December 1, 2012
Presenters 2012


Presenters are listed under their respective sessions / panels

The Writing On The Wall: Street Art, Hacktivism and Subversive Inspiration
Respondent: David Willis and Robert Bowen (SVA Faculty)

Vyshali Manivannan || Rutgers University School of Communication & Information, PhD Candidate
We Do it for the Lulz: Graffiti as a Metaphor for Digital Defacement

In physical environments, graffiti constitutes “a subversive act, a conscious artistic expression with a revolutionary purpose: using guerilla tactics to control your own networks of communication” (MacDonald, 2003). It concerns the challenge of placement and the relationship of the spectator, the inscription, and the setting, asking spectators to respond differently to their surroundings. According to MacDonald, “the establishment of fixed groupings is based on access to specific knowledge—knowledge not shared by those outside the group in question” (p. 154), allowing writers to feel superior and bonded. Website defacement similarly builds reputation and collectivizes groups around shared access to insider knowledge and practice while interrogating spectators’ faith in the stability and security of digital spaces. Accordingly, I argue that online defacement, much like graffiti writing, is premised on self-vocalization, reclamation of a shared environment, and the challenge of placement, as evidenced in the activities of hacktivist collectives like LulzSec.

Andrea Steedman || California State University, Fullerton, Art History, MA
Art for the People, Art by the People

In the wake of events in recent years, it is apparent artists must take action, and the best model for this comes from history. In this paper, three time periods will be discussed as models for revolution through art. The first is William Morris, who was known as a pioneer during his time not only for his political views, but also for his art, which furthered these beliefs. Next is Marcel Duchamp, an apt example if an unusual one: I argue that Duchamp’s art was revolutionary in a way related to politics, despite his anti-politics stance, and he created change through art. Lastly, a contemporary example: muralism and Street Art. Although lately the art world been inundated by the latter, it is still an excellent example of how art can be purely populist. This study will link and examine these three, ending with somewhat grandiose ideas of how art can start a revolution tomorrow. Download Paper

Michael Stuttman || School of Visual Arts, Computer Art, MFA
An Analysis of the Censor’s Role as a Catalyst for Repression, Subversive Inspiration and Recognition in Art

The artistic cannon – what history defines as the acceptable set of art and ideas – has been shaped by both the carrot of the patron and the stick of the censor. In this article, the impact of censorship on creativity is explored. Whether the censorship is directed by religious institutions like the Catholic Church during the Renaissance, horrific 20th century dictatorial regimes or industry and business self-regulators like the Motion Picture Association of America and the Comics Code Authority, the desire of powerful interests to control content and creativity has been a historical constant. Michelangelo, the Nazi deemed Degenerate Artists and EC Comics were all targeted based on the perceived threat of their designated impure creations. The work that they created and history’s perception of its value has been shaped by the institutions that sought to control them. Download Paper

Algorithmic Thought and Memory
Respondent: Russet Lederman (SVA Faculty) and Kurt Ralske (SVA Faculty)

Kareem Estefan || School of Visual Arts, Art Criticism & Writing, MFA
I, Refresh: Counter-Algorithmic Situations in Ryan Trecartin’s Any Ever

Ryan Trecartin’s Any Ever (2009-2010), a video-installation that extends across institutional and virtual environments with distinct viewing conditions and finds varied forms of realization in each, is a counter-algorithmic net/work: it accumulates material from—and resides on—the net while activating modes of encounter that resist the web’s algorithmic protocols. Crucial to this claim is an obsessively “close reading” of the work, akin to Quentin Meillassoux’s paranoiac investigations of the number 7 in Mallarmé’s Un Coup de dés, which will focus on both counter-algorithmic tactics within the videos (hacking of genre, gender, furniture, architecture, speech) and the counter-algorithmic form of the 3/4 diptych (non-linear, numerological narrative in two “hemispheres”). I will define algorithms in a cultural, rather than technical sense, following Alex Galloway’s essay “Protocol,” wherein he notes the “philosophy of utility and efficiency” embedded in the algorithm and calls for “the creation and development of alternative, or ‘progressive,’ algorithms.” Download Paper

Fabiola Hanna || University of California at Santa Cruz, Film and Digital Media, PhD Candidate
An Intelligent Undocumentary: A Case Study of We Are History

What would happen if we were to give an “intelligent agent” an archive of memories and request that it creates a history from this pool of videos? This is what We Are History manages to bring about. Starting with the unknown of Lebanese history, with interviews that can be collected through the same interface, an algorithm sits on this database and sifts through versions of history that collide or perfectly match. A theme is chosen by the agent, who then stitches bits and pieces of all these interviews to create a story. And it can re-create hundreds of stories using the same oral histories.
How can this “undocumentary” create a platform for conversation in a situation where that is non-existent? How do these stories change over time? Can this idea be more representative of multiple perspectives than other media? Can this machine act as a mediator? This paper tries to answer these questions. Download Paper

Bryce Hantla || Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, School of Education, PhD Candidate
“If You Notice It as Advertising, It Hasn’t Worked:” Peripheral Persuasion and Neuromarketing as Behaviorism

Neuromarketing, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research model aiming to optimize advertising strategies, is a rapidly growing subfield of peripheral persuasion marketing. This marketing discipline, mostly populated by marketing, not neurological sciences, experts, is interested in influencing consumers’ to subconsciously remember a product and then act on instinctual urges, resulting in a product purchase. A brief history of neuromarketing techniques that have been used prior to the advent of “neuromarketing” proper (i.e., the use of fMRI tools in marketing research) reveals this field to be primarily rooted in Skinnerian Behaviorism; however, the neurological implications of neuromarketing strategies relies on the unconscious activity of the brain’s pleasure center. This paper reviews the brief history of neuromarketing, the strategies neuromarketers use to influence behavior, and future implications and directions for neuromarketing research. Download Paper

Salvador Orara || Art Center College of Design, Media Design, MFA
ARL: Affection Research Lab

The Affection Research Lab has been created to develop Affection Stations and The Signal Archive, with the mission to become the seed of a device-affection development center and institution. ARL provides a counterpoint to today’s utilitarian computation culture and help to make affective computing and interaction more common. ARL fosters device-affection through the framework of the electromagnetic activity and incidental sounds of electronic devices.
ARL provokes a paradigm shift of our perception of electronic devices by poetically exploring electronic and digital transparency through the sound of electromagnetic activity. Rather than providing awareness or caution ARL instigates the design of electromagnetic activity, being productive with it — harnessing incidental sound. ARL delves into the seemingly organic chaotic nature of our electronic devices to develop human-computer affection and interaction design; and unveils a new way of looking at the inevitable electromagnetic spectrum. Download Paper

Revolution 101 / 2012
Respondent: Naomi Lev and Alan Gilbert (SVA Faculty)

Heba Amin || Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, DAAD Fellow
Voices from the Revolution: A Speak2Tweet Project

In the wake of potential shifts, new possibilities and challenges to the status quo, Voices from the Revolution is a project that turns to the invisible archives of web activity and addresses the politicization of the Arab world through a more intimate lens.

On January 27th, 2011 Egyptian authorities succeeded in shutting down the country’s international internet access points in response to growing protests. Over one weekend, a group of programmers developed a platform called Speak2Tweet that would allow Egyptians to post their breaking news on Twitter via voicemail despite internet cuts. The result was thousands of heartfelt messages from Egyptians recording their emotions by phone. This experimental film presents selected speak2Tweet messages prior to the fall of the Mubarak regime on February 11, 2011 and juxtaposes them with the abandoned structures that represent the long-lasting effects of a corrupt dictatorship. Download Paper

Itai Elizur || The New School For Social Research, Media Studies, MA Candidate
We News: The Effects and Power of UGC on Israeli Online News

This research reviews the relationship between Israeli online news outlets and their readers by examining how user comments and engagement influence and shape the production process and content in online news. The study analyzes the effects of user comments on the Israeli online news agenda through its power on the selection of news and to the changes of rhetoric and aesthetics of the news content. In addition, this research examines these changes in coverage through a series of in-depth interviews with the leading editors of the three top news sites in Israel. The results provide as many questions as they do answers. While editors remain skeptic and indifferent to the public’s rising influence on news creation, more than 85% of the content promoted on the home pages of the main news sites in Israel during this study contained “engagement” rhetoric or choice of content according to previous academic research.

Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa || California College of the Arts, Visual and Critical Studies, MA
Implicated Spaces

Since Argentina’s Dirty War (1976–83), artists and activists have taken bold steps to reclaim memory and public space. By offering their bodies at demonstrations, employing recurring visual strategies such as portraits of the disappeared, and directly engaging the bodies of others in public, they have succeeded in intertwining memory, corporeality, and the politics of space. This persistent connection between bodies and space over the last 35 years has enabled a resistant visual politics of the disappeared to thrive in contemporary art and memorials. This presentation applies phenomenological and visual analyses to a mapping of the murder, disappearance, and reappearance of Rodolfo Walsh, an investigative journalist who was killed and disappeared in 1977. The focus is on memory sites in Buenos Aires such as former torture centers and monuments, as well as the embodied, interventionist memorial tactics in public space undertaken by the artist collective Grupo de Arte Callejero. Download Paper

Joan Robledo-Palop || Yale University, History Department
Artists and Writers against War: Perceptions of Political Violence in the International Associations of the 1930’s

Being faced with the fascist governments’ proliferation in the Europe of the thirties, artists and writers from worldwide developed extensive networks of international associations, and generated texts, images and criticism through their own channels of information and exhibition. By the end of the decade, these networks against the advance of fascism acquired new critical positions against militarism and the political violence of the events that marked this time period, such as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the beginning of World War II (1939-1945). This paper will focus on analyzing the images of violence and war, which were circulating around France, Spain, Mexico and the United States through the visual culture of these antifascist networks. The aim is to show that both print culture and visual representations were a privileged space to confront the critical relationship with the first generation of globalized depictions of war that appeared in the commercial media and in other representational spaces from this period.

Still, Mediated and Moving — The Image Today and its Effects on Time and Space
Respondent: Sam Swasey and Nancy Princenthal (SVA Faculty)

Whitney Conti || University Of Oxford, Visual Anthropology, MSc Candidate
Representing the Experience of Touristic Spaces: Engaging Phenomenological Theory Through Image & Sound

How can photography evoke experience of place without relying on the representation of physical forms in space? This is the fundamental question of a recent experiment in the sensory ethnography of touristic spaces. From Pompeii to Oxford, and Rome to Paris, the project questions the potential of sound recordings and layered exposures for evoking what place feels and sounds like, instead of solely looks like.

Phenomenological emphasis on embodiment and experience has faced accusations of neglected relevance beyond the individual. However, this paper and project suggests how sensory ethnography can enable shared experience and understandings in different cultural spaces.

The project is poised in relation to debates in visual anthropology over the potentials and challenges of incorporating phenomenological theory into ethnographic representation. However, it reaches into the history of image making to borrow lessons from 19th century stereoscopic, or 3D, photography to bring a new perspective on the versatility of representational practice.

Sean Justice || Teachers College, Columbia University, Program in Art and Art Education, EdDCT Candidate
New Turnings of a Networked Age: Reconsidering Photographic Actions

We are approaching the end of an age dominated by the lens (by ways of knowing informed by the lens), and entering a new age informed by distributed network architectures. One result is the cultural shift away from the presumed certainties (and the questions that emerge from those certainties) of our recent history (the past 7 or 8 centuries), and a movement toward more fluid and immanent ways of knowing (which are marked by participation and talk-back, among other things). As a consequence, photographic practice is evolving. In fact, the word itself no longer means what it once did. Looked at historically, the notion of photography that we all grew up with is proving so ephemeral that we might argue that photography never existed—as a practice it marked a fuzzy slide through the last two centuries of one way of knowing (dominated by the lens), and a turning toward a far older way of knowing (dominated by networks of human relations). Download Paper

SeungJung Kim || Columbia University, Dept. of Art History and Archaeology, PhD Candidate
Paper or Pixel? The Question of Materiality in Digital Filmmaking

As digital filmmaking is becoming more and more commonplace, “dematerialization” of media has become an increasingly familiar concept. Recent scholarly interest, however, in reasserting the material dimension of new media, from production to reception, offers a variety of angles from which we can explore the very definition of materiality in this new digital context. This paper addresses a specific phenomenon, becoming increasingly popular in digital filmmaking, which utilizes still-photography as an explicit part of the production: visualizing the photographic image as a “paper product,” which in turn constitutes the structural element of the moving image itself. Grounded in the nostalgia for tangibility, innovative ways to visualize these added layers of materiality often resist the traditional filmmaking process, manipulate temporality, and subvert the Deleuzian dichotomy of “movement-image” and “time-image” in interesting ways.
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Handmade in an Information Age
Respondent: Carina Badalamenti and Susan Bee (SVA Faculty)

Andrew Buck || Teachers College, Columbia University, Program in Art and Art Education, Ed.D. Candidate
The Culture of Art and the Nature of Craft

The dynamic and nuanced history of the concept of craft has allowed it to be misused, abused, and dismissed in popular and art world culture. This presentation outlines contexts within which concepts and practices of “craft” have evolved in the U.S. The inherent complexities and recent renaissance of craft raises questions about the choice of key institutions
such as the California College of the Arts and The Museum of Arts and Design who dropped the term craft from their names, arguably altering their identities and missions. Download Paper

Pamela L. Campanaro || The San Francisco Art Institute, Exhibition & Museum Studies, MA
Labors of Language: Crafting the Revival of Medium in Contemporary Art

My research argues for the re-claiming of artistic authorship through the routine praxis of “craft labor” as defined by scholar C. Wright Mills. The contemporary art market demands that artists work outside of a particular material tradition or skill set, dismantling specialization and stripping artists of material authorship. A problem with defining what it means to be an artist today pertains to the fact that crafting practices of a particular métier are no longer viable. The shift from the importance of skilled craft in an artwork, to language that frames the artwork has become the driving force within contemporary arts education. Artists at present are expected to possess a sense of autonomous governorship over their work. The appropriation of the “craft labor” concept illustrates the potential to reconfigure contemporary art pedagogy. I explore the beneficial and practical implications resulting from a return to craft labor, a resurgence of material competence as solution to the current surge of knowledge economies. My case studies of Deep Springs College and contemporary artist, Andrea Zittel serve as a model for how craft labor can aid in the training of an artist’s material cognition. Download Paper

Michele Krugh || George Mason University, Cultural Studies, PhD Candidate
Pleasure in Labor: The Human and Economic Aspects of Craft

Since the advent of industrialized mass production in the 19th century, the appeal and importance of craft commodities most often results from the explicit focus on the individual labor involved in creation. William Morris, leader of the English Arts and Crafts movement, believed that art should be the “expression of man’s pleasure in labour.” The work of art and craft in the information age has similar pressures to be an antidote to “the eviscerated, simulated screen experiences we consume for hours each day” (American Craft Magazine, 2010). As fine artists rediscover artisanal techniques today, some gallerists believe that “very human aspect of craft gives a more profound meaning” to the artwork (Pfeiffer, New York Times, 2011). Individuals can use craft production as an outlet for their concerns about the exploitation of their own labor and the labor of others. Craft, by providing a means to address concerns with exploitative economic conditions, can be a useful, if minor, part of larger structural changes. Download Paper

Petya I. Trapcheva-Kwan || School of Visual Arts, Computer Art, MFA
The Symbiosis of Traditional and Digital Techniques

Art forms today are seen as either traditional or digital, and intense discussions over the value and potential of one technological approach over the other often take place. Such separation between art forms is unnatural and limiting. Instead of cutting the cord between the pre-digital and the digital era, special attention should be paid to the art expression cultivated by the merging of traditional with digital techniques. This essay will investigate the important role of such relationship by exploring the unique possibilities for artistic manifestation, as well as by proving the significant placement of such symbiosis of techniques in art history. Examples of art pieces by different generations of artist (William Kentridge, Shahzia Sikander, and Nina Paley), and their workflows will be explored as evidence of successful and seamless employment of both traditional and digital practices, dovetailing into each other by sharing form and idea. Download Paper

Animism Anew: New Media & The Speaking Object
Respondent: Tara Stickley and Michael Connor (SVA Faculty)

Liat Berdugo || Rhode Island School of Design, Digital & Media, MFA Candidate
A New Interiority: Yielding Intimacy in an Age of New Media

New media promise us storage, retention, endless memory, and the ability to preserve our experiences, perhaps in ways only those intimate to us could do. Yet such media, I argue, are eroding the differences between what is inside and what is outside, what is private and what is public, what is intimate and what is not, flattening these divisions to a single, abyssal surface. With this collapse to the surface we see a new transparency, a new visibility, in new media. What is at stake in this collapse is precisely the boundaries of the intimate. Drawing from the writings of Barthes, Benjamin, Berlant, Chun, Kirschenbaum, Lippit, Waldby, and others, and from the media works and videos of Carlo Zanni, Hollis Frampton, and Chris Marker, I argue that this collapse to an abyssal surface results in a new ease in accessing the intimate, and that this ease is a painful ease — a pain resulting from the devaluation of the intimate, a betrayal of the intimate, a transformation of one’s intimate punctum into a public, ordinary, indifferent studium. Download Paper

Chloé Roubert and Lesley Braun || Roubert: University College London, Anthropology Department, MA; Braun: Université de Montréal, Anthropology Department, PhD Candidate

The arrival of digital technology has fundamentally altered the ways in which we situate ourselves temporally. Our ability to reduce all data into a simple code of 0s and 1s has meant we can contract anything into apparently light and virtual files although their 24-hour temperature-controlled data centres make them highly material. We are now driven by an ethical duty to never forget and to always archive.

In ancient Greece, at the Temple of Delphi the gods sent prophecies through the pythia, or oracles, who were regarded as neutral portals of divine knowledge. In the same way that this site was a source of Truth then, the digital archive can be regarded as today’s oracle of Truth.

Keeping with the idea of giving virtual matter a material value and to emphasize our contemporary hoarding tendencies, we have chosen to blow up to pixelated proportions the low-resolution image of a 1960s photograph of the ruins of the Temple of Delphi. To stress that despite the image’s low DPI its binary code is composed of millions of characters, the image will be complimented by sound recorded or performed. In both cases it will consist of our two voices reciting the code. There will be an inherent trance-like quality to uttering two repetitive sounds in a continuous sequence for so long. Our intention is to drown the viewer with the sheer amount of information that the image carries through sound. Download Paper

Seth Watter || Brown University, Department of Modern Culture & Media, PhD Candidate
Torture Porn & Classical Aesthetics

This paper is an analysis of torture porn in the light of classical aesthetics. More specifically, it approaches the aesthetic moment through the image of torture, and in so doing argues that aesthetic vision is always in some sense a mutilation. Beginning with Kant’s provocative statement that aesthetic vision cannot tolerate purposiveness, I take up De Man’s influential re-reading of Kantian aesthetics as something that must “disarticulate, mutilate the body,” a body now “entirely severed from any purpose or use.” What De Quincey described as the fine art of murder has today become the fine art of torture, and Abu Ghraib hangs like a shadow over contemporary film production. I conclude by examining the specific culpability of cinematic technology in this fragmentation of bodies through framing, editing, or what Benjamin called film’s “surgical” heritage. Potential works to be discussed include Hostel, Wolf Creek, The Human Centipede, A Serbian Film, Irreversible. Download Paper

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