Current Reblogger: Chloë Bass

Chloë Bass is an artist, curator and community organizer based in Brooklyn. She is the co-lead organizer for Arts in Bushwick (, which produces the ever-sprawling Bushwick Open Studios, BETA Spaces, and performance festival SITE Fest, which she founded. Recent artistic work has been seen at SCOPE Art Fair, CultureFix, the Bushwick Starr Theater, Figment, and The Last Supper Art Festival, as well as in and around the public spaces of New York City. She has guest lectured at Parsons, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Brooklyn College. Other moments have found her co-cheffing Umami: People + Food, a 90 person private supper club; growing plants with Boswyck Farms (; and curating with architecture gallery SUPERFRONT ( Chloë holds a BA in Theater Studies from Yale University, and an MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) from Brooklyn College.

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Pirate days - April 13, 2009

While the U.S. Navy was shooting it out with pirates on the High Seas this weekend, prosecutors in Sweden, along with the movie and music companies were heading into the last week of their showdown with The Pirate Bay. A verdict in the most closely watched file-sharing case since Napster is due this week. If convicted, the four defendants who created and maintain the popular BitTorrent index site could face up to two years in jail each and civil damages of up to $14 million. The verdict will be decided by a four-judge panel.

The trial was largely a PR disaster for prosecutors and lawyers for the music and movie companies. Prosecutors were forced to drop half their case before the first witness was called while their questioning of the defendants on the stand devolved into a strange, Dada-esque void. Still, many Swedish legal experts say convictions are more likely than not, despite the side-show atmosphere.

However the verdict comes out, though, the file-sharing landscape is already changing in Sweden. A tough new copyright law that took effect April 1, which gives copyright owners the authority to demand the identities behind IP addresses suspected of being used for file-trading, brought an immediate 30% dip in Internet traffic in the country. Sweden has also seen a boom in legal Internet downloading, with sales increasing 20% to 30% at InProdicon, which provides about half the music downloads in Sweden through various service providers.

On the other hand, demand has also surged for services that provide for anonymous Web surfing. The Pirate Bay now has over 100,000 users for its recently introduced VPN service, which shields users' identities.





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Every year, approximately 2.5 million exajoules of solar energy reach the Earth. That's about 5,000 times the amount
of energy consumed by people each year. The trick is collecting it and converting it into electricity cheaply and efficiently. Plants do a good job of that. Turns out scientists have been working on ways to imitate nature's photosynthesis since 1912. And they're still at it. This week, the scientific journal Chemical & Engineering News posted two deep articles on the subject. The first is about the molecular mysteries of photosynthesis, including whether it's as efficient as one would expect from a process that has more than a couple billion years of evolution behind it. From the article, "Harnessing Light":

Water-splitting is key to the renewable production of hydrogen gas and other energy fuels, and doing so with inexpensive catalysts, as plants do a billion times per day, would be a huge step forward for solar power research. But the photosynthetic process has some other secrets, too, that scientists are only just figuring out, such as how photosynthetic organisms can tame light without suffering too much radiation damage, the plant equivalent of a sunburn...

(One) contentious area is the question of how efficient photosynthesis actually is..

One reason that plants don't store fuel efficiently is that "plants' goals are different than our goals," says (Devens Gust, a photochemist at Arizona State University). "The plant's goal is to live and reproduce, not to store energy for humans."

Even so, many researchers turn to photosynthesis for inspiration on how to achieve humanity's energy needs. They hope to mimic the early, energy-efficient light-harvesting steps of photosynthesis, but then direct the harnessed light energy entirely toward producing fuel instead of growing a plant.

"When we think about ways to harvest sunlight," Gust says, "it seems natural to look to photosynthesis for ideas. It has been around for the longest time, and it works on the largest scale."

That's where biomimicry comes in. The companion article in C&EN describes research by Gust and others to build small molecular systems that imitate what plants do using a biological "machine" consisting of 20 proteins. From the second article:

The overall efficiency of photosynthesis for making sugar fuels is low--only about 2-3%--because plants' primary goal is to live and reproduce, not store fuel. But the first steps performed by (the plant's photosynthesis system) are much more energy efficient, about 30%. So researchers want to "take the basic chemistry and the basic physics of the photosynthetic reaction center" and build a molecular version in the lab, says Devens Gust, a photochemist at Arizona State University. In effect, they want to produce a molecular photovoltaic that, like (the plant's version), produces a current of electrons that could be used to split water and thus drive the production of a fuel such as hydrogen gas.

Harnessing Light

Attempts To Mimic A Plant's Light-Harvesting And Water-Splitting Megamachinery

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It might come as a surprise to some of you but it's not everyday that a major contemporary art institution in Europe dedicates some space and energy to look into one of the most prominent characteristics of today's culture: the social web. The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens is doing just that with an exhibition bearing one of the most evocative and imaginative titles i've ever read: Tag ties & affective spies. The online works selected for the show comment on the aspects of the web 2.0 and evoke more particularly the controversies that have animated its short but intense life.


Image courtesy Daphne Dragona.

Exploring the functioning modes of the social networks and the ways users interact within them, a new form of artistic practice is being formed that comments, critisizes and subverts their structures by altering their semiology and formalism. Posing questions, and approaching the social media in a playful way, the works presented aim to raise awareness about the different possibilities that are now opened up to the users.

The brain behind the concept and curating of Tag ties & affective spies is Daphne Dragona (who co-curated Homo Ludens Ludens at LABoral in Gijon a year ago.)

Daphne is an Athens-based media arts curator and organiser. The exhibitions and events she's been involved in over the last few years have focused on the notion of play and its merging with art as a form of networking and resistance. She is a also PhD candidate in the Faculty of Mass Media & Communication of the University in Athens conducting a research on social media. I asked her to give us more details about the why and how of the exhibition.


L'Attente - The Waiting, by Grégory Chatonsky. Image courtesy Daphne Dragona

Tag ties and affective spies is part of a series of online exhibitions featuring works conceived for the Web. Does the exhibition appear only online or is there an installation or anything else inside the actual museum that points to its existence? Would it make sense to you to mirror this exhibition in 'real' space like it is done sometimes with online exhibitions?

Tag ties & affective spies is presented online in the museum's media lounge area, where computers are available for visitors to explore the works.

We have not created a specially built environment or installation particularly for this exhibition. Really, there wasn't need for an additional structure. The natural environment of these works is the internet, wherever this is : at the computers in the users' homes or offices, at their mobile phones or at the computer screens provided in public spaces - such as those in the museum.

But, yes I do believe that it is very important for museums to mirror online exhibitions in the real space so that net based art can be further supported. Visitors might not spend hours to view all works. In reality, they usually have a glimpse of the exhibition and then they visit it again at their own places and leisure. But museums need to support the opportunity for this first acquaintance in order to spread the information. Also, let us not forget that visitors mostly go in a contemporary art museum, to see contemporary art works. Most of them would not look at net based art on their own because they are not accustomed with this form of creativity. An institution though, can help to attract their attention towards a new direction.


Image courtesy Daphne Dragona

In reality, net based art cannot become institutionalized. This is its charm but also its handicap because it cannot support itself easily. Net based art is about works that usually cannot be sold and consequently cannot offer money to their creators. It is about works that bring different kinds of challenges to institutions.

Projects based on social media bring into mind the issues net art was facing back in the nineties. Issues to do with what can be bought, what can be preserved and what can be owned. Instead of bringing to light these discussions again I think, we should look for ways to support these forms of art, to assist in conveying their messages and making them known to a wider public. Therefore, mounting an exhibition like the "tag ties & affective spies" in an institution is meaningful to me.

The exhibition is a critical approach on the social media of our times. Could you tell us how you got the idea for this show? What motivated its existence?

Well, I find that it is a field with an amazing interest as it is also controversial; both full of promises and restrictions; a genuine product of our times based on connectivity, affection, and surveillance. I think, what intrigues me most is the fact that most people share, communicate, and participate without realizing the story behind or without thinking about how this constant aggregation of information from their profiles works for the market. I believe creativity can play a role here as it speaks for the medium using the medium itself, a fact that I consider to be very interesting. While forms of creativity based on the social media platforms might be difficult to attract an art audience that is not technologically savvy, on the other hand, they can turn up to be of an interest for a wider audience that might not be art savvy but partly lives in this virtual dimension.

Speaking from a more personal point of view, this exhibition also expresses my need to share the first bit of knowledge I have gained from my PhD, which I have just started on social media and art. I wanted to see how the audience would react to such an entity of works, how the press would respond, and how local artists would experience it. I looks it is going well so far... Greece is not an easy country. My experience, during the last decade, tells me that things are moving slowly in the field of media arts. Budget is usually tight and the audience is usually reserved. Some of the media art festivals happening in the country in the past have now ceased to exist. It is somewhat difficult to take big risks. But, organising events of a smaller scale, like an online exhibition, that thematically refer to contexts and issues the people are familiar with, could be a safer path and a transitional stage for a wider opening to the media arts.


We Feel Fine, by Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar

Did it change anything in the way of curating the exhibition to know that the exhibition was organized by one of the major art institutions in the country? This probably implied that the exhibition would receive a different, maybe broader exposure. Did you approach the subject differently than you would have done if you had worked again for a more media art-oriented institution like, say, LABoral?

No it did not. I did not modify or alter any of my ideas because the exhibition was organised by a museum. I must say that the museum was very positive and did not have any hesitations regarding the concept and the selection. So, all went very smoothly. Context and content would have been the same even if I was to do this privately somehow. I was thinking anyway of an exhibition that would be viewed, hopefully, not only by people from athens but by internet users from different parts of world. There is no locality on the web. What locally exists, is the support of institutions to net based projects as well as their presentation to new audiences. For instance, now, the exhibition will also be presented in the context of the Enter festival in Prague. This support can attract attention, bring discussions and open new roads for collaboration among art and other disciplines.

A comparison with the work in LABoral is difficult because the exhibitions were very different from one another. But, as institutions they are not that different. LABoral is more media art oriented but it does have a strong interest also towards contemporary art. Additionally, every institution does have particularities that connect to the structures of the country it belongs. In general, I think it is the feeling of trust and mutual appreciation that is essential for collaborations between artists, curators and institutions. When there is such ground, fruitful collaborations do happen.


Folded-in, by Personal Cinema and The Erasers

Having a look at your selection of artworks i had the feeling that it provides a good snapshot of the current issues and debates that surrounds social media. The title itself reflects quite accurately and poetically the appealing and appalling aspects of contemporary social media. Do you feel that the general trend is heading towards more "surveillance and exploitation" or is the big picture much more optimistic? Which trend(s) does the now ueber-popular Twitter embodies best for example? subjectivity - collectivity - production - consumption - exposure - surveillance - affection - exploitation - participation - resistance...all of them at the same time?

I think that the moment web 2.0 embodies all these notions. Each platform might have some features stronger than others depending on the possibilities it offers. Twitter is a lot about announcing feelings and moments. Exposure, affection, and a kind of surveillance are definitely involved. I don't like to be negative for the future. I hope that we are not going towards a model that involves more surveillance and exploitation. I believe that as the "mainstream" social media evolve, so do the creative and critical stances. The great number of people using the social media will soon bring a new situation on stage. More and more social platforms should soon appear that would allow groups of people to connect and form networks for different purposes based on open source models and these do not need to be controlled or be accessible by the market. Connectivity is an incredible feature of our times - we don't need to get lost on the way.

Thanks Daphne!

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visualizationData visualizations are a wonderful way to display the interactions between large groups of people within a network. Virtual places like Twitter (Twitter reviews), Facebook (Facebook reviews), or Flickr (Flickr reviews) can be easier understood when you see a visual representation of their inner workings. We’ve chosen five fresh videos that visualize various social media ecosystems.

1. SweetNTweet

If all Twitter searches were this fun, I’d probably do little else than stare at them all day. This experimental Twitter search engine is made with Processing; it lets you choose keywords for a Twitter search, and results are displayed in the form of petals which turn into tweets when they reach the destination. I haven’t been able to find the actual application, but you can see a demo in the video below.

2. World’s Eyes

This project displays a visualization of digital photos publically shared on the web by people visiting Spain. In the video you can see which regions of Spain are photographed the most, and which are more or less tourist-free. The other video focuses on partying in Barcelona in the summer of 2007.

3. Bicycle Built for 2,000

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a service that harnesses the power of an on-demand human workforce. It’s been used in a very interesting way by Aaron Koblin and Daniel Massey, who’ve employed the voices of around 2000 people to create a version of the song Daisy Bell (yes, that’s the song sung by HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey). You can see the entire project in action here, or a narrated video introduction of the visualization below.

4. Edinburgh Twestival Social Visualization

One of the sponsoring companies of the Edinburgh Twestival, which happened on February 12th, used Twitter to track the networking and socializing at the event. What you see in the video is people sending messages to a special Twitter account with details on their conversations with other participants. This data was then retrieved through Twitter’s API and displayed live at the event. The result is a cool visualization that shows how many connections between people happen at one such social gathering.

5. Visualizing

This fascinating visualization video uses data from music social network to display the popularity of music genres in certain parts of Europe. On the project’s site you’ll find other interesting visualizations, such as the geographical distribution of fans of bands such as Tokio Hotel or Bjork and how various factors (concerts, for example) affect the fan base.

The video is available here.



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Data as a Creative Visual Medium - April 17
Harvestworks presents:

Jeff Thompson, Moderator
Panelists: Louisa Armbrust, Tali Hinkis, Siebren Versteeg and Ben Rubin


596 Broadway #602 New York City (at Houston St)
Subway: F/V Broadway/Lafayette, 6 Bleecker, W/R Prince

Harvestworks is pleased to present a special panel discussion that explores the idea of using data as source, material, and inspiration for visual artists. Moderated by Jeff Thompson, the four participating artists, Louisa Armbrust, Tali Hinkis, Siebren Versteeg and Ben Rubin will explore questions about possible trajectories and problems arising from working with data. Of special interest is a second-wave of new media work that is less concerned with a novel visual presentation of data than with a sympathetic way of working that can manifest itself in software, sculpture, prints, quilting, painting, and other media. Each panelist will present their work followed by a question and answer period with the audience.

Jeff Thompson has exhibited and performed his work internationally, most recently at Hunter College, The Weisman Art Museum, White Box Gallery, and Museo Arte Contemporaneo in Argentina. Thompson was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship from Harvestworks in 2008 and is also the co-founder of the Texas Firehouse, an alternative gallery space in Long Island City. He received his MFA from Rutgers University.

Louisa Armbrust makes art about play. Her projects explore the limits of rules and the line between freedom and authority embodied in games and sports. Awards include a full fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, 2005 Biennial Blow Out Denver, and Honorable Mention at the Rocky Mountain Biennial 2004. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, Studio Aiello Gallery, and Singer Gallery, Denver.

Tali Hinkis is a member of the interdisciplinary artist duo LoVid. LoVid has performed widely at venues including MoMA, PS1, The Kitchen, Roulette, Aurora Picture Show, NY Underground Film Festival, and FACT. LoVid has exhibited installations, videos, and media objects in venues such as The Jewish Museum, The Neuberger Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, Exit Art, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art (London), and Science Gallery (Ireland).

Siebren Versteeg's practice includes interactive paintings, digital prints and sculptures that dissect the interactions of media, intention, and indeterminacy. Versteeg has shown his work internationally including solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Boston, Max Protetch, Bellwether, and the Wexner Center for the Arts and group exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum, Fabric Workshop, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Ben Rubin is a media artist based in New York City. He has been a frequent collaborator with artists and performers including Laurie Anderson, Diller+Scofidio, Ann Hamilton, Arto Lindsay, Steve Reich, and Beryl Korot. Rubin's installation Listening Post (2002, with statistician Mark Hansen) won the 2004 Golden Nica Prize from Ars Electronica as well as a Webby award in 2003. Mr. Rubin received a B.A. from Brown University in 1987 and an M.S. in visual studies from the MIT Media Lab in 1989. Mr. Rubin teaches at the Yale School of Art, where he was appointed critic in graphic design in 2004.


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Everyone Will Smoke These in the Future

A new way to get sick and annoy passersby
By M. Farbman Posted 04.13.2009 at 1:00 pm 0 Comments

Inside an E-Cigarette: Horsten (GNU Free Documentation License)

How's this for innovation?: electronic cigarettes. Little white tubes that look like the real thing have a nicotine solution that's heated by a battery, and the user exhales a water vapor that looks like smoke. The FDA isn't quite sure what to make of them, although the manufacturer is clear: "It is not a drug, if you will. This is an adult smoking experience."

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Tweenbots Examine Human-Machine Empathy


The Tweenbots project by Kacie Kinzer examines the random kindness of strangers.  She designed tiny smiling cardboard robots that rely on the help of pedestrians to get to their destination. The Tweenbots roll at a constant speed, in a straight line and are dependent on humans to steer them in the right direction to reach their final location (which is printed on a flag attached to the robot’s body).

Kinzer talks about the results of the experiment:

The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, “You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

The Tweenbot’s unexpected presence in the city created an unfolding narrative that spoke not simply to the vastness of city space and to the journey of a human-assisted robot, but also to the power of a simple technological object to create a complex network powered by human intelligence and asynchronous interactions. But of more interest to me was the fact that this ad-hoc crowdsourcing was driven primarily by human empathy for an anthropomorphized object.

See the Tweenbots in action below.

[via Picocool]

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Telegramstop by CH Contributor

by Laura Neilson


As older methods of correspondence become more obsolete in today's digital age, TelegramStop brings the best of the old and the new world. Through the company's website, anyone can send vintage-era telegram to any country in the world for a flat fee of $4.70.

After typing in a message on TelegramStop's homepage and previewing how the telegram will look, it's dispatched via post to its recipient. Harkening back to the authentic telegrams of Western Union's heyday, words appear in a classic typewriter font on vanilla-colored paper stock with the text "[STOP]" inserted wherever you punctuate with a period. Delivery usually takes 4-6 business days.


Founded by Mark Sehler and Ranjan Tharmakalusingham only a month ago, the Melbourne, Australia-based enterprise has already become a popular alternative to e-mails and traditional greeting cards. "It pretty much confirmed our thinking that the romance of the humble telegram as a form of communication has been lost in the modern world," notes Sehler.

The duo are currently working on new features, including an option to write your telegram in advance and specify for a later dispatch date, as well as special template designs for different occasions.

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Super Social Security Card by Frog Design

Super Social Security Card by Frog Design

"Of the three forms of identification we have in the states - the other two being the passport and driver's license - the Social Security card is the one that unlocks your life," says Frog designer Laura Richardson.

To that end the design firm presents the Troika, an aluminum SS card with a multifunctional screen.

"By combining the familiarity and proportions of a standard ID card with the durability of a water-resistant, flexible screen and the security of biometrics, a card like this could revolutionize the future of identification," says Richardson.

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