On Rules and Monsters

Spehr Free Cooperation: Political Theory for Godzilla & Co.

Video Screening and Discussion (with Christoph Spehr in person!)
Introduction: Trebor Scholz

Friday, March 10 at 8 pm
The Thing
125 Maiden Lane
New York, NY

Why the hell does every monster want to go to Tokyo and stamp on it? Why do we feel sorry if the monster gets shot at the end? Why does it always return? These and other questions that are highly relevant to every first grade or post-doc monster are dealt with in the video “On Rules and Monsters - An Introduction to Free Cooperation”. German political theorist, cultural critic and video maker Christoph Spehr presents his video, with Tony Conrad and Stephanie Rothenberg starring as speakers and appearances by Godzilla, Gwangi, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and many more, along with his new video “Hold On, Wilson - Of Islands and Utopia”.

Free entrance, bring ID

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The Open Work: Participatory Art Since Silence

Relational Tuesday, February 07

LISTEN: MP3 | Stream

iDC Lecture by Dr. Judith Rodenbeck
In the introduction to his 2002 book, Relational Aesthetics, the curator Nicolas Bourriaud writes that currently, "the liveliest factor that is played out on the chessboard of art has to do with interactive, user-friendly and relational concepts." Neither revival nor comeback, relational aesthetics, for Bourriaud, is the correct vanguardist response to a world saturated by mass communications. Part of the newness had to do, in Bourriaud's account, with asking what kind of art was possible after the doldrums of the 1980s, when the hegemony of "spectacle" seemed assured (via the alleged failures of May 1968), after institutional critique seemed to have run its course, and after any socially-engaged avant-garde had exhausted itself and the political patience of its adherents-and even, perhaps, the conditions of its possibility. "How are these apparently elusive works to be decoded, be they process-related or behavioral by ceasing to take shelter behind the sixties art history?" (Bourriaud, 7) Yet this unwillingness to examine relational aesthetics with an eye on history is a defensive maneuver. As such it is one that needs to be taken on. This talk is an historical presentation addressed to some of the parameters under which the "interactive, user-friendly and relational" were actively explored-and critiqued--in key works of the 1950s and early 1960s.

About Dr. Judith Rodenbeck:
BA, Yale University. BFA, Massachusetts College of Art. MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. Special interests in art since 1945 and its compositional strategies; intersections between modernist literature, philosophy, and the visual arts. Co-author and co-curator with Benjamin Buchloh of Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts--events, objects, documents; contributor to catalogues for Work Ethic and Inside the Visible; author of articles for Grey Room, The Art Book, Documents, and P-Form. Recipient of fellowships, including Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Fellowship in American Art and Columbia University Mellon Fellowship for Art History.

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Working on and with Eigensinn – A new approach to Media | Art | Education

by Giaco Schiesser
Lecture, October 19

The lecture focuses on a media and art education in pace with the times, on the basis of a new approach: the conception of "Eigensinn" (approx.: wilful obstinacy) - a term that only exists in the German languages - of media and of artists is developed in detail in its richness and fixed as the crucial artistic and media productive force. Giving an insight in some central influences / demarcations/ transformations of different media explored and used by artists in Europe in the 20th century, it proposes that a forward-looking media art education in pace with the times could rest on three pillars:

1. Training in individual, collective and collaborative "media authorship."

2. Working on and with the "Eigensinn of media" (e.g. film, photography, computers / networks and the fine arts).

3. "Art as process" / "art as technique." These three pillars are worked out and presented in detail.

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Conversation with Giaco Schiesser, part 1


Conversation with Giaco Schiesser
part 1, view (142 MB)

Read essay

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Conversation with Giaco Schiesser, part 2


Conversation with Giaco Schiesser
view part 2 (151 MB)

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conversation with Giaco Schiesser, part 3


conversation with Giaco Schiesser
view part 3 (68 MB)

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Conversation with Giaco Schiesser, part4


conversation with Giaco Schiesser
view part 4 (249 MB)


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Technologies for Interauthorship, A Lecture by Artur Matuck

October 4, 2005

SemionAs the computer enlarges its range of action, human expression has been increasingly shaped by collaborative systems of authorship. These systems can be defined as computer systems that attain autonomy or semi-autonomy in the structuring of complex signs.
Computer systems are able to organize information into highly complex clusters and may eventually surpass the human ability to generate original artworks. The prospect of artificially programmed 'authors' challenges artists' identities as they have been traditionally defined. In the process, a series of questions emerge.

How are artists and writers reacting to forms of artificial intelligence, media technology, and software, that can be seen as new 'authors'? How do theoreticians, historians and critics evaluate the authoring of meaning created by computer programs?
Is the human mind now being challenged to supersede the creative abilities of technomedia and electronic systems? What becomes of artists when artificial processes are prioritized over the human production of meaning?

This lecture at the Department of Media Study will review the work of designers and electronic authors. Matuck will describe interdisciplinary collaborations that focused on inter-authorship; the process of designing artificial 'authors' in art or literature; the actual production of artificial 'authors' and a theoretical reflection on the possible futures of authorship.

ArturAbout Dr Artur Matuck
Artur Matuck has been an assistant professor at the School of Communications and Arts at the University of Sao Paolo since 1984. In Sao Paolo (Brazil), Europe and North America, he has worked as teacher, researcher, writer, visual artist, video producer, performer and more recently as a designer of teleart events and interactive sites.

Since 1977 Matuck contributed to conferences and workshops on New Media Arts, Interactive Television, Telecommunication Arts, Performance Art, Computer-Generated Writing, and Intellectual Property issues. In 1990, he was awarded a prize in the video-art category from the São Paulo Art Critics Association. In the same year, he completed a comprehensive study on the history of video art and interactive television, which resulted in the doctoral thesis: "The Dialogical Potential of Television." In 1991 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) he produced Reflux, a global Telecommunication Arts project. This project produced at CMU while in residence as research fellow was one of the very first artistic experiments to involve collaborative networking activities.
In 1995, as post-graduate fellow at the University of Florida, he started to experiment with text-reprocessing. "Landscript" is a web-based tool that co-authored textual creation. In 2002 this piece was included in the 25th Sao Paolo Biennial (in the net art category).
Artur Matuck is also the creator of "Semion"-- an international symbol for released information, a theoretical and conceptual contribution to the ongoing debates on intellectual property rights and information dissemination. His most recent endeavors include the planning of video communication and web-based multicultural, international exchanges between artists, researchers and individuals.

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Short Introduction to the "Semion" (1972) by Artur Matuck

This recording by Artur Matuck (University of Sao Paolo) was ended by a network interruption.

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Axel Bruns Workshop

Institute for Distributed Creativity
Produsers and Produsage –
Workshop at SUNY Buffalo


September 28, 1-3pm, meet at DMS  247

Dr Axel Bruns

Creative Industries Faculty
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Australia
[email protected]

Workshop Outline

Introduction and exploration of the produser concept:
Overall features of produsers; distinctions from related concepts (Toffler’s ‘prosumer’, Leadbeater’s ‘pro-am’); potential applications.

Key sites of produsage:
Indymedia and other forms of collaborative online news, open source software development, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google Earth and other geographical annotation systems, The Sims and
other online gaming communities, Cellphedia, …

Implications and uses:
Economic possibilities, legal frameworks, educational applications, uses in strengthening democratic participation.

Open discussion

Little has been published using the term ‘produser’ as yet, but the articles below describe produser activity in all but name. Some of them are also deliberately entrepreneurial and commercial in tone – this demonstrates the potential for commercial exploration (and exploitation) which is inherent in the concept, and points to social, ethical, and legal issues which will need to be addressed.

Trebor Scholz, Axel Bruns. (2005) “Share, Share Widely: Technologies for Distributed Creativity.” Pixelache 2005. Available from http://www.pixelache.ac/2005/archives/share-share-widely-technologies-for-distributed-creativity/.

JC Herz (2002, 18 Oct.). “ Harnessing the Hive: How Online Games Drive Networked Innovation.” Release 1.0. Available from

Trendwatching.com. (n.d.) “Customer-made.” Availavble from http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/CUSTOMER-MADE.htm.

Trendwatching.com. (n.d.) “Generation C.” Available from http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/GENERATION_C.htm.


Recent decades have seen the dual trend of growing digitization of content, and of increasing availability of sophisticated tools for creating, manipulating, publishing, and disseminating that content. Advertising campaigns openly encourage users to ‘Rip. Mix. Burn.’ and to share the fruits of their individual or collaborative efforts with the rest of the world. The Internet has smashed the distribution bottleneck of older media, and the dominance of the traditional producer > publisher > distributor value chain has weakened. Marshall McLuhan’s dictum ‘everyone’s a publisher’ is on the verge of becoming a reality – and more to the point, as the Wikipedia proudly proclaims, ‘anyone can edit.’
The effect of these changes is not simply more (and more informed) consumption, however – we are not turning into Alvin Toffler’s ‘prosumers’: consumers with an almost professional level of knowledge about what they consume, but consumers nonetheless. Instead, the networked and hypermediated persona that emerges is a very different beast: users are becoming active producers of content in a variety of open and collaborative environments. Whether it is as members of the distributed development and testing community for open source software projects, as authors, editors, and fact-checkers for one of the multi-lingual Wikipedia sites, as reporters, commentators, and pundits in open news publications ranging from South Korean citizen news site OhmyNews to tech-nerd haven Slashdot, or as global explorers and annotators for Google Earth, they are no longer producers or consumers, publishers or audiences, but both at the same time. They are not prosumers, but user-producers: produsers.


While born perhaps out of a collaborative, open source ideology, produsing is now increasingly recognized as both a challenge and an opportunity by business and governments alike. For example, the Sims range of games relies overwhelmingly on its users as content produsers – 90% of content in The Sims itself is contributed by user-produsers. Similarly, Brisbane-based games company Auran has established a community of produsers around its popular train simulator Trainz, with some 200,000 ‘assets’ (locomotives, carriages, scenery and other elements) prodused so far. BBC News Online and other agencies now regularly call for their users to send in camera phone footage of unfolding events. And Trendwatching.com even sees a whole ‘Generation C’ of produsers emerging before our very eyes.
More broadly, the Chinese government is in the process of initiating a shift in its economic focus from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’, aiming to turn the country from the world’s factory to the world’s ideas generator. This shift, with its strong links to the recognition by European and Australian governments of the creative industries as a key economic driver, also builds on the move from users to produsers – it seeks to harness collaborative, grassroots creativity as a means of generating new ideas and new content (while at the same time attempting to maintain state control of the process).

So who are these produsers – and how will they fare in the light of increasing business and government involvement? As economic interests begin to explore ways to generate revenue from produsage, will they undermine its collaborative foundations, and will they reintroduce a regime of stricter intellectual property licensing? Or can the grassroots movement of produsers effect lasting change in our engagement with content, establishing a solid foothold for creative commons and other alternative IP licensing systems, and developing an equitable approach to relationships between the produser community and commercial partners?

Dr Axel Bruns teaches and conducts research about online publishing, electronic creative writing, online communities and popular music in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), and a founding editor of the online academic publications M/C – Media and Culture <http://www.media-culture.org.au/> and dotlit: The Online Journal of Creative Writing <http://www.dotlit.qut.edu.au/>.

He is currently preparing Uses of Blogs (with Joanne Jacobs), an edited collection of scholarly work examining the range of current approaches to blogging (forthcoming from Peter Lang in 2006). More information about this book and other research projects and publications can be found in his blog at http://snurb.info/.

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