31 March 2006

Franklin Furnace Proposal: 29 FOREVER

Dear Franklin Furnace, thanks for letting me submit my grant proposal in URL format. Below is a description of what I'd like to do. I could really benefit from your assistance. Thanks for your consideration.

The less-than-one-hundred-words description:
In a video blog called “29 Forever,” I will document twenty-nine singing lessons, taken on the occasion of my turning twenty-nine. The vlog will chart my ongoing efforts to be “heard” and will be a time-based performance: taking a chronological format, revolving around my aging, and preserving my voice for a time when we no longer hear each other’s voices. (Which will probably be next year: another reason to stay 29 Forever...)

The longer proposal:
I need singing lessons. Big time. My current work is all about the voice, but mine stinks. How long can I go on making art about the relationship between fame and talent when I have neither? I’m about to turn 29. I won’t be young and blonde forever. Every day I wake up and see that I’m aging faster than the ephemeral media on my blogs. I’m wrinkled, they aren’t. My vision’s failing, so my hopes of being a visionary artist are also diminishing. This is a crisis. Clearly voice lessons are the only thing that will help.

I propose that Franklin Furnace help fund twenty-nine voice lessons. This will be an important step in my career, one that might even help me become the "vocal" artist I’ve always dreamed of becoming. I’d like to document these lessons on a video blog so that my future fans can watch me work. Perhaps, in the course of the twenty-nine lessons, my voice will become more tolerable. The blog will not only be a diary of my ups and downs (emotionally and on the scales!), it will also be a way to preserve my voice for the future.
You see, in this world of highly-mediated communication, I feel like no one ever hears my voice. Who knows what things will be like when I’m 30 or 35? On the blog, I’ll be “29 Forever.” I’ve always liked the idea of blogs being spaces for time-based performances—spaces where everything has a time-date stamp and is ordered chronologically. In this project, time would determine not only the form but also the content of the work. In fact, perhaps the subtitle of the blog should be “It’s About Time.” Afterall, I’m sure I’ll hear that refrain when I tell people I’m taking singing lessons…

I’d like to thank Franklin Furnace for considering supporting my work and my descent towards geriatry in this way. To help in your decision-making process, please consider these other blog-based art projects that offer proof of my need for singing lessons:

Marisa's American Idol Audition Training Blog
Abe & Mo Sing the Blogs
Universal Acid (see especially Across the Universe & Landslide--or the original green screen versions, if you dare! Ouch!)

I also do a bit of "singing" in this fictional reenactment of my American Idol audition.
And in my moiMovies...

Please let me know if you'd like to hear more about these projects or my proposal, in general. Also, I've got a bio online, here.

I would like to request $2,929.29 for this project. This would be $100 per lesson, for professional fees, video editing time, maintenance of the blog, and hosting fees. The remaining $29.29 would be used to purchase a small cup of tea before each lesson. I hear that’s very helpful.


30 March 2006

Copy, Right?

Sometimes it's funny to think about this blog and how it effects what people think of me. For the longest time I assumed that no one read it (and I still really do, actually), but lately total strangers have been talking to me about it. Weird! Recently a friend asked me about the fact that sometimes I post more intimate (by which I think he really meant incriminating or embarrassing) thoughts or anecdotes on my blog than I share privately, and commented on how the same is often true in my performances. But I've also been looking over my blog posts, recently, and chuckling about how the nature of them has changed. I guess some of this sways with my mood, but at first I posted about every little thing I was or wasn't doing and now I feel like that's a bit (a) boring (b) sometimes braggish (c) generally lame....

But the end result of all of this is that it paints a weird picture of who I am and what I'm doing with my life, to invoke the eponymous question. For instance, many people out there who feel that they know me (and probably really do) have no idea that I have a very academic side. I mean, everyone knows I'm a nerd, but do you also know that I've frequently got my nose buried in the books of all kinds of hifalutin theorists? Or do you know that, at multiple times in my life, I've considered dropping everything to go to law school? It's true! Crazy!

Forgive me if I'm hitting categories A (boring) and C (lame), from above. The whole reason for this rant is that I wanted to post a note about copyright. No, not about copyright, but about copying. You see, the more I go about my life and the more theory I read, the more both experiences have pointed me to the conclusion that copying is a deep, fundamental part of who we are. As much as I try to stay clear of 'species' discourses, our compulsion to mimic (though not unique to our species) really does mark our species. I mean, before we were a chirographic (writing) culture, as Walter Ong said, we were an oral culture that survived via the repetition of stories. To further entrench bad biological metaphors, copying is part of our evolution! Blah blah blah...... all of this is to set up a bit from Aristotle's Poetics that I just re-read and found poignant. Surely it's been paraded around before and I've dilluted its solitary impact, but here it is anyway:

[T]he instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. [....] Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, "Ah, that is he." [....] Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature.

Actually, Poetics is full of commentary on imitation, mimesis, re-presentation, and parody. The latter, in particular, is the reason I keep re-reading it. I find that it has a lot to say not only about the rhetoric of representation, but it also offers substantial fodder for those interested in the politics of parody. Maybe I'm just projecting here, but I read Poetics as incredibly political. Tactical media peeps take note!

27 March 2006

Surround Sound: All Systems Avalanche

So one of the funny things about curating All Systems Go, at this year's Scope fair, is the fact that I became so sleep deprived. I entered the install period on day three of no sleep and I slept an average of 3-4 hours each night. This made the interviews that I gave... interesting. Looking back on quotes and even video, I hardly remember saying these things... In any case, here's a roundup of some of the coverage, so far...

Vernissage.TV video interview
(day three of fair = 9-12 hours of sleep in six days!)

ArtInfo Interview
(day three also, I think...)

Video interview with Mica Scalin
(last day! no sleep!)

You can see the decline... Cool Hunting also did an interview on the first official day, and I'll post it here when it's up. Will be interesting to compare... A few other blogs wrote about the show (including the ever austere Artforum diary) and I'm realizing that I need to do some link wrangling. Supposedly Artforum magazine is running something on it... Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I really want to thank Mica Scalin. This woman is tirelessly devoted to documenting and making art. Not only did she come to shoot the install and then return to interview me, but she also rolled up her sleeves to hang work and some very tricky vinyl signage!! (See above.) So she rules! See, also, her documentation of MTAA's Midnight in the Deli and Cat Mazza's KnitPro, both of which were in We Are All Together, a show I curated at Artists Space, during Performa.

PS I know this post (if not this blog) is a bit selfpromo-ish, hopefully the self-effacing nature/evidence of it will make up for that... It's really about shout outs to the artists and the kind documentarians mentioned here--none of whom (outside of Artforum) are making bank off of their 24/7 devotion to the field...

23 March 2006

Universal Acid at Participant Gallery

Next week the Surge exhibition is taking physical form at the super awesome Participant, Inc, in NY. See below for details. The show will also be travelling to Spain, in May, for this year's Observatori festival, in Valencia.

Surge Live
March 28th, 6:30-9 p.m, presentations by the artists at 7pm.
Participant, Inc., 95 Rivington St., NYC

free103point9 and Rhizome are pleased to present Surge Live, a reception to celebrate their collaborative online exhibition Surge which explores aesthetics involved in wireless transmission. Surge includes works by artists 31 Down, Abe Linkoln and Marisa Olson, Angel Nevarez and Alex Rivera, NYSAE (New York Society for Acoustic Ecology), Jim Punk, and Leslie Sharpe. All of their projects employ new media tools to both conceptually and formally address different possibilities for transmission art online. Some consider the nature of signals as they move through the ether; others appropriate forms of wireless transmission, such as the military’s aerial ‘drone’ or the programming format AsCii, to propose new kinds of digital communication.

At this one-night event and reception, all of the projects will be on view and Angel Nevarez, 31 Down and NYSAE (New York Society for Acoustic Ecology) will give brief presentations on their pieces (from 7-9pm).

More info here.

22 March 2006

All Systems Go! at Scope-NY

With thanks to everyone who helped make the show happen (especially Jennifer Fiore who helped so much with the installation; my Rhizome colleague Lauren Cornell; and MRiver, of MTAA, who snapped the install images here), I wanted to post an update on All Systems Go. Here goes...

Part of the Curator's Choice program at this year's Scope-New York Art Fair (March 9-13, 2006), All Systems Go! featured high-tech, low-tech, and hybrid work exploring digital, representational, political, and social systems. This exhibition constitutes an expansion of Rhizome's mission to connect art and technology. The artists comment on systems, in their various forms and themes, with works ranging from computer, video, and electronic installations to drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Here, technology is not the sole tool or object at play, but is often an indirect subject -- a backdrop on the social landscape within which all art practice now occurs. The harmony or dischord between these installations pinpoint areas of overlap between the various systems now navigated by each of us living in a technological society. The show was, thus, an update on the established field of 'systems art,' from the perspective of contemporary culture and practice.

The photos in [dNASAb]’s series, Obscure Sexual Habits of Wireless Data are unique hybrids inspired by his pursuit to visualize and create the possible aesthetics of wireless data, and the invisible, complex systems of overlapping networks.

Brody Condon’s 650 Polygon John Carmack (Version 2.0) is a low polygon likeness of the famous game engine programmer John Carmack, of ID Software. The sculpture is an appropriated portrait of Carmack from the game Quake III, CNC milled in polyurethane, and textured with hundreds of hand placed inket decals.

In preparation for her family therapist role in the Art as Therapy project, Desiree Holman studied therapist training videotapes that taught her to see the family as a system, and the therapist’s job as one of facilitating change to improve the overall functioning of the system.

Shane Hope’s drawings involve molecular modeling systems—collections of techniques to model or mimic the behavior of molecules—in a process whereby the three-dimensional architecture of molecules is interpreted (or predicted), visually represented, and manipulated.

Instant Coffee is an artist collective developed as a response to the exaggerated difference between studio and exhibition practice. For them, the triad of art practice production, presentation & reception becomes jumbled, incorporating the social as a priority. In this case, viewers can plug their ipod, walkman, or laptop into their cooler speakers and be a dj for few minutes at the fair.

Xylor Jane's work draws on mathematical algorithms to make intricate installations. This site-specific piece is called I have been alive 15,421 suns and is made in copic ink on latex.

MTAA’s One Year Performance Video (aka samHsiehUpdate) was originally an internet-based performance in which the artists’ take on Hsieh’s one year studio confinement is rendered in computer-processed clips of their short-term confinement. The one-year commitment was shifted to internet users who could log a year’s viewing time.

MTAA’s Simple Net Art Diagram is a witty illustration of exactly “where” internet art takes place. Originally an animated GIF, the piece has inspired a host of online remixes including Abe Linkoln’s notable Complex Net Art Diagram.

Abe Linkoln's Complex Net Art Diagram is a remix of MTAA’s Simple Net Art Diagram. The printed version, here, is a further remix of Linkoln’s original diagram, emphasizing the practice of cutting & pasting.

RSG’s Prepared Playstation series exploits bugs and glitches in the code of unmodified video games to create dirty, jolting loops. Video games are both the medium and the content of the work; no additional footage or editing is used. After being "prepared," the game plays itself perpetually.

Shirley Shor’s Urban Dream is a sculpture featuring algorithmic software animations generated in real time. The piece 'is about life and existence; spaces circulate within time around an unfixed center point. The time component activates and transforms the circular paths by challenging our perception of boundaries - constantly shifting the boundaries causes space to become temporal. The active component of the work is generated by software code that creates an on-going changeable system of circularity.'

Julianne Swartz’s magnet sculptures are made of string, wire, and magnets. Titled Aimants, these abstract structures embody the complexities and tensions of relationships. They demonstrate the articulations of strength and vulnerability, of distance and intimacy by mapping fields of attraction/ repulsion in space.

Jon-Paul Villegas’s Model engages various concepts of the taxonomic and of epistemological systems. The sculpture and prints here are derived from a store-bought model of a gorilla. The work evokes the familiar through corporeal allusion while maintaining a concurrent aloofness to categorical propriety.

Lee Walton has devised 162 unique systems to create one drawing for each of the games in a regular baseball season. According to the system, the specific events that transpire during a game (pitches, ground outs, strike outs, hit batters, etc.) will determine the drawing activity. Each drawing will be created pitch by pitch. When the baseball game is over the drawing is complete.

17 March 2006

Double Reverse Out Shout

I should preface this shout out by saying that Paddy Johnson, keeper of the fabuloso blog, Art Fag City, has now called me both hot and a maker of some of the most important work being made today, so there's a slim chance that I'm biased......... But nonetheless, I wanted to send out a shout to this artist, designer, critic, editor, mover, shaker, and social connector and say that she is thumbs up. And maybe I'm preaching to the blog-loving choir, but I particularly want to point our her raising of the bar for online criticism. In a day when print publications are dying off, stiffing writers, cutting word counts, running imageless, and often entrenching stuffiness, blogs must carry on the business of reporting and reflecting and Paddy does it oh so well. She also proves that it's possible to look deeper while maintaining a sense of humor and humility. You go girl! Anyway, check out her blog and maybe even consider attending her Green Card Benefit Party, this Saturday in Brooklyn. We need to keep Paddy in this Bushwhacked country of ours...

15 March 2006

Use What You Like

I am soooooooooooooo going to remix this.

02 March 2006

NY Underground Film Fest screening

The very cool Nick Hallett has curated one of the Universal Acid videos into a screening at the New York Underground Film Festival, called How the West May Save Us Yet. It's all west coast music videos, by some really rad people. Our contribution is Abe Linkoln's remix of my performance of Push It. Come see it in all it's high-res, big screen glory! And say hi to me! I'll be in town for my show at Scope.

More details:


THURSDAY, MARCH 9 at 10:30 pm
ticket price $8.50
Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Ave @ 2nd Street
(F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Bleeker, L to 1st Ave)

From Olympia to Los Angeles, musicians and film artists up and down the Pacific coast are getting together to liberate the music video from its status-quo context as self-promotional tool and transform it into a new, confrontational art form, displacing major-label preen with honest, direct address and DIY visual kinesis Despite having next-to-nothing budgets, production values are way high.

Assembled by musician and curator Nick Hallett, the reel is a follow-up to last fall's '23 Reasons to Spare New York,' a syllabus of the Big Apple's new psychedelic wave. This screening will likewise involve its fair share of the heavy, heady visuals (this is the west coast, man!) Just imagine what MTV would look like if it still broadcast subversive, anti-consumerist, revolution-invoking, and seizure-inducing films, soundtracked by bands that actually push the boundaries of sound.

See the full, amazing program here.

New Work: Troy's (Non)Mixtape of Love

A few months ago, MTAA invited me to make an audio piece for their new project, To Be Listened To. My only prompt was to make an MP3 approximately 15-minutes long, under the heading "To be listened to ...in a bar in Brooklyn on a spring Sunday afternoon, sipping a Bloody Mary, waiting for your love to appear." Somehow I wanted it not to be about being happy to see someone, but maybe about them never showing up, or about you waiting to dump them. (I'm a real positive thinker like that.) So I started making a Simon & Garfunkel midi operetta, mixing midi versions of their songs and my voice reading a Dear John letter, with the piece illustrating all the arcs of a relationship, from meeting someone and falling in love to hating their guts and setting their clothes on fire (in the Hollywood version). It was a large scale project. I never finished it.

You see, while I was working on it, I began having an affair... with this cute younger guy named Troy. Everytime I was supposed to be with Paul & Art, I was really sneaking off to listen to Troy. I fell in love and knew I had to switch tracks.

So now, after that long-winded story, I give you Troy's (Non)Mixtape of Love. In September of last year, while I was making the piece, Troy's Mixtape of Love became a huge meme on the internet. (A self-replicating, super popular item.) According to legend, Troy made this recording for his sweetheart Melissa, in order to celebrate their six-month anniversary. It's very sweet. He clearly loves her. The only problem is, she dumped him three days later. Her new boyfriend posted this online.

But I was disturbed by the fact that this so-called 'mixtape' (an item near & dear to my heart) had no music on it, except for a few brief moments when Troy sings to Melissa. So I added a soundtrack. I used midi versions of slightly ominous songs from the 80s (some of my all-time faves!), to harken back to the era of real mixtapes. Except for modifying their start & stop time, I left the audio levels & all else as-is. I wanted it to be more of a readymade (like a mixtape!) than a remix. I love how midis perfectly mirror that 80s synth sound. In a way, I feel that midis have replaced the mixtape--both are objects made with love (perhaps illegally?) and experienced subjectively. You see, they both play differently on each machine--but no one makes mixtapes anymore! So sad!

Ok, there's the long story about this 13-minute piece. I just have to tell you one more thing. When MTAA's Mriver first heard the piece, he thought Troy was saying "Marisa," not "Melissa" and he wondered how I'd found such a perfect actor to read my script. Funny! Shouts be out to MTAA for inviting me to do this.

All Systems Go! at Scope-NY, March 10-13

If you're going to be in New York during the frenzy that is art fair week, please stop by the Scope Fair to say hello. I'm curating a big show, on behalf of Rhizome, called All Systems Go! Some details below, and more info, images, bios, etc will be trickling in here, any minute now.

All Systems Go!
At The ~Scope Art Fair
March 10 - 13, 2006
Cinemascope Gallery, 11 am - 8 pm
636 Eleventh Avenue, at 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

Part of the Curator's Choice program at this year's Scope-New York Art Fair, All Systems Go! features high-tech, low-tech, and hybrid work exploring digital, representational, political, and social systems. This exhibition constitutes an expansion of Rhizome's mission to connect art and technology. The artists comment on systems, in their various forms and themes, with works ranging from computer, video, and electronic installations to drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Here, technology is not the sole tool or object at play, but is often an indirect subject -- a backdrop on the social landscape within which all art practice now occurs. The harmony or dischord between these installations pinpoint areas of overlap between the various systems now navigated by each of us living in a technological society. The show is, thus, an update on the established field of 'systems art,' from the perspective of contemporary culture and practice.

Artists include [dNASAb], Brody Condon, Desiree Holman, Shane Hope, Instant Coffee, Xylor Jane, Abe Linkoln, MTAA, RSG, Shirley Shor, Julianne Swartz, JP Villegas, and Lee Walton. All Systems Go! is curated by Marisa Olson, on behalf of Rhizome.