José Fernández Liermann

No longer centered on a conscious struggle with religious identity, cultural replacement and redefinition are happening every second on the Internet, where spontaneous and compulsive information circulation demonstrates our arguably natural impulse for cultural repackaging.

Cult of Cute

Mark Milloff

Students came in—usually more technically adept—with varying and limited degrees of design knowledge, and we worked to transform them into artists, in a broad sense of the term. In my case this involved intensive instruction in design concepts.

A frequent issue was a student would have achieved skill in some digital technique and would look for something “art like” to create with that technique. The cart was before the horse. The critical push there was to get the students to arrive at some vision—something that they were passionate about and wanted to say—and then find the proper vehicle to express that. Even if that work involved NO digital technology whatsoever. We wanted them to make art. We wanted to give them the same freedom as any other grad program at RISD. And they produced amazing work.

Stephen Cooke

Students in Digital + Media reach outside of traditional artistic spheres. They examine what’s going on in the world of science, or the world of history for example. They draw those disciplines back into their practice.

Yu-Cheng Hsu

Tangible Weather Channel

Tangible Weather Channel is a sculptural apparatus that enables the participant to input the remote location of a loved one, and interprets its real-time weather information as a way of creating an emotional connection.

Rather than employing traditional graphical representation, Tangible Weather Channel renders weather information into a multi-sensory experience by using natural elements such as water, air and sound. By materializing weather dynamics on intimate sites to mediate what occurs in another place, Tangible Weather Channel encourages the participant to establish links with his/her experiential memories of a specific place and to create a sense of closeness to via touch and contemplation.

The capability of creating a continuum between the physical and virtual through media technology has implied a new relationship between the body, perception, space and time. From an architectural perspective, the physical envelope has the tendency to evolve itself into a portal connecting our bodies with other networked spaces and liberating us from the captivity of the physically-bound surroundings. From a phenomenological perspective, our perception of “now and here” might just as well be “now and there,” in both temporal and spatial senses.

Tangible Weather Channel explores these architectural and phenomenological potentials and implications. It also investigates the experiential and performative aspects of information representation, and interrelationship among material, meaning, memory and perception.

Samuel Galison

I don’t see imitation as a weakness or a lack, and I don’t think the “sincerest form of flattery” view quite does justice to the complexity of mimesis. Imitation is central to any kind of ethics, and it’s the trellis on which more intricate forms of human relationships can coalesce and grow. Mimicry isn’t just an interpretation of or reaction to external impelses, it’s how we understand the world on a basic level. I see glints of mirroring at the core of empathy, learning, even friendship, and definitely love. Maybe that’s why imitation’s such a sensitive subject for so many; whether it’s copyright infringement or parody, adoration or critique, being mimicked pokes at something deep.

FOR A MOMENT

Lisa Iaboni

Digital images are unique because they are transient.

Their meanings will change over time and in space. As digital images start to represent more of the world around us, I am excited to continue to work with what Hito Steyerl refers to as the “poor” image.

The decade long transformation of image production from analog to completely digital methods is a radical shift not only in photographic media, but in communication and meaning. “Photo gold” doesn’t always have to be found: it can be created.

I am not entirely giving up on taking my own pictures. I will get back to it at a some point. But for now, it seems like every time I look through my camera’s viewfinder there is someone in my composition taking a photo.

Finding Photo Gold

Benjamin Kennedy

Exchange Values

ARTIST:
Hello and welcome to my critique. I have made a sculpture, “Exchange Values,” which I will be presenting today for our discussion. But before we begin, I’d like to introduce you to Anthony, who is a nationally certified massage therapist—and now, he will read a prepared statement.

(massage therapist introduces the critique)

MASSAGE THERAPIST:
Welcome to the final critique of the day. Before we begin this process, I’d like to introduce myself and say a little bit about why I am here. My name is Anthony and I am a nationally certified massage therapist. I graduated from the Muscular Therapy Institute, completing a 900 hour intensive program and have had over 6 years of experience in professional massage. I offer Swedish, deep tissue work, sports massage, hot stone, and cranio-sacral therapy. During my free time, I am also an artist, like most of you. I primarily work with paint and canvas. Benjamin asked me to participate in this situation today by providing cranio-sacral massage to whoever is speaking in the space at a given moment.

(laughter)

In light of this information, I kindly ask you to allow me ample time to get around the room to whoever is going to speak next. Basically what I’m going to do is move behind you and gently massage you. Before speaking, please indicate you wish to do so by raising your hand and I will get around to you. For those of you who don’t know, cranio-sacral massage is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the function of the cranio-sacral system. It’s a very gentle approach which helps realign your spine and neurotransmitters at the same time.

(laughter)

This form of massage deals with the bones of the head, spinal column, sacrum and the underlying structures. It employs a very light touch and uses specifically designed techniques to release restrictions and compression in these areas. Ok? So, please take a few minutes and we’ll begin the critique.

(gallery door opens and critics/students walk in)
(5 minutes lapse)

ARTIST:
I would like you all to feel free to comment on the massage therapist who is present with us today but I want to say that I have nothing to say of the massage therapist other than the gesture is not an artwork, and it only exists as one of the many affective presences in the gallery during the ritual of critique today.

CRITIC #1:
I have a question. In a commercial gallery setting, is the massage therapist always there?

(massage therapist approaches Critic #1 and provides massage: laughter)

If so, my first experience is that the work rubs me the right way.

(laughter)

This is very interesting…I’m wondering if there are any topics that lead the massage therapist to other parts of the body?

(laughter)

STUDENT #1:
I see this event as competing with this sculptural work. And so, for me…the initial…

(massage therapist approaches her and provides massage)

(laughter)

…event is a work in itself and I’m not sure how to read it in relation to the sculpture or the video piece. As I look around, I realize that very few people are paying attention to the sculpture and the video. The relationship between the installation and the massage event is confusing to me.

CRITIC #1:
But what a relationship!

STUDENT #2:
Perhaps the massage is a clue to understanding…

(massage therapist approaches Student #2 and provides massage—Student #2 turns to the massage therapist)

Please get away from me.

(laughter)

(a few critics sit in Director’s Chair with the word “Pervert” embroidered on it, at different times)

No, I’m only teasing. As I was saying, maybe the massage I’m receiving is a clue to understanding the relationship between the different objects in the room. I’m curious about the boxing glove on the plunger. For instance, I wouldn’t imagine a boxer cleaning a toilet while he’s wearing his fighting glove. And then there’s a bust sitting at the head of the table, and the table has some strange, glossed over finish. The title of the installation is “Exchange Values” and there’s money dropping from the hand of the subject in the video. All the while I’m getting a free massage…I’m definitely happy.

Benjamin Kennedy: Exchange Values Benjamin Kennedy: Exchange Values

Teri Rueb

We emphasized a very rigorous written thesis along with the thesis project. For art students in digital media especially we felt it was important to prepare them to be able to participate in the broader theoretical, philosophical, and historical conversation that would inevitably come to play as they went on as professional practitioners in their field.

So giving them a really strong background in theory and philosophy was something that we were proud of, especially as it helped our students successfully compete in the academic job market. It also meant that students would complete the program and have publishable thesis documents ready for publication in Leonardo Magazine (MIT Press), etc.

Chuan Khoo

Mother, Lala & Me

Lala is an inquisitive robot. Decked out with a wide array of sensors, but not able to figure out any meaning in what the sensors detect, Lala relies on Mother to learn new things. Lala asks Mother questions about everything it encounters.

Mother looks like a nondescript box, but has access to the online repository of human-contributed content, known as Wikipedia.

Lala spends its day locating people in its room and taking snapshots of them, then beaming those images wirelessly to Mother. Lala listens to the explanations from Mother, and carefully remembers everything Mother says.

Mother earnestly answers Lala with information that is accessed on the fly from Wikipedia, and within the human-designed algorithms that have been programmed into Mother. These designs and algorithms define the “rule book” Mother abides by.

When Lala runs low on battery, Mother calls out for Lala and guides Lala to dock at Mother’s charging station. While the restless Lala recharges, Mother sings soothing lullabies.

The viewer (or participant) is invited to observe the results of their interactions through Mother’s view port‚ via a monitor suspended in a corner of the room. What Lala “learns” can be utterly asinine, or exhibit a form of pseudo-intelligence that comes about more by accident than anything else.

But for Lala, Mother knows best.

Chuan Khoo: Mother, Lala & Me

Chuan Khoo: Mother, Lala & Me

Within Complexity Lies Truth: The Posthuman Internet

Maralie Armstrong

I am part of a generation I call the “Great-grandchildren of the Machine.” This generation was raised in a post-industrial society witnessing the rise of the personal computer, subjected to synthesized top 40 hits and exposed to computer familiarization programs in primary school (1980’s).

The great grandchildren observed the cultural transition from analog to digital; the transition into the Information Age. We cling to our cassettes, LPs, and VHS collections while adopting Compact Discs, DVDs, and MP3s. While the machines we experience are different from the Futurists, the sentiment is similar.

Each generation makes instruments that aren’t yet recognized as instruments or performed in ways that are not traditional. We design idiosyncratic machines to assist the expression of robust human experiences.

Engendered Machines and Humanbeasts