:: Saturday, October 09, 2004 ::

Edition Message Samplers
Shibuya Epiphany

Rob Annable sends a pointer to digital art project that combines mobile phone technology and traditional needlecraft. From the press release: Pixel designs can be sent for free to participants mobile phones, as digital wallpaper. The artworks can be collected, enabling visitors to build up an art collection on their mobile phones; a virtual transportable gallery. Participants will be given the opportunity to create there own unique crafted objects from these designs, as the designs are also available as cross stitch patterns, to print-out and stitch. Users are encouraged to upload images of their stitched samplers to the EMS website.

This work questions the ‘high cultural’ or elitist methods of producing and collecting artwork. In asking participants to consider transforming disposable designs into tangible craft objects, the work will also question the margin between (digital) technology and (traditional) craft.

The EMS project is soon to be exhibited at an
the New Forms Festival in Vancouver, 14th – 28th October 2004.

More on EMS

:: molly hankwitz [+] ::
Net Art Exhibit
New Forms Festival, Vancouver
Oct 14th through 28th, 2004

NET ART EXHIBIT/New Forms 2004
Self and Society of Tomorrow
Curated by Camille Baker

"This show will also expose the similarities and differences that exist between media artists in different areas of the world and how geography, ethnography, technology, tradition and culture all play into a greater discourse on art and media today." --from the Curator's bio.

An especially timely and interesting exhibit of online works which together demonstrate the many positive, political, strategic and creative directions new media artists are willing to exert on culture and society. With 19 international artists and an awards strategy, this exhibition is part of the exciting New Forms Festival with this year's theme: TECHNOGRAPHY. It's all part of Vancouver's upbeat and ever different media arts experience.
:: molly hankwitz [+] ::
:: Friday, October 08, 2004 ::
150 Years by photographer Yuri Marder, is an online exhibition of photos that explores the changes in people made over the course of 150 years. By juxtaposing found photos from the mid 19th century with Marder's own shot portraits from today, the user begins to make associations and to ask questions.

For example, are we seeing ancestors from the same family line and the gradual change of race and ethnicity through the generations? Or are we meant to compare relationships between couples and families separated by 150 years and the way body language has become less restrictive in 2004? One particularly interesting combination is of two couples. The 19th century couple sits rigidly with no touching and appearing to almost be strangers, while the modern couple wears big smiles as the woman sits on her man's lap. The body language echoes the freedoms found in modern relationships, including the freedom to date, break-up, and divorce. The other images are of real or fictional sisters, friends, parents, couples, assorted family members, and individuals.

Other themes explored in Yuri Marder's photographs focus on immigration, family, and exile and can be found on his main website.

:: Kristen Palana [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 07, 2004 ::
Selected News

Google's library, Deux

Keep on swapping, then swap again.

Check your palm -- got OS?

The Kodak Java dispute.

:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 06, 2004 ::
I was just in Toronto. The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is showing Mark Lombardi’s “Global Networks”. It is such a great timing for this exhibition… and for following with your eye the labyrinthical lines that compose the intricate maps of financial scandals – where names such as “George H. W.” come up frequently... Kudos to Independent Curators International, NY for putting not only the exhibition together, but an excellent 128 page catalogue.

But back to "net art" (if I was ever away from it when mentioning an artist that while drawing with a pencil, works with *nets* in the most genuine sense of the word): the point is that revisiting Lombardi’s “narrative structures” - the term he used* to name his maps – made me revisit Universite Tangente (UT) and their digitally created (as opposed to Lombardi's) political maps. To my inquiry on whether they were still active since there has not been much posted in the last year, the UT team replied that soon they are going to replenish the site with new maps and ideas. Still, there is a lot to see as the site now stands... Since the last time I visited UT they have included a infowar/psychic war map really worth a visit. And older but always great and to some extent the foundation of what the UT project is all about: “mapping excess” by Brian Holmes. An essay by the same author is "Flowmaps, The Imaginaries of Global Integration" with some wonderful maps listed in the references section for those interested in this field.

* - I’m using the past tense as Lombardi died in 2000, allegedly “from suicide”, or “suicided” as some of his friends have suggested. Lombardi's work was, one must admit, uncomfortable for many...

Ana Boa-Ventura
:: ana boa-ventura [+] ::
:: Monday, October 04, 2004 ::
Reflection on Centro + Media, Periferico, and LatinoAmedia, Mexico City: Fifth installment in a series of five

In this text I reflect upon the three events that took place in Mexico City during the month of August 2004. If you are interested in learning about the specific events, please read the accounts of August 30, September 3, and September 13, 2004.

Media’s tendency is to overwhelm the senses. The exhibitions at Centro and Laboratorio Arte Alameda lived up to this particular expectation with great ease. And because of this, the aesthetics of the performances and installations could be dangerously universalized. Part of the reason lies in the fact that the tools used by the performers and artists are the products and vehicles of globalization, which strategically saturate the senses to create the necessary desire to keep production and consumption at its peak. Another reason is the fact that, thanks to the same tools, people, who can afford to use them, can communicate across continents not worrying too much about their geographical places, thus leading to an international activity that seemly transcends the usual cartographic codes through which cultures have in the not so distant past negotiated their ever-changing ways of living.

One could notice this by simply listing the actual equipment and software: Mac G5 powerbooks were the most common computers in use by many of the performers, and Sony Vaios were the standard for most installations; for development, Flash, Director and Max/Jitter were often the applications of choice. And then, once in front of a screen, whether this one was a projection or a computer monitor, the viewer could easily fall into a state of placelessness. Suspense of disbelief never had a better home. The screen/projection has become the Universal living space for the multifaceted narrative. I implicate myself and admit that I felt as though I was in my own virtual place whenever I viewed a screen, yet I knew I was far away from my usual environment. I looked around each of these events, and thought that I was not alone in this reflection.

But to claim universality because the aesthetics and tools at play in Mexico City at the end of the summer of 2004 are popular at least within the new media community would be erroneous. If anything the events proved how complex new media practice is when viewed within a thematic that may try to encapsulate works of art that, by default, cannot belong to a specific narrative.

The unity I felt throughout the events was extremely pronounced. Knowing that I was part of a set of international artists who identify themselves as Latin American in some form was very special for me. Yet, I also realized that while we embraced this narrative we also had many other aspects that made our roles as cultural producers extremely complex. Before I state what I mean by this, I should explain a difference between new media practice and other practices that do not rely on international communication networks to disseminate the work (at least as discourse).

It is one thing for a painter or sculptor to produce her work in the studio and show that work in a local gallery. This activity usually means being part of a specific culture that supports and informs the art that is produced. For an Uruguayan artist, for example, this would mean contributing to the local art scene and if that work made it out into the international art circuit, it would always be attached to its place of origin; meaning, it would be contextualized to have been made by an Urugayan artist. This identification could become somewhat incidental, and has been in the past, once the artist becomes internationally recognized; however, this can only happen after a decent number of international exhibitions.

The place of production of new media, especially net art, is not dependent on a specific physical place to be recognized. As long as the artists have a server that can provide the work or samples of the work (as documentation if the piece is not a net piece) the actual physical place (country) becomes incidental from the very beginning. This does not mean that the artist may not emphasize her nationality or country of origin; it just means that this often happens after the work is viewed.

Brian Mackern is a case in point. He is an Uruguayan artist. I have known his work for some time but was not aware that he was from Uruguay in the very beginning. I eventually found out because Mackern is quiet open about his nationality. But this was not the first thing that jumped at me. Further, he does not have a “stereotypical” Latin American name, so Brian has the agency to simply downplay his cultural codes if he so desired. Indeed, he actually has to work a bit to make sure online users realize what country he is making his art from. Online users could get a hint if they look at his website URL, which has ".uy" at the end as well as the fact that some of his work is presented in Spanish. But this does not automatically mean Mackern is from that country but simply that the server where his files are stored are attributed to Uruguay. Arcangel Constantini, who is Mexican, is another example.

Other new media artists, especially those who make net art, have similar situations; although their names may hint to being part of a "latino" group (as it would be stereotyped in the U.S. in particular), this, however, does not automatically explain what country they may be working from. In short the usual codes that are imposed on international artists to contextualize their work are still at play in new media but in a second order.

New media practice becomes more complex when the artists travel, and indeed, new media artists travel a lot, so their works are not only seen or understood online, but also in festivals across the world. The work, then, becomes part of a global aesthetic that cannot so easily be contextualized within the usual narratives of difference following post-colonial discourse.

The Latin American artists who participated in the three events in Mexico City are indeed part of a bigger group of international artists. Many have been in major exhibitions in Europe that do not deal with cultural narratives, but rather thematic exhibitions focusing on particular aspects of new media. So to curate an exhibition emphasizing some type of Latin American narrative comes up as a very specific choice by the curators, and this questions what the term itself may mean within new media practice.

The emphasis on a Latin American art (whatever this may mean at this point) inevitably exposes the diverse state of new media art practice that is at play throughout the continent, which could certainly be contextualized as specific to the region; this, however, would be deceiving because some of the work is not produced within the region. Also, much of the work does not deal with specificities of localities or politics that can be appended to particular places or nationalities. Instead the work, shares an aesthetic that is part of a global network, which is used by new media artists to promote individual interests that may be more open-ended or more politically specific. But this is becoming more of a choice now more than ever.

The term Latin American in the end exposes the fragmentation and plurality that Latin American discourse has experienced for a number of years. How the term "Latin American" is used now needs to become more specific. This is something that was not so clear in the series of events. Some of the artists that participated in the events are not functioning or were born in Latin American countries, but rather are related to the term based on family history. Cases in point: Santiago Ortiz, who is from Colombia, currently lives in Spain; Antonio Mendoza, who is Cuban-U.S. American, grew up in Spain and lives in the United States; and I was born in El Salvador, but have lived most of my life as an U.S. Citizen. Then there is Muserna who has a Mexican background but was raised in the United States identifying himself more with the many facets of North American culture rather than Latin American cultures.

What the events in Mexico City exposed, then, is the rich potential for Latin America, as a discourse, to redefine itself through emerging technologies. The diversity and richness of the work, and the complexity of the participants attests to the fact that those who decide to identify themselves as Latin Americans, for whatever reason, are in a great place to reevaluate their cultures. The term is becoming more and more complicated to use as new media artists, in particular, move around the world to live and exhibit their work.

What does it mean these days to call someone Latin American? What does that actually imply? These are some of the questions that the participating artists who relate to Latin America as an international discourse have to face and respond to in order to live up to the challenge of the global activity of emerging technologies.
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
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