Fach & Asendorf Gallery

Fach & Asendorf Gallery

A new online exhibition space was launched yesterday by architect and artist Ole Fach and the media artist Kim Asendorf. The gallery space will be used for major online exhibitions for net.art and media art.

For the launch they are exhibiting an extremely talented contemporary net artist, Andrey Yazev who has been written about here before. Andrey is also responsible for designing the gallery site and its unconventional navigation.

The other current exhibitor is a Emilio Gomariz who is exploring the glitch aesthetic with some vibrant videos and images. The video manipulation of a Dragon Ball animation is particularly stunning.

Judging by both these talented artists I’m looking forward to future exhibitions at http://fa-g.org. From their press release:

Online exhibitions will become an important part of the art scene in the next years, and for the Fach & Asendorf Gallery it will be the basement and future of their action.

The main focus is on screen or display related art, but you could also see fresh documentations about installations, paintings, performance or sculptures.

But that is just the beginning, they are going to organize in house exhibitions in other galleries, museums and art spaces around the world. And, in (at) the end, they will become a real life gallery.

The Internet, it is everywhere. It is here, it is there and it is where you actually are. It is so huge that nobody ever could print it. It is so deep that no one ever would dive to its end. There is peace and war in it, love and hate and all between. Once you have traveled trough it, you will never forget, and you will come back, asap, lol.

The Internet is a digital reflection of our real life world, but with much more freedom, with the option to be who ever you want, and this is really important, with an off-switch. It is a massive playground, a television with infinite channels and the greatest exhibition space.
In short, we love it.

And we, the Fach & Asendorf Gallery claims to be an important and interesting part of it.

Face to facebook (www.lovely-faces.com)

One of the projects that was on show at this years Transmediale was www.lovely-faces.com, an internet dating site populated with personal data and photographs scrapped without consent from Facebook profiles that do not employ stringent privacy settings.

This project is an intentionally antagonistic intrusion into the online existence of some 250,000 arbitrary Facebook users and will inevitably incite abhorrence from some of those users and Facebook lawyers who are affected. lovely-faces.com is another reminder of peoples’ inability to recognise the consequences (on their own privacy) of seemingly innocuous actions such as posting, liking, tagging and sharing on social networking platforms.

Not only this the makers of www.lovely-faces.com are also commenting on the intimate involvement and consistent questioning of our online identity within the ‘social network game’. This perpetual voyeurism is not primarily motivated by a desire to create better social relationships but by the need for consistent gratification within this collective self-positioning.

After some inevitable global press about www.lovely-faces.com Facebook’s lawyers have presented the 2 artists responsible for this project a cease and desist order, which has resulted in www.lovely-faces.com being taken offline for the moment. Furthermore they have also requested that the site documenting the project (www.face-to-facebook.net) be removed because it infringes on the Facebook trademark (on a side note here is a long list of Facebook’s trademarks).

The use of the trademark legislation to make artists remove the documentation of an art project is ridiculous. The trademark laws that guarantee a unique sign or indicator for purposes of a commercial endeavour should not be harnessed to restrict the proliferation of artistic practice and cultural commentary. Perhaps one of the motivations lies in the fact that the artists used facial recognition algorithms to group people based around their expressions on the dating site. Facebook are currently rolling out a new feature that uses facial recognition algorithms to make suggestions about who the people in your photos might be based around your existing photos and tags. Automating the process of tagging any of the 100 million photos uploaded daily would inevitably result in an escalation of Facebook’s user data portfolio and therefore any critical activity surrounding the technologies involved could potentially be met with hostility from the Facebook camp.

Below is a recent (April 7th 2011) press release from the 2 artists, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico:

Legal update:
After sending us a “cease and desist letter” (which led to making the website Lovely-Faces.com unavailable), asking us to give them back the 1M publicly available data and terminating our Facebook personal accounts, Facebook lawyers are continuing to follow up with us. First they are insisting on asking us to remove all the content from the Face-to-Facebook.net domain, which is the website documenting the project. This request sounds quite surreal for us: this website merely contains a collection of texts, materials and links related to Face-to-Facebook project. Even more, we have received a threat from Facebook legal department about the claim that the face-to-facebook.net domain name is violating Facebook trademark. So, why should such a big online corporation push a couple of artists to remove the documentation of their project? Our lawyers are investigating the legal basis of their request.

Global Mass Media Hack Performance:


Meanwhile, the news went through to more than 1000 media reports, reaching a wide audience spread all over the globe. Very different stages were involved like: tv, radio, newspapers, magazines, blogs, portals and plenty of personal blogs, not counting the thousands of tweets. The pattern of propagation would need time to be properly analyzed, but it definitively is “viral”, especially in some countries like Brazil, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine.
There are plenty of captivating scenes in this mass media performance, like for example the one where 93 per cent of the 7538 participants to the online poll opened by the Australian newspaper The Age answered “Yes” to the question “Should Lovely-faces.com require consent to use your photo?” Maybe that influenced also the blog “Ethics Alarms” to declare Lovely-Faces.com as “Unethical Website of the Month.” And the controversial aspect of the project has been clearly picked up even by some popular U.S. TV news (see links below) sometimes resulting as quite bizarre.

Some selected TV News videos:

* MyFox LA, Los Angeles Fox News Tv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJYRM9VAtsE
* WSBTV, Atlanta WSB-TV channel 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye3Qyz-ojvI
* Newsy, Online video news analysis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlDs3PdGKSA
* Apple daily HK, Taiwan, China, Hong-Kong-based newspaper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STSNZqoqk24
* Tagesschau, German public TV ARD channel 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzCh1XPWlMY

Some selected online Interviews:

* CNN, US – Art ‘hacktivists’ take on Facebook: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/02/11/artists.facebook.project
* 2010LAB (Video), Germany – Facebook and Transmediale – your face is
ours: http://www.2010lab.tv/en/video/facebook-and-transmediale-your-face-ours
* Artinfo.com, US – The Artist Who’s Out to Liberate Facebook: http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/36912/the-artist-whos-out-to-liberate-facebook-a-qa-with-profile-thief-paolo-cirio
* Artline, Switzerland – Sculptors of data  - Die Daten-Bildhauer http://www.artline.org/?p=detail&id=10736&back=home&L=0
* Jetzt, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany – Feldzug gegen Facebook: http://jetzt.sueddeutsche.de/texte/anzeigen/519492/Feldzug-gegen-Facebook
* Politika, Serbia, newspaper http://www.politika.rs/rubrike/spektar/zivot-i-stil/Uzeli-smo-desetine-hiljada-profila-iz-Srbije.sr.html
* Ha’aretz, Israel, newspaper http://www.haaretz.co.il/captain/spages/1217717.html


Exhibitions and presentations of Face to Facebook during April:
* Share Conferences, presentation , Belgrade – Serbia
* ENTER Festival, exhibition & presentation, Prague – Czech Republic
* Chilling Effects, exhibition & presentation at TETEM, Enschede – The
* REALITYFLOWHACKED, exhibition, Paolo Cirio’s solo show at Aksioma |
Project Space, Ljubljana – Slovenja
* EMAF 2011, presentation, Osnabrück – Germany

Natural Fuse

Selfless, selfish or off switch

Natural Fuse is a ‘micro-scale carbon dioxide protection framework’ created by Usman Haque. The project is an experiment in participatory networks, which attempts to address the reasons why people seem to have difficulty in making coherent and progressive decisions when it comes to global issues such as climate change.

Each Natural Fuse unit consists of a houseplant and a power socket. The power socket can then be used to power any of your thirsty household applicances. That is, it will provide power within the plant’s capacity to offset the carbon footprint of the appliance.

Clearly the carbon-sinking threshold of one plant is not enough for the majority of standard household appliances therefore each unit is connected to a single network through which fuses that are not in use can share there capacity for carbon offsetting.

The conscience testing social dynamic within this network is engineered within the fuses ability to exist in one of two ‘on states’. Whilst operating the fuse can be manually changed between selfless and selfish states, either affecting a (selfish) drain on the whole community resources or a (selfless) state of community wide equilibrium. The consequences of selfish action are that the community can end up with a negative carbon footprint, which results in one plant/fuse being given a (lethal) vinegar injection.

This is a very direct and affective method of fostering individual accountability for globalised problem such as climate change. The availability of more options than just on or off when it comes to dealing with resource consumption seems more likely to move people toward communally beneficial decisions than if they are being admonished by authority figures with scary statistics.

Matthew Fuller’s interview with Usman also explores some interesting ideas in the project such as the apparent ‘design to fail’ approach employed in Natural Fuses and how foreign this is to most computer-based, networked systems where failure/crashes/error are seen as abhorrent.


Funware exhibition :: Auto-Illustrator documentation

Above is the finished, edited demonstration video produced for the Funware exhibition in MU Eindhoven. Due to the fact that this was a screen recording and I did not adjust my resolution whilst recording it I ended up having to use some funny codecs which exported at 1280×800 and at decent quality. Rendering took approximately 30 hours for a less than 30 minute video. With hindsight it seems foresight is everything.

Read a more detailed review of the exhibition at We Make Money Not Art. I’m upset I couldn’t attend at any of the locations. It seems like everything came together very well.

And finally here is an interview with Olga about the curation of the show.

Auto-illustrator by Adrian Ward

Signwave Auto-illustrator is a piece of software and an artwork in its own right written by Arian Ward, which parodies the well established vector graphics application by Adobe.

Auto-illustrator is a fully functioning vector graphics application that on the surface (GUI) appears to be no different from the proprietary or FLOSS alternatives such as Illustrator or Inkscape (respectively). However the difference appears when the software, during use, transfers a great deal of control and creative decision making from the user to the software algorithms. The software is partially generative and overtly semi-autonomous.

It questions the control that we have when working with these types of proprietary ‘creative suites’, in which we have no access to study or modify the algorithms which define the ‘paint brush’ or the ‘pen’ tool. When we draw with these tools we are working within the parameters defined by the authors of the algorithms and also within the lineage of an inadequate canvas and paintbrush metaphor. Auto-illustrator both brings these facts to the surface and offers and alternative to software as a tool but instead as a collaborative creative experience that involves both the user and software with agency.

At the Transmediale.01 festival for art and digital culture, Auto-illustrator was given what is considered to be the first award soley dedicated to software art. The artwork is currently being revived at an exhibition, curated by Olga Goriunova (the curator of the software art repository RunMe.org), called Fun with Software which is currently at the Arnolfi gallery in Bristol and will continue to MU in Eindhoven.

Fun with Software looks at the history of software, and its relation to humour and fun.

Making and using software can be experimental, humorous, and eventful. Alongside today’s rather dull use of forms, databases, schedules and processors, an element of fun has informed and guided the development of software from its beginnings. A good example of this is Love Letter Generator, conceived in the 1950s by one of the first programmers, Christopher Strachey, working with Alan Turing at Manchester University on one of the first computers, and reconstructed in this exhibition by David Link. This exhibition follows the development of software over the last fifty years through playful experimentation and art. – Statement from Arnolfi

Olga has kindly asked me to make a recorded (screen captured) demonstration of Auto-illustrator in use that can be shown at the exhibition. I will attempt to create my own vectored artwork with my silent, code based partner but of what, I am not quite sure yet. Despite my own intent and direction there is no guarantee of the outcome. Any suggestions are welcome.