[-empyre-] Response to Anna: Nick Knouf, MAICgregator

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Fri Sep 16 23:08:45 AEST 2016

Regarding Turbulence, Anna, it's looking good that ELO will host online
access to the files while the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at
Cornell, also -empyre-'s co-host with UNSW, will continue to archive
Turbulence pieces off-line (a project Goldsen started with Turbulence
about five years ago and which we hope to continue so that the files will
be archive if the artworks go off-line at some point).  Of course these
kinds of archival challenges typify the challenges of Net Art Then and Now.


Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
A D White House
Cornell University,
Ithaca, New York 14853

On 9/15/16 5:14 PM, "Anna Munster" <a.munster at unsw.edu.au> wrote:

>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>Ah I knew there would be lotsa dirty money lurking on this list ;-)
>Thanks RYBN for chiming in - you¹d remember I¹ve also written about your
>work in both my ŒData_underminingŠ¹ piece (about to go under due to
>Turbulence.org¹s demise ;-( and in An AesthesiaŠ
>I was wondering if you would include Shu Lea Chang¹s ŒGarlic=Rich Air'
>'http://garlic02.worldofprojects.info/  on your list? This was an early
>attempt (2002) to create a kind of alt currency via planting, harvesting
>and then trading organic garlic for access to URLs, storage space and so
>on. I think it finished in about 2008 but that¹s not a bad lifecycle for
>either an art or trading project!
>Something I like about this project is that it so obviously pits
>different timescales against and across networks, trade and agriculture
>(as well as labour of course!). It enacts something that Nick was getting
>at in his post about the problem of relationalities at incompossible (as
>Tim would say) scalesŠ.and their (in)capacities to affect each other.
>.But I think that¹s also what you were perhaps dealing with in FLASHCRASH
>Šultimately, this problem of the relations of different speeds between
>network movement (and of the compounding logarithmic nature of this
>rather than simply being a question of relative speeds) and living labour
>is what I think net artists dealing with financialisation have most
>affectively/effectively exploredŠAnna
>Anna Munster
>Associate Professor,
>Faculty of Art and Design
>P.O Box 259
>NSW 2021
>a.munster at unsw.edu.au
>> On 16 Sep 2016, at 12:15 AM, ~rybn <info at rybn.org> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> dear Anna,
>> can also ping towards various other projects related to trading,
>>financial networks and so on,
>> some already were mentioned
>> the list isn't totally complete, and quite personal. divided in two
>> A. projects that implies a direct interaction with markets, trading,
>>manipulating money or architecture of finance, simulations of algorithms
>>or active algorithms.
>>     3 OTC (Société Réaliste, 2007)
>>     5 ADM8 (RYBN.ORG 2011)
>>     9 M&A (GOLDIN+SENNEBY, 2013)
>>     11 (W)ORLD CURRENCY (PAOLO CIRIO, 2014)
>>     12 EQUITY BOT (SCOTT KILDALL, 2014)
>>     14 Ami Clarke, Low Animal Spirits (2014)
>>     15 ADMXI (RYBN.ORG, 2015)
>> the latter contains trading algorithms prototypes from : Horia Cosmin
>>Samoila, b01, Marc Swynghedaw, Suzanne Treister, Brendan Howell, Nicolas
>>Montgermont, Antoine Schmitt
>> B. Other projects, implying only data viz and/or aesthetics
>>         1 Lynn Hershmann, Synthia (2000)
>>         2 Aernout Mik, Middlemen (2001)
>>         3 Joshua Portway & Lise Autogena, BLACK SHOALS STOCK MARKET
>>         4 Mathieu Bernard-Reymond, Monuments (2005)
>>         5 Mathieu Saladin, Stock Exchange Piece (2007)
>>         6 Michael Najjar, High Altitude (2008/2009)
>>         7 Samuel Bianchini, ALL OVER (2009)
>>         8 Genevieve Hoffman, Financial Landscapes (2012)
>>         9 Geraldine Juarez, WEALTH TRANSFER (2013)
>>         10 Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, Flashcrash Unlimited (2014)
>> and some online references on the topic
>> http://www.multimedialab.be/doc/images/index.php?album=argent
>> http://www.mon3y.us/
>> /
>> quite interested in the thread for completing our own data on the topic,
>> x
>> rybn
>> Le 15/09/2016 à 08:06, Nicholas Knouf a écrit :
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Hi Anna and Tim, and others on the list,
>>> Thanks for mentioning MAICgregator! And thanks again Anna for writing
>>>about it in your recent book. Indeed, MAICgregator is no longer
>>>actively updated, not because of some of the issues that Tim and Anna
>>>have raised, but rather for more mundane ones, namely the difficulties
>>>of keeping net.art active. MAICgregator functioned by screen-scraping
>>>websites (that is, using code to "read" and collect data from other
>>>institutions' websites), and to keep that code current would nearly be
>>>a full-time job. I kept up with it for a number of years, but once I
>>>finished my PhD I realized I simply did not have time to do this
>>>anymore. There is code deep in MAICgregator that was specific to the
>>>design and layout of tens of different websites, and keeping track of
>>>changes in each of those websites would itself be nearly a full-time
>>>job. There's the additional issue that browsers themselves, such as
>>>Firefox, are developing at such a rapid pace as to make it nearly
>>>impossible for a single developer to keep up. Further restrictions by
>>>browser manufacturers on what extensions (like MAICgregator) can do
>>>also makes the net.artist's life difficult. So it has to do with
>>>obsolescence and speed rather than the challenges of working with
>>>finance-as-topic within the art world.
>>> But there is a separate challenge for any artist---not just a
>>>net.artist---in working with financial data, and it is something I
>>>touch on a bit in my recent book _How Noise Matters to Finance_. There
>>>I write about the work of the French collective rybn and their
>>>FLASHCRASH SONIFICATION, which is one of the few pieces that I know of
>>>that directly addresses contemporary high-frequency trading. Their
>>>piece sonifies the activity of a number of stock exchanges on May 6,
>>>2010---the date of what is now called the "flash crash"---in order to
>>>provide an affective account of that day where the stock exchanges had
>>>tremendous swings both down _and_ up. While the blame for these swings
>>>cannot be placed squarely on the actions of high frequency trading
>>>programs, these algorithms did contribute to the volatility.
>>>Nevertheless, the piece enables one to experience the noisy activity of
>>>the markets through sound, attuning one to the activity of the machinic.
>>> But their piece is only made possible through the free release of a
>>>large amount of financial data from a company called Nanex, a firm that
>>>has been highly critical of the move towards high frequency trading.
>>>Access to financial data is big business, and without Nanex's release
>>>of this data rybn's project would not have been possible. Indeed, when
>>>I was looking at working with stock market data a number of years ago,
>>>I discovered that it would be financially infeasible. To get access to
>>>the amount of data I would need would cost me thousands of dollars a
>>>month in access fees, thousands of dollars a month for computing
>>>resources, and likely thousands of dollars a month to hire a
>>>specialized programmer. Needless to say I did not, and do not, have
>>>those kinds of resources. Older projects, like the famous _Black Shoals
>>>Stock Market Planetarium_, required agreements with major stock
>>>exchanges for access to their data feeds. It's an open question as to
>>>what sorts of things those exchanges would allow an artist to do with
>>>their data.
>>> I speak only for myself, but the challenges in working with financial
>>>data as an artist are thus not concerns or fear about the subject
>>>matter itself, but rather more mundane questions of access and
>>>resources. And I think it's in the more mundane issues that we find the
>>>crux of the matter, and the difficulty I personally have with making
>>>net.art (or computational art in general) today, and that is
>>>uninteresting complexity. Paradoxically, when we now have access to
>>>things like arduinos or easy-to-program-in environments like
>>>Processing, I find it more difficult to make work I find interesting,
>>>especially if it falls outside of the confines of what these
>>>environments provide for by default. Building a website that wants to
>>>do something other than what WordPress or tumblr allows now requires
>>>the use of HTML frameworks, Javascript, and a large amount of backend
>>>code. Keeping up with all of the changes in these libraries is itself a
>>>full-time job. (Something interesting to consider is whether or not the
>>>proliferation of internet art on platforms like tumblr or Instagram is
>>>due in part to the uninteresting complexity of building websites from
>>>scratch today.)  If I step away from my iOS code for a few months I
>>>find that most of it won't compile anymore, there are new APIs to use,
>>>and Apple has changed the process for uploading apps to the AppStore,
>>>yet again. While it was complex to write code a decade, two decades,
>>>three decades ago, I feel as if surmounting that complexity through a
>>>kind of understanding was possible. Today the parts are so integrated,
>>>so often changing, that it takes a team of people working full-time to
>>>understand the full stack. Perhaps that means the net.artist needs to
>>>collaborate more, to hire people who devote their entire time to
>>>keeping up with these changes. To me these constant changes are
>>>uninteresting complexity. I'd rather learn and work with other things,
>>>other complex systems, things that change at a time scale or rhythm
>>>more suited to my body and my way of knowing and being, instead of a
>>>temporality dictated by trends, capital, or CPUs. I'm working out what
>>>those things and systems are, for me personally, over the coming year.
>>> Best,
>>> Nick
>>> On 9/14/2016 11:43 PM, Anna Munster wrote:
>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> Yes MAICgregator is a great example of how the question of finance
>>>>totally subtends all kinds of relations across the net, especially
>>>>pedagogical/knowledge ones! I also think this work was way ahead of
>>>>the game in that it perhaps signalled how an activism might arise
>>>>around Œouting¹ all kinds of knowledge-based institutions¹
>>>>Œinvestments¹ in dirty monies. Recently this has upscaled to demands
>>>>that universities and colleges divest from dirty financial networks.
>>>> If Nick¹s around I¹d love to hear from him about where he¹s going
>>>>with the finance-knowledge-network relationship and why he deactivated
>>>>MAICgregatorŠis finance too touchy a subject for art?
>>>> cheers
>>>> Anna
>>>> Anna Munster
>>>> Associate Professor,
>>>> Faculty of Art and Design
>>>> UNSW
>>>> P.O Box 259
>>>> Paddington
>>>> NSW 2021
>>>> Australia
>>>> a.munster at unsw.edu.au
>>>> http://sensesofperception.info
>>>>> On 15 Sep 2016, at 7:52 AM, Timothy Conway Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu>
>>>>>  wrote:
>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>> Thanks so much for joining us, Anna, and for focusing our attention
>>>>>on net.art focusing on the finances of the web.  While not directly
>>>>>in with Heath Bunting's piece, which I'm very pleased to see
>>>>>recalled, you have me thinking fondly of Nick Knouf's MAICgregator (
>>>>> http://maicgregator.org
>>>>> ) that is a Firefox extension that aggregated information about the
>>>>>embeddedness of colleges and universities (I seem to recall that he
>>>>>focused on US institutions) in the military-academic-industrial
>>>>>contex. The software provided an overlay on university homepages of
>>>>>the data culled from government funding databases and news sources,
>>>>>etc., as well as information about university trustees.
>>>>> I recall Nick's being aggressed quite harshly by one of my
>>>>>colleagues for the "terrorism" of his project (whose aim was to
>>>>>reveal the disguistes of terrorism of a different sort).  I'm hoping
>>>>>that Nick will see this post and perhaps comment in more detail on
>>>>>this fascinating and innovative piece (which seems to be no longer
>>>>>active).   I seem to recall that Anna might have written something
>>>>>about this piece in her last book as well?
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Tim
>>>>> Timothy Murray
>>>>> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
>>>>> Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities
>>>>> http://www.arts.cornell.edu/sochum/
>>>>> Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
>>>>> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu
>>>>> A D White House
>>>>> Cornell University,
>>>>> Ithaca, New York 14853
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> empyre forum
>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> -- 
>>> Nicholas Knouf
>>> Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Studies Program
>>> Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481
>>> Office: Clapp 306 (2016­2017 academic year)   Office Phone:
>>>781.283.2105   Fax: 781.283.3647
>>> PGP: 0xAB50A0D9
>>> How Noise Matters to Finance available now!
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
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