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Category: Museums

Exhibition: the rotten machine aka the toothless old thing

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::all in a brian mackern’s laptop

works of:::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern

curator::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares

technical coordination:::::::àngela montesinos

and organization:::::::::::::meiac

texts of catalogue:::::::::::rodrigo alonso
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::andrés burbano
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::gabriel galli
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

edited by::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares


designer:::::::::::::::::::::fundc []



:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::from tuesdays until saturdays

gallery::::::::::::::::::::::3th floor
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::virgen de guadalupe, 7.

press contact::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::exhibition intro::::::::::::::::::::::

the rotten machine is a surprising exhibition that emanates from an old laptop from 1999, owned by the uruguayan netartist brian mackern, to recreate the time when had its peak brightness, and perhaps therefore, the rattle before the emergence of web 2.0 (known as social network).

brian mackern is a founding artist who was ahead of the time in the development of online and offline soundvisual interfaces. founder of online directories
[] and latin netart database
[] (currently owned by meiac).
his reference sites are, and

his computer, the rotten machine, it’s full and complete of all the data collected until the moment it was decided to be sold, on the 8th of may, 2004. it was the working tool (the studio, in classical terms) that accompanied brian mackern between 1999 and 2004, both in his personal work and in collaborative works with other artists and net jamms, apart from his work as a vj, conferences and workshops. in short, his tool.

a computer full of information and history, acquired by the meiac in order to expose it to posterity, when the development of hardware and software will prevent us from viewing many of the art pieces hosted on this computer.

the exhibition is divided into 5 audiovisual stations navigated by brian mackern himself.

1 – anthropological station: content and hardware components of the machine. sounds generated by its operation. references to files, etc.

2 – studio station: personal work (source files and visible works). The source code of his own work and at the same time the navigation of it.

3 – internet and networking station: content related to many of the projects and online/offline collaborative groups in which brian mackern has intervened.

4 – file, documentation and analysis station: random collection of information about and internet culture of that time.

5 – history station. history of remix of endless sites, in different states of preservation, many of them with retrofitted code to allow navigation within the machine without internet connection.


a: starting point for the auction of the “rotten machine”. peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

b: display of directories contained in the computer

c: hard disk of the rotten machine with the fingerprint of its owner,
brian mackern

d: some of the stickers on the computer

e: keys that are missing, the reason why this computer is also called
*the toothless old thing*

f: way in which *the rotten machine* was exposed for auction in peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

g: accompanying monster for the rotten machine during countless
tours, alongside with the backpack shown in the picture above

h: the rotten machine working, during the exhibition for its auction
at peam, pescara (italy), 2004


copyleft (todos os direitos ao reve’s) nilo casares

The Medium Was Tedium / Triple Canopy at the New Museum

The Medium Was Tedium
Panel discussion featuring Mel Bochner, Daniel Bozhkov, and Erin Shirreff
The New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, NY
Friday, February 19, 2010 – 7 pm
$6 New Museum members, $8 general public

Triple Canopy is an online magazine that explores how the Web informs the experience of reading literature and viewing artworks. The publication’s development has been inspired in part by a critical engagement with the legacy of Aspen magazine (1965-71). Artists and writers contributed projects to Aspen in the form of easily distributable media such as flip books, flexi-disc records, and paper sculpture. These projects coincided with a broader contemporaneous phenomenon: artworks intended to appear exclusively in magazines. The Medium Was Tedium examines how this move from the exhibition space to the printed page has been subsequently repeated by artists in relation to other media, such as television programming and the Internet. Triple Canopy’s editors will discuss practices that traverse mediums and the media with artists Mel Bochner, Daniel Bozhkov, and Erin Shirreff.

This event is presented as part of the New Silent series, organized by Lauren Cornell, director of Rhizome.

TEXT: Notes on March 2009 Visit to El Salvador, by Eduardo Navas

Front of Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador

Image source: Cultural Center of Spain

Cultural Center of Spain invited me to lecture in San Salvador, El Salvador from March 8 to the 13, 2009. During this period I also learned about the contemporary art scene as well as the art history of El Salvador.

I presented my research on Remix at the Cultural Center on March 10, and I lectured on art and new media in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of El Salvador (popularly known as La Nacional) on March 11. I met artists from different generations, some who are becoming more established, and some who are up and coming. I also visited the Museum of Art (Marte) which currently is exhibiting a thorough survey of Art in El Salvador since the 1800’s

The Cultural Center introduced me to young artists who work in diverse media, including installations, painting, performance, photography, video and web development. The work was extremely diverse, and well informed about international trends. I asked the artists about their training and they explained that it was very traditional. They also added that they are aware of contemporary art practice in large part thanks to the ongoing exposure that the Cultural Center of Spain offers by bringing artists, curators, and writers under the ongoing thematic of “Curating Latin America,” the same platform on which I was asked to participate. Artists have also developed collectives to support their particular interests. I was able to meet a couple of them. One is Artificio (Artifice), a group of young artists who came together with the goal to organize workshops and lectures that they themselves coordinate. The aim is to develop an informed opinion of what is taking place not only in the country but also in the international scene as well. Many of the members have participated in exhibitions throughout Central America. There appears to be a thriving exchange in this area, in particular between Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Four members of the collective Artificio about to eat pizza with loroco (a local Salvadoran flower) at a popular pizza restaurant in the downtown area of San Salvador.

Members of Articifio (as listed on their main website): Malcriada Victoria, Jaime Aguirre, Natalia Dominguez, Samadhi, Victor Rodriguez, Claudia Olmedo, Dalia Chevez

Another collective that I met is La Fábri-K (pronounced “la fabrica” meaning factory). The name comes from their studio space, a former factory located on the outside of the capital in which electric batteries were assembled. This group is open to artists of any generation, but for the most part its members are of an older generation and more established, some enjoy international attention. Many of them lived or were affected by the twelve year civil war which took place between 1980 and 1992. Their work is informed by some of these issues as well as the current politics, and gang violence. Other members have focused on representational or abstract work that at first glance might appear to reference previous movements in the international scene, but with an open mind one realizes that the works are reactions to local preoccupations. All subjects are tactfully approached with a well calculated critical distance and a strong awareness of historical precedents. Like members of Artificio, these artists have come together to support their diverse practices. Many of them paint, but their approaches and sensibilities offer a dynamic contrast of media from printmaking to installation work as well as online projects.

Two members of La Fábri-k, Baltasar Portillo and Mayra Barraza, at their spacious studio.

Members of La Fábri-k (as listed on their website): Luis Lazo, Romeo Galdámez, Mayra Barraza, Francisco Zayas, Baltasar Portillo, Amber Rose, Giovanni Gil, Fredis Monge, Jenny McGee

Experimental Space La Fabri-k
Experimental installation space at La Fábri-k. The collective plans to establish an artist in residence program in the near future.

I was also gracefully hosted by the director of the Museum of Art (Marte), Roberto Galicia, who gave me a tour of the current art exhibition titled “re-visiones: encuentros con el arte salvadoreño” (Re-visions: Encounters with the Art of El Salvador). The exhibition includes selected works from artists since the 1800’s. To expose the complexity of migration and immigration in the country and conventional notions of nationality, the curator, Jorge Palomo, opted to include work by artists who are of Salvadoran nationality who live or lived abroad as well as artists of different nationalities who opted to take long term residence in El Salvador. This curatorial decision exposes the complexities of the cultural shifts of El Salvador over two hundred years. The catalogue promises to be a valuable contribution to the understanding of the art of El Salvador. It is well researched, and offers a number of eloquent essays which reflect on the multi-cultural layers of El Salvador in relation to the art movements throughout Latin America.

Monument revolution
Monument to the Revolution (1948-56) by Violeta Bonilla (1924-1999) and Claudio Cevallos (information unavailable). Monument is next to the Museum of Art (Marte).

Museum of Art (Marte):

I was also able to meet other artists who work independently, they include Boris Ciudad Real, German Hernández, Alexia Miranda , Antonio Romero, and Danny Zavaleta. I also had the pleasure to meet Maira Maroquin, director of, an online resource devoted to art, media and communication.

Finally, I visited other cultural centers, including the archeological site Joya del Cerén, which is a unique place where we can learn how Mayan farmers lived. The site was covered with volcano ash and debris during an eruption of the Laguna Caldera Volcano c. AD 600. The site was discovered in 1976 and was opened to the public in 1993 according to the information provided by my guide.

My brief visit to El Salvador gave me energy to look forward to the future of art practice not only in the Americas, but around the world. The current state of production in El Salvador is ripe for more international attention. With the efforts by institutions like the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador in collaboration with the Museum of Art, great opportunities already begin to appear for local artists to become more established internationally. I’m glad to have been invited to experience this ongoing process, which will hopefully be written about by previous and future visitors invested in art and culture.

My many thanks to the Director of Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador , Juan Sanchez, and Assistant Director, Mónica Mejía for making my visit possible.

[NEW MUSEUM] Night School Public Seminar 11, Raqs Media Collective: The Pupil Dilates in Darkness

Thursday, January 15, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 16, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 17, 3:00 p.m.

New Museum

235 Bowery
New York,
NY 10002


The Pupil Dilates in Darkness
Raqs Media Collective at Night School in the New Museum

Eyes hunger for light in the darkness, but make do with morsels. The night is a time of alterity and an arena for the unfolding of the things that can happen after the day’s work is done. It brings blurs in its wake, lengthens shadows, thickens the illegibility of the world. Circadian rhythms trick the brain to take odd turns. Grey matter comes alive; dreams, desires and the body’s fatigue conspire to create new worlds, and recycle a few old ones. The night is the time for the telling of stories, the playground of doubts and fears, a gymnasium for incomniacs and a school for auto-didacts. What can pupils learn while they dilate at night? What does it mean to be ‘an artist by night’?

Raqs Media Collective trawls through their reading, archive of notes, art work and extended conversations with friends and allies to ask a few questions about blurs, shadows, illegibility and the darkness of neural processes to tell a few stories about darkness, power cuts and nested dreams.

Program Schedule:

Thursday, January 15, 7:00 PM
An Illegible Signature: Featuring a Raqs lecture-performance on the question of legibility, stammering and shadows, based on the recent rext by Raqs for the first issue of the e-flux journal:

Friday, January 16, 7:00 PM
The Watches of the Night’ Raqs weaves considerations on time, visibility and what can be learnt from darkness into a presentation with stories, film fragments, dreams and textual marginalia.

Saturday, January 17, 3:00 PM
The Darkness of Grey Matter’: a conversation on darkness and grey matter, neural conundrums, forensic dilemmas and the wiring of the imagination between Raqs, and Dr. Arani Bose, neurosurgeon, and Dr. Steven Pacia, neurologist.

Night School is an artist’s project by Anton Vidokle in the form of a temporary school. A yearlong program of monthly seminars and workshops, Night School draws upon a group of local and international artists, writers, and theorists to conceptualize and conduct the program.

Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992 by Jeebesh Bagchi (b. 1965, Delhi), Monica Narula (b. 1969, Delhi), and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968, Delhi). The Raqs Collective is based in Delhi at Sarai, a program of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, an initiative they co-founded in 2000.

Their work takes the form of installations, video, photography, image-text collages, on- and off-line media objects, performances, and encounters. They cross contemporary art practice with historical and philosophical speculation, research and theory.

The Raqs Collective has been exhibited widely in major international spaces and events including Documenta 11 (2002), the Venice Biennale (2003, 2005), the Guangzhou Triennial (2005), the Sydney Biennial (2006), and the Istanbul Biennial (2007), among others. Their writings have also been published extensively. They curated “The Rest of Now” in Bolzano/Bozen and co-curated “Scenarios” at Fortezza/ Franzensfeste for Manifesta 7 in South Tyrol, Italy.

Raqs is currently showing at “Chalo! India” (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo) and “Indian Highway” (Serpentine Gallery, London), a segment of which they guest-curated.

All events are free with Museum admission but tickets are required. Tickets can be reserved online or at the Museum one week before the seminar’s start; a limited number of tickets will be available one hour before each event’s start. Tickets are limited, distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis, and must be collected prior to the event’s start time. Unclaimed tickets will be released promptly at the event’s start time. Please check individual events below for tickets and more information.

For tickets see

Museum as Hub is made possible by the Third Millennium Foundation.

With additional generous support from the Metlife Foundation. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum. Generous support also provided by the Charlotte and Bill Ford Artist Talks Fund.

FORMS OF INQUIRY: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design

Iaspis: The Arts Grants Committee’s international program for visual artists

Maria Skolgata 83
118 20 Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0)8 – 50 65 50 00

Exhibition 14 November – 14 December 2008, opening 14 November 4 – 8pm
FORMS OF INQUIRY: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design

presents architecture as seen through the practice of graphic design. The exhibition brings together new works by a range of international graphic designers who base their work in critical investigation: Metahaven, Kasia Korczak, Karel Martens & David Bennewith, Jürg Lehni, Julia Born & Alexandra Bachzetsis, Jonathan Maghen, John Morgan, Manuel Raeder, James Goggin, Hudson-Powell, Experimental Jetset, Åbäke, Dexter Sinister, Will Holder, deValence, TASK: Emmet Byrne, Alex DeArmond & Jon Sueda, Sara De Bondt, Radim Pesko, Project Projects, Paul Elliman, Michael Worthington, Mevis en Van Deursen

Seminar: 6 December 2008
a set of lectures and conversations on modes of design and critical practice: Emily King, James Goggin, Mevis en Van Deursen; Mia Frostner, Robert Sollis, Paul Tisdell, Rasmus Troelsen (Europa), Nille Svensson (Sweden), Zak Kyes, Martin Frostner, Jonas Wiliamsson (Reala) and others. Free entrance, limited availability,

Iaspis Forum on Design and Critical Practice is produced by Iaspis, Project Manager Magnus Ericson, in collaboration with the Architectural Association, Zak Kyes, curator of Forms of Inquiry and the Swedish graphic designers Martin Frostner and Jonas Williamsson.

Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design originated at the Architectural Association, in 2007. An original accompanying publication (AA Publications, 2007) was co-edited by Zak Kyes and Mark Owens. The exhibition was curated by Zak Kyes.

What happens when we look at design as not just a service-based client/designer relationship? What kind of new strategies and models help to question and challenge the limits of design? What happens when the fields of art and design overlap?

Iaspis Forum on Design and Critical Practice comprises an exhibition, a seminar and a publication on investigative, speculative and critical design practice. Iaspis forum is an offshoot of the exhibition Forms of Inquiry: the Architecture of Critical Graphic Design that revolves around critical graphic design and the relationship between graphic design and architecture. With the seminar and the publication, Iaspis aims to further discuss these issues in relation to the exhibition. The intention is to contribute to an overall discussion about the changing landscape of design and the relationship between design, architecture and art and the issue of how knowledge and experience within these disciplines can inform each other.

The exhibition Forms of Inquiry presents examples of contemporary graphic design that attempt to reframe the circumstances surrounding contemporary graphic practice. In doing so it brings together some of the most important critical voices in graphic design to make investigative “inquiries” into architecture-related contexts. The exhibition is an example of the benefits of juxtaposing two parallel disciplines in discussing creative practice.

The seminar aims to further discuss modes of design as a critical practice. Through an open format and series of lectures and conversations Iaspis will bring together the designers presented in Forms of Inquiry as well as curators, critics and practitioners from the fields of art and design.

The reader is an extended version of the seminar, providing possibilities of an in-depth discussion on different levels. It is based on four conversations between participants in Forms of Inquiry and Swedish graphic designers on different aspects of their practice. The publication also includes related essays and interviews that engage to these border-transgressing practices. The reader will be co-published in 2009 by Iaspis and Sternberg Press.The reader is edited by Magnus Ericson, Zak Kyes, Martin Frostner and Jonas Williamsson. Contributors are among others: Experimental Jetset, Nille Svensson (Sweden), Will Holder, Samuel Nyholm, Åbäke, HC Ericson, James Goggin, Europa, Emily Pethick, Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven), Emily King. To be published by Iaspis and Sternberg Press in 2009.

The Arts Grants Committee’s international program for visual artists

Maria Skolgata 83
118 20 Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0)8 – 50 65 50 00

Streaming Museum opens “Artists and Innovators for the Environment”

Streaming Museum’s exhibition “ARTISTS AND INNOVATORS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT” part one, will be on view October 3 to December 3 in cyberspace and public spaces on 7 continents. Streaming Museum, TED Prize and Urban Screens Melbourne 08 will collaborate in a global launch from Time Warner Center, New York City, on Friday, October 3 at 8 PM

Streaming Museum is a new hybrid Museum that presents real-time exhibitions in cyberspace and public space on seven continents. The Museum opened on January 29, 2008 and is produced in New York City in collaboration with international artists, curators, and cultural institutions. Exhibitions are viewed in cyberspace at and Ars Virtua New Media Center in Second Life, and public locations around the world according to schedules listed on the website.

“Artists and Innovators for the Environment” is part one of a three-part exhibition series featuring international visionary creators – Buckminster Fuller, design scientist; James Nachtwey, photographer; John Cage, Gustavo Santaolalla, Huang Ruo, Jacob ter Veldhuis, and Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta, composers; Agnes Denes and Anni Rapinoja environmental artists, Brian Mackern new media artist, Cedar Lake Dance, the Nunatak band of the British Antarctic base, as well as innovative designs for environmental sustainability by Chuck Hoberman and others.

For information contact:
Nina Colosi, Founder/Creative Director, Streaming Museum

BumpList: Back Online

As of October 1st, 2008, “BumpList: An Email Community For the Determined”, is back up and running after a 4 year hiatus from the Internet!

We are very excited to be launching the project again as BumpList is part of a large show opening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) called “The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now” (running November 8, 2008, through February 8, 2009) which will showcase a wide range of contemporary artists that integrate forms of participation into their practice. The press release on this show is here:

So BumpList is back and please subscribe to it and see how determined
you can be!

You can subscribe from the same URL:

TEXT: Thinking Global, by Ed Halter

Image: U.S. Pavilion Montreal Expo 67, Buckminster Fuller, 1967 (Image courtesy the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller)

This text is republished in collaboration with It was released in Rhizome Digest on July/23/08 and appears here as it was originally posted.

In the late 1960s, when the merger of art and technology became a touchstone for both countercultural mind-liberation and New Frontier futurism, Buckminster Fuller served as a central, if gnomic, philosopher of the moment. The first issue of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog in 1968 features a semi-mystical autobiographical fragment by Fuller and his poem-cum-manifesto “God is a Verb”; Gene Youngblood’s seminal 1970 study Expanded Cinema includes a lengthy introduction by Fuller, in which he praises the “forward, omni-humanity educating function of man’s total communication system”; and the premier issue of early video art’s central journal Radical Software published a “pirated transcription” of an interview videotaped by the Raindance Corporation. “We hear people talk about technology as something very threatening,” Fuller says in the stream-of-language transcript, “but we are technology, the universe is technology…it’s simply a matter of understanding these things.” Fuller’s own book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth became an underground best-seller after its publication in 1969. Multimedia collectives like USCO and Ant Farm cited “Bucky” as inspiration; members of the latter group even went so far as to abduct Fuller when he came to speak at the University of Houston, picking him up from the airport under false pretense and taking him instead to see a touring MoMA exhibit entitled The Machine at the End of the Mechanical Age.

This summer, the Whitney mounted a major exhibit on Fuller’s life and work, Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe, on view through September. The show features a variety of Fulleriana, arranged in chronological order, allowing for a roughly biographic experience: sketches, architectural models, concept designs, numerous looped clips from the 1971 documentary The World of Buckminster Fuller, maps and diagrams, original publications, and a 12 foot high cardboard geodesic dome built for the exhibit. Though largely a show about architecture, Starting With the Universe presents Fuller as a revolutionary and visionary thinker who worked, as he put it, “comprehensively,” across disciplines, and a forerunner of 21st century environmental design and networked culture.

It took Fuller many decades to achieve the iconic status he enjoyed in the 1960s. The son of a prominent intellectual New England family (his aunt was Margaret Fuller, the Transcendentalist and pioneering woman journalist), Fuller attended Harvard, dropped out twice, then entered the Navy and served during World War I. After the war, following a failed business enterprise, he claimed to have had a quasi-religious experience while on the brink of suicide. “Apparently addressing myself, I said, ‘You do not have the right to eliminate yourself, you do not belong to you. You belong to the universe,” Fuller wrote years later in the Whole Earth Catalog. “You are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all your experience to highest advantage of others.”

On display at the Whitney are a generous sampling of Fuller’s ambitious humanity-enhancing projects of the 20s and 30s, none of which advanced beyond prototypes. Included is an original, cartoonish sketch from 1927 of the world, which he called “One Ocean World Town,” expressing a core Fullerian notion of global interconnectedness inspired by the rise of intercontinental air flight. This became the setting for a 1929 drawing of skyscraper-like structures he called “Lightful Towers” — all-in-one multi-family dwellings that could be planted in the ground like trees, and delivered to sites by zeppelin. These evolved into a single-family dwelling dubbed the 4D House, a hexagonal one-floor structure hung from one central pole containing minimal-waste plumbing, electricity and air conditioning; meant to be constructed cheaply, they were also designed to be easily deconstructable and therefore as portable as a large piece of furniture.

A scale model of Fuller’s 4D House was presented to the public at a surprising location: the Interior Decorating department of Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago, timed to promote a new line of modern furniture. The store’s publicity agent renamed the structure the Dymaxion House (a portmanteau of “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “ion”), a term that Fuller later trademarked and used on a variety of concepts. The Whitney show includes a video clip of outtakes from a 1929 Fox Movietone newsreel of a young Fuller explaining his Dymaxion House model. Shot when the technology of sound movies was still new, Fuller is unusually awkward, evincing none of the smooth charisma that would entrance later generations, speaking stiffly with an old New England uppah-clahss accent. Fiddling with his collapsible scale mock-up, he explains that its odd circus-tent shape “is not an aesthetic choice of my own.” Rather, he continues, its shape is due to the fact that “we are living in a spherical universe.” For Fuller, the structure’s true beauty lay not in its visual form but rather in its denial of conventional ornament and design in favor of structural integrity and efficiency. To follow the deep mathematical patterns of nature, in Fuller’s view, was a means to be in sync with the Universe.
Buckminster Fuller, Dymaxion House and photograph from the Collections of The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI. 1934 Dymaxion “2” 4D Transport courtesy of the National Automobile Museum (the Harrah Collection), Reno, NV.

A similar concept lies behind the design of the Dymaxion car, a three-wheeled, backwards-teardrop-shaped vehicle created by Fuller in the 1930s as an improvement on the typical automobile. Inspired by the hardnosed engineering of aircraft design, Fuller worked with friend and sculptor Isamu Noguchi to create aerodynamic wind-tunnel models allowing for minimum air resistance and maximum fuel efficiency — a radical notion in the days when a car looked more like a block than a wedge. Images of Noguchi’s gypsum miniatures are on display at the Whitney alongside the last remaining full-scale prototype of the Dymaxion Car, sans interior. Later models, Fuller hoped, would have inflatable wings and be able to take flight.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Fuller proposed a number of Dymaxion-style houses, convinced that more efficient means of everyday living was the key to global resource problems. The Dymaxion Deployment Unit converted unused grain shelters into roundhouse-style homes. Though never used as residences, the design was taken up by the US military, who then deployed Fuller’s quickly-built structures during World War II to remote locations in the Pacific and Middle East. After the Allied victory, Fuller devised a means to use surplus wartime materials with the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine, nicknamed the Wichita House, an aluminum dwelling made entirely from aircraft construction machinery and parts. A reconstructed scale model of the Wichita House shows twelve identical, flattened metal domes equally spaced around a cul-de-sac, glowing with rings of circular windows, resembling an eerie conflation of Atomic-era suburbia and The Day the Earth Stool Still. Such a stark, factory-floor style may not have thrilled recent veterans, tired of living for years in anonymous, utilitarian barracks.

In 1948, Fuller began teaching at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, an avant-garde refuge where he worked alongside Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Willem de Kooning. While at Black Mountain, Fuller developed sculptural models of his theory of “tensegrity”, or the productive tensions available within the form of a single object. With his students, he constructed his first geodesic dome. Created to allow for maximum volume and strength from minimum materials, the geodesic dome held its shape solely from its framework of interlocking triangular beams, without need for other reinforcements. It quickly became his most successful design. In the early 1950s, Fuller implemented his first practical application of the dome for the roof of a Ford Motor Company building in Michigan. Soon after, the military began using small geodesics as emergency shelter in remote locales, and the government started a long career of erecting Fuller domes at international exhibits as symbols of American ingenuity and technological prowess: first at a global trade fair in Kabul, Afghanistan, and later at the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. That same year, Fuller was hailed as design innovator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which mounted an exhibit entitled Three Structures by Buckminster Fuller in its sculpture garden, including a plastic geodesic dome, an aluminum tensegrity tower, and a horizontal frame built with the “octet truss,” a form based on interconnected tetrahedrons, a shape Fuller lauded as the simplest structural unit found in nature.

By the 1960s, as Fuller entered his 70s, he transformed into full-blown guru-intellectual — a role uniquely possible in the age of Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan — jetting around the globe to give legendarily marathon lectures to thousands. Tirelessly arguing for the power of technology to improve the future of humanity, at a time when many opposed both the “dehumanizing” computerization of society and the high-tech war in Vietnam, Fuller became paradoxically both an advocate for American technocracy and an inspiration to countercultural radicals. Even before Fuller’s famous 200-foot tall dome was erected at the American Pavillion of the 1967 Expo in Montreal, where it would house monumental paintings by the likes of Andy Warhol and Barnett Newman, a ramshackle cluster of utopian hippies called Drop City had already constructed their own village of Fuller-inspired domes in a rural backwater of Colorado. As chronicled in Felicity D. Scott’s recent study Architecture or Techno-Utopia, “droppers” saw in Fuller’s dome an externalized manifestation of a new consciousness. “With few resources but idealism and the conviction that they were ‘total revolutionaries,'” Scott writes, “the droppers believed they were ‘rebuilding the world’ as an open, communal society one dome at a time,” using the blueprints that Uncle Bucky had bequeathed them.

Though the Whitney’s exhibit alludes only obliquely to the existence of droppers and their ilk, Fuller himself had his own grandiose ideas for reshaping society, represented here in a series of concept illustrations of fantastic megastructures. He envisioned midtown Manhattan ensconced in a mile-high, temperature-controlled dome. Even more trippy were his visions of gigantic “Tetrahedron Cities” housing a million residents each, sitting on the outskirts of Tokyo (and rhyming the peak of Mt. Fuji) or floating off the coast of San Francisco. He also imagined large-scale systems for visualizing global resource problems. One plan was “Minni Earth,” a giant scale-model planet floating in the East River next to the UN building, dotted with lights representing population growth, food shortages, and other pressing data. He devised a triangle-based Dymaxion Map that represented the continents with less distortion than the standard Mercator projection, and had the added bonus of picturing the inhabited continents as one near-contiguous land mass: a “one-world-island in a one-world-ocean,” as he put it. Fuller used giant floor-sized versions of this map to play something he called The World Game — a peaceful version of military war games in which players must figure out how to cooperate to share the world’s limited resources. The World Game, Fuller thought, might someday become the entire curriculum of the university.
Minni Earth Location at U.N. Building, N.Y., 1956 (drawing by Winslow Wedin), Ink and graphite on tracing paper mounted on board 15 x 20 in. (38.1 x 50.8 cm), Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries (Photograph by Ben Blackwell)

So if Fuller saw himself as the educator of the future, what should we hope to learn from him now? Why celebrate him in 2008, a quarter century after his death? Solidly embracing the great-man biography model, Starting with the Universe is resolutely invested in establishing Fuller’s significance. In its zeal, the exhibit isolates Bucky as a wholly unique figure at the expense of granting historical context to his inventions and ideas. Casual museum-goers might never consider that schemes for achieving far-reaching social betterment were far from uncommon in 20th century architecture, from Le Corbusier to Neutra and beyond, or that Fuller was not alone in drafting freaky fantasy plans like cloud-cities and underwater homes; contemporary firms like the British Archigram and the Italian Superstudio served up even more far-out dreamscapes (though the show’s catalog does a more comprehensive job of situating Fuller within a larger history). Nor does the exhibit dwell much on the fact that Fuller, like Edison, was as much a myth-maker as he was an inventor: two of his central ideas, the geodesic dome and tensegrity, were actually invented by others before him, and his oft-cited moment of suicidal epiphany that he claims kick-started his career may be nothing but well-crafted fiction.

Nevertheless, the exhibit is utterly convincing in testifying to Fuller’s inspirational potential. Many reports on the show have cited Fuller’s prescience as a prophet of ecological sustainability, but the issue of the environment was only one factor in his truly global attempts at problem-solving — and, in fact, Fuller was no tree-hugger; he always weighed humanity’s own needs as highest priority.

More broadly, at a time when many artists and intellectuals have consigned their work to the comfortable margins, valorizing tactical interventions, small-scale craft and near-mute lessness, the epic scope of Fuller’s vision reminds us that it need not be this way. When massive problems loom, why not think big?

Ed Halter is a critic and curator living in New York City. His writing has appeared in Arthur, The Believer, Cinema Scope, Kunstforum, Millennium Film Journal, the Village Voice and elsewhere. From 1995 to 2005, he programmed and oversaw the New York Underground Film Festival, and has organized screenings and exhibitions for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Cinematexas, Eyebeam, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Museum of Modern Art, and San Francisco Cinematheque. He currently teaches in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College, and has lectured at Harvard, NYU, Yale, and other schools as well as at Art in General, Aurora Picture Show, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the Images Festival, the Impakt Festival, and Pacific Film Archive. His book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games was published by Thunder’s Mouth Press in 2006. With Andrea Grover, he is currently editing the collection Small Cinemas: American Avant-Garde Film Exhibition from Ciné Clubs to Microcinemas. He is a founder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York.


Netherlands Media Art Institute


Editor: Gaby Wijers

International symposium
(New) Media Art in Museums: production – keeping – presentation
Rijeka 15 – 17 October 2008
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka organizes the international symposium (New) Media Art in Museums that will be held 15 – 17 October 2008 at the City Hall in Rijeka.
The aim of the international symposium (New)Media Art in Museums is to consider status of (new)media art in museum collections, conditions of keeping, protection, modes of exhibiting and all the changes that (new)media art introduces into the everyday practice of contemporary museums.
more information

Media Art in North Rhine-Westphalia: Collections, Conservation, Presentation
Düsseldorf 23 October, 2008
Imai – inter media art institute – in Düsseldorf organizes a conference about the conservation and ‘restage’ of media-based installations in cooperation with the Land Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Städtetag Nordrhein-Westfalen.,en/

DOCAM’s fourth International Summit and symposium
Montreal 29 – 31 October 2008
This year, DOCAM’s fourth International Summit will be held on October 30 and 31, at McGill University. During the two days of this public conference taking place at the Tanna Schulich Hall of the New Music Building, audience members will have the opportunity to learn about the progress of DOCAM’s research and to meet distinguished speakers among whom will be renowned Spanish artist Antoni Muntadas. For the first time, the Summit will be preceded by DOCAM’s Media in Motion Symposium, which will be held on October 29.

Permanence in Contemporary Art – Checking Reality’
Copenhagen 3 – 4 November 2008
A seminar to be held the 3rd and 4th of November 2008, arranged by the Conservation Department at Statens Museum for Kunst in collaboration with The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark
Statens Museum for Kunst and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts, will be the organisers of this international seminar addressing various critical issues surrounding the preservation and exhibition of contemporary artworks. The seminar, which will encourage interdisciplinary exchange between museum professionals including conservators, art historians, artists and others.

Media Matters launches phase 2
A consortium of curators, conservators, registrars, legal advisors, and media technical managers from New Art Trust, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and Tate has launched the second phase of Media Matters, an innovative website designed to provide international guidelines for the care of time-based media works of art (e.g. video, slide, film, audio, and computer-based installations).

TAPE project finalized, EPCA closed
The European Commission on Preservation and Access was established in 1994 to promote the preservation of the documentary heritage in Europe. This year, with the finalisation op the TAPE project, the ECPA will bring its work to a close. The website will remain for a wile, the mailinglists are closed in July.

Study day
Saving electronic and digital media
A study day for artists and others, Antwerp October 28 2008
Organized by Packed

Netherlands Media Art Institute
Keizersgracht 264
1016 EV Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Exhibition NIMk: Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard

Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard
August 30 – November 2, 2008
opening August 29, 5:00 p.m.

Guy Bar Amotz, Bunny Rabbit & Black Cracker, Nathalie Bruys, Heidi Happy, Kim Hiorthøy, Christine Ödlund, Jonas Ohlsson, planningtorock, Jan Rohlf, Lina Selander, Annika Ström, Venour and video clips for Björk, the Knife and CocoRosie

Nathalie Bruys is an audio artist and co-curator of ‘Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard’. Her own way of working forms the heart of the exhibition. Bruys is interested in a multidisciplinary art practice. In addition to the fascination with sound and music, the artists Bruys has brought together for this show also share this wide-branching interest.

‘Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard’ shows a personal selection by Bruys from very diverse approaches and art forms that make use of sound and music. The works have been created by young artists with highly varied backgrounds. What they have in common is a sincere love of music, audio and art within their multifaceted artistic universe.

‘Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard’ presents forms of ‘audio art’ that appeal to the imagination, including speaker sculptures by Guy Bar Amotz and drawings by Jonas Ohlsson, Kim Hiorthøy, Nathalie Bruys and Jan Rohlf in which sound plays a role. Annika Ström shows her video ‘The Missed Concert’ and a text work. As well as looking at the drawings mentioned above, visitors to the gallery can also listen to a cd with music by Ohlsson, Hiorthøy, Ström and Bruys. Listening posts have been designed for hearing the cd. ‘Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard’ brings the visual and musical work that these artists produce together in one exhibition.

In addition there are works to be seen by musicians/artists who are better known for their musical creations than for their visual work. For instance, Planningtorock made a video installation for this exhibition with props that appear in her videos and video clips. Further there is a 3D video clip made for Björk by Encyclopedia Pictura exhibited in the form of an installation, and in the video lounge on the ground floor there are a number of video clips to be seen, for the Knife, CocoRosie, Bunny Rabbit & Black Cracker, and ‘du da, ich da’ by Heidi Happy, which was her graduation project at the Rietveld Academy in 2008. Here there is no distinction made between musician and visual artist or between visual artist and filmmaker. A number of those who made the videos also themselves made the music in them.

Nathalie Bruys draws her inspiration from the forms of sonic art and music mentioned here, and also shows her own personal multi-disciplinary practice in this exhibition. In addition to a new installation, drawings and a cd, she presents the web project ‘Soundmuseum’ which she initiated together with Katja van Stiphout. For this exhibition the ‘Soundmuseum’ has been incorporated in an audio installation, and officially goes ‘on air’ on September 14 in the Netherlands Media Art Institute. The ‘Soundmuseum’ collects online audio exhibitions and compiles and archives the sounds of sonic artists.

During the Uitmarkt on August 29, 30 and 31 performances by a number of artists from the exhibition will take place on the Stubnitz boat moored on the head of Java Island. On Friday Kim Hiorthøy appears, and Jonas Ohlsson performs live together with Daniela Bershan; between performances they will be at the turntable with records. Saturday Nathalie Bruys does her thing and Planningtorock closes off the evening with a performance. More info on

Opening hours Tuesday – Saturday and first Sunday of the month from 1: 00 – 6:00 pm
Extra open on Sunday August 30 and September 14
Entrance 2,50 (1,50 with discount).

Netherlands Media Art Institute
Keizersgracht 264
1016 EV Amsterdams
The Netherlands