Art of Masks: Faceless at Mediamatic

Posted: April 16, 2014 at 8:24 pm  |  By: daniel  |  Tags: , , , , ,

I recently visited Mediamatic Factory in order to preview its "Faceless" exhibition, which included a tour by the curator. Parallel to the exhibition, various interesting events took place, amongst which: a Facial Weaponization Suite and Computer Security workshop, and an evening of lectures by various artists and theorists.

 

The_Falling_Man

 

Not untimely

We all remember 'the falling man', who jumped from one of the WTC skyscrapers on 11 September 2001 at 9:41:15 a.m. But until today we do not know his name. Imprinted on our retinal memory is a simple figure, a silhouet in perfect alignment with the vertical columns of the building grappling with gravity soon to follow its course. The following years we became acqainted with images of masked terrorists shot by cheap camcorders that legitimized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bogomir Doringer, artist and curator of the "Faceless" exhibition at Mediamatic states his interest in hidden faces is significantly influenced by the events of 9/11. During his study at the Rietveld Academy he noticed many other artists and (fashion) designers were engaging with anonymity as an experimental aesthetic and political form, using masks and other cloaking devices, manipulating and transforming the natural shape of the human face, experimenting with morphing official and perceived identies, paranoiac forms of perception and new surveillance technologies.

As to the latter, the exhibition comes not untimely, as Snowden's revelations about data surveillance have further despaired and dissociated those who continue to value privacy, thus politicizing anonymity in its stead. It seems that, in today's socio-economic climate unconnectedness equals obsolescence as opacity does criminality ('to attract secret services, please encrypt message'). It drives oldtime defenders of a socialist appropriation of mass media to repeat desperate Thoreau/Unabomber-like musings.

Yet an aesthetic approach to anonymity as a form of (dis)identity politics might - in a sense to be established - be the polar opposite of a legalistic defense of privacy, presenting, in my view, what is most needed: a broadening of our imagination regarding new forms of collective life based on sociality and constant exposure that nevertheless defy the superpanoptical machinery. To be continued...

Al-Qaeda-releases-hostage-video

Art of masks

The artworks exhibited can be categorized, roughly, as engaging (1) a politics of surveillance and (2) a politics of identity. I have focused on the latter. However, ultimately, the most interesting projects are those in which these distinctions become ineffective and altogether artificial, i.e. where the very artfull deferrence of surveillance is articulated as, and itself becomes the basis of, an alternate identity. It is at this juncture that a specific role of the artist - that of the jester or trickster resurfaces, as deceitful appearances invoke a retreat from historically sedimented Seriousness.

Carmen Schabracq -"Anonymity mask"

Carmen Schabracq -"Anonymity mask"

For example, Carmen Schabracq - a visual artist based in Amsterdam - whose woolen masks and sculptures invoke a sense of the intimate association between anonymity, the body, and animality so well-established in the pop culture of the preceding decades. Besides organizing a mask-making workshop, she served White Russians at the opening party as part of the Poesiebar Kittens.

Photographers Jeroen Schallmaier en Hester Scheurwater take as their research object the online self-presentations of gay men and women, respectively. Schallmaier, by collecting selfies and penis/everyday object comparisons on gay dating sites, and presenting them in a thematically organized fashion; and Scheurwater, by taking pictures of herself inspired on the aesthetic (in)formalities of many selfies, with which, once again, the obscenely transparent body (and the complicit observer) is associated, and whose material universality 'replaces' the distinct face-name coalition. The atypical alignment of legs and arms without face centered around the recording mobile device reminisces of those alien life-forms described in sci-fi novels. She organized these images - first published on the social media platforms on which they were inspired - into a booklet called "Shooting Back".

Hester Scheurwater - "Shooting Back"

Hester Scheurwater - "Shooting Back"

 

Frank Schallmaier - Detail from "Flash"


The work "Islamic Carding" by Iranian artist Shahram Entekhabi juxtaposes within a single image two seemingly irreconcilable aesthetic and ethical regimes - that of Western and Islamic culture. The former is afraid of anything that refuses to show itself; the latter of what might be revealed when it happens. The critique of the burqa is typically articulated in terms of women's rights, violated by a backward religious doctrine. Yet without wanting to replace this explanation, an alternative hypothesis (explaining our unease with the burqa-phenomenon) is left unaddressed - the tendency of the West to perpetually 'prepare' all objects for their incessant circulation and subsequent consumption on the basis of a founding transparency that makes them structurally available and 'gives them away' in a manner (ironically) similar to the actual giving away of women in those very backward cultures. "All services 24 Hrs".

Shahram Entekhabi - "Islamic Carding"Shahram Entekhabi - "Islamic Carding"

More

I've only described a fraction of the exhibited artistic projects. Needless to say there were many more works worth sharing. If interested, be sure to visit the exhibition's website at Mediamatic or at http://www.facelessexhibition.net/.

Heeft het Stedelijk Museum wel een artistiek directeur nodig?

Posted: March 27, 2014 at 11:13 am  |  By: Miriam Rasch  | 

800px-Stedelijk_Museum_1

Bron: Wikipedia

Bijdrage van Mieke Gerritzen, directeur MOTI, Museum of the Image in Breda

Het gaat goed met het Stedelijk Museum. Het museum trekt massa’s bezoekers, en dat is voor de Amsterdamse gemeente en het museum zelf waarschijnlijk het belangrijkste doel. De badkuip heeft zijn status bereikt, het Museumplein is dé toeristentrekplijster van Amsterdam en het maakt niet uit dat het programma een beetje in elkaar wordt gerommeld. Het grote publiek ziet dat niet. Van Kazimir Malevich tot Marcel Wanders, ze gaan er in als koek. En de vrienden van het museum worden in de watten gelegd met familiedagen en bruisende openingen waar de crème de la crème van de kunstwereld z’n mooiste jurk en pak voor aantrekt. Kortom, het museum in Amsterdam is een goed geoliede succesmachine.

Je vraagt je af of zo’n museum wel een artistiek directeur nodig heeft. Want het beeld dat we hebben van zo’n directeur is vooral de glamoureuze acteur die met een vlotte visionaire babbel aanschuift bij De Wereld Draait Door. Het artistieke mediagenie is vast niet instaat om het traditionele museum te transformeren tot een experimenteel hedendaags kunstpaleis dat van de daken schreeuwt met... tja… met wat eigenlijk?

Tegenwoordig worden het engagement, de kritische geluiden, de schurende observaties en visionaire opvattingen niet meer aan de muur gehangen of in een boek of tijdschrift tot uiting gebracht. De digitale revolutie biedt andere mogelijkheden die we nog niet kunnen en willen benoemen. Disciplines lopen in elkaar over, en er zijn nog geen nieuwe afspraken gemaakt over de vorm. We bevinden ons nog in de digitale middeleeuwen, een overgangsgebied van analoog naar digitaal; een vrijplaats en gevangenis tegelijk. De macht oefent een steeds scherpere controle uit en de burgers gaan wild met media. De kunstenaars storten zich vol overgave in het gedruis en broeden op nieuwe concepten.

Veranderingen signaleren is vaak eenzaam, anderen zien het nog niet. Een artistiek discours uitzetten is niet aantrekkelijk voor de grote massa. Het publiek en de media komen pas kijken als de bevindingen door de machinerie van marketing en design zijn gegaan en als nieuwe trend worden gepresenteerd. En zo hoort het ook. Maar musea die de vernieuwing wel willen laten zien krijgen nauwelijks de kans om nieuwe ideeën te ontwikkelen want ze moeten instant scoren en geld verdienen en dus bezoekers trekken.

Het is een spannende tijd nu kunstenaars grenzen opzoeken en experimenteren met media en klassieke kunstdisciplines. Projecten tussen film, nieuws, design, software, mode, hacking, beeldende kunst, privacy en augmented reality poppen op. En hoe laten we dat zien in een museum? Juist nu is het belangijk dat het museum visie toont en mensen laat reflecteren op een complexe nieuwe wereld. We willen iets anders zien dan alledaagse dingen als facebook, de supermarkt en het kantoor. Visionaire thema’s maken nieuwe verbanden zichtbaar tussen de actualiteit en voorbije stromingen. Inspirerende kunstenaars presenteren ons nieuwe vormen van esthetiek. En de 21ste eeuw is bovendien een cultureel paradijs nu niet alleen de kunstenaars maar ook alle burgers meedoen en beelden maken. Dat beïnvloedt het professionele kunstcircuit en het museum denkt mee over de positionering.

Het feit dat het Stedelijk Museum succesvol draait zonder artistieke leiding is problematisch, niet alleen voor Amsterdam, maar voor de hele Nederlandse kunst- en museumwereld. Het is de droom van iedere wethouder van cultuur om een plein vol toeristen met dikke rijen bezoekers voor het museum te zien staan in zijn stad. En nu denkt hij dat te kunnen realiseren zonder dat daar een visie voor nodig is. Het Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam geeft immers het voorbeeld.

In elke stad vinden we dezelfde winkels zoals Albert Heijn, HEMA, Etos, Gamma en u weet wel. Ze zijn herkenbaar, altijd vol en druk, maar ze zijn saai en zorgen ervoor dat het overal hetzelfde is. Het gevaar dreigt nu dat iedere stad ook zijn eigen museumplein gaat ontwikkelen voor de blockbuster tentoonstellingen met bekende namen als Van Gogh, Mondriaan en Rembrandt om bezoekers te trekken. Niet alleen de winkels maar ook alle musea gaan dan op elkaar lijken. Nieuwe kunstenaars krijgen geen kans om in het museum gezien te worden, laat staan dat er visionaire concepten worden uitgewerkt. En het is nu juist de bedoeling van de cultuurpaleizen, klein en groot, dat ze het verschil laten zien.

Het cultuurdebat in Nederland is vrijwel verdwenen of gaat alleen nog over verdienmodellen. Ondertussen voert het Stedelijk nog steeds het artistieke beleid uit dat is gebaseerd op de traditionele kunstvormen uit de 20ste eeuw. Het is een ramp voor heel Nederland dat een kostbaar museum met zo’n voorbeeldfunctie geen directeur aanstelt en daarmee alle nieuwe ontwikkelingen in de kunsten ontkent en dus ook misloopt.

Mieke Gerritzen
Directeur MOTI, Museum of the Image in Breda

Enzensberger’s Rules for the Digital World: Defend Yourselves!

Posted: March 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm  |  By: geert  |  Tags: , , , , , ,  |  1 Comment

Published February 28th, 2014, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany (original here). Unauthorized translation by Florian Cramer.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Defend Yourselves!

For those who aren't nerds, hackers or cryptographers and have better things to do than keep up with the pitfalls of digitalization every hour, there are ten simple rules to resist exploitation and surveillance:

1
If you own a mobile phone, throw it away. You had a life before this device, and the human race will continue to exist after its disappearance. One should avoid the superstitious worship that it enjoys. Neither those devices nor their users are any smart, but only those who market them  to us in order to accumulate boundless riches and control ordinary people.

2
Whoever offers something for free is suspicious. One should categorically refuse anything that passes itself off as a bargain, bonus or freebie. It's always a lie. The dupes pay with their privacy, their data and often enough with their money.

3
Online banking is a blessing, but only for secret services and criminals.

4
Governments and industries want to abolish cash. They would like to get rid of a legal tender that anyone can redeem. Coins and bills are annoying for banks, traders, security and fiscal authorities. Plastic cards are not only cheaper to produce. Our watchdogs prefer them because they allow the tracing  of any transaction. Therefore, we all should avoid credit, debit and loyalty cards. These permanent companions are bothersome and dangerous.

5
The madness of networking every object of daily use - from toothbrush to TV, from car to refrigerator - via the Internet can only be met with total boycott. Their manufacturers don't give a single thought to privacy. They have only one vulnerable body part, their bank account. Only bankruptcy will teach them.

6
The same applies to politicians. They ignore any objection to their actions and omissions. They are submissive to the financial markets and don't dare to go up against the activities of secret services. But they have a vested interest to be reelected. As long as the right to vote still exists, one should deny anyone the vote who tolerates digital expropriation instead of taking action against it.

7
E-Mail is nice, fast and free. So watch out! If you have a confidential message or don't want to be surveilled, take a postcard and pencil. Handwriting is hard to read for machines. Nobody suspects important information on a 45 cent picture postcard. You don't have to resort to a dead drop like in old-fashioned spy novels.

8
Avoid obtaining goods and services via Internet. Vendors like Amazon, Ebay and so on store all data and molest their customers with advertising spam. Anonymous shopping is better. Acceptable exceptions can be made for individual sites that one knows well.

9
Just like network television, the big Internet corporations are primarily financed by advertising. This way, they steal their customers' time and attention. Someone who ceaseless yells at you and molests you deserves punishment. It's recommendable to stay away from everything marketed this way and switch off, once and for all, the stations terrorizing you with advertising. This should not only be done for hygienic reasons. As we know, particularly the American mega corporations closely collaborate with secret services to spy out and control, if possible, any human activity.

10
Networks like Facebook call themselves "social" despite their eagerness to treat their customers in the utmost anti-social ways. Whoever wants to have friends like this is a hopeless case. Those who are unfortunate enough to be part of such a company, should try to take flight as fast as possible. This is not so easy. An octopus won't consent to letting his prey escape.

* * *

These simple measures can't solve the political problem that society is faced with. Given the passiveness and servility of the parties ruling this country [the coalition of Christian and Social Democrats in Germany], it's remarkable enough if one notable politician speaks up. His name is Martin Schulz, and he's not only president of the European Parliament but even a Social Democrat. Until now, neither he nor his party objected to the rampant security and control mania in any remarkable way. All respective violations, no matter whether foreign imports or domestic products of German workmanship, have been given the nod. Storing data, intercepting, appeasing - the standard procedure.

The sleep of reason will continue to the day when a majority of this country's citizens will experience firsthand what has been done to them. Perhaps, they will rub their eyes and ask why they let it slip in a time when resistance was still possible.

Visit MoneyLab–Background Text for the Upcoming Event

Posted: February 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm  |  By: geert  | 

Invitation for MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives, Amsterdam, March 21-22 2014.

We hope you will all be able to come. INC still hasn't figured out how to bring down costs for live streaming of its events but as you know we got a team of furious bloggers and the videos are usually up on Vimeo within a week. We might also produce an INC reader over the next year and are already in conversation to organize similar follow-up events in London and Sao Paolo. We'll see.

One of the discussions is how to continue the debate about (internet) revenue models. There is the very practical layer of how to use and implement Bitcoin and similar currencies, the use of crowdfunding, mobile money, virtual game currencies, LETs, etc. and how artists, activists and other 'creative producers' of the precariat can make use of these emerging sources of income. Experiences as collected and further theorized by groups like the P2P Foundation come in handy here. We are collecting both best and worst practices. However, there is also the question of monetization in general and the role of 'free culture': sharing has to become a choice, not the default.

If 'the internet is broken', and needs to be 'fixed', then we also have to analyze how this has happened. It is not enough to merely point at the NSA and evil US-American corporations, together with the armies of quasi-playful, innocent techno-libertarian geeks that together dominate both the start-up and internet governance scenes. Such (justified) resentments (for instance mobilized in Germany by the FAZ) can distract us from the larger challenges that are out there. For me 2013 was the year of Snowdon and Bitcoin. It is interesting to bring them together, and also involve CCC, Jacob Appelbaum, Glenn Greenwald and all the others who are doing such amazing work on the 'surveillance' side of the story. Security alone, both individually and on the system-level, will not be enough as long as the business models of 'the free' will not change.

The idea of MoneyLab was born out of a discontent with the narrow agenda of so many Bitcoin gatherings that are so technical and evangelical in nature. If you are not a programmer or Bitcoin entrepreneur yourself, and are already deeply involved, there is not much for you to get out of such events. This is a pitty because the wider context of the 'Bitcoin' debate is fascinating and needs a lot more involvement of artists, activists, theorists, designers and critics. We need to build another internet economy, based to P2P principles--and make the Bitcoin premisses more explicit and not take them for granted. This is an exciting time in which money is redesigned. Let a thousand MoneyLabs flourish!

Out now: Transcoding the Digital: How Metaphors Matter in New Media by Marianne van den Boomen

Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:35 am  |  By: Miriam Rasch  | 

Read online, download the PDF or order a print copy at Lulu!

TOD#14coverTranscoding the Digital: How Metaphors Matter in New Media by Marianne van den Boomen is a material-semiotic inquiry into the constitutive role of metaphors in our daily encounters with computers and networks. While interface concepts such as desktop and windows are easily recognized as metaphors, this research shows how in fact all digital sign-tool-objects – ranging from icons and email to Facebook friends, from hyperlink and tweet to Pirate Bay – are digital-material metaphors. They frame and organize how we access the black boxes of software and machinery, which in turn organize and reconfigure society. The same holds for discourse metaphors such as virtual community, cyberspace, Web 2.0, and social network. Metaphors matter in digital praxis, literally. This study makes an intervention into the contemporary theory of metaphor by extending it with the notion of material metaphor, including a manifest for hacking digital-material metaphors.

Marianne van den Boomen studied psychology in Utrecht and political sciences in Amsterdam. For twenty years she has worked as editor, journalist, and web designer; from 1990 to 2000 mainly for the weekly opinion magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. She was involved in the development of the early Dutch Digital City (1994), and published several articles and books on internet culture including Internet ABC voor vrouwen (1995) and Leven op het Net: De sociale betekenis van virtuele gemeenschappen (2000). Since 2003 she works as a lecturer-researcher at the Department of Media and Culture Studies (Utrecht University), where she teaches BA and MA courses in the program New Media and Digital Culture.

colophon Author: Marianne van den Boomen. Editorial support: Miriam Rasch. Design and DTP: Katja van Stiphout. Printer: ‘Print on Demand’. Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2014. ISBN: 978-90-818575-7-4

Children’s Information – Who Cares? By Maarten Sprenger

Posted: February 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm  |  By: Miriam Rasch  |  Tags: , , , ,

'For children searching the internet is like riding a roller coaster in an amusement park. How to choose one’s own route and get useful hits when searching? How to avoid delay and distraction? How to distinguish between nonsense and reliable resources? It’s hard for adults, but even harder for children.' Children’s Information – Who Cares? By Maarten Sprenger

Maarten Sprenger is the author of a recently published book for children and adults about searching for valuable information online (in Dutch: Slim zoeken op internet). He has extended experience in teaching about online search and also maintains a search engine especially for children: 8-12.info. On the conference Society of the Query #2 he talked about search engines for children and online search from an educational perspective.

For the Society of the Query resources collection, Maarten Sprenger wrote an extensive participatory observation and literature review of best practices from the field of information literacy and educational information retrieval by children aged 8 to 12 years. It is available on the Society of the Query website. Read, discuss and share your thoughts!

Children’s Information – Who Cares? By Maarten Sprenger

Promotie Marianne van den Boomen: Metaforen in de nieuwe media

Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm  |  By: margreet  | 

bron: http://nieuws.hum.uu.nl/

Tegenwoordig zijn we zo bekend met email, desktops, zoekmachines, Facebook-vrienden en de cloud, dat we ons nauwelijks realiseren dat dit stuk voor stuk metaforen zijn – beeldspraak voor bepaalde digitale verwerkingsprocessen op onze computers, tablets en smart phones. In haar proefschrift onderzoekt Marianne van den Boomen de invloed van deze metaforen op ons denken, spreken en handelen.
Metaforische vertalingen vormen onze enige toegang tot digitale code, die alleen ‘leesbaar’ is voor machines en niet voor mensen. De vertaalslagen van digitale code naar metafo-
rische code doen echter meer dan het cognitief begrijpelijk maken van het digitale. Ze bepalen niet alleen ons denken over wat er mogelijk en onmogelijk is met computers, maar ook ons spreken en handelen. Daarmee geven ze mede vorm en richting aan maatschappelijke debat-
ten, academische vertogen, technologische innovaties en ideologische plaatstoewijzingen.

Soorten metaforen

Van den Boomen legt dit in haar proefschrift bloot door het materieel-semiotische spoor te volgen van vigerende metaforen in digitale praktijken. Aan de orde komen conceptuele metaforen, die de interface op begrip brengen (zoals mailbox, pagina, hyperlink), vertoogmetaforen, die maatschappelijke en academische vertogen ordenen (media als venster, spiegel, container en kanaal; internet als elektronische snelweg versus cyberspace; software als ding of taal), en materiële metaforen, die geobjectiveerd en gematerialiseerd worden in software (virtuele gemeenschap, web 2.0, sociaal netwerk), en die in feite combinaties vormen van concepten, vertogen en digitaal ingebouwde metaforen.

Belichten en verduisteren

Alle metaforen belichten specifieke aspecten, en tegelijkertijd verduisteren ze andere dingen. Opvallend is dat de dominante nieuwemediametaforen primair gericht zijn op het onzichtbaar maken van de materële werkzaamheid van media, software en netwerken. Een uitbreiding van de klassieke conceptuele metafooranalyse met de notie van materiële metaforen kan dat weer terughalen.

colophon Auteur: Marianne van den Boomen. Editorial support: Miriam Rasch. Design en DTP: Katja van Stiphout. Printer: ‘Print on Demand’. Uitgever: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2014. ISBN: 978-90-818575-7-4

Download het proefschrift hier.

 

 

 

Wikipedia schrijfmiddag in De Appel (Amsterdam) 1 februari

Posted: January 27, 2014 at 9:38 am  |  By: Miriam Rasch  | 

Doe mee met de Wikipedia-schrijfmiddag ('edit-a-thon') over kunst en feminisme! Wikipedia's 'vrouwenkwestie' is goed gedocumenteerd: in een onderzoek uitgevoerd door Wikimedia Nederland in 2013, bleek dat maar 6% van de bewerkers van de Nederlandse Wikipedia vrouw is.

De inhoud van Wikipedia wordt scheef door het gebrek aan participatie van vrouwen. Vele artikelen over opmerkelijke vrouwen in de geschiedenis en kunst zijn afwezig op Wikipedia. Het doel van deze edit-a-thon is om tips uit te wisselen hoe wij deze achterstand in de kunst kunnen wegwerken met z'n allen. Onze bijeenkomst in Amsterdam is geïnspireerd op een Amerikaans initiatief: Er worden inmiddels edit-a-thons georganiseerd in veel meer steden.

Zie ook https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/Gender_Gap/Kunst_en_feminisme

Wanneer? Zaterdag 1 februari van 12.00 tot 18.00
Waar? de Appel arts centre, Prins Hendrikkade 142, 1011 AT Amsterdam

Inschrijfformulier: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1s3d8n280z1k1v9i6fZno_8tXGOjBBVf_Dop8SVojDvQ/viewform

Video Vortex: new interview with Ursula Endlicher

Posted: January 23, 2014 at 11:22 am  |  By: martaburugorri  | 

Video Vortex interviewed artist Ursula Endlicher. Ursula experiments with user behaviour from Social Media and looks into the very architecture of the Web itself. For instance, she translates html language or social media terms into movement and creates online video libraries and visual alphabets. In this interview through skype and edited following Ursula's ideas, she explains us the origin of all these notions and some of her current projects.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.15.46 AM

Kijk, lees en luister: 20 jaar De Digitale Stad

Posted: January 16, 2014 at 9:55 am  |  By: Miriam Rasch  | 

Vanavond in De Zwijger: Amsterdam Connected: 25 years Internet, 20 years DDS and 20 years AMS-IX

Lees nu alvast een interview van Peter Olsthoorn met Geert Lovink over de Digitale Stad: Alles viel samen met De Digitale Stad

In Duitstalig Europa is hij een bekend mediatheoreticus en activist: Geert Lovink. We  spraken hem over zijn boeiende leven inclusief de aanloop naar, en de bloeiperiode en de neergang van De Digitale Stad (DDS).

In NRC Handelsblad verscheen het artikel Toen internet nog idealistisch was - Digitale pioniers. Twintig jaar geleden opende De Digitale Stad, voor een niet-commercieel internet. De ruïnes worden nu opgegraven.

Bekijk ook de historische beelden van de opening van De Digitale Stad op Smart TV en breng een bezoekje aan re-DDS over de geschiedenis van internet in Nederland.

Donderdag 16 januari 2014, 17.30 - 22.30 uur
Pakhuis de Zwijger, Piet Heinkade 179 Amsterdam