April 5, 2023
I'm honored to share that with my work at Rhizome, I'm one of 39 curators and curatorial teams throughout the United States to receive a grant as part of the Teiger Foundation’s inaugural Call for Proposals.
Our grant will support the presentation of archived born-digital works from the 1980s to today. Works will be restored and preserved as part of ArtBase, Rhizome's archive, and shared online with curatorial context, including social media packages, curatorial texts, artist interviews, and archival materials, all designed to bring the stories of the people and communities behind these works to life. The initiative aims to support an equitable historical accounting in the field of digital art.
December 10, 2022
With scholar Mikhel Proulx, I co-organized Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow, the first major U.S. museum exhibition of CyberPowWow which opened on December 10, 2022 at the New Museum.
Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow is a restaging of one of the first major online exhibitions, a project that was first launched in 1997 by Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective co-founded by Skawennati, Ryan Rice, and Eric Robertson. Described as "an Aboriginally determined territory in cyberspace," CyberPowWow presented works by Indigenous artists—sometimes in dialogue with settler artists. This presentation took place at the New Museum in New York City, which sits on unceded Indigenous land, specifically the homeland of the Lenape peoples.
CyberPowWow took place from 1997-2004 in a graphical chat software called The Palace, on the web, and in more than twenty cultural centers internationally. At these "Gathering Sites," community members convened together to eat, talk, and to have some of their first experiences of the internet.
To experience CyberPowWow, a viewer would dress their digital avatar according to their whim to traverse and interact within vibrant and multifaceted, artist-made virtual rooms. These environments, representing an expansive range of artist styles, collectively express, from a distinctly Indigenous perspective, a familiar excitement for possibilities of connection on the early internet. Recurring themes include self-portraiture, archival photography, geographical maps, and natural landscapes. These leitmotifs transpired through technological, artistic, and semantic identities of the exhibition curators and participating artists. The uniqueness of the overall aesthetic and collection of innovative, intimate artworks mark CyberPowWow as a landmark exhibition in the history of net art.
Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow utilizes legacy computer environments to display restored versions of the four roughly biennial exhibitions as well as ephemera from the Indigenous Art Archive, video documentation of the works, and a remake of the CyberPowWow logo illustration. In the spirit of CyberPowWow's in-person community gatherings of that time, the freshly restored versions were shown alongside potted plants, with food and drink to share as viewers experienced CyberPowWow together again. Today, CyberPowWow is ripe for reconsideration as an early example of Skawennati and her collaborators' vision for an Indigenous future.
Photos by Cameron Kelly McCleod
May 14, 2022
I commissioned The Longest Whistlegraph Ever (so far), a composition by the artist collective Whistlegraph, which debuted in New York as a live performance at the New Museum on May 14, 2022.
Whistlegraphs are audio-visual digital artworks performed manually by drawing and singing. Every whistlegraph results in a poetic image through the performance of a reproducible score.
Video of a subsequent performance, recorded in Ashland, Oregon, was published online alongside materials from the composition process, including manuscripts, recordings, and a full graphic score. In addition, I worked with Whistlegraph to develop and administer online workshops for children, where participants learned about computer software and art history while creating their own artistic compositions. Reflections and documentation from these workshops are viewable on Rhizome.
Alex Freundlich, Camille Klein, and Jeffrey Scudder draw, sing, and make videos together as Whistlegraph. Since forming the group in 2020, they regularly share their work on their TikTok account, @whistlegraph, where they have over two million followers. Over the past few years, they have honed a distinctive style and practice that speaks to embodied cognition, art education, and experimental composition for live performance.
October 30, 2021
I curated Wet Networks in the Queens Museum’s Watershed gallery which houses The Relief Map of New York City’s Water Supply System. The exhibition presented artifacts and commissions from an experimental residency at artist Shu Lea Cheang’s Catskill farm, located near the Pepacton reservoir, which feeds New York City. I facilitated the residency for artists Tecumseh Ceaser, Nabil Hassein, Melanie Hoff, Christopher Lin, Jan Mun, and TJ Shin, setting up camp and meals, authoring a community agreement, and inviting teachers: a local mycologist and the Founder of the Center for Algonquin Culture. Beyond the desire to highlight the educational artifact, The Relief Map, I wanted to discover how living and learning with artists impacts the outcome of an exhibition. The artist commissions provided encounters with images, sculpture, soil and living matter, databases, and Algonquin history, that illuminate the relationships between new technologies and traditional ways of knowing, the challenges of collective care, and how land and water shape and are shaped by us.
Wet Networks was presented in partnership with Rhizome and CycleX and was on view October 30, 2021–January 30, 2022 at the Queens Museum.
Photos by Dario Lasagni.
September 10, 2021
With Michael Connor, I co-curated Shirley Sound, an interactive audiovisual installation by Ryan C. Clarke which will premiere at Boiler Room Festival on September 10, 2021 at the Knockdown Center in New York.
Shirley Sound considers what is lost in Black music as a result of its digitization and compression. Using a crossfader, listeners may alternate between, one one channel, uncompressed Black sound spanning 100 years; and on the other, the audio that is removed from these tracks when they are compressed using the MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3) codec. Produced using the acoustic methodology of the late Ryan Patrick McGuire, Ph.D., the latter channel allows the listener to hear, in a sense, what the MP3 erases.
Read more on the Rhizome blog.
August 30, 2021
I will be Mentor-in-Residence for NEW INC's 2021-22 Art & Code track, a collaboration between Rhizome and NEW INC, now in its second year. I'll be facilitating monthly seminars, providing individual guidance, and organizing an exhibition of work by track members at the end of the residency period.
Read more about the impressive Year 8 cohort on the Rhizome blog!
August 2, 2021
I interviewed prolific digital painter Katherine Frazer. We spoke about productivity software, ikebana, and her artistic process.
January 31, 2018
I have two texts published in Rhizome's The Art Happens Here: Net Art Anthology. The 435-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition The Art Happens Here: Net Art's Archival Poetics, on view at the New Museum through May 26, 2019.
April 24, 2018
For the past two weeks I’ve been ruling centuries of kingdoms in Reigns: Her Majesty, reincarnated as queen in perpetuum. The iOS game succeeds its king-centric predecessor, Reigns, in which the player makes choices to advance the narrative by swiping left or right on cards, as in Tinder. Reigns: Her Majesty is not simply a version of the original game with an almighty female head of state, but is instead a complex examination of the contradictory obligations and impossible choices for a woman in (proximity to) power.
July 17, 2017
I interviewed Angela Washko about her art practice and ongoing projects challenging misogyny in both virtual and IRL gaming cultures. In particular, we discussed her most recent project The Game: The Game, a choose-your-own-adventure style video game in which a player navigates a female protagonist through a bar attempting to meet a friend. In order to advance, the player must interact with pick-up artists blocking her way and deploying the manipulative strategies that gained them notoriety. I asked Washko about her frustrating experiences interacting with the pick-up community, developing counter-strategies for game, and how we, as women, can treat the well-being of these men as a feminist issue while practicing self-preservation.
June 5, 2017
I co-authored an essay with Son Kit to accompany the presentation of Samsung by Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries in Rhizome's Net Art Anthology. We discuss globalization, South Korean corporate culture, and the complex nature of Samsung—its existence not only as an economic entity but also as an emotional phantom, reaching its incorporeal fingers into relationships, daydreams, and fantasies.
December 7, 2015
I wrote about John Russell's hypertext fiction, SQRRL. The text is structured along two trajectories, allowing the reader to toggle between a narrative poem and a series of footnotes. Moving fluidly between contemporary theory and futuristic narrative, the reader of Russell's text finds that this cynical and beautiful vision of a future society, in which a person's consciousness may be distributed among seven lizards, has strong echoes of the present.