I recently finished my “blogger-in-residence” stint on the Art21 blog. In my “Skype mashup interviews with new media practitioners” I featured four artists (Evan Meaney, Evan Roth, Elisa Kreisinger & Todd Bailey) who in my opinion are doing some of the most interesting/innovative/engaging digital work today. For convenience I’ve reposted the interviews below, but you can also check these out on the Art21 blog.
Evan Meaney is an artist, curator and educator currently teaching time-based media design at the University of Tennessee. His practice dives into the “liminalities and glitches of all sorts, equating failing data to ghosts, seances and archival hauntology.”
At the moment Meaney is hard at work experimenting with the super computing team at Oak Ridge National Laboratories as well as preparing for this years GLI.TC/H noise and new-media gathering. He is also just about to release his Ceibas Cycle DVD, a series Meaney has been working on for the last five years.
Evan Roth is a prolific producer whose activities take on many different forms, including teaching, collaborating, engineering, collecting gifs, analyzing graffiti, enriching the public domain, developing tools of empowerment and raising awareness of issues pertaining to the open-web and free speech. His work is most comfortable where the interests of activists, artists and general web meanderers intersect.
Elisa Kreisinger is a video remix artist, writer, curator and educator whose work often addresses feminist, queer, and social issues. While there is a long history of appropriation based political critique in the arts, and though many of these works long to invoke social change, they are often prevented from doing so, locked up and stowed away in the closed stacks of proprietary institutions while occasionally finding their way to a gallery wall or micro cinema screen to preach to the choir.
Unlike these works, Kreisinger’s practice involves inhabiting pop cultural spaces such as youtube and other online communities, offering radical social critique to a mass audience. Her concerns are realized in myriad ways, through writings, workshops, and online tutorials and curation.
Within the underground, DIY and circuit bending communities of Chicago, NYC and elsewhere Todd Bailey is the name associated with the 8bit sampler/kit WTPA (Where’s The Party At) and other unique home-brew electronics. For the last decade, Bailey’s activities have also found their way onto the shelves of toy stores like Target and the walls of museums like the Whitney.
These days if brands want the Internet to notice them their ad campaigns have to have that viral flare. This isn’t as easy as dishing out for a prime-time commercial like a spot in the Super Bowel. Viral-ness isn’t a science, it takes creative thinking, a strong social-media presence, a little bit of luck and of course winning the hearts of the right bloggers. The world’s largest semiconductor chip maker, Intel, has made this a top priority. They’ve sponsored the popular on-line video series the Creator’s Project along with Vice Magazine, as well as produced some on-line video content of their own. Their series Visual Life spotlights artists who use Intel technology at the center of their “visual lives” (essentially anyone with a computer). One episode featured photographer and blogger Scott Schuman, aka “The Sartorialist.”
The Sartorialist’s blog gets 70,000 readers a day, so it’s no surprise that when Schuman posted the video it immediately went viral (within that context). Courting pop-icons is clearly an intentional part of their strategy, perhaps made most evident by their recent decision to hire Black Eyed Peas’ front man will.i.am as their new “director of creative innovation.” While this seems to be working out for Intel, getting famous people to pimp your brand is still an old trick. Intel’s most recent Internet campaign turns it’s lens away from the conventional pop-star and towards the only person we care about more… ourselves. Intel’s The Museum of Me, creates a custom museum video-tour on the spot, using your own personal Facebook content (friends, likes, albums, etc) as the artwork on display. Make a note of it: nepotism is the key to viral success.
Youtube has had a tumultuous relationship with the art of appropriation, pinned between millions of users uploading remixes of “copyrighted” material and the copyright owners (usually one of five major entertainment conglomerates). They’ve been known to censor and remove content at the request of the copyright owners (whether or not it’s fair use), or at best remove the audio track and/or plaster the user’s videos with ads. Safe to say, Youtube would be much happier if all the remixers just went away. This doesn’t only mean appropriated and remixed video but also original content with copyrighted music in the background (see Youtube copyright school). This is why Vevo (the MTV of Youtube) and Youtube’s decision to hire DJ Earworm as their spokesperson comes as a bit of a shock at first. DJ Earworm is a remix artist best known for his “United State of Pop” remixes. Below is the add for Vevo and Youtube’s new mobile music app with a brand new (paid for and approved) mix by DJ Earworm. If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em… it’s the American way:
Remixes for Science! Jon Boswell is an electronic musician and video maker from Washington state. His project Symphony of Science appropriates Carl Sagan clips, bits of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and various TED talks to make melodic hypothesis, “designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.” Boswell has a youtube channel as well as a website where you can watch, download, and donate.
Do you remember the time when if you’d buy something it would belong to you? Remember when you could modify your car, computer, or any other mechanical device to your liking. Well those days may be long gone. Nowadays, companies lock up the devices they produce with DRM, proprietary screws, and a thick wrapping of legal jargon. Today you can get in trouble for trying to change the battery on your iPhone. More recently, Sony has decided to go after customers who try to open their PS3 and modify it in order to run their own software — even when these costumers are anti-piracy and pro-DRM! This is exactly the case with PS3 “hacker” George Hotz, but he’s not going down without a fight. He started taking donations from online supporters, saying, “I want, by the time this goes to trial, to have Sony facing some of the hardest hitting lawyers in the business. Together, we can help fix the system.”