[-empyre-] Thanks, and one last thought

Patricia Zimmermann patty at ithaca.edu
Tue Apr 15 23:39:55 EST 2008

Thanks, Renate and Tim, and everyone on empyre, for an exciting week of
discussions and debates on sustainability, wired and wiring, ambient,
locative, new media, politics and historiorgraphy.  Lots to mine and
explore here, to be sure, and we'll be energized for FLEFF 2009 from these
discussions and debates.

I wanted to close not with more theorization but with the work of an
artist who is forging new ways to think and consider wired sustainability.

I'd like to point readers to the incredible work of Stephanie Rothenberg,


In my mind, this project exemplifies how we can use wired sustainability
to rethink politics and political relations.  The project migrates between
Second Life and Real Life (word?) by creating a virtual sweatshop for the
production of customized jeans.  It spans the analog and the digital, the
virtual and the real (problematic word, I know), the nation and the
transnational, the documentary/documented and the performative.  And what
I admire most about this work is that it deals with labor relations and
commodity production---issues and content that sometimes gets repressed or
sidelined in many works that opt for more abstraction and image centered
practice (I like those too!). We've seen a whole new genre of works across
film/video/new media/gaming that we've called the "commodity genre"--these
works take on issues of production, transnationalism, labor,
representation, gender, class, economy, revitalizing the genre of the
expository, deductive, muckraking documentary that has become so absent in
all media realms and in most media sectors.

 Her project, SCHOOL OF PERPETUAL TRAINING, is an exemplary example of
this new kind of work that of course has a very very long lineage in the
history of radical/political media practices and political engagements. 
The virtual sweatshop in Second LIfe and the real jeans it produces
represent a way to simultaneously materialize and virtualize labor,
gender, race and nation by reminding us of the means of production.

Stephanie's other projects all function along similiar matrixes.  What I
admire about her works are their performativity and collaborative nature,
mixed with fun and a blurred border between what is serious and what is
hilarious, a true disturbance of the universe and its constraining

Patricia R. Zimmermann, Ph.D.
Department of Cinema and Photography
Codirector, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Ithaca College
Ithaca New York 14850 USA
Phone: 607 274 3431    FAX  607 274 7078

> Before the sun rises over here in the global north (america) a few
> more mood swings within the scope of the art formerly known as
> ambient media that redirect the flow of traffic:
> Paul Pfeiffer's "Orpheus Descending" installed at WTC in April 2001.
> http://www.publicartfund.org/pafweb/realm/01/pfeiffer_p_release_01.html
> "Pfeiffer installs a video artwork that captures the ten-week life
> cycle of a flock of chickens as they hatch from their eggs and
> develop from day-old chicks to full-grown adults in an organic, free-
> range environment. This pre-recorded video image will be played in
> real time, 24 hours per day, seven days a week, above the steady flow
> of pedestrian traffic. Intended to match the rhythms of this
> community of commuters, the video does not require sustained
> conscious engagement from its viewers. Rather, it is meant to be seen
> in passing for a few moments, day after day in the periphery of
> consciousness, barely registering a subliminal image." Provocative
> yet simple and elegant intervention into the normalization of speed.
> Jill Magid "Lobby 7"
> http://www.jillmagid.net/Lobby7.php
> "Lobby 7 was performed in the main lobby of the Massachusetts
> Institute of Technology. I hijacked the lobby’s informational
> monitor, interrupting its daily broadcast with a transmission of my
> own. This transmission was a real-time exploration of my body and the
> surrounding architecture as seen through the natural openings of my
> clothes, via a lipstick surveillance camera that I held in my hand.
> The performance took one half hour- the time needed to capture every
> part of myself I that I could reach." Jill's intention is "to seek
> intimate relationships with impersonal structures". She has been
> coined the seductress of surveillance. In many of her works these
> systems of control become subverted as she gets to know the workers
> behind the curtain.
> Jeff Crouse - "Youthreebe"
> http://youthreebe.com
> The RE/user generated trinity of Youtube.
> and kudos on Peter Sinclair's "Autosync" via GH's earlier post
> http://nujus.net/peterhomepage/autosync/autosync.html
> I find this to be an exciting piece of interactive ambient media
> slash psycho-geo device confronting our co-dependency on locative,
> shrinking electronic devices and enabling the user to regain/reclaim
> their own who, what, where sense-ability.
> cheers,
> Stephanie
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 10:59 AM, Timothy Murray wrote:
>> While I find this discussion on ambient media on plasma to be
>> interesting, I find myself wondering about a certain slide toward
>> this format in the museum and curatorial world which well could
>> distract artists and curators from the quirky grit of much work
>> concerned with "wired sustainability."
>> Given my interest in Tom and Patty's emphasis on ambient media and
>> micromedia that might extend conceptual interventions on
>> sustainability beyond the dominant media world, I've also been
>> concerned about the increasing embrace by galleries and museums of
>> the sort of aesthetic that prefers the slickness of large, flat
>> screen video over the complexity of interactive experimentation and/
>> or abrasive political critique that may be made more appropriately
>> via amateur/self-made machineries and aesthetics.
>> I can think of two major North American exhibitions recently that
>> transformed media intervention into "video painting" whether
>> through primary emphasis on the flat screen or flat, perspective
>> projections. The result, to my mind, was the luring of the visitors
>> into a more conventional museum experience (one that conceivably
>> could be exported via handhelds, etc.).   I don't know whether this
>> was simply by coincidence, but both major shows I saw, one in
>> California, one in New York, featured rather non-political, non-
>> abrasive beautiful videos.  That is, even though some of the work
>> featured landscape or "ecological" themes, none of it engaged the
>> viewer with questions about sustainability or about the relation of
>> sustainability to the aesthetic environment  or to the new media
>> environment (precisely what Britt and Rebecca seek to provoke in
>> their funky, clunky, and still tekno sophisticated and critical
>> installations).
>> So I find myself resisting developments in ambient media that might
>> function as anything like "a  visual form of Zen meditation, a
>> pause from the press of daily life."
>> I do not think that ambient media need go only in this direction.
>> But I've also noted a curatorial habit of organizing exibitions and
>> festivals that program or hang the contrasting work of Zen ambiency
>> and wired sustainability in different spaces or time schedules.   I
>> guess it's the grit of cohabitation that I'm thinking will continue
>> to provoke further critical reflection on the choices and dilemmas
>> facing us in the environments of wired sustainability.
>> I'm looking forward to pursing this discussion.
>> Best,
>> Tim
>> --
>> Timothy Murray
>> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
>> Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
>> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu
>> Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature
>> Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video
>> 285 Goldwin Smith Hall
>> Cornell University
>> Ithaca, New York 14853
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list