menu

When Artist Meets Programmer: A Talk With Lauren Cornell and Kristin Lucas

When Artist Meets Programmer: A Talk With Lauren Cornell and Kristin Lucas
culture

PSFK speaks with curator Lauren Cornell and artist Kristin Lucas about Rhizome's upcoming Seven on Seven event.

Lisa Baldini
  • 14 april 2010

Basic RGB

Technology and innovation offer up many paradoxes for idea making. While the digital revolution gives rise to ideas that were previously unthinkable, the portablity and speed of distribution make awareness, proliferation and finally saturation–the life cycle of an idea–continue to accelerate. We’re at the point where the economy of the good idea is a little schizophrenic–where all the avenues that allow creative vision to flourish also serve as obstacles and reminders of the past.

This is where Rhizome‘s Seven on Seven event, taking place on Saturday, April 17th at the New Museum, comes into play. Basing itself on the idea that a cross-disciplinary approach offers more latitude and direction, Seven on Seven pairs well-known media artists and technologists in their respective fields for a day to come up with an interesting idea.

We recently spoke with Lauren Cornell, executive director, Rhizome and adjunct curator, New Museum and participant artist Kristin lucas about how to prepare for such a project, it’s cultural relevance and how that plays into Rhizome’s overall programming.

Rhizome is a multi-faceted organization that encompasses exhibitions, residencies and events. However, forgetting that you are a media art organization, the website seems to have an invaluable presence in terms of exposure to non-media art audience. Can you speak about the programming of the website verses the offline events?

LC: Rhizome is a very hybrid organization; we have open forums, and curated programs, and present programming online, and off, mostly with our affiliate, the New Museum. I see the programming as case by case: it depends on the artist project. Some works are best online, or better as events, some are better installed in the gallery, or in public space. We are also very committed to a conversation around this field—we publish writing, criticism and reviews everyday on our website—but I always love public, in-person conversations, in all their potential awkwardness and productivity. With so much debate spouting online, its still important to get people together and encourage them to confront issues face to face.

Why a project like Seven on Seven? What’s the cultural value of pairing the artists together with programmers?

LC: The fields of art and technology have a love/ hate relationship. They see value in each other, they creatively overlap, find inspiration in each other’s innovations, but they also diverge. Technology moves forward—fast. Sometimes art’s purpose is to slow things down, to be critical and reflective. Art moves sideways, not just forward—here is the disjunction.

Throughout history, art and technology have merged in powerful ways—think about the philosophy of the Bauhaus, which sought to integrate fine art with industrial design, or the founding of expanded education programs like CAVS at MIT or ITP at NYU, the work of early video artists like Nam June Paik who dreamed that the television would give every artist their own channel, or the 9 Evenings, an important 1966 collaboration in which artists, musicians, and engineers, like choreographer Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, and John Cage, as well as contemporary initiatives like Eyebeam’s R&D in New York.

Rhizome’s mission is to support artists engaged with the Internet and new technology, which locates us directly in this productive area of love/ hate everyday, with artists working with new languages like Processing, employing the participatory structures or user-generated content of the web in their works, or reflecting on the broader implications of new tools or media in a variety of forms, not all tech-driven. Seven on Seven emblematizes this mission, and intends to show how powerful it can be when the two fields connect. It also demonstrates a commitment to experimentation. The ‘results’ of Seven on Seven will be ideas-in-progress, not finished, saleable projects. Opening up that process of creation is very valuable.

What are the challenges of working on a collaborative project when people come from seemingly two related but ultimately different worlds? How do you strike a balance between concept and actual technical skills needed to achieve a project?

KL: Going into this, neither of us wants to continue along the same path we have previously been on. Averaging our ideas to the lowest common denominator may induce drowsiness for us and the event’s audience. So how will we create criteria or a system of valuation for the unfamiliar? The uncertainty, the unexpected––this is what is fun about the process.

This may be a consequence of living in an information economy where knowing that you can do something takes precedence over knowing how to do something. That’s why I’m looking forward to working with Kortina. I hope he knows how to do_something_, or we are screwed.

Some of the artists like Evan Roth have more technical abilities than others in the realm of programming? What was the selection process like, and how were you able to maintain that the artists were matched with the right technical practitioner and vice versa?

LC: The categories aren’t discreet. Evan Roth is an open source programmer; and Ayah Bdeir is a programmer and also an artist, for example. This is reflective of the field Rhizome supports, and of the creative process in 2010 in general, where artists are incorporating technology, and vice versa. I worked with John Borthwick, Fred Benenson, Peter Rojas, all on Rhizome’s Board, to select the participants and organize the entire event. They suggested the technology participants; I did the matching. I can’t tell you if the matches will be ‘right’ but I tried to pair them over what I saw as shared passions and perspectives.

Besides being outstanding artists and technologists, I also felt we needed people who were flexible, generous with their ideas, and could rise to an unusual and demanding challenge. We are asking a lot from them: to break out of the normal way they work, and to try something new, and put it out there in the public almost immediately. That takes a certain kind of openness to risk.

So, will the collaboration play to each’s skills, or will you each venture to step outside of your comfort zones?

KL: I tend to be uncomfortable in most situations, therefore I tend to be most comfortable without a zone. I’m not sure I recommend it but for the purpose of this interview, I think it answers your question nicely. Again an effect of the digital age, I have been made more aware of the construction of boundaries, and the fact that things might not be what they seem to be at face value.

Are you better suited for working in a “live” setting in a collaboration, or do you prefer to carefully plan projects?

KL: I prefer the live setting for collaboration because exchanges are more sustained––there are fewer interruptions and distractions. With all of the advancements in communication technology, there is something to be said for the live exchange. Physical presence activates the body and mind in a fuller sense, and brings about another kind of awareness. You can’t filter out mumbles and shrugs. Power relations are negotiated differently. Arguably, one can more readily confront how an idea comes to life when talking face to face, more so than if its left to imagination.

But in person, you can’t edit yourself before hitting the send button. You have to learn to communicate differently. Online communication tends to be clearer, leaving out body language and traces of identity, that can muddle the meaning of what is said, which can be good, but sometimes words need muddling.

Finally, at the 2010 Transmediale in Berlin, Aaron Koblin‘s A Bicycle Built for Two Thousand won an award; this project is essentially a user-generated recording of over 2,000 voices singing one note of the song Daisy Bell. Do you think media art projects can be easily confused with say viral marketing projects?

LC: All kinds of people, professionals and amateurs alike, are exploring new kinds of possibilities for gathering audience, and participation enabled by the web. Art, viral marketing, design, they run parallel, sometimes lifting each other’s strategies, and that’s OK. Confusion is productive, in my opinion. I don’t think the boundaries need to be so defined, though sometimes the market compels them to be.

Seven on Seven

Trending

Modular System Lets Musicians Create Their Own MIDI Controllers

Arts & Culture
Technology Today

This Collar Wants To Be The Bridge Between Human-Dog Communication

Inupathy claims to be world's first dog emotion visualizer

Retail Today

Commerce Expert: Why Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Can’t Be Replaced

Erin Armendinger, SVP of bio, explains the physical need of customers to experience certain products before buying

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Today

Bicycle Hotel In Norway Makes Commuting A Breeze

The energy efficient space was designed to help the city of Lillestrøm get closer to their environmental goals by encouraging people to ride their bike

Fashion Today

Basquiat-Inspired Fashion Line Supports Emerging Talent

The late artist's estate has collaborated with New York label alice+olivia on a new range of designs

Related Expert

Evan Spiegel

Social Media, Digital Media, Distribution

Customer Retention Today

Why Personalization Is The Key To Customer Satisfaction

Andrew Blackmon of The Black Tux shares how the company is using machine-learning models to streamline the fitting process

Gaming & Play Today

Fidgeting Tools Designed To Help Creative Minds Focus

The DIDGETS Collection helps those who have anxiety or are restlessly moving to focus while they are working

Product Launch Today

Helpful Robot Teaches People Of All Ages How To Code

The Root has coding expertise designed to benefit a wide range of people

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Creative Director: Navigating The New World Of Founder-Brands

Richard Smith, Creative Director at Sullivan, explains how visionaries like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg approach their branding and why it’s important to apply brand thinking to founders’ products

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Home Today

Sharing Service Connects Directors With Film Locations

Finding affordable places to film can be difficult, so GETset was designed to help creators easily find good locations

Technology Today

Adobe Is Teaching Machines To Copy Your Artistic Style

A new research project called Stylit uses a camera to mimic a drawing and reproduce the strokes digitally

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes Reveals Dazzle-Free LED Headlights

Digital Light offers great precision with a resolution of over two million pixels

Cities Yesterday

Nissan Is Testing A Digital Car Sharing Program In Europe

Nissan plans to launch their new service in Paris sometime this year to trial the profile-matching service

Social Media Yesterday

Your Favorite Tweets Are Now Wearable

This temporary tattoo allows fans to wear their most favorite moments from the social platform

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017:
Conference Built Around Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Health Yesterday

This Mirror Tracks Your Dark Circles And Fine Lines

HiMirror is a device snaps a photo of your face every day to provide feedback on how to care for your skin

Sustainability Yesterday

Biodegradable Furniture Made From Pine Needles Could Be The Next Phase Of Sustainable Living

Premiering at Dutch Design Week 2016, the collection fully utilizes an often wasted material

Syndicated Yesterday

Madrid's 'Robin Hood' Cafe Charge The Rich To Feed The Poor

The charity restaurant makes money from customers by day to offer homeless people meals at night

No search results found.