Speculations on Digital Art and Viral Spaces
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Blog written by Sharon Lin Tay, visiting associate professor at Nanyang Technological University and cocurator of Map Open Space
As curators of Map Digital Space, Dale and I couldn't resist JODI's submission for this year's competition, to the extent that we created a special prize to honour these two net art guerilla warriors for their commitment to disruption.
The piece submitted by JODI, GeoGoo, can be found at http://globalmove.us.
Unlike most of the works we received, GeoGoo does not use or submit to the conceptual idea of Map Digital Space. Instead, GeoGoo subverts the conventional use of Googlemap in order to make us think about the ubiquity of the Internet in our lives.
In a much earlier piece <wwwwwwwww.jodi.org>, JODI simulates computer failure that elicits panic in the viewer.
Watching the BBC World News on a loop all day on my sick bed (just a cold, but then I'm a wimp), I came across a programme called "Super Power," about how the Internet has changed our lives <http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specialreports/superpower.shtml>. One segment of the programme experiments with what happens when you connect a poor Nigerian village to the Internet and unplug two South Korean families from it.
The Nigerian village welcomed the move as a sign of development and an opportunity to be plugged into information and the rest of the world. For the South Koreans, some of the most Internet savvy people in the world, I would imagine Internet withdrawal to be a rather bad prospect!
The net-art created by JODI in many ways is about the penetration of the Internet in our lives. By disrupting the seamless functioning of applications such as Googlemap, JODI taps into our Internet addiction, simulating the heart stopping anxieties and depression that disconnection brings.
We think their subversive acts of disuption warrant a special mention.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Blog posting written by Babak Fakhamzadeh, Map Open Space juror
After some deliberation, the FLEFF Map Open Space jury chose to award Carlos Motta's The Good Life http://www.la-buena-vida.info the jury prize of FLEFF 2010.
With quite an interesting collection of submissions, the actual number of works where 'mapping' as a concept formed an integral part of the creation was small. However, several were interesting for a range of reasons.
In the end, Motta's work came in on top of the list.
For one, The Good Life features an exceptionally large body of work with a host of video interviews focusing on 'the man in the street' commenting on the United States' imperialist behavior of the previous few decades. As a result, the piece's spatial and political depth of field is impressive: this piece is thus both topographic and topologic.
At heart, many artists have leftist sympathies. The Good Life resonates with this tendency. It critiques the United States' imperialist expansion and also capitalism in general, striking a recognizable and pleasant note through its eclectic and accessible nature. The Good Life was not created for a select few.
However, The Good Life in itself is a not a perfect piece. Improvements, particularly using easily available technologies, could have increased the level in which users and visitors to the site could be cajoled into interacting with each other and the works on display.
Nevertheless, the strong message of the piece combined with a very decent presentation made Motta's The Good Life a deserved winner of the FLEFF 2010 jury prize.
Babak can be contacted at email@example.com
Get your daily dose: http://BabakFakhamzadeh.com
Monday, March 1, 2010
Blog written by Sharon Lin Tay, cocurator of Map Open Space for FLEFF 2010 and Visiting Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
In a previous post, Dale talks about the interface between "new" and "old"media paradigms. I would like to flag up one example of such remediation: our juror Christina McPhee's La Conchita mon amour <http://www.christinamcphee.net/la_conchita.html>.
In particular, I'd like us to think about the extent to which digital and Internet technologies can enable the move beyond certain limitations that affect conventional documentary practices and open up some ideas about the image and representation in documentary film within the context of digital convergence.
McPhee's La Conchita mon amour taps into the states of panic and paranoia that characterize political events post-9/11, albeit in a different way. La Conchita mon amour references in its title the trauma of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that could not be fully articulated in Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras’s Hiroshima, mon amour (1960).
Studying the struggles of life in the beach community of La Conchita in California that was inundated by debris flow after a devastating mudslide, the panic that La Conchita mon armor highlights refers to the heightened awareness and fear that living with the aftermath of the mudslide, and continuing fears of its recurrence, brings.
Caused by increased winter rain that comes as an effect of global warming, this digital video project documents the interface between human response and geological data, when governmental assistance for victims of cyclical recursion of disaster is not forthcoming.
As McPhee notes in the statement accompanying the project, the aftermath of this environmental disaster is one from which La Conchita residents cannot escape and are forced to live through, both literally and financially, given that their properties are rendered worthless by the mudslide; it therefore becomes impossible for the residents to re-mortgage their damaged homes and/or move away from the area.
In recent days, we also think about natural disasters that afflict, for instance, Haiti and Chile, and the people there who have no means of escape.
As a performative act of witnessing, La Conchita updates the cinematic manifestations of political modernism, as articulated through the documentaries of film-makers such as Resnais, Duras, Agnès Varda and Chris Marker, thereby bringing a formal discourse of the expository documentary into the Internet age at the same time that it transcends the expository mode in specific ways.
In her search for meaning after the destruction of the landscape, McPhee records the rituals that the community performs to grieve for those who died in the mudslide as well as to survive without aid from the state.
As a digital project, La Conchita imbues documentary realism with subjective evocation to such an extent that the project effectively displaces the importance of the documentary image’s indexicality. Instead of contemplating the impossibility of representing trauma in, for instance Night and Fog (Resnais, 1955) or Hiroshima mon armor, La Conchita attempts the evocation of trauma via the algorithmic processes of selection and combination.
The viewer’s experience of La Conchita is contingent and interactive, and not unlike the notion of mining for geological information. Still photographs, composited images and video clips of the landscape, environment and vernacular shrines allow the viewer to piece together the relationship between geological instability and psychological trauma. In this case, the evidentiary is not dependent on the indexical relationship between signifier and signified. Instead, the viewer arrives at ‘evidence’ of the trauma suffered by the La Conchita residents by looking at the mudslide in terms of its geological impact on the psychological subject.
La Conchita interrogates the relationship between the visible and the evidentiary, and shows the limits of representation in instances of panic and trauma. The instability and contingency of meaning that La Conchita conveys differs from the notions of unspeakable trauma or the sublime in which many modernist expository documentaries are often invested. Instead, McPhee gestures towards a non-representational strategy, given the limits of representation, via the database aesthetics of her performative documentary that pivots on the algorithmic processes that is key in the production of a plurality of meanings.