(he)artbreaking to the core: zombie data and the arts of re/de/transcoding

Digital corpses all abound, zombie data that is still there, but cannot be performed anymore. Change is inevitable, if the artwork should survive. Besides the archivists' efforts to revive the work in its original state, artists have developed their own strategies of embracing the errors and glitches of re/de/transcoding processes.
Dates: 
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Nina Wenhart
Presenters: 
Rosa Menkman
Presenters: 
Melissa Barron
Presenters: 
Daniela Kuka
Rosa Menkman, The Collapse of PAL
Melissa Barron, Glitch Weavings - Activision
Nina Wenhart, inappropriation

Chair: Nina Wenhart

Digital corpses all abound, zombie data that is still there, but cannot be performed anymore. Change is inevitable, if the artwork should survive. Besides the archivists' efforts to revive the work in its original state, artists have developed their own strategies of embracing the errors and glitches of re/de/transcoding processes.

Codecs, programs, protocols and formats that are not supported anymore have become creative challenges and often initiate subversive practices. Not THAT, but HOW a work is changed and distorted becomes the choice of the artist. In this process, the original and its resurrection enter a dialogue and open up questions that go beyond the surface, a dialectics of original and copy, sameness and change, obsolescence and progress, memory and forgetting, survival and death. And as the original (file) is dead, the original (as a concept) is reborn at the same time.

Artistic strategies of re/de/transcoding and serendipidous errors are positioned as an antithesis to an elitist or naive euphoria of constant technological progress i.e. perfection. Nevertheless, they are not nostalgic but celebrate a hands-on approach where the code becomes tangible and material, literally.

Paper Abstracts

The Collapse of PAL

by Rosa Menkman

The Collapse of PAL is a real-time nationwide television performance that I presented at TV-TV on the 25th of May 2010, in Copenhagen, DK. In The Collapse of PAL, the Angel of History (as described by Walter Benjamin) reflects on the PAL television signal and its termination. This death sentence, although executed in silence, was a brutally violent act that left PAL disregarded and obsolete. However, the Angel of History has to conclude that while the PAL signal might be argued to be dead, it still exists as a trace left upon the new, ‘better’ digital technologies.

Glitch Weavings

by Melissa Barron

The punch card Jacquard loom was the inspiration for the Analytical Engine and arguably the modern day computer. Inspired by this, I created a series of glitched weavings, Untitled (screencaptures), that utilize the Apple 2 computer and computerized Jacquard loom. During this presentation, I will talk about my use of these technologies in my art making.

Disorder

by Daniela Kuka

Displaced things, absent or surplus artifacts and uncooperative material present more about the way we categorize and understand the world than about their own quality. They surprise and riddle, they raise questions, they challenge practices of (re)search and handling, they give reason to mysterious or spectacular explanations and adventures. As a kind of counter-epistemic or counter-experience phenomena, they challenge mental models, routine scripts of everyday and professional life and trigger storytelling and discourse.

Thus, we should think about how we can archive such phenomena of disorder and what we can learn from their appearance and disappearance for future forms of archives and archiving practices. How can archives integrate disorder as an own quality?

<3break(s)core. an inappropriation

by Nina Wenhart

Obsolescence and brokenness are the beasts roaring in digital media's black magic boxes. Artists who hack systems and corrupt the data therein materialize the medium's crisis and its cries of torment. Down Alice's rabbit hole “colorless green ideas sleep furiously”, meaning is not yet negotiated and alienation abounds. Media Art is declared imperfect, i.e. forever unfinished, a process. Curious about the hidden potentials and unknown qualities of failure, artists break with aesthetic stereotypes of futurity and progress. This is digital punk; it's a hacker ethics and aesthetics.

Bios of the Participants

Rosa Menkman

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch visualist who focuses on visual artifacts created by accidents in digital media. The visuals she makes are the result of glitches, compressions, feedback and other forms of noise. Although many people perceive these accidents as negative experiences, Rosa emphasizes their positive consequences. By combining both her practical as well as her academic background, she merges her abstract pieces within a grand theory artifacts (a glitch studies). Besides the creation of a formal "Vernacular of File Formats", within her static work, she also creates (narrative) work in her Acousmatic Videoscapes. In these Videoscapes she strives for new forms of conceptual synthesis (synesthesia) of sound and video artifacts.

Melissa Barron

Melissa Barron is an artist living and working in Chicago. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she focused on new media and fiber. In her work she combines these two fields by hacking into the Apple 2 system and creating coded fibre. Her work has been shown at various international events, including the notacon hack festival in Cleveland, Ohio and the gli.tc/h fest in Chicago in 2010.

Daniela Kuka

Daniela Kuka has been a  research fellow at Berlin University of the Arts since 2009. From 2004 to 2007 she was creative member abd from 2007 to 2009 senior researcher for interactive dramaturgy at Ars Electronica Futurelab Linz (A). She worked in several r&d-projects with international companies and cultural institutions and was one of the creators of "Deep Space". Daniela studies Media Culture and Art Theory at University of Ars and Industrial Design Linz (A) and Cultural Engineering at Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg. Since 2010, she is guest lecturer in Magdeburg. Her master thesis is about the fabrication of noise. She is currently working on a nonlinear persuasive communication model as her PhD, and on a film project dealing with distortions of perception.

Nina Wenhart

Nina Wenhart is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is a PhD candidate at the Interface Cultures Lab at the Art University, Linz, writing on Experimental Archiving of Media Arts, and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.