and contained a live goldfish. The mixers were visibly plugged in and thus ready to use. Anyone pressing the yellow button would thereby kill the fish. The visitors thus became the judges of life or death.  An hour after one of the visitors had pressed one of the buttons, the police would enter and order the electricity to be cut off. Meyer was charged with animal cruelty and fined 2000 Danish Crowns, upon which he appealed. During the following laborious trial expert witnesses were called to provide evidence on the way in which the fish were killed, ultimately establishing that, in contrast to customary methods, the short duration of the killing of maximum one second was one of the more humane methods. On May 19th 2003 the BBC reported Meyers acquittal with the headline “Liquidising goldfish not a crime”: … But a court in Denmark has now ruled that the fish were not treated cruelly, as they had not faced prolonged suffering. The fish were killed instantly and humanely, said Judge Preben Bagger.  The show trial in the service of the freedom of art reached its conclusion. Did Evaristti calculate in the factor of media reaction right from the outset? Was the killing of one or more fish his intention? Was the trial part of the art project?

Marco Evaristti and "Helena"

Evaristti did not in any way encourage the visitors to kill the fish, but left the decision to them.  According to eyewitnesses, the killing of the first fish created a charged atmosphere among the numerous media representatives who were present who virtually encouraged the visitors to press the button in order to initiate a scandal  something they ultimately achieved.  The public followed Evaristtis division of society into three groups: the idiot, who pres-ses the button [the sadist], the voyeur who loves to watch, and the moraliser. […] The media and the public were the voyeurs and the animal protection groups and those others who protested were the moralists.  The artist sees his installation as a social experiment in which he tries to interpret reality through reality, and not through a lie. Evaristti distances himself in this way from the representa-tion of horror in the sense of the classical art term, since he considers the interpretation of what happened as a falsification of reality.” 1.

The given option to “transform the content into fishsoup”, as one a reporter put it, shook up a lot of people and got a lot of media attention, which can be compared to the appearance of a cure for impotence. In an internet poll conducted by the CNN, 72% (which were 30,592 votes) thought this was definitely not art. Unexpectedly, Helena was defended by animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, argueing that the given option of turning the blender on, raises the question of the power humans have over animals. 2.

Another artwork that raises questions on the power humans have and exercise is Eduardo Kac’s Genesis, fosussing on the ethics of DNA manipulation. Kac displayed a text from the biblical Genesis accrediting humanity dominion over its environment, thereby helping the audience to consciously think about the intended subject. Evaistti did not help his audience to understand the intention he had when creating Helena, possibly this was one of the causes for its misunderstanding.

Helena also resembles Free Range Grain of Critical Art Ensemble, because this performance laces the contemporary food industry. By putting the goldfish into a blender, Evaristti too made an evident reference to the contemporary food industry.

This artwork helps to disclose the effects of interconnections between technology, desire and ethics on the ‘use’ of animals. SubRosa has a similar goal, but these activists conflict for equality of men and women (AEM 253). In a sense, animals and women can be equated to the extend that they are both minority groups, put in a disadvantaged position by discourses deeply embedded in our culture. The sad part is that the animals are unable to speak up for their rights.

The video below shows a commercial for the Aarhus Museum, one of the museums where Helena was diplayed.

1. Source:

2. Paraphrased from: Baker, Steve. Picturing the beast. Animals, identity and representation. University of Illinois Press: 2001. Urbana

Kanye Webst

From May 11th to May 17th, 2009, the art collective F.A.T. inaugurated Kanye Webst Week.   The aim of the project was to produce a variety of applications, which parodied the American rapper’s famed shenanigans in the real and virtual worlds.

For example, in response to the hysteria surrounding the swine flu pandemic and Kanye West’s outspoken opinions on basically everything, the art collective F.A.T. produced the BEAUTIFLU Kit (above) containing a silver facemask designed to resemble Kanye West’s famous “shutter shades” and plastic sleeves in which one could put their Louis Vuitton wallets to protect their money from being contaminated by swine flu.  Other works produced as part of Kanye Webst Week appear below.

F.A.T. stands for “Free Art and Technology,” and the artists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, musicians and “Bornas” use their platform to spread their excellent, cunning and witty discoveries with the public. F.A.T. is “dedicated to enriching the public domain one mutha-***in’ LOL at a time.”

F.A.T. takes an ironic approach to what Roy Ascott describes in his 1984 essay, “Art and Telematics: Toward a Network Consciousness”:  ‘The creative use of networks makes them organisms. The work is never in a state of completion, how could it be so? Telematique is a decentralising medium; its metaphor is that of a web or net in which there is no centre, or hierarchy, no top nor bottom. […] To engage in telematic communications is to be at once everywhere and nowhere. In this it is subversive. It subverts the idea of authorship bound up with the solitary individual. It subverts the idea of individual ownership of the works of imagination.’ [1] The F.A.T. artists constantly update their web art, which is often produced daily, sometimes even within an hour’s time, countering the notion that creating art is a lengthy process. Their works are available for download and individuals are invited to experiment with their finds. Through the use of such a ridiculously famous star such as Kanye West, F.A.T. has reached new audiences and created new networks, their web platform received over 70, 000 hits during Kanye Webst Week. The image of Kanye West is both a target of ridicule in their art but also a catalyst for web art development.


This is a webpage that generates a new Kanye West quote with every mouse click. It closely resembles the gibberish that escaped the American rapper’s physical and virtual mouth. By Irene Polnyi and Jamie Wilkinson.

KANYEFY Bookmarklet

This bookmarklet application is to be installed in one’s browser. Upon clicking the KANYEFY bookmarklet, the viewed webpage will be ‘Kanyefied’, which means that the typeface is set to CAPS LOCK and additional, unnecessary and grammatically incorrect punctuation marks are inserted into the text. The effect is rather humorous, especially when one ‘Kanyefies’ newspaper or governmental websites.

Kanye Rant Detector

A real-time Twitter alert which alarms following Tweeters when a new Kanye West rant appears on his blog.

Lowercase Kanye

An application which removes Kanye West’s well known use of CAPS LOCK and free advertisements on his blog in order to make his blog posts more comprehensible.

F.A.T. LAB U.K.anye

A free 1 second mp3 download link which plays the Oyster card scanner bleep when scanning an Oyster card in a London bus. When one passes the Oyster card scanner, one must play the tone off their mobile phone to avoid paying the 2 GBP bus fare and “HELP GOD SAVE THE QUID.” This FREE ART TRANSPORTATION plays on Kanye West’s song Can’t Tell Me Nothing, where the rapper sings about how he will become rich. James Powderly, the artist behind this project, helps aspiring Kanye West wannabees save their pennies.


This CAPS LEDS TWITTER RANTS badge is a GSM Arduino-enabled hacked LED device which connects with the KANYE RANT DETECTOR Twitter feed. The badge features a cut out Kanye West torso and a small LED screen which features rants in CAPS LOCK only. F.A.T. artist Aram Bartholl proclaims that “TRUE FANS WEAR AND SHOW OFF THE LATEST KANYE RANT IN PUBLIC!!!!!!!!!!!”

Where are you Yeezy??!??!??!?!?!?!?!?

“Where Are You Yeezy?!” is an image macro originating in early June 2008 as a “Girl of the Week” post on Kanye West’s blog. This phrase was also a line in the song “Flashing Lights” from his September 2007 release of Graduation. Yeezy is a nickname for Kanye West.
Kanye West would post images of models, actresses, and other it-girls where he would add a comic bubble next to each image with the phrase, “Where are you Yeezy?” and  “I’m right her.” written underneath the photo. In January 2009, Kanye wrote a post in which he described the making of “Yeezy” image macros using Comic Life, his reasons for his design choices and why he enjoys this posting theme.
F.A.T.’s online application “Where are you Yeezy??!??!??!?!?!?!?!?” generates these comic bubbles which can then be placed on any image you find on the Internet.

Minimal Bling

Minimal Bling is a free album created by Geraldine Juarez and Oliver Farshi by destroying their favourite Kanye tracks and generating new ones from the recycled material using the Iredux software. This software destroys music files, removes their copyright and generates a new ambient track. The new music file can be exploited in any way the user finds suitable. Iredux plays on the concept of recycling in the virtual world in the era of widespread ecological hysteria. The software can also be used to destroy one’s pirate music, clearing the downloader of ‘pirate guilt.’


This artwork  can be watched here. It is an updated version of Retarded Kanye. It displays a tiled image of a woman mourning the economic crisis displayed on a screen. The sound playing in the background is a slowed down Kanye West track whose drone becomes unbearable to listen to after a while. This is a comment on when Kanye West interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech to the New York Investment Banker community to deliver an apology for his behaviour during an awards ceremony.



[1] Ascott, in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:
Phaidon, 2009, p. 231

F.A.T. website

Lowest Resolution

Zhang Peili’s Lowest Resolution consists of a long, narrow, dark alley with a small LCD screen hanging at the end. The LCD screen plays a video, hardly recognizable from distance, of a girl in a red school uniform. The distance makes it difficult to see exactly what the girl is doing or to hear if she’s talking or singing, or maybe crying. The visitor is drawn to the screen to find out what is being displayed but punished for his curiosity. The closer the viewer gets to the screen, the more the quality of image and sound deteriorates before eventually turning into a fuzzy snow and murmuring noise.

far awayclose up

The closer the visitor gets to the screen, the fuzzier the image becomes, until its resolution is reduced to a single pixel. As the viewer moves away from the screen again, the image reappears, from a threshold distance of about six meters, completely in focus again. The distance between the visitor and the screen, however, becomes so great that the image can no longer be recognized. The participant is thus involved in the issue of choosing the correct distance and attitude with respect to the reception of content produced by media, or by digital means. The most immediate position, directly in front of the screen, appears, in this light, to be the least favorable one.

From a certain distance the viewer can distinguish two people having sex with each other. The video depicted on the LCD screen is actually a Chinese sex education video. Lowest Resolution points to a Installation outside of
 exhibitionpuritanical streak in Chinese political culture. Peili uses this artwork to point out the ambiguous view on sex in China, where sex is taboo. The notion that sex is somehow ‘forbidden’ to speak of has inspired a strong tendency of voyeurism. It is exactly this voyeurism that Lowest Resolution tempers with. The urge to see the sexual content that is being depicted on the LCD screen is being punished by making the content even less visible to the spectator.

Paul Gladston in an interview with Zhang Peili: “In the case of Lowest Resolution, you show a Chinese sex education video using digital technology that makes the image increasingly illegible — more heavily pixilated–the closer one gets to it. Arguably, this could be interpreted as a feminist critique of the patriarchal gaze as well as a performative demonstration of what poststructuralists would argue is an inescapable slippage between desire and knowledge; that is to say, the notion that the closer one gets to a desired presence or meaning the more indeterminate it becomes. All of which places your work more or less squarely in relation to the legacy of the Western avant-gardes and post avant-gardes.” [1]

Lowest Resolution also deals with objective and subjective perception in relationship to its (re-)production by the media. This allows a shift of focus from the perspective of voyeurism to that of the medium. By combining both perspectives, Lowest Resolution seems to embody what David Rokeby meant when he was comparing the medium to a mirror. Alltough, in this case, the technology does not reflect recognizably. [2] It does so on purpose, to distort the sense of self and point out the experience of curiosity and voyeurism.

Relations to other artworks

Lowest Resolution bears similarity to a broad spectrum of artworks. The deterioration of images is also used in artworks like ‘Die Photokopie der Photokopie der Photokopie’ by Timm Ulrich (1967), ‘Beatles Electroniques’ by Jud Yalkut & Nam June Paik (1966) and ‘Dawn Burn’ by Mary Lucier (1973). Just like Lowest Resolution, ‘Video Flag Y’ by Nam June Paik (1985) used video screens as a portret to make a political statement. Bruce Nauman’s ‘Live-Taped Video Corridor’ (1970) also revolves around perception of video images correlated with the viewer’s distance to the artwork.

When we look at the way the viewer percieves the artwork in combination with the notion of voyeurism, Lowest Resolution can be compared to the images of the nude woman in Kenneth Knowlton and Leon Harmon’s Studies in Perception 1 (1966). Both artworks seem to play with the notion that, how fuzzy or unclear the image might be, depicting sex or nudity appears to make the viewer fill in the blanks and grab their attention.

In 2007, Lowest Resolution was exhibited in the Dutch Electronic Art Festival.

Zhang Peili is a Chinese video artist who’s artworks are often critical demonstrations of how propaganda and censorship are enforced in China. More information about the artist can be found here.



[1] Recurring Intimations of Disorder: A Conversation with Zhang Peili (by Paul Gladston) (2008) Link. 

[2] Rokeby, excerpted in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223.

Amazon Noir

In 2006, some 3,000 digital copies of books were silently “stolen” from online retailer by targeting vulnerabilities in the “Search inside the Book” feature from the company’s website. Over several weeks, between July and October, a specially designed software program bombarded the ‘Search Inside!’ interface with multiple requests, assembling full versions of texts and distributing them across peer-to-peer networks (P2P).

Rather than a purely malicious and anonymous hack, however, the “heist” was publicized as a tactical media performance, Amazon Noir, produced by self-proclaimed Amazon Noir in Exhibitionsuper-villains Paolo Cirio, Alessandro Ludovico, and While controversially directed at highlighting the infrastructures that materially enforce property rights and access to knowledge online, the exploit additionally interrogated its own interventionist status as theoretically and politically ambiguous. That the “thief” was represented as a digital entity or mechanical process (operating on the very terrain where exchange is differentiated) and the emergent act of “piracy” was fictionalized through the genre of noir conveys something of the indeterminacy or immensurability of the event.

The method by wich the ‘Search Inside The Book’ feature was targated is technically described in this picture of the blue-prints of the ‘core robot’ named Sucker01-12. The books that were stolen were randomly selected by searching for a number of keywords. A list of the books that were stolen can be viewed here.

All our work is done in the open. Our matter is accurate. Amazon Noir was scripted as an auto-generated internet-movie. The whole digital action (media hack) was carried out in the global massmedia, within the art world and on a highly sophisticated technical level in the clandestine matrix Amazon Noir in Exhibitionof our global networks.” [1]

In July 2006 Amazon France and Amazon USA threatend to litigate. The matter was resolved out of court October 30th, 2006. Amazon bought the Amazon Noir software for an undisclosed sum. Both parties signed a non-disclosure agreement.

This work of art generated a huge amount of media attention and fired up the debate on copyrighted digital media forms.

Paolo Cirio: “The hype of the spin against piracy that comes from media propaganda is ever focused on the criminalization of downloading and sharing content under copyright. The main controversial consequence of increment of sharing of content is the lucrative exploiting by the corporations, like actually Napster or the big business of the devices for playing MP3 and DviX. So we are the worst guys of the scene: we have done a big crime and in the end we have betrayed our action, with a deal with the enemy. It‘s a representation of the actual ambiguity about copyright issue, where in any case it seems that anything has a right moral or ethic roots.” [2]


Relations to other artworks

Amazon Noir is both a performance and a technological artwork that fits in the tradition of artworks that actively fight control systems that threaten civil liberties. These culture jamming strategies are used by artist to raise awareness on censorship, corporate hegemony, pollution, discrimination and surveillance. [3]

The artistic use of hacking raises questions on what Lorne Falk calls ‘Technologically Correct’ (TC), and wheter the user or the software is the object of the artwork. [4]

This movement spawned artworks such as Antonio Muntadas’ ‘The File Room’ (1994), wich was created to both support and resist censorship. Just like ®tmark and the Yes Men’s ‘ and WTO imposter performances’ (1999), Amazon Noir used the web as an artistic means of resistance. Randall Packer’s ‘US Department of Art & Technology’ (2001) is another example of semi-legal culture jamming.


Amazon Noir‘s official website can be found here.

The artwork was exhibited in Berlin at Transmediale Festival 2008. Pictures of the exhibition can be viewed here.

More information about the lead artist, Paolo Cirio, can be found here.



[1] Amazon-noir website, <>

[2] The Big Book (C)rime, An e-mail conversation with Paolo Cirio, Alessandro Ludovico, Interview by Franz Thalmair for CONT3XT.NET. (pdf)

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 35

[4] Quoted in Raphael Lozano-Hemmer, “Perverting Technological Correctness” (1996) in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 240


The Sheep Market

The Sheep Market is a web-based artwork that uses the ‘Amazon Mechanical Turk’ (MTurk) system to get thousands of workers involved in the creation of a massive database of drawings.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a crowd-sourcing marketplace intended for corporate use. It is based on the idea that certain tasks are simple for people, yet difficult for computers. Corporations can put these simple tasks online; these vary from translating a paragraph, to giving your opinion about the design of a website. This way, workers can choose from thousands of tasks and get paid for it. The workers will remain alienated from the larger processes they are contributing to, though, because they only have one simple task to focus on.

Aaron Koblin used this system for his artwork. He requested workers to create a vision of a sheep facing to the left using a simple drawing tool. The workers received only two cents for their labor, and weren’t allowed to create more than five sheep. But despite this low wage, Koblin received 10.000 sheep in only 40 days. He closed down the system after these 40 days, but began to receive hand drawn sheep and requests to add new sheep to the lot. It seems that the workers are/were driven by other motivations than money.



Koblin’s inspiration for ‘The Sheep Market’ was to try and exploit human creativity, while at the same time shedding light on the insignificant role each worker plays as part of a whole.  But Koblin was mostly curious how workers would respond to his absurd task: “When I saw the first sheep come through the system I knew I had made the right decision. As I had hoped each sheep truly reflected the individual and humanity behind it.” [1]

Roy Ascott, in his article ‘Art and Telematics: Towards A Network Consciousness’ dated 1984, already celebrates networking in that it offers a “participatory mode of dispersed authorship”. [2] Now, in the 2000s, networking is nothing new for us. Looking at Amazon’s MTurk and ‘The Sheep Market’, it even seems networking and dispersed authorship have already been commodified.   

The workers, who came predominantly from the United States, provided the following statistics [3]: 

     Approximate Collection rate:     11 sheep/hour

     Collection Period:                       40 days

     Rejected Sheep:                           662

     Average Wage:                            $.69/hour           

     Time spent drawing:                   105 seconds  

After collecting all the sheep, Koblin tried to present his database. The first form in which he presented ‘The Sheep Market’ was by printing the sheep on collectable stamps, which  were grouped in blocks of twenty (just like the traditional methods of counting sheep). Koblin tried to overwhelm the viewer by putting all the stamps on display, which also invited the viewer to investigate the work more closely.

The second form in which he presented ‘The Sheep Market’ was with a conveyer-like system which drew the sheep onto the screen with the original stroke order used by the artist. This display had a more ‘industrial feel’.

Finally, Koblin decided to present the sheep in an online format that allowed viewing of the entire group as a whole, as well as the possibility to browse the individual sheep and witness their creation process. Also, the sheep can be purchased on the website which, at first, created a relatively hostile response. The creators of the sheep didn’t really agree with this idea; it opened up a discussion on creative ownership. This online format can be found on:




The last unanswered question is of course: why sheep? Koblin states that he has many reasons for this. He explains: “Sheep have played an important role in the development of civilization. One of the first animals to be domesticated and used for utility and consumption, the sheep has maintained a relatively central role throughout social evolution.” [4] He also refers to ‘Le Petit Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery which incorporates images of sheep as a pivotal point in the narrative, and he also refers to the sheep Dolly, which was the first mammal to be cloned. But these references can be read in more detail in Koblin’s thesis document, which can be downloaded from his website. 




[1] From Aaron Koblin’s Thesis Document, p. 26 

[2] Ascott, Roy. ‘Art and Telematics: Towards a Network of Consciousness’ (1984). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 231.

[3] From Aaron Koblin’s Thesis Document, p. 30 

[4] From Aaron Koblin’s Thesis Document, p. 10 


The Dumpster

“OK, Eric freakin broke up with me for the stupidest reason ever! He said he couldn’t date anyone that doesn’t like god! What the freak! I think he was just looking for an excuse to brake up with me. That really hurt …”

 “WOW im talking to Marks girlfriend, and i really like her. I can now understand why he broke up with me for her. I would have done it too. Haha” 

These quotations are part of an online artwork, called ‘The Dumpster’. ‘The Dumpster’ is an interactive online visualization of the romantic lives of American teenagers. It is a database consisting of 20.000 postings of online blogs (posted in 2005) in which a breakup is being discussed. At least half of the authors were American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. And about seventy percent of the postings have female authors, while roughly fifteen percent of the bloggers are male.

 Although romantic breakups have the connotation to be very depressing, the postings that can be found in this database are really diverse. Similar to the quotations at the top of this article; some reactions are sad, some are ironic or even relieved.  

 The blog posts were collected by searching BlogPulse for break-ups. Blog posts containing phrases such as “dumped me” were collected and then analyzed by a computer system that eliminated all of the wrong findings. The remaining posts were then categorized by common features such as age, gender, emotional characteristics, but also factual characteristics (like was someone in the relationship cheating?).  

 The largest part of the design of the database consists of ‘Breakup Bubbles’. These represent the individual postings about a breakup. You can click on these bubbles, to see what has been written about the romantic failure. On the right side of the screen you will see the text appear.

 The breakup bubble you have clicked on, will become your ‘Currently Selected Breakup’ and turn yellow. All of the other bubbles that are similar to your yellow bubble, will try to move towards your bubble, and will also be brighter in colour (depending on how similar it is to the yellow bubble). The size of the bubble indicates the size of the text from the posting.

 On the left side of the screen you can find the ‘PixelView Region’. This area represents the entire database of 20.000 postings. At the bottom of the screen you can find a ‘Timeline’ showing how many breakups were found on every day in 2005. Also, the day on which your currently selected bubble was written will be highlighted in this timeline.

The Dumpster

Golan Levin, the artist, states that this project is an experiment in information visualization: “Traditionally the tool of the scientist and engineer, information visualization has increasingly become a powerful new tool for artists as well, allowing them to present, search, browse, filter and compare rich information spaces in order to discover and reveal new narratives otherwise hidden within the data flows of our world.” [1] In this way ‘The Dumpster’ is, in the words of Roy Ascott, “a web of relationships between ideas and images in constant flux, to which no single authorship is attributable and whose meanings depend on the active participation of whoever enters the network.” [2]

This project of information visualization also makes it possible to get a view of teen language from 2005. What’s more, we can get a glimpse of how every person’s pain is unique, but also similar to other people’s pain. Because we are all rooted in a linguistic network, we all use very similar language to describe our pain and our emotions.

Lev Manovich discusses ‘The Dumpster’ in his essay, “Social Data Browsing”. He points out that this artwork can be seen as a ‘social data browser’ in which: “the particular and the general are presented simultaneously, without one being sacrificed to the other”. [3] ‘The Dumpster’ gives us the option to view every unique breakup, but it simultaneously offers a view on thousands of other breakups. In other words, ‘The Dumpster’ is a framework in which the self portrait and the group portrait come together.   

“The Dumpster” site.


[1] Golan Levin:

[2] Ascott, Roy. ‘Art and Telematics: Towards a Network of Consciousness’ (1984). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 233.

[3] Manovich, Lev. ‘Social Data Browsing’. Tate Intermedia Art: 12 February 2006. <>

Hand From Above

‘Hand From Above’ is a public art piece on the ‘BBC Big Screen’ in Liverpool. “It encourages us to question our normal routine when we often find ourselves rushing from one destination to another.” [1] When pedestrians walk by, they see themselves on the big screen and will be tickled, stretched, flicked or removed by a big hand.

 The screen is connected to a CCTV camera, linked to a computer that runs software that can pick walkers-by based on their proportions and how apart they are from other people. When there is too big a crowd it resorts to tickling people, with a random selection.

 In a certain way this is an augmented reality, especially made to shake people out of their normal routine. As we can see in the video, people clearly react to it; they mostly have fun with it. But it also makes you think; a higher power (in this case a hand from above) can easily wipe you away. Our lives are all very precious to us, yet they’re also very fragile. Maybe we should stop once in a while and think about our lives and the world that surrounds us. This is in line with David Rokeby’s ideas about interactive technologies. He defines an interactive technology as a mirror which provides us with a self-image and which also provides us “with a sense of the relation between this self and the experienced world. This is analogous to our relationship with the universe” [2].   

   Hand From Above     Hand From Above

‘Hand From Above’ investigates how the use of outdoor screens can be used to enhance the feeling of community in a city. There’s even an entire project with conferences about this phenomena, called Urban Screens. Urban Screens defines its goals as follows: “We want to network and sensitise all engaged parties for the possibilities of using the digital infrastructure for contributing to a lively urban society, binding the screens more to the communal context of the space and therefore creating local identity and engagement”. [3]

 ‘Hand From Above’ is an engaging urban screen that playfully transforms its passers-by. It will get people’s attention and temporarily wake them up from their daily routine. 




[1] Chris O’Shea:

[2] Rokeby, David. ‘Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media’ (1995). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223.

[3] Urban Screens:




The Ghost of Vannevar Bush Hacked My Server

VBAs a starting point of this artwork, artist Michael Demer takes the famous engineer Vannevar Bush. Bush, born in 1890, is in this context specially known for his work on analog computing and the idea of the Memex. The Memex was a (proto)hypertext computer system that individuals could use to administer their self-contained library. It follows associative trails or links that are created by the individual. The Memex is ‘a sort of mechanized private file and library’ (1). Important to point out is that the Memex influenced the development of the hypertext, which had been defined as the ‘underlying concept defining the stucture of the World Wide Web’ (2).

The Ghost of Vannevar Bush Hacked My Server can be considered a work of  ‘ is a self-defining term created by a malfunctioning piece of software, originally used to describe an art and communication activity on the internet. Net.artists sought to break down autonomous disciplines and outmoded classifications imposed upon various activists practices.’ (3) As a part of the New Media Exhibition ‘Zeros+Ones: The Digital Era’,  Demer made a website incorporating Vannevar Bush’s face, consisting of 0s and 1s, an homage to the engineer’s visionary influence on the computer and the Internet.  Bush’s face appears and then suddenly disappears, leaving the website not only looking hacked but also frozen and unable to use.

‘On October 28, 2009 an image appeared to flash on a web server. Comprised of 0s and 1s (binary code — the elemental language of computers), the image closely resembled that of Vannevar Bush. The code from that page was copied and pasted into a blank page, effectively “capturing” this ghost of Vannevar Bush. He appears at random, having hacked my server he now haunts it for all of eternity…’(4)

I would like to refer to the artworks of, who make Web-based artworks that uses the medium’s vernacular as the content of their works. When accessing their website, it appears at first to consist of meaningless text, until you have a look at the HTML source code which reveals detailed diagrams of hydrogen and uranium bombs. The website reflects the Borgesian non-lineair approach to writing HTML. The artists play with the famous texts of Vannevar Bush and Luis Borges, because both authors ‘have the idea of a massive branching structure as a better way to organize data and to represent human experience'(5).


1. Vannevar Bush, ‘As We May Think’, 1945.

2.  Natalie Bookchin, Alexei Shulgin, Art and Electronic Media, p. 240



5.  Lev Manovich, 2003.


Have you ever played the game hearsay with some friends on the schoolyard? You start a story, or maybe a sentence, and whisper it in the ear of the person who stands next to you. That person whispers the same message, or so you hope, to the person next to him. This continues till the last person has received the message. He or she gets the honor to say the message out loud. This moment is always tense, all the children will look with an anticipating face to the last child. What will the message contain? Will it be same as the original one? Of course not. That is the reason why this game is so hilarious.

Now you become older, you leave the playground behind. You are a little nerdy, you purchased your first computer in 1976. You create ‘things’, electronic objects with complex behavior. We arrive in the eighties. It is the time of satellites, networks, surveillance.What would you create as a forty-eight year old guy?

Of course: Hearsay!


Hearsay (1985) was a telecommunications event based upon the children’s game… In this case a message was sent around the world in 24 hours, roughly following the sun, via a global computer network (I. P. Sharp Associates). Each of the eight participating centres was charged with translating the message into a different language before sending it on. The whole process was monitored at Toronto’s A-Space.”[1]

The text used was from Robert Zend’s poem, “The Message” dedicated to media theorist Marshall McLuhan.  This choice is appropriate for Hearsay because, in McLuhan’s immortal words, “the medium is the message.”  The end of the original text ends with:


24 hours and eight translations later the ending has changed to:


It is kind of the same, but not really.The project of White had an important role for the element of chance. It was certain that the last message would be different than the first, but how different and what kind of changes it would have was unknown. The project was in a way unpredictable. Another project of Norman White also dealt with a unpredictable result. Telephonic Arm Wrestling (1986) created together with Doug Back had more ominous implications.

‘One of the earliest works of telerobotic art, Telephonic Arm Wrestling was developed, tongue-in-cheek, as a means for settling the Arms Race between the US and the USSR… White and Back created a force-feedback responsive system artwork for resolving antagonistic relations. Ironically, due to latencies (time-delays) in the telephonic link, the system did not support standard rules of militairy engagement.’

‘Under certain circumstances both parties could win at the same time. Which I think is a great way, normally you can have only one winner. But isn’t this better and maybe also more true? Every country will always try to represent history in a way that makes them look good. A country will represent them in some way as a winner. Telephonic Arm Wrestling is thereby ‘a telling commentary on the Arms race and the apparent opposition of capitalism and communism’ [3].



[2] (for the complete text compilation)

[3] Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.126

Ten Thousand Cents


“Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as an interactive/video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing,” “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.” [1]

Ten Thousand Cents is a later project which is similar to The Sheep Market (2006), also by Aaron Koblin. It also uses the Mechanical Turk of Amazon to create collaborative work where participants were not aware of the whole production.

A close-up video from separate drawings combined in time:

Connected to this artwork is the early Studies in Perception 1 (1966). Here an image presents itself as a whole at a certain distance, but by having a closer look the image consists of small symbols or ‘micro-patterns’. All these micro-patterns combined create the perception of an image just like the separate drawings in Ten Thousand Cents.

Ten Thousand Cents is a collaborative work of art and both Communimage (1999) and Glyphiti (2001) share this approach. Communimage is a collaboration by the internet community generating a mosaic from images that are sent in. Glyphiti has an even stronger link to Ten Thousand Cents as participants are also able to draw and try to create a whole out of multiple smaller ‘glyphs’. The main contrast with Ten Thousand Cents for both works is that participants know where they are participating in and see the whole they produce.

Ascott already coined the notion of distributed authorship and images in Art and Telematics: Towards a Network Consciousness (1984): “Currently, to apply telematic processes of distributed authorship to the generating of images is extremely expensive and virtually inaccessible for any sustained creative enterprise.” As at that point in time text was “both cheaper and easier to process” Ascott used text in his similar work of art La Plissure du Texte to “exercise and celebrate the participatory mode of dispersed authorship which networking affords” [2].

Project website:

[1] Artist website:

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 231

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter

“The work, A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter, is an eight inch high gloss black cube. Inside the hollow box is a small micro-controller and an Ethernet adapter. Like a pair of umbilical cords, the power cord and Ethernet cable, trail out of the box to the wall. Every ten minutes, a computer program running on the micro-controller contacts another program running on an Internet server which checks if it has an active auction on eBay. If an auction does not exist, then it creates a new listing for itself. As a result, the piece is constantly for sale. In the event the piece is purchased, the contract (which is included in the auction listing) stipulates that the work is to be packaged up and transferred to the new owner, who then, also according to the contract, must connect it to the Internet. The sculpture automatically places itself for sale again and the cycle repeats.” [1].

The current auction can be seen on

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter only presents itself as a black box leaving room for vast or little interpretation, Larsen states that “[i]t is the title that provides viewers with the final clue needed to unpack the work.” [1].

Bodies(c)INCorporated (1996-9) also puts the aspect of constraints central in the commercial world of buying and selling. Participants first have to approve several conditions and regulations before being allowed to use the work. A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter does the same thing in its very extensive contract (see PURCHASE AGREEMENT at to be able to get the artwork in the same commercial world as Bodies(c)INCorporated: “The title is meant to activate the piece in the viewer’s mind and stimulate an associative process. A Tool relies heavily on the contract that accompanies it and is an integral part of the work. The contract has been established in order to ensure that the work exists as it is intended and that those purchasing are committed to maintaining it in a way that preserves the original intentions of the work.” [1]

Natalie Bookchin and Alexei Shulgin’s Introduction to (1994-9, AEM p. 240) states several interesting characterics of new media art. These features do present a great deal of similarity with A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter:

“maintaining independence from institutional bureaucracies”

“By realizing ways out of entrenched values arising from structured system of theories and ideologies”

“The utopian aim of closing the ever widening gap between art and everyday life, perhaps, for the first time, was achieved and became a real, everyday and even routine practice.”

“The practical death of the author”

“Investment without material interest”

“Privileging communication over representation”

“Process based action”

“Parasitism as Strategy”

[2] & [3]

net.artists have actively participated in the debate of new media art in the context of the traditional art market. Their statement also suggests that work of art is a process rather than only an object. The whole institutional art environment is problematic for new media art as they often do not present a physical space but this process. A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter does provide this physical presentation but only in an extreme elementary manner still actively supporting the dematerialization process by changing its location through autonomous selling.

[1] Artist document:

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 p. 240

[3] Easylife:

Art Ticker

“This sculpture displays the names of artists and indicates how fast they are rising or falling in the media. It gathers information daily from media outlets in New York city to calculate the fastest rising fame.” [1] Seth Aylmer – one of the artist of Art Ticker – also states that “If this piece convinces collectors to buy more work from emerging artists, it will be a success” [1].

The collaboration – or ‘media literacy think tank’ as they call themselves – behind Art Ticker is Fame Theory, where they “explor[e] interesting ways to connect people” [2]. One of their projects is Fame Game. Fame Game positions itself as “part of an art project to investigate the growth of celebrity in our media. We wanted to figure out whether there was more room for interesting art in mainstream culture, and determine whether more people could use the tools of celebrity and spectacle to publicize their work. We also wanted to help sponsors and patrons see returns on their investments in creative projects.” [3]. Their theory is to enable people make culture more interesting by playing with the media the way publicists do. “Get whatever it is you do out there in the public, generate controversy, push yourself on journalists, send a signal out into the media space and see how the network reacts. And try to keep it spiritual if you can.” [3].

Two related artworks in AEM are Nancy Patterson’s Stock Market Skirt (1998) and George Legrady’s Making the
Invisible Visible
(2004). In Patterson’s piece, stock prices from online stock is analyzed which results in a dressmaker’s mannequin – called Judy – to be raised or lowed accordingly. Legrady’s artwork processes the data of checked-out items in a library. It categorizes the items and interprets at the same time the popularity and interest of the items, or to say it in relation with Art Ticker: the fastest rising items in the library.  Another related work is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s  Synthia Stock Ticker (2000-2) , which is in the permanent collection of investment firm, Charles Schwab.

In Nation, National Culture and Art in an Era of Globalization and Computer Mediated Communications (2000) Niranjan Rajah states that “Satellite television and Computer Mediated Communication are opening domestic news and leisure markets to international marketing and cultural differences and receding as a transnational ‘media machine homogenizes the values and tastes of audiences around the globe.” [4] This development of globalization as seen by Rajah is supported by the nature of new media: “regional and national characteristics seem less relevant to digital artifacts of emerging new media art. As Malaysian artists develop a new-networked multimedia art in on-line interactive transactions, they are contributing to the shape of what will, arguably, become a truly global arena for twenty-first century art.” [4] Art ticker is an example of the globalization of art due to its new-networked nature and due to the message of supporting popularity and the homogenization of taste in art. This is Art Ticker‘s mission for success as stated by Seth [1].

[1] Artist short statement:

[2] Project website:

[3] Statement of project:

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 241-242

Murmur Study

‘Murmur Study is an installation that examines the rise of micro-messaging technologies such as Twitter and Facebook’s status update. One might describe these messages as a kind of digital small talk. But unlike water cooler conversations, these fleeting thoughts are accumulated, archived and digitally-indexed by corporations. While the future of these archives remains to be seen, the sheer volume of publicly accessible personal — often emotional — expression should give us pause.'[1]

The project focuses on one of the key characteristics of the web; persistence. With sharing publicly your personal thoughts, relationships and chitchat, people make themselves easy targets for the commercial corporations. But why are people sharing so much of themselves on the web? Roy Ascott wrote in 1984 a possible explanation:

Logging in to the network, sharing the exchange of ideas, propositions, visions and sheer gossip is exhilarating, in fact it becomes totally compelling and addictive (Ascott, 1984, p. 231)

Murmur study looks like the sophisticated version of the installation News (1969) from Hans Haacke. ‘It [News] consisted of Teletype machines that received and printed out local, national and international news in real time, as it was generated by news services.'[2]

Hans Haacke News

News by Hans Haacke


Where Haacke monitored the news with his installation, forty years later Baker is monitoring individual people. In the sixties the most important media were the mass media: the traditional newspapers, television and radio. In the beginning of the seventies artists began experimenting with networking, they started to create telematic art. The Internet started to spread in the eighties, coming in the hands of individuals. Now we are part of a distributed network, it is just as easy to speak with a friends who lives one street away as with a colleague who lives on another continent. It is appropriate that an installation made in the 2000s focuses on the individual. People just receive as easily as send, just as Brecht imaged when he wrote in the 1930s about two-way communication [3]. We have arrived in the third age of the logic of images distinguished by Virillio; the age of paradoxical logic.

This new kind of images gives priority to speed over race, to the virtual over the real, and therefore transforms our notion of reality from something given to a construct.[4]

Sounds familiar? Let’s hope that in some way the internet will be ‘cleaned’ and remove certain messages. Do we really want that our children in twenty years time see our Tweets about having diarrhea or hot sex? But of course, that is just a trivial issue, it is more about exposing yourself and how other, unknown parties respond to that. Do we need to wear a condom when we are on Twitter?



[2] Hans Haacke, News (1969), in Art and Electronic Media, p.121

[3] Bertold Brecht (1932), in Art and Electronic Media, p.228

[4] Virilio quoted in Eduardo Kac “Telepresence Art” (1993), in Art and Electronic Media, p.236

My Favorite Homepage

This video ironically pokes fun at amateur culture.  It was created by Paper Rad, an artist collective that has shown its work at Sundance Film Festival, among other notable venues.  Paper Rad’s self-description (below) suggests the group’s schizophrenic identity.  Perhaps that’s a key theme in the work, which suggests a broader cultural identity crisis, in which little girls are far too smart for their age, and in which a diversity of cultural icons are smashed together creating a dissonant neo-pop agglomeration that is surprisingly coherent, if not disorienting, but saccharinely entertaining.


What is paper rad?

hmmmm,  the never ending story,

for the general public i would say, just focus on our projects, our concerts, if we are on tour, our books, videos, and website, don’t worry about members, friends or any larger social and/or cultural relevance.

if you are trying to write an article, a school paper, or telling you mom or dad, or boss, basically you are screwed, you can say words like 3 member art collective, but remember that you are lying and are just trying to translate what we are trying to do into america-speak again, just explain a comic or joke you saw on the website or in a book, i think that will work out better, and as for the details, good luck

if you are a art collector, policeman, or ad agency, we are no company, its individuals making things, you like the name paper rad? great, you don’t like it, even better, run with it, ask me who i am, maybe i’ll tell you,

you know, there is no secret, if you want to know every detail about us, then live your life, and the details will come to you, like, do you think i have to explain what paper rad is my best friends? no, i don’t, they come over and see it, and they know the details, naturally, they know what my haircut is, its no secret, its just not the fucking point.

actually my best friends have no idea what paper rad is, infact the other day paper rad had a 4 hour argument about what is paper rad? so yah…



Show different aspects of the whole image, based on the meta informations that each patch has. Another source for facets are statistical informations such as growing speed, country of origin, sex, favourite colour, patch sound. Facets are maps that show us the emotions, colours and sounds that each patch has been added by the authors. Facets can also viusalize digital mutations of communimage and the relationship between certain areas of the whole image, that are not visible at first glance.

Other important facets of communimage are printed versions of the whole image displaying communimage in real space. Though communimage is a true internet project, it has grown to a size that cannot be experienced on a screen any more. Printed versions of communimage are therefore showing a side of the project that would not be accessible otherwise. The actual size of communimage at this moment is:
156.34152m2 (14.3736m x 10.8932m).

From November 08, 2008 – February 08, 2009 an exhibition at SF MOMA in San Francisco presented an overview of participation-based art since the 1950s, reflecting on how artists create situations in which the public becomes a collaborator in the art-making process. Early conceptual art and historic works by Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Dan Graham, and Hans Haacke, among others, were contextualized with projects and installations including Communimage and other works by contemporary artists including Jochen Gerz, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Erwin Wurm. The rise of Web 2.0 platforms such as MySpace and Second Life have prompted SFMOMA to commission several artists to create new installations and online works for the exhibition, many of which consider and engage strategies of participation.

Experience the artwork here.


The Web Stalker

Project Description:

I/O/D4: The Web Stalker is a speculative software application for reading and manipulating information on the most popular portion of the Internet – the World Wide Web. As Web Browsers become increasingly more bloated and pointless, I/O/D 4: The Web Stalker gives users fast access to this media.

“I/O/D 4: The Web Stalker purports to be a new form of web browser that dispels with the page metaphor of traditional browsers and presents urls as a series of circular lines that are the links. I/O/D 4: The Web Stalker relies on spatial references which are both refreshing visual distractions from the html series of links that we have become accustomed to on the web.”

Interview with the makers of the Web Stalker
By Geert Lovink

Geert Lovink: ‘Everybody is a browser designer’ – but it is not everyman’s hobby to build one (yet). Where does the idea, to create one’s own browser, come from? Normally, designers are working with content and have to make it look nice. But now there is the new profession of the
‘interaction designer’. Are you one of those? Are you techno determinists, who believe that the shape of the interfaces is determining the actual information?

Matthew Fuller: Hmm, this is one of those statements along the lines of ‘Jederman ist ein kunstler’. (Joseph Beuys) These statements sound democratic, but actually have the subtext of meaning *Everyone wants to be like me – the great man!* No, not everyone is a browser designer for sure. And certainly it would be unwise to want to be like us. People should actually have aspirations right? The idea of making another piece of software to use the web with came about for a few reasons. First of all, I/O/D had been working with different ideas of interface and a general praxis around speculative reinvention of the computer anyway. Secondly, we were bored by all the hype. Thirdly, we knew it could be done, but didn’t have the skills of the knowledge to do it properly – so we had to do it. As for the normal behaviour of designers I reckon I’ll leave that part of the question for Simon or Colin to answer with a firmer grip on the handle of the knife that needs twisting. As for being techno determinists… I guess we are interested in finding this out. What comes into play using the web? The material on the URL being used, which encompasses the programs, skills and materials used to put it together as well as the specific items of data; then the actual hard infrastructure – computers, servers, telephone lines, modems and of course the software running on them, (in short, bandwidth considerations); then the software being used to access the web – a great big pile on top of which sits the Browser, terminal viewer or whatever.

All of these elements and how they mix determine to some extent the nature of the interaction. For instance, try using a web site packed full of java-scripts, frames and vrml with a browser from a couple of years back. You’ll find that the type of interaction available to you is pretty much fully determined by the technology you have. You’re locked out. On the
other hand, just looking at all of this misses out on the key piece of equipment in the relationship – the user. One of the things that drove us to make the Web Stalker was that we, and pretty much everyone else don’t really use web-sites in the way that they are suposed to be used. Whether it’s switching off gifs or blocking cookies or whatever there’s an element of street knowledge that you use to get to the stuff that you really want. We made the Web Stalker to work in the same kind of way. It’s designed to be predatory and boredom-intolerant. At the same time though, we hope that as a piece of *speculative software* it just encourages people to treat the net as a space for re-invention.

Geert Lovink: Web Stalker is showing us the backstage of the browers. Could you explain us how it actually works? What kind of code do we get to see? Is it just HTML or hidden directories of the servers? What do webmasters and sysops try to hide for us and what can we learn from it?
Web Stalker as a hackers tool for extra-governmental gangs that are trying to undermine the effeciency of global capitalism?

Simon Pope: The web stalker moves only within the limits of html space. any co-conspirators needs to be fore-armed with at least one URL which refers to an html document. give this to the ‘crawler’, and the stalker begins its process of parsing, hungrily searching for links to other html resources. initiating a ‘map’ window, opens a channel onto this process, through which urls are graphically represented as circles and links as lines. the stalker will thrive on known links and resources – as long as each html document contains a link to another html document, the stalker will live. pitch it into a netscape, microsoft, macromedia or java-only
space and it will soon perish.

Colin Green: When we began to use the stalker as our primary web-access software, we became aware of the extent to which html has become a site of commercial contention. browsers made by the two best-know players frame most peoples’ experience of the web. this is a literal framing. whatever happens within the window of explorer, for instance, is the limit of possibility. html is, after-all, a mark-up language which indicates structure and intention of a document. there is no imperative to interpret as , as there are none which demand the use of ‘forward’ or ‘back’ to define a spatial metaphor.

Matthew Fuller: We’ve had reports from users that amongst other things, ifyou use the Web Stalker on a site with extra content being added to it every few hours, such as some news services for instance, you can start to find files whilst they’re still in the queue – before the news ‘happens’.

Simon Pope: Commercial interests have tried to exploit the web by controlling the velocity of browsing. the stalker subverts this – it confounds the faux-melodrama of the click-thru by automatically making the link for you. Suspense is ridiculed and fluidity is returned to a realm
where processes of delay and damming are recognized advertising opportunities. It is here that the convention of the “web page” helps to solidify html, presenting each document as the potential apex of the user’s experience. a leaf-node rather than link.

Geert Lovink: But is the web stalker not also a bit protestant, in the sense of anti-image – pro code? HTML and the WWW are being presented to us as the big step forward for the normal user, to have an easy-to-use interface. what is so disgusting about all these fancy websites, funny graphics and sexy buttons? Isn’t the stalker a bit step back, male and hackerlike in its approach?

Matthew Fuller: The Web Stalker establishes that there are other potential cultures of use for the web. The aesthetic conventions of current Browsers are based on the discipline of Human Computer Interface Design. To describe the predelictions of this approach to interface you only have to note that the default background colour in page-construction programs is grey. Progress is marked by the incremental increase of fake drop-shadow on windows. Here, the normal user is only ever the normalised user. It’s time to mutate. For us, software must also develop some kind of relationship to beauty. This can in one sense be taken as something that only happens in
the eyes. But it is also something that happens at a level that is also profoundly interwoven with politics in the development of these potential cultures of use. It is in this sense that we call The Web Stalker ‘speculative’ software. It is not setting itself as a universal device, a
proprietary switching system for the general intelligence, but a sensorium – a mode of sensing, knowing and doing on the web that makes its propensities – and as importantly, some at least of those ‘of the web’ that were hitherto hidden – clear. Rather than taking an ascetic view we see that a key problem with the Browsers is that they don’t allow the Spew to manifest itself *enough*. This software is a call for the voluptuation of the nets and everything they connect to. As the union leader Big Bill Heywood used to say, stroking his belly and sucking on a tasty dog-shit-sized cigar: Nothing’s too good for the proletariat.

For more detail visit the wesite:


Electronic Hokkadim

This page contains a reproduction of the official program of the Electronic Hokkadim.

“In 1971 and 1972 Douglas Davis integrated interactions with and between spectators in programs of the Commercial Broadcast. It was planned for “Electronic Hokkadim” (1971) to combine a life show sent from the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.) with reactions in the form of telephone calls. But the broadcast “WTOP-TV” (a filiation of CBS) transformed Davis´ project into a “personality parade” with “amazing participative [telephone] inputs” added in the last two minutes. The life filmed pictures were transformed by video-synthesizers (of Nam June Paik/Shuya Abe and Eric Siegel?). The electronic picture transformations reacted to the spectators´ sounds.” (Thomas Dreher)

“In June 1971, Davis organized his final climactic happening in Washington, Electronic Hokkadim, produced with the Corcoran Gallery and CBS affiliate WTOP-TV. Poster manifestos proclaimed, in appropriately streaming syntax, “the world’s first participative telecast live while it is happening the viewers create what they watch and hear at home.” The day-long event culminated in a half-hour evening broadcast involving many pioneering video artists, including Nam June Paik, Eric Siegel?, Bruce Nauman? and Peter Campus?, as well as the artist collectives Videofreex?, Raindance Corporation, Global Village and People’s Video Theater. Howard Wise, now a familiar colleague, delivered a keynote statement that “the artist’s role in society is that of a pre-sensor of things to come.” Although Electronic Hokkadim had mixed results, failing to live up to its claims as a “two-way broadcast,” it tapped into yet unexplored capacities for television.

Around this time, John Hightower?, newly appointed director of the Museum of Modern Art (he previously shaped the very progressive New York State Council on the Arts) became determined to hedge against MoMA’s reputation for stodginess. A forward showing of artists’ television could rattle the moribund institution. Hightower spoke to Davis about reconvening the spirit rallied at Electronic Hokkadim – of artists, filmmakers, critics, curators, administrators and others attuned to the video medium (which still eluded aesthetic categorization and art-world acceptance). First intended to be spearheaded by an exhibition that met resistance from MoMA’s “stodgy” curators, it quickly became obvious that the pressing need was for a wide-open forum on artists and television.” (Ben Portis)




For the ‘Prospect 69’ exhibition in the Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Haacke drew up a concept he elucidated as follows: ‘A telex machine installed in the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle prints all the news communicated by the German press agency DPA. The printouts will be put on display for further reading one day after being communicated, and on the third day the rolls of paper will be labelled and dated, then stored in plexiglass containers.’

Part of the audio guide to The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now. Stop 401: Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts, discusses Hans Haacke’s installation work News (1969 / 2008). Available for download in an enhanced version with images or as audio only.


The File Room

[img src:]

“The File Room began as an idea: an abstract construction that became a prototype, a model of an interactive and open system. It prompts our thinking and discussion, and serves as an evolving archive of how the suppression of information has been orchestrated throughout history in different contexts, countries and civilizations.

The process of suppressing information -of people in power attempting to hide images, sounds and words- must itself be viewed in perspective. The organizing principles of The File Room archive recognize acts of censorship in relation to their social settings, political movements, religious beliefs, economic conditions, cultural expressions and/or personal identities. The means of censorship are understood in equally broad terms and techniques, from behind-the-scenes structural censorship that regulates and controls access to the means of production; to obvious physical restrictions of single instances; to subtle, pervasive, and often invisible psychological methods.

Countering the closed circle of power systems, this project gains its meaning through a group effort of individuals, organizations, and institutions. Naturally, this project must be self-critical and self-reflective about the contradictions and possibilities of its own organizing system, the nature of subjective editing, and the limited amount of research that can be accomplished in a given period of time. The File Room, rather than being presented as a finished work, is being made publicly available at the point of its initiation. It is an open system that becomes activated, “filed” and developed through the public process of its own existence.”[1]


[2] Homepage of “the file room” :


Screenshot of Rhizome Homepage

“Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology.

Founded in 1996 as an intimate email list subscribed to by some of the first artists to work online and, twelve years later, a thriving nonprofit, Rhizome has played an integral role in the history, definition and growth of art engaged with the Internet and networked technologies. It is a dynamic, interactive platform, rich in historical resources and updated continually with new art and commentary by a vast community.

Rhizome affiliated with the New Museum in 2003, when the institutions identified a shared commitment to emerging art and ideas.”[1]


The World in 24 Hours/Die Welt in 24 Stunden

The World in 24 Hours/Die Welt in 24 Stunden project “organised by Robert Adrian for the Ars Electronica, Linz. Artists and groups in Vienna, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Bath, Wellfleet, Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Honolulu, Tokyo, Sydney, Istanbul and Athens participated using any or all of Slow-scan TV, Fax, Computer Mailbox or telephone sound. Each location was called from Linz at 12:00 local time – so the project ran from 12:00 noon Central European Time on Sept.27 and followed the midday sun around the world, ending at 12:00 noon on Sept.28.”[1]

The text below, “reproduced (almost) verbatum from pages 145-156 of the catalogue of the 1982 Ars Electronica Festival”[1]

24 hour telecommunication project
Conception and coordination by Robert Adrian X

Monday, September 27, 1982 till Thursday, September 28,
1982 ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation), Upper Austrian Regional Studio, Foyer.

This telecommunications program by artists is, like other such events in the past, intended to develop techniques for individual, personal, use of existing telecommunications technology.

It is often claimed that modern electronic systems and networks are not accessible to private individuals but actually access is a relatively easy matter, the real problems only arise when one seeks ways in which these systems can be used. One soon discovers that, with the exception of the games and entertainment sector, all this technology is designed for the corporate user. Individual users are isolated from the design of new technology because, having no precise need, it is assumed that their interests are met by firms interested in marketing high-tech by products, in serving existing demand rather than assisting in the development of possible alternative directions in electronic technology.

If any sort of chance arises to develop new techniques by means of which private individuals can make meaningful use of these electronic media — to assert their right to genuine participation in the development of this new electronic world — then it will have to be very soon. It is probably too late even now to really change the direction of design development but we can try at least to discover ways to insert human content into commercial/military world floating in this electronic space.

And this is where artists are traditionally strong … in discovering new ways to use media and materials, in inventing new and contradictory meanings for existing organisations and systems, in subverting self-serving power-structures in the interests of nearly everyone.

Artists using electronic telecommunications are trying to find human meaning in an electronic space.
Robert Adrian X

The World In 24 Hours
A project connecting artists around the world in a non-stop series of dialogues beginning at 12 noon on September 27 and ending at 12 noon on September 28, 1982 (Central European Time).

14 artists or groups around the world will be in communication with Linz, Austria, during the 24 hour project. Each of the participating locations will be called on the telephone from the central location in Linz at 12 noon local time (i. e. 18.00 in Linz = 12 noon in Toronto).
Each contact will last about one hour, permitting the exchange of visual material via telephone by means of either Slow-scan Television or Telefacsimile transceiving equipment. In addition the I. P. Sharp computer timesharing network will be available for computer graphic exchange and/or coordination of the projects. Participants have been offered the opportunity of choosing any telecommunications medium for their contribution providing that it operates via normal telephone and is also available in Linz. However the present state of development makes only the 3 media mentioned above – and described below – feasible for use by artists or other private individuals.

1. Computer timesharing: (I. P. Sharp APL Network) Equipment: Computer Terminal. Medium: Local Telephone to nearest IPSA office. The I. p, Sharp office in Vienna will provide computer time and technical assistance to participants wishing to use I. p, Sharp software for computer graphic exchange. The ARTBOX and CONFER programs will also be available for coordination of the project and for computer communications exchanges.

2. Slow-scan television (SSTV): Equipment: SSTV Transceiver (e.g.. robot 530) Medium: Direct long-distance telephone connection. Signals from a video camera are converted by the transceiver into audio signals and transmitted via telephone, The received signal is reconverted to a video signal and displayed on a monitor. Each image takes 8.5 seconds to be completed.

3. Telefacsimile (Telefax): Equipment: Telefax transceiver (e.g., 3 M “9136”, group III (transceiver) Medium: Direct long-distance telephone connection. Telefax transceivers convert images on paper into audio signals and transmit them via telephone. A compatible machine then converts the signal back into an image on paper, There are 3 different types of machine available. Groups I, II and 111. The latest of these are the group III machines which can transmit an A 4 page in under a minute. Machines like the 3 M “9136” are also compatible with the slower group I and II machines.

The 24 hour program will begin with an extensive European section lasting about 6 hours, from 12 noon until 18.00 (Central European Time). The European section will include contributions from FLORENCE, FRANKFURT, GENEVA, VIENNA and, concluding the European section, DUBLIN. There will also be an experiment called “PI- NETWORKING” (using the I.P. Sharp Timesharing Network) initiated by Roy Ascott in Bath, U. K, going on during the whole European section.

The overseas program will comprise at least 4 North American locations,(there may also be a New York City participant), Hawaii, Sydney/Australia and Tokyo, The final contact will be from Turkey at 11:00 on September 28 (Linz time).

The schedule
(All times Central European Time)
12:00-18.00 Exchanges with Frankfurt, Florence, Geneva, Amsterdam, Vienna and Dublin.
18:00 – 21:00 Toronto and Pittsburgh (New York?).
21:00 – 23:00 San Francisco and Vancouver.
23:00 – 03:00 Hawaii (with Pacific region conference)
03:00-04:00 Sydney
04:00 – 05:00 Tokyo
05:00 -09:00 open for conferencing, discussion, preparation of documentation, rest etc.
09:00-11:00 Summing up and discussion of project with European participants.
11:00 -12:00 Telex exchange with minus-delta-t in Turkey, en route to Bangkok.


This project was begun in January 1982 when a series of workshops was arranged at the HOCHSCHULE FÜR KÜNSTLERISCHE UND INDUSTRIELLE GESTALTUNG, Linz. These workshops by Robert Adrian X (funded by the Österreichische Kulturservice) were intended to create a team of artists and students able to prepare and transmit original work and to man the equipment during the 24 hour event. The workshops were coordinated by Waltraud Cooper, lecturer at the Hochschule under Professor Laurids Ortner, Waltraud Cooper will also be coordinating participation by the Linz group during the program.
The workshop participants were: Bruno Aichinger, Helmut Guntner, Gerald Hackenberg, Josel Horvat, Elisabeth Juan, Moidi Kretschmann, Michael Langanger, Jörg Mikesch, Otto Mittmannsgruber, Sonja Reischi.

Coordination: Thomas Bayrle
Location: Städelschule, Hochschule für Kunst, Frankfurt/Main
Participants: Thomas Bayrle, Ernst Caramelle, Jochen Fey, Jürgen Riehm and Monika Schwitte.
Media: Telefacsimile
Thomas Bayrle is an artist working with photography, traditional media and artists books and is Dozent at the Städelschule.

Coordination: Maurizio Nannucci
Location: Zona, Florence Participants: Fabrizio Corneli, Albert Mayr, Paolo Nasi, Massimo Nannucci, Maurizio Nannucci, Gianni Pettena, Marino Vismara
Media: Telefacsimile
ZONA is an independent group of artists working together in all media – including music, performance, radio, video etc., ZONA is also an artist-run space in the center of Florence.

Coordination: Helmut Mark
Location: Österreichische Kulturservice “Studio”
Participants: Markus Geiger, Ruth Labak, Helmut Mark, Alice Weber, Heimo Zobernig Project: SPUTNIK MACHT’S MÖGLICH The 5 artists will meet at the Kulturservice “Studio” (Grunangergasse 6) from 10 am to 6 PM every day from Sept. 24 to 29. On Sept. 25 and 26 they will hold workshops on telecommunications media in preparation for the 24 hour event on Sept. 27 and 28. On Sept. 29 a discussion of the entire project is planned.
Media: Computer Timesharing and Telefacsimile
Helmut Mark is an artist working in many media, mainly in public space. He lives in Vienna.

Coordination: Annie Wright and David Garcia
Location: Mazzo, Amsterdam
Project: LATE TIMES EXTRA “. , ,one of a number of works we have made based on the insertion of ‘fictions’ into everyday formats. We have previously used shop windows, street posters, publications and television and now telecommunications.” The project will treat the computer terminal as a news agency teleprinter, developing a plot trough the mixture of “real” news and fiction.
Media: Computer Timesharing
Annie Wright and David Garcia are English artist/ writers living in Amsterdam,

Coordination: Roy Ascott.
Location: Art Access/Networking, Bath, England.
Project: PSI-BERNETIC NETWORKING (2 projects proposed). 1. “To identify nine people with terminal access around the planet, each to choose a card in sequence to make up the Celtic spread (with my card). We shall then participate and interact trough the network to generate meanings trough the spread.”
2, “A second project will involve a kind of round table seance, automatic writing at the ASCII keyboard, This use of chance coupled with our individual/group intuitions and intimations will likely also generate some unexpected material.”
“Both proposals attempt to generate a kind of group consciousness of planetary dimensions through the network to get at new ideas, texts or images. The second project may include, as input, trance utterances by clairvoyants if we can involve enough individuals in sufficient
countries to make it global.”
Media: Computer Timesharing.
Roy Ascott is an artist and theoretician presently Head of the School of Fine Art, Gwent College of Higher Education, Newport, Wales, member of the advisory board, International Network for the Arts, New York, member of the Editorial Advisory Board of “LEONARDO”, Pergamon Press,
Oxford and Director of Art Access/Networking.

Coordination: Derek Dowden (Artculture Resource Center) and Dieter Hastenteufel.
Location: COMMUNITEX: Community Videotex,
Participants: Dieter Hastenteufel, Derek Dowden, Peeter Sepp, Nancy Paterson, and others,
project: in preparation.
Media: Computer Timesharing, Slow-Scan and/or Telefacsimile.
Derek Dowden works with Artculture Resource Center, a non-profit organising facility for cultural projects.
COMMUNITEX is a non-profit organisation to promote and facilitate artistic, cultural and community use of new telecommunications technology.

Coordination: Tom Klinkowstein.
Location: Audio Visual Center, the San Francisco State University.
Participants: Staff and students at the Audio Visual Center and at the Broadcast Communications Art Department (S.F.S.U.),
Project: “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT” Advertising or advertising-related images will be broadcast live via the (interactive) Cable Television station in San Francisco and via Slow-Scan Television to Linz. Similar material will be displayed as slides or video tapes to the audience at the ORF center in Linz and transmitted to San Francisco via Slow-Scan Television. Responses to the transmitted images will be exchanged via the I.P. Sharp Computer Timesharing network.
Media: Computer Timesharing and Slow-Scan Television.
Tom Klinkowstein is an artist, designer and teacher specialising in electronic media, audio-visual techniques and telecommunications, He divides his time between San Francisco and Amsterdam, Holland.

Coordination: Bruce Breland.
Location: Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh.
Participants: GEKKO (Generative Energy /Kinetic Knowledge/Order), Bruce Breland, Herb Coshak, James Kocher, Harry Holland, Diane Samuels and Cindy Snodgrass.
Project: GEKKO’S WINDOW. 1. Bruce Breland – CASTING COLOR ON THE CONEMAUGH (SSTV) 2. James Kocher – X/O (SSTV) 3. Diane Samuels – FINGER PERFORMANCE (SSTV) 4. Herb Coshak – ALETH (SSTV) 5. Cindy Snodgrass-WINDRAYS, AIRWAVES, HIGHWAYS (SSTV) 6. Harry Holland – STRATA VARIANTS
(Computer Timesharing).
Media: Slow-Scan Television and Computer Timesharing.

Coordination: Henry Bull and BilI Bartlett.
Location: Western Front Society, Vancouver.
Participants: Henry Bull, Bill Bartlett, Kate Craig, Gien Lewis and members of the Western Front Society.
Media: Slow-Scan Television and Computer Timesharing.
Henry Bull is an artist, musician and curator working in practically every medium from photography to radio. He lives in Vancouver and is responsible for the gallery program at the Western Front.
Bill Bartlett is a pioneer of artists use of telecommunications, especially with Slow-Scan Television and Computer Communications. He lives on Pender ISiand, British Columbia.
Western Front is an artist-run center (founded in 1972) that offers programmes in visual arts, music, dance and video as well as an ambitious “artist-in-residence” program.

Coordination: John Southworth.
Location: University of Hawaii, Honolulu.
Participants: John Southworth, Joseph Tanton and staff and students of the University.
Media: Computer Timesharing and Slow-Scan Television.
John Southworth is an educator and specialist for integrated electronic learning systems. He lives and works in Hawaii.

Coordination: Eric Gidney.
Location: City Art Institute, Sydney, Australia,
Participants: Eric Gidney, lan Howard and students of the City Art Institute.
Media: Computer Timesharing and/or Telefacsimile,
Eric Gidney and lan Howard are lecturers at the City Art Institute.

Coordination: Kazue Kobata,
Location: Body Weather Laboratory,
Participants: Min Tanaka, Yoshi Nobu, Kazue Kobata
Project: In preparation.
Kazue Kobata is an artist and dancer working in Japan and America.

Coordination: Minus Delta t
Location: Turkey (en route to Bangkok)
Participants: Karel Dudesek, Mike Henz, Bernard Müller
Media: Telex?
Minus Delta t is a group of artists who been, since 1980, on the expedition “Project Bangkok”.
The project encompasses the ARCHIVE EUROPA, A FESTIVAL, the transportation and erection of a large and heavy monument, and working in the countries through which they are traveling until the end of December 1982. Apparently a classic expedition, but Minus Delta t are making art as field research.

DUBLIN [did NOT participate!]

GENEVA [did NOT participate!]


Surveillance I

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“This tape records a person (Robert Adrian) in a white cap as he passes by all the surveillance cameras in the (then new) Karlsplatz U-bahn station in Vienna. The tape is an unedited single take of the surveillance monitors by Karl Kowanz who was located in the control room with the attendant. The attendant switched the monitors so that the cameraman could follow the walker through the station system.”[1]



“Steve Mann’s WearComp, or wearable computers, offer one vision of what such a future might be like. Starting in the 1970s with an attempt to develop a computerized ‘photographer’s assistant,’ Mann quickly moved into the larger field of ‘personal imaging’ wherein a pair of eyeglasses, equipped with sensors and screens, gave the wearer the ability to see things that would otherwise be imperceptible. Such input devices were later joined with wearable computers with wireless networking capability that enabled the recording of incoming data, the superposition of information in the wearer’s field of view and the dissemination of these data-streams over the Internet. These devices raise
questions about art, cyborgs and surveillance in an era when augmented and virtual realities are increasingly being incorporated into the understanding of
perception. Mann’s continued work in this field has demonstrated the many
possibilities for wearable computers, from predicting where balls will land on a
roulette table to helping the blind.”[1]

1980 prototype with a 1.5-inch CRT

late 1980s multimedia computer with a 0.6-inch CRT

a more recent commercially available display

a current, nearly undetectable, prototype consisting of eyeglasses, a handheld control, and a computer worn in back under the shirt

[1] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.126

[2] all images from:



Screenshot of Carnivore Homepage []

 “CarnivorePE” by RSG

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“Carnivore” by RSG

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“PoliceState,” a Carnivore Client by Jonah Brucker Cohen

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                                                   Interface-Robot [1]

“iNTERFACE is a telerobotic installation piece by Canadian artist Garnet Hertz. On a fundamental level, its primary goal is to create an inexpensive low-tech telerobotic machine that is controllable through the web.

Beyond only producing a web-interfaced machine, it is in the artist’s intent to explore and generate theories of digital space and experience — especially the interface between digital interaction and physical output. The machine is fully operational offline. The project has been actualized, and further research by Garnet Hertz is continuing with more web-controlled machines.

The machine mark-makes on a floor surface, and is watched and controlled by an overhead camera. To view images made by the operational machine, visit. The project was actualized in an online connection for roughly four hours in april of 1996.

The current design of the system was based on this sketch to the above right. Using a camera that hangs from the ceiling, the drawing-machine scuttles below. Also pictured to the right is an image of the actual device system.” [1]


Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Documentation of “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” begins at about 2:00 minutes.


Eduardo Kac

“Essay Concerning Human Understanding” was a live, bi-directional, interactive, telematic, interspecies sonic installation I created with Ikuo Nakamura between Lexington (Kentucky), and New York. In this work, a canary dialogues over a regular phone line with a plant (Philodendron) 600 miles away.


Placed in the middle of the Center for Contemporary Art, the yellow canary was given a very large and comfortable cylindrical white cage, on top of which circuit-boards, a speaker, and a microphone were located. A clear Plexiglas disc separated the canary from this equipment, which was wired to the phone system. In New York, an electrode was placed on the plant’s leaf to sense its response to the singing of the bird. The microvoltage fluctuation of the plant was monitored through a Macintosh running a software called Interactive Brain-Wave Analyzer (IBVA). Ironically, a program designed to detect human mental activity was employed to inspect the vital activity of an organism generally understood as devoid of consciousness. The information coming from the plant was fed into another Macintosh running MAX, which controlled a MIDI sequencer. The electronic sounds themselves were pre-recorded, but the order and the duration were determined in real time by the plant’s response to the singing of the bird.


When this work was shown publicly, the bird and the plant interacted for several hours daily. Humans interacted with the bird and the plant as well. Just by standing next to the plant and the bird, humans immediately altered their behavior. When in close proximity, the interaction was further enhanced by the constantly changing behavior of the bird and the plant, which responded by singing more (bird), activating more sounds (plant), or by remaining quiet.

By enabling an isolated and caged animal to have a telematic conversation with a member of another species, this installation dramatized the role of communication and telecommunications in human lives. The inter-species communicative experience observed in the gallery reflects our own longing for interaction, our desire to reach out and stay in touch. This interactive installation is as much about creating art for non-humans as it is about human isolation and loneliness, and about the very possibility of communication. As this piece projects the complexities of electronically mediated human communication over non-human organisms, it surprisingly reveals aspects of our own communicative experience. This interaction is as dynamic and unpredictable as a human dialogue.ech2

Full essay copied from


“MILK uses GPS technology to map and visualize the continuous global flow of milk from the udder of a cow in Latvia to the consumer’s plate in the Netherlands.”[1]


Screenshot of MILK project homepage

“The map in the above picture “follows the milk from the udder of the cow to the plate of the consumer, by means of the people involved. They all were given a GPS device for a day: one of the days that they were somehow occupied with the movements of this dairy.The installation shows the actual GPS-tracks, the reactions of the participants on the tracks, and their personal relationship with the landscape involved.”[2]

[1] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.137