"Rhizome.org 2002 Net Art Commissions"
October 2 - November 3 2002
Rhizome.org 2002 Net Art Commissions For Agenda for a Landscape, Leah Gilliam recreates the widely publicized 1997 NASA Mars Pathfinder mission, developing a site that draws inspiration from a specific moment in American history while simultaneously revealing her own unique interpretation of that history. In an event emblematic of the global cultural fascination with outer space, tens of millions of viewers around the world watched as the Pathfinder space craft landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, and the Sojourner rover (a remotely operated vehicular robot named in honor of Sojourner Truth, the outspoken ex-slave and abolitionist) began its journey.

Conducting experiments and gathering images of the surface of Mars, the Pathfinder returned 2.3 billion bits of information, including more than 16,500 images from the lander and 550 imagThe Zenith Media Lounge computer pods house five new net artworks by this year's Rhizome Commissioning Program recipients: Christopher Fahey, the Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA), Lisa Jevbratt, John Klima, and Nungu.

Launched in November 2001, the Commissioning Program provides financial support to artists for the creation of innovative new media works that respond to developments in technology while examining their cultural impact. The selection was made from a total of 135 submissions received in response to an open call by a panel of five distinguished jurors in the area of new media-Steve Dietz of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Alex Galloway of Rhizome.org, Ken Goldberg of the University of California, Berkeley, Christiane Paul of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Mark Tribe of Rhizome.org.

The recipients were invited to choose one of two tracks: alt.interface-proposals for "alternative" user interfaces for accessing Rhizome.org's online archives-and Tactical Response-projects addressing the current global political climate, particularly related to the events of September 11, 2001.

Experimenting with new ideas in computer art, design, and gaming, Christopher Fahey's Rhizomebot uses instant messenger channels to provide access to Rhizome.org's ArtBase archive of new media art works. Maptivist 2.0, created by the Institute for Applied Autonomy, is a mapping application that enables political activists to use wireless Internet devices to share information about surveillance and other police activities in real time. IAA was founded as a research and development organization whose mission is to examine social structures that affect self-determination, to create cultural artifacts that address these phenomena, and to develop technologies that serve social and human needs. For her project Troika, Lisa Jevbratt reduces each item in the Rhizome archives to one pixel. Each artwork or text on the Rhizome site remains accessible by clicking on the pixel, the color of which is determined by keywords associated with the original object as well as the people who have requested it. Working primarily with the Internet, Jevbratt's work often rearticulates the formal devices used to access data via the Web and the Internet's role as a public forum. John Klima's Context Breeder employs genetic algorithms to create a 3-D animation with which visitors can access the projects in Rhizome.org's ArtBase.

Exploring forms of "hypercontrol" made possible through communication and information technology networks, Nungu's Telematic Surveillance investigates the logic and aesthetics of these systems in contemporary societies. Nungu is a fluid collective of media artists who collaborate to create net art.es obtained by the Sojourner rover before contact was lost. Drawing from this massive archive, Gilliam combines found imagery with footage she shot herself to create a "media landscape" of Mars. Interested in discarded or obsolete technologies and their output, Gilliam puts these images-once widely viewed but now largely forgotten-back into the public realm. In so doing, she taps into viewers' memories of the event and asks us to consider the cultural role these images play. Gilliam deliberately manipulates the existing documentation of the Martian landscape, interspersing it with her own digitally processed footage of the Hudson River Valley, in order to foreground the strangeness of Sojourner's telerobotic eye. In Gillam's hands, the seemingly straightforward genre of landscape (picture the Hudson River painters with their easels perched overlooking the valley) becomes an exploration of the constructedness of image making, calling attention to multiple layers of mediation involved in all forms of mechanical representation, from surveillance cameras to robots on Mars. Gilliam's is a contemporary landscape, relying on technological tools for both its source material and its final presentation, suggesting a new genre of landscape art that responds to the impact of new media on cultural representation. She underscores landscape as culturally and socially specific, imbued with the immediate concerns of a given time, as well as with historical narratives that accumulate in the retelling. Through her in-depth consideration of the Sojourner as a vehicle of exploration, Gilliam examines issues of control and agency with respect to technology, critiques the idea of cyberspace as the free play of identity with little or no relationship to the real, and explores how meaning, knowledge, and presence are produced across distance.

Organized by Mark Tribe of Rhizome.org in collaboration with Anne Ellegood, Associate Curator, New Museum
Guest curators
New Museum curators
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York