[spectre] Fw: RHIZOME_RAW: review: Violence Online Festival V.2.0

Melody Parker Carter Melody Parker Carter" <info@nmartproject.net
Fri, 25 Oct 2002 08:49:50 +0200

----- Original Message -----
From: "ryan griffis" <grifray@yahoo.com>
To: <list@rhizome.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 6:03 AM
Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: review: Violence Online Festival V.2.0

> Ryan Griffis
> Review
> "Day Jobs"
> Violence Online Festival Version 2.0
> http://www.newmediafest.org/violence/index.htm
> current venues:
> Computer Space Festival 2002 Sofia (Bulgaria), 18-21 October
> Liberarti Festival Ė Liverpool Bienniale 2002, 10 October  - 01 December
> "One major difference between the age of the virtual and more primitive
times is that the contemporary idols have no metaphysical referent. The ones
that have been constructed areÖ end-points, empty signs. To this paper
master, sacrifice has no limit. The stairs of the temple flow with blood
every day." Critical Art Ensemble
> Agricola de Cologneís recent (and ongoing) work, "Violence Online
Festival," brings together the diverse works of many artists, ranging from
networked productions to digitized flat works to documented performances and
numerous other forms Ė all addressing in some way "violence". These
> various works are assembled within a Flash site created to appear as a
corporate interface for the fictional Violence Media Incorporated (VMI). One
accesses the different artistic products through navigating the
"departments" of VMI, "Violence Marketing," "Violence Broadcasting," etc.
> As many current "New Media" works seem to be dealing with the relationship
between the "virtual" and the corporeal, and how to reconcile (or not) these
realms, the Violence Online Festival is an interesting and tangible
aesthetic and critical project. The physical and social relations brought
about through networked culture have been theorized and discussed, but itís
obvious that more work can, and should, be done to continue the dialogue.
Thankfully, there are enough efforts included in the VMI interface that
bring other aspects of the dialogue to the table, aspects that should be
necessary for any examination of the relationship between violence and
representational media.
> Institutional violence, especially in the form of state repression acting
in the interests of capital, and against the interests of citizen
collectives, plays a major role in several of the productions included in
VMI. Francesca da Rimini and Michael Grimmís "Los Dias y Las Noches de Los
Muertos" visualizes the connections between nationalistic imperialism,
Western capital, and public displays of death. Words of the Zapatistas,
Napoleanís "How to Make War," images referencing the "Day of the Dead"
celebration, and photos of the deadly results of police force on protestors
at the G8 Summit in Genoa are juxtaposed in a disorienting grid. Other
works, like Joy Garnettís "Smokescreens," Babelís "Protestors, Police,
Politicians," Deb Kingís "Collateral Assets," and Rika Oharaís "Une Semain
de Bontť" take on the institutional (mis)representation (or denial) of
> While it may be easy to see the connections between mediated
> representations and institutional (in the form of organized entities)
violence from a critical perspective, the intersections of less organized
forms of violence and representation are, apparently, more difficult to get
at from a constructively critical perspective. The difficulty of dealing
with desire and its disparate forms of expression on a personal and
institutional level (especially in the US, where the representation of
violence and sexuality is simultaneously repressed and exploited for profit)
makes it even more important to explore. Though many "groups" become the
targets of repressed institutional violence, "domestic abuse" and other
forms of oppression against women would seem to be the most virulent and
pervasive. (I may feel this way due to my relationship with women working in
the field of domestic violence prevention, but the case they make is a
compelling one.) Cindy Gabriela Floresís "Subway" examines the mass transit
system of Mexico City in the current (!
> sociological and personal) condition of "riding while a woman". Depicting
the "compulsory gender border" (the use of women only and co-ed trains)
active in the subway through textual narrative and second-person, sequential
images, Flores presents us with the observation that segregated travel is
self-chosen by women (itís not enforced). But, as she makes clear, the
context creating the gender border was not. Self-segregation is a matter of
safety and survival, as the rate of abuse against women in the co-ed trains,
and the acceptance it enjoys, is high, and especially violent offenses not
unheard of. With a lot of ongoing discussion occurring around issues of
borders, "Subway" adds a problematic and complex statement into the mix.
> Other interrogations of the connections between personal and societal
expressions of desire are also present in VMI. Jody Zellenís "Crowds and
Power" is a web-based work that uses multiple, repeated images and texts,
revealed in varying levels of ambiguity and clarity, often through
suggestive cropping (a method used by the artist in "Ghost City" as well).
As the title suggests, "CrowdsÖ" takes on the psyche of masses and how
perception and action can shift based on the proximity and personal
identification of subjects. The relationship between architecture and crowds
is interestingly explored through dynamically displayed images of crowds of
people and the empty shells of architecture meant to accommodate them.
"Hate," a series of acted, interview-like statements by Humberto Ramirez,
presents us with one reason why Zellenís crowds can be frightening rather
than comforting collectives. The speakers, all represented in close-up
interview fashion, proceed - in a one-after-the-!
> other barrage of sound bytes Ė to declare their hatred for other people.
Seen in the visual, sequential form, these recorded statements can be
dismissed as easy targets (who advocates open hatred and racism?), although
we definitely canít deny the persistence of such thoughts and actions, even
for ourselves.
> This all brings me to looking at VMI as a project in itself, alongside the
individual components that are included. In Ramirezís video work, there is a
diversity of people speaking, mostly seeming North American, but at least
diverse in those terms. Obviously, hate (and violence) is not the exclusive
property of white males, but what is gained from representing hate as a
"multicultural" phenomenon, other than a vague sense of humanism that says
"Hey, we all hate, weíre all really the same." VMI, it its attempt to
encompass the wide range of desires and actions called violence, creates a
similar problem. The curatorial tone, deeply rooted in universalist
tendencies that override the specific and critical pursuit of many of the
artistic projects included, can be discerned in the projectís introduction:
>  "The human character contains both a light and a dark side, good and bad,
individually manifested. Deeply rooted is a dark-sided element: Violence."
> The representation of a corporate entity (VMI) rightly replicates the
personification of capitalís interests and its increasing, global ubiquity,
but becomes overwhelmingly self-referential and metaphysical: from the eerie
opening audio track "Violence is fun, Violence Festival is pure happiness";
the classification of the works into whimsical departments whose names float
and pulsate; to the saturated red ground that envelops the entire
> Although Iím not sure it adequately represents the interests of all its
various works, VMI is ambitious, interesting, and necessary. Unfortunately,
the specter of disembodiment is strong and ever present; itís too easy to
> connect to the network and not question the latent violence in that act
> As Bruce Sterling once (sarcastically) wrote:
> "The price of liberty is said to be eternal vigilance Ė but thatís a
pretty steep price, isnít it? Canít we just automate this eternal vigilance
thing? Maybe we can just install lots of 24-hour networked videocams."
> + new media rugby
> -> post: list@rhizome.org
> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
> +
> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php