9 Posts Tagged "renewmediaart"


BorderXing Guide

When: 2002
Technologies: compass, lightness, maps, stealth

Current URL: http://irational.org/cgi-bin/border/xing/list.pl (actual entry via http://irational.org/borderxing)

Wikibook Chapter: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Heath+Bunting+and+Kayle+Brandon

Keith Bunting and Kayle Brandon’s project challenged ideas of boundary crossing in the physical world (supposedly made freer by formation of the European Union) as well as the online world (supposedly made freer by open, global access). But this freedom is not equitable, it comes with social and economic privilege, and not for activists or those seeking asylum. 

The artists patrolled the boundaries of the BorderXing project by limiting access to some of the Web site’s texts to authorized users, thus prompting site visitors to consider how access to information and locations is controlled. In this way, BorderXing subverts not only the integrity of national borders, but also our expectations that the Internet is a space of open access for all.

The project, funded by the Tate Gallery, London (info), and Fondation Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg (archive), produced a web-database of their crossing of European borders that were undetected and done without a passport. 

A documented crossing may include cutting/climbing fences, swimming, freigh train hopping, tunneling and includes information, such as for between Portugal and Spain, date, a rating (difficulty?), documentation with terse descriptions and photos, and a conclusion like:

When trespassing on private land do not walk on tracks, roads or paths.
Also, keep below skyline, but maintain height for overview of landscape.
Mostly, cut through and repair fences instead of climbing.
Keep good eye out for hostile humans and animals.
When trespassing private ranches with corida bulls (toros bravos),
don’t wear vivid colours such as reds and violets that could irritate
them. Walk near trees so you could climb quickly if they suddenly

The entry pages are like early 1990s barebones web pages- grey background, plain text, links, small images. The idea was not to have the web site wide open to anyone on the web, it was made available to “clients” – people, organizations who (?) agreed to make it publicly available upon request, as well as granting access to countries where oppression is common.

The guide is not linked from the site, but the link provided in New Media Art leads you there– it’s a grid of all countries, where a data point indicates a common border:

Green are successful, yellow not attempted, blue water crossings, white seem to be easy foot crossings, and black involved train tunnels.

Like the Life Sharing project also in this book, Bunting and Brandon confront our fears of being spied upon by being outrageously open. The main entry to the host web site at http://irational.org/ defies convention by including their physical location, telephone number, and email address. The BorderXing site includes all details of the contracts with the funders and its budget down to the details of costs spent for clothing, torchlights, maps. and food (total project 9000 British Pounds).

It’s a provocative act to take what the government deems as illegal activity to make it a tool for those seeking freedom, in a time more than a decade later where international borders are even more dangerous and contentious. 

A quote from Bunting in New Media Art

“I do consider myself a combatant. The artist doesn’t just gaze. It’s not just the perception of reality that is up for grabs, it’s reality itself.”

Unlike most of the projects from New Media Art reviewed so far, this site remains fully functional online in its original location, in a technology dated perl script implementation. Buntings’ border work continued at least into 2007. It remains characterized as work that 

suggests a metaphorical practice of “hacking” reality by infiltrating powerful institutions and their systems and defying corporate or governmental controls. Like other hacktivist artists, Bunting and his collaborators utilize new media more as means than as ends in themselves.



Technologies: Bluetooth modules, DAWN Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking Stack, iPac Pocket PCs with 802.11b and Bluetooth, microcontrollers, sensors, Umbrellas, UMBRELLA.net software
Current URL: n/a (no response for http://www.spectropolis.info/umbrella.php)
Wikibook Chapter: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Jonah+Brucker-Cohen+and+Katherine+Moriwaki

A project conceived by Engineering PhD students Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki at Trinity University (Dublin), UMBRELLA.net experimented early with networks operating with real objects that changed based on proximity to other similar objects. 

The umbrellas, connected via Bluetooth and what was then miniature PCs, and thus become a public performance art:

When a participant in UMBRELLA.net opens her umbrella, the computer seeks to establish a wireless network connection with other computer-equipped umbrellas in the area. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) illuminate the umbrella, indicating the connection’s status: red when trying to connect and blue when connected. The hand-held computers include a text-messaging application and feature a graphical interface that identifies participants by name.

These are certainly done easier today with smaller embeddable technologies and concepts of Internet of Things. Would the dynamic then encourage participants to see out others to connect with? What was the significance of the umbrella going dark?

The original URL http://www.mee.tcd.ie/~moriwaki/umbrella redirects to Kathleen Moriwaki;s current site. There is more information on the portfolio of Jonah Brucker-Cohen, described there as “Exploring coincidence-based network formation” including a photo of the hardware that fit around the shaft of the umbrella:

The “performance” is driven by a shared transient need to deal with rain (emphasis added)

In Dublin, Ireland, rainfall is frequent and unpredictable. Often individuals carry umbrellas with them in case they are caught in a downpour. It is common to witness during a sudden and unexpected flash of rain, a sea of umbrellas in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground. This collective, yet isolated act of opening an umbrella creates a network of individuals who are connected through similarity of action, and intent. The manifestation of open umbrellas on the street could be tied to a temporary network which is activated through routers and nodes attached to the umbrella, which operate only while it rains. While the coincidence of need exists, the network operates. When the necessity of action and intent ceases, it disappears. We believe these transitory networks can add surprise and beauty to our currently fixed communication channels.

The image of crowds and umbrellas took on a different meaning in 2014 with the Umbrella Movement spawned by the protests in Hong Kong — making one wonder how such a locative technology might have played a part in the actions in Hong Kong.

As another aside, this is one of five examples in the book where the original site (http://www.mee.tcd.ie/~moriwaki/umbrella) resided in the tilde space of an early personal web site. I thought there might be more in the 35 examples in this book but most of the sites are late 19902 early 2000s when web hosting had moved to more regular locations in web structures.

Umbrellas continue to be outfit with Arduino controllers that can change their color such as Leslie Birch’s FLORAbella

While the technology is more built into the device, the network effects of the original project still stand up over time.


The Intruder


Technologies: Director, Photoshop, Sound Edit 16
Current URL: http://bookchin.net/projects/intruder.html
Wikibook Chapter: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Natalie+Bookchin

Natalie Bookchin created this interpretation of Jorge Luis Borges story The Intruder (1966) —

 a grim tale of prostitution, fraternal jealousy, and violence against women in which two brothers fall in love with the same woman, share her, and sell her to a brothel. The narrative ends with the woman’s murder and the brothers’ reconciliation.

Bookchin’s version is played out on the web as a ten segments modeled after video games including Pong, Space Invaders, and shooting style games. The simple graphics and audio provide an undertone to the violent acts of the story.

The female victim is an “intruder” where she becomes an object of the game, and the viewer is thus drawn into the actions of the brother “as an object with no agency”.

The interactive version relies on the Marcomedia Shockwave plugin and no longer works in a web browser; a video by Jon Cates gives the best sense of the action

The Intruder – Natalie Bookchin (1998 – 1999) from jonCates on Vimeo.

At another level, Bookchin interrogates a different level of “intrusion”; she

 seems to suggest that, both as a woman and as a contemporary artist, she is herself an intruder in the male-dominated, entertainment-driven world of computer games. The deftness of Bookchin’s critique lies in the parallels she draws between the violence of Borges’s misogynist literary narrative and the violence and sexism that are ubiquitous in most games.

As noted in the book, Bookchin successfully bridged two forms

By combining literature and games, Bookchin builds a bridge between high art and low culture, calling the distinction between the two into question. This kind of leveling is a common feature of New Media art. 

She went on to design Metapet, another web-based video game experience that questions society and culture— a game “in which players act as corporate managers, controlling genetically modified human employees who have been bred to include a fictional obedience gene found in dogs”


Super Mario Clouds


Technologies: ART EEPROM burner, DASM 6502 BSD, data projectors, NBASIC BSD, Nintendo Entertainment System, RockNES, Super Mario Brothers Nintendo cartridge, video distributor
Current URLhttp://www.coryarcangel.com/things-i-made/SuperMarioClouds 
Wikibook Chapter: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Cory+Arcangel

Not a web-based art form, but yet a compelling example of hacking a console game, Super Mario Clouds presents an example of creation by deletion.

It’s just clouds scrolling by, WTF? But check out what Cory Archangel did to make it

To make Super Mario Clouds, Arcangel hacked Super Mario Brothers, a classic video game that made its debut in 1985. He replaced the program chip from an old Nintendo Entertainment System game cartridge with a new chip that he programmed himself (by borrowing code he found on computer hobby scene Web sites) to erase everything in the original game except the clouds.

Just look at the jagged cuts to get to the chip, and the masking tape labels!


I cannot speak much to the artistic references in the book chapter:

Arcangel’s process of visual subtraction evokes Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), in which the artist famously erased a composition by Willem de Kooning to create a new work of art. Super Mario Clouds suggests a similar sensibility, simultaneously conveying a stripped-down aesthetic and a rebellious, bad-boy attitude that challenges conventional notions of artistic integrity and authenticity.

but the notion of creation by deletion is intriguing for the way it runs 180 degrees to our assumption of what creativity means- making stuff, right?  But look at Austin Kleon’s Blackout Poetry– its not just haphazard erasing to make a poem from existing works by erasing portions (maybe easier than hacking a NIntendo cartridge).

While many new media artists fetishize emerging technologies, Arcangel eschews the graphic realism of contemporary game titles like Grand Theft Auto, celebrating instead the crude “dirt style” imagery of early video games

The same might be said today about the environment of Minecraft (which spawns  in the world and derivatives elsewhere).

Cory Arcangel provides a detailed illustrated guide to his hack  — like 

The first thing you will need to get is an original Super Mario Brothers cartridge. Not a “Duck Hunt+Mario Brothers” cartridge, but just a plain old Super Mario Brothers cartridge. Next you should unscrew the plastic back on the cartridge, and inside you will see a circuit board like the one you see below. There are two chips on this board. The CHR chip, and the PRG chip. We are interested in the PRG chip for this project. Also please make sure the cartridge says NES-NROM-01 (01-05 in also fine). This let`s us know it is a 32k Nintendo circut board. 

And in a modern spirt, also shares via github the code he used to modify the game.

Even more timely or i time, in reference to the GIF above:

when I originally posted this on the Internet in 02, the web wasn’t actually able to contain video (it sounds funny now, but remember youtube didn’t start making waves till like 05ish??), therefore I made a gif of the video. Of the gazillion bootlegs of this project, most are from this gif.

What’s a video game without the character, action, and scenery? Dreamy?

Blog Pile

New Old New Media Art

The LAST thing I should be doing now is tossing out another unpaid project to work on, but oh well, I cannot help myself. cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine I was in Cambridge MA in 2010 for a meeting, and visited the MIT Press bookstore where I got […]


Life Sharing (2000-2003)

Technologies: Debian GNU/Linux, HTML, Javascript, Flash, Python
Current URLhttp://0100101110101101.org/home/lifesharing/index.html
Wikibook Chapter: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/0100101110101101.org

Much as an office with its books, correspondence, and files reflects the interests and activities of its occupant, so, too, the contents of a personal computer can be seen as an intimate portrait of its owner. Because our computers contain so much personal information, we protect them from prying eyes with passwords, firewalls, and encryption software. In Life Sharing, a project commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the European New Media art duo 0100101110101101.ORG, a.k.a. Franco Birkut and Eva Mattes, turned their private lives into a public art work. From 2001-2003, they made each and every file on their computer, from grant proposals to incoming e-mails, available to anyone at any time via their Web site. This daring piece, whose title is an anagrammatic play on the term “file sharing,” is an exercise in transparency, an act of data exhibitionism on the part of the artists that turns viewers into voyeurs

In an era of privacy paranoia, government spying on its own citizens, identity theft as a familiar problem, the idea behind Life Sharing may be more radical today. 

Was this such a naive time? Maybe less titillating, Life Sharing creators Eva and Franco Mattes went far beyond the voyeuristic camera eye view into student Jennifer Ringely who launched JenniCam in 1996, posting regular still images every 3 seconds to the web, stopping in 2003.

Putting your mundane and private moments on the web as snapshots is one thing, letting anyone use your computer, read your email, access your financial records seems much more naked then Jenny.

In January 2001 we started sharing our personal computer through our website. Everything was visible: texts, photos, music, videos, software, operating system, bank statements and even our private email. People could take anything they wanted, including the system itself, since we were using only free software. It was not a normal website, you were entering the computer in our apartment, seeing everything live. It was a sort of endurance performance that lasted 3 years, 24/7.

Previously we were re-using and mixing other people’s work, while now we were sharing everything with everybody.

Working with a computer on a daily basis, over the years you will share most of your time, your culture, your relationships, your memories, ideas and future projects. With the passing of time a computer starts resembling its owner’s brain. So we felt that sharing our computer was more than sharing a desktop or a book, more than File Sharing, something we called Life Sharing.

No social network existed at the time, and Life Sharing felt rather absurd, if not plain wrong.

While no longer directly available, the archive site provides screenshots of what the system looked like and samples of its content. The Mattes extended the project by wearing GPS transmitters which posted their location as well to the server.

And they also connected their mobile phones to the server so anyone could monitor their conversation.

This may sound preposterous to borderline (or well over the border) insanity, but how brave is the world of art to reverse the typical fear of loss of privacy, to make their lives a question of— what it it totally did not exist? If everything is available, does that mean privacy is a non-entity?

A New York Times article from 2001, ARTS ONLINE; Your Life Is in Your Computer, for Everyone to See suggests the intent of the project

Despite this cautionary note, the project is meant to illustrate a utopian alternative to living online behind a wall of digital defenses. The couple champion the open-source computing movement, which is based on freely available, communally developed software instead of commercial products.

As copyright holders struggle to preserve the integrity of their intellectual property on the Internet, the artists are offering their creative activities to all comers, with no fees involved. Because the programs on their computer are openly available across the Net, copyrights are not violated when they are downloaded.

You can see on their web site today, a plain as plain theme a Wordpress blog can have, the continued arc of this work via Our Work Got Stolen – is it life imitating life imitating art? Their gallery installation was stolen, and all that is left is a laptop on a madder with footage of the theft.