Slides of the course "Beyond Resolution" now online!

Beyond Resolution / Studying Occult Affordances
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Last semester I had the great luck to work as deputy professor in Kassel, so I spend a lot of time on developing the course and its slides.

I took it as an opportunity to think through my own practice and inspirations and to describe the field in which I work. I think the slides highly reflect this, so I am sure its biased and I welcome any critique and additions. I think I finally kind of finished putting all the slides online now, so here they are:

Resolution Dispute 0000 : Habit 
Resolution Dispute 0001 : Materiality 
Resolution Dispute 0010 : Genealogy vs. /his/tory I, II, III 
Resolution Dispute 0011: Institutional Tactics I, II, III 
Resolution Dispute 0100 : Scaling as Violence

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Beyond Resolution / Studying Occult Affordances

Beyond Resolution / Studying Occult Affordances
After years of being on a never ending tour, I finally found a place to take a rest and come home to. 

Now I am finding the time to pull all my work and research of the last years together and develop it in the way I intended. Unfortunately, the format of a blog feels not right for this. This is why I am leaving Sunshine in My Throat for now and moving on to Beyond Resolution. 


▋▅█▉▝▊ || TRANSMEDIALE 2017 :: 3 papers and DCT:SYPHONING. The 1000000th (64th) interval.

DCT:SYPHONING. 64th Interval
 ▋▅█▉▝▊ ||Hey Berlin && Transmediale family! 
I am really pleased to invite you to the performance of DCT:SYPHONING during – transmediale 2017 ever elusive –! The DCTs will start Syphoning straight after Morehshin and Daniel's German #ADDITIVISM Cookbook launch, which will take place on Saturday, February 4th, 6pm and features the recipe to read and write in DCT!
Besides the performance I will part take in two smaller events: The release of the Transmediale Reader on Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions, which will have launch event on Friday the 3th of February and straight after it the Machine Research publication.
This little collection of works released during Transmediale is rather special; its not just 3 printed papers and one artwork. All of them work in connection and together they form some of the little pieces of this little universe I have been working on for a while now; an ecology of compression complexities...
thats all very exciting for me and too abstract and complex for a facebook post, but how exciting to think that even the PAL and the Angel of History get to have a cameo! And then there are blocks and wavelets and vectors connecting the dots...
I have to say I am always a bit confused and slightly worried about what it means to 'perform' VR, so lets see how this experiment progresses. But whatever happens, it will be exciting to finally see this work in its final version, after being a work in progress for about 2 years.

Thanks to Stimuleringsfonds for making this possible!

 ▋▅█▉▝▊ || DCT:SYPHONING. The 1000000th (64th) interval.
Conceived by Rosa Menkman

About the work
A modern translation of the 1884 Edwin Abbott Abbott roman "Flatland", explains some of the algorithms at work in digital image compression. 
Inspired by Syphon, an open source software by Tom Butterworth and Anton Marini, in DCT:SYPHONING, an anthropomorphised DCT (Senior) narrates its first SYPHON (data transfer) together with DCT Junior, and their interactions as they translate data from one image compression to a next (aka the “realms of complexity”).
As Senior introduces Junior to the different levels of image plane complexity, they move from the macroblocks (the realm in which they normally resonate), to dither, lines and the more complex realms of wavelets and vectors. Junior does not only react to old compressions technologies, but also the newer, more complex ones which ‘scare' Junior, because of their 'illegibility'.  

Every image plane environment is made in a 3D Unity Level, and per level, artefacts from another realm of compression form the textural basis of the chapter.

Background of the work (DCT, 2015): 
In 2015 Menkman developed DCT for the exhibition "Design my Privacycommissioned by MOTI museum, Breda, Netherlands, which won a shared first price in the 2015 Crypto Design Challenge. The work DCT (2015) formed the basis for "DCT:SYPHONING. The 1000000th (64th) interval" (2015-2016).

 ▋▅█▉▝▊ || The basic premise of “DCT” (2015):
The legibility of an encrypted message does not just depend on the complexity of the encryption algorithm, but also on the placement of the data of the message. 
Discreet Cosine Transform (DCT) is a mathematical technique, that has been used since 1973, but only became widely implemented in 1992, when the JPEG image compression technology started using it as a core component. In the case of the JPEG compression, a DCT is used to describe a finite set of patterns, called macroblocks, that could be described as the 64 character making up the JPEG image, adding lumo and chroma values (light and color) as ‘intonation’. If an image is compressed correctly, its macroblocks become ‘invisible’, while any incidental trace of the macroblocks is generally ignored as artifact or error. 
Keeping this in mind, Menkman developed DCT, a font that can be used on any TTF supporting device. DCT appropriates the algorithmic aesthetics of JPEG macroblocks to mask its 'secret' message as error. The encrypted message, hidden on the surface of the image is only legible by the ones in the know.

 ▋▅█▉▝▊ || Production history of DCT:SYPHONING
DCT:SYPHONING was first commissioned by the Photographers Gallery in London, for the show Power Point Polemics. 
This version was on display as a powerpoint presentation .ppt (Jan - Apr 2016). 

A 3 channel video installation was conceived for the 2016 Transfer Gallery's show "Transfer Download", first installed at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco (July - September, 2016)
The final form of DCT:SYPHONING will be in VR, as part of DiMoDA’s Morphe Presence on show right now at RISD, NYC. (jan 6-may14 2017)

DCT:SYPHONING. The 1000000th (64th) interval is dedicated to Nasir Ahmed and Lena JPEG Soderberg.
A Spomenik for Resolutions (that would never be)
A warm thank you go out to Transfer Gallery (Kelani Nichole) and DiMoDA (William Robertson and Alfredo Salazar-Caro)


//From Dada to Data publication && About a "question"

DCT SYPHONINGDada to DataDada to Data

The Dada to data publication features a short version of the following essay. 

A stranger like Dada / Weird like quaint collage  ¯\_( ͡ʘᴥ ⊙ಥ‶ʔ)/̵͇̿̿/̿ ̿ ̿

“Your work is so Dada, its just weird…” Even though the sentence was uttered playfully and with no foul intentions, it hit me. It sounded dismissive; in my ears, my friend just admitted disinterest. Calling something “weird” suggests withdrawal. The adjective forecloses a sense of urgency and classifies the work as a shallow event: the work is funny and quirky, slightly odd and soon becomes background noise, ’nuff said. I tried to ignore the one word review, but I will never forget when it was said, or where we were standing. I wish I had responded: “I think we already know too much to make art that is weird.” But I unfortunately, I kept quiet.

In his book Noise, Water, Meat (1999), Douglas Kahn writes: “We already know too much for noise to exist.” A good 15 years after Kahns writing, we have entered a time dominated by the noise of crises. Hackers, disease, trade stock crashes and brutalist oligarchs make sure there is not a quiet day to be had. Even our geological time is the subject to dispute. But while insecurity dictates, no-one would dare to refer to this time as the heyday of noise. We know there is more at stake than just noise. 

This state is reflected in critical art movements: a current generation of radical digital artists is not interested in work that is uninformed by urgency, nor can they afford to create work that is just #weird, or noisy. The work of these artists has departed from the weird and exists in an exchange that is, rather, strange. it invites the viewer to approach with inquisitiveness - it invokes a state of mind: to wonder. Consequently, these works break with tradition and create space for alternative forms, language, organisation and discourse. It is not straightforward: its the art of creative problem creation.

In 2016 it is easy to look at the weird aesthetics of Dada; its eclectic output is no longer unique. The techniques behind these gibberish concoctions have had a hundred years to become cultivated, even familiar. Radical art and punk alike have adopted the techniques of collage and chance and applied them as styles that are no longer inherently progressive or new. As a filter subsumed by time and fashion, Dada-esque forms of art have been morphed into weird commodities that invoke a feel of stale familiarity.

But when I take a closer look at an original Dadaist work, I enter the mind of a stranger. There is structure that looks like language, but it is not my language. It slips in and out of recognition and maybe, if I would have the chance to dialogue or question, it could become more familiar. Maybe I could even understand it. Spending more time with a piece makes it possible to break it down, to recognize its particulates and particularities, but the whole still balances a threshold of meaning and nonsense. I will never fully understand a work of Dada. The work stays a stranger, a riddle from another time, a question without an answer. The historical circumstances that drove the Dadaists to create the work, with a sentiment or mindset that bordered on madness, seems impossible to translate from one period to the next. The urgency that the Dadaists felt, while driven by their historical circumstances, is no longer accessible to me. The meaningful context of these works is left behind in another time. Which makes me question: why are so many works of contemporary digital artists still described—even dismissed—as Dada-esque? Is it even possible to be like Dada in 2016?

The answer to this question is at least twofold: it is not just the artist, but also the audience who can be responsible for claiming that an artwork is a #weird, Dada-esque anachronism. Digital art can turn Dada-esque by invoking Dadaist techniques such as collage during its production. But the work can also turn Dada-esque during its reception, when the viewer decides to describe the work as “weird like Dada.” Consequently, whether or not today a work can be weird like Dada is maybe not that interesting; the answer finally lies within the eye of the beholder. It is maybe a more interesting question to ask what makes the work of art strange? How can contemporary art invoke a mindset of wonder and the power of the critical question in a time in which noise rules and is understood to be too complex to analyse or break down?

The Dadaists invoked this power by using some kind of ellipsis (…): a tactic of strange that involves the with holding of the rules of that tactic. They employed a logic to their art that they did not share with their audience; a logic that has later been described as the logic of the madmen. Today, in a time where our daily reality has changed and our systems have grown more complex. The ellipses of mad logic (disfunctionality) is commonplace. Weird collage is no longer strange; it is easily understood as a familiar aesthetic technique. Radical Art needs a provocative element, an element of strange that lures the viewer in and makes them think critically; that makes them question again. The art of wonder can no longer lie solely in ellipsis and the ellipsis can no longer be THE art. 

This is particularly important for digital art. During the past decades, digital art has matured beyond the Dadaesque mission to create new techniques for quaint collage. Digital artists have slowly established a tradition that inquisitively opens up the more and more hermetically closed—or black boxed—technologies. Groups and movements like Critical Art Ensemble (1987), Tactical Media (1996), Glitch Art (±2001) and #Additivism (2015) (to name just a few) work in a reactionary, critical fashion against the status quo, engaging with the protocols that facilitate and control the fields of, for instance, infrastructure, standardization, or digital economies. The research of these artists takes place within a liminal space, where it pivots between the thresholds of digital language, such as code and algorithms, the frameworks to which data and computation adhere and the languages spoken by humans. Sometimes they use tactics that are similar to the Dadaist ellipsis. As a result, their output can border on Asemic. This practice comes close to the strangeness that was an inherent component of an original power of Dadaist art. 

But an artist who still insists on explaining why a work is weirdly styled like Dada is missing out on the strange mindset that formed the inherently progressive element of Dada. Of course a work of art can be strange by other means than the tactics and techniques used in Dada. Dada is not the father of all progressive work. And not all digital art needs to be strange. But strange is a powerful affect from which to depart in a time that is desperate to ask new critical questions to counter the noise. 

 Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 21. 
On cool as ellipsis, Alan Liu. in The Laws of Cool. 2008. 
 “We need creative problem creation” - jonSatrom during GLI.TC/H 20111. 
 Within glitch art this subgenre is sometimes referred to as Tactical Glitch Art.