Had a great email exchange with Brian Sherwin of over the last few days, which culminated as an interview published on the myartspace blog. There’re bits on my work,  dissertation, inspirations, even a question on Creative Commons and a few other little tidbits not published anywhere else to date. Check it out.

snip / teaser:

Art Space Talk: Nathaniel Stern

“… Brian Sherwin []: Nathaniel, I’ve read that you are inspired by the Interactive art of David Rokeby and Myron Kruger. Can you tell us about these influences? What else inspires you?

NS: I believe Kruger’s core contribution to understanding interactivity was a concentration on action rather than perception – ’seeing’ in particular. He had little concern for illusion-based and simulated VR that replicated reality, and was more interested in stimulation – with a ‘t’ – and how people moved / getting them to move. I think Rokeby is brilliant in many ways, and his work, Very Nervous System (1986-1990), was one of the first and most important pieces to accomplish an affective intervention in embodiment through this kind of inter-activity. But what inspires me most about him is his contrariness. He almost always tries ’something else,’ never really accepting the limits or taken for granted in any given medium.

The Odys Series: The Storyteller, archival print on watercolor paper, 1189 x 841, edition 3, 2004
(screenshot from video)

My other influences are fairly idiosyncratic: from Hiroshige, the Impressionists and Homer’s epic tales to Liam Gillick or Camille Utterback and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. I often turn to contemporary fiction, theory and philosophy in my thinking and making. I should also say that my wife, Nicole Ridgway, is the most wonderful muse and crit I’ve ever met: my biggest fan and supporter precisely because she is also my harshest critic before a work is done….”

read more (2500 word interview)

friend of the summit

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge supporter of Creative Commons (CC), and more specifically iCommons. The former is an organization dedicated to open source coding and content for creative technologists, designers, artists, musicians, scientists (and more!), and promotes access and re-mixing through distribution licenses that are alternatives to copyright worldwide. The latter (iCommons) is an international community of the same types, all of whom may use or promote CC, copyfight, pirated content/material for activism and/or art, remixing and reusing legally and illegally, or anything around “the commons” of content and community; this is mostly manifested as a yearly summit of amazing individuals talking about and furthering the state of the (communal) arts (and the community itself).

In 2006 and 2007, I participated as an artist in resident (AIR) for iCommons (in Brazil and Croatia, respectively), and in the latter year I ran a larger AIR programme, where there were 6 interdisciplinary artists (and one arts critic!) from 4 continents. Although I’m sitting out this year (Sapporo!), I’m still a friend, as evidenced by the logo/link below and in my sidebar.

I highly recommend checking it out and getting involved – my life, art, networks and activist tendencies are better having been involved, and I’m sure to be participating again in the future.

Joy Garnett, New Paintings. Winkleman Gallery, Feb 15-Mar 15

A fantastic artist and friend, with a real sense of community, someone who knows her way around – and helps to drive art on – the internet as well as the studio (not to mention kitchen: Joy and I were on residence in Croatia together for iCommons last year, and she made some fantastic meals), Joy Garnett has her first solo exhibition with Ed Winkleman gallery next week. Wish I could be there, Joy – good luck, the work looks great!


January 25, 2008

Joy Garnett
New Paintings

February 15 – March 15, 2008
Opening: Thursday, February 21, 6-8 pm
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 6 pm

Winkleman Gallery
637 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by New York artist Joy Garnett. In four large canvases Garnett continues her groundbreaking exploration of the malleability of instantly globalized images and how they have begun to replace written language as the markers of mankind’s collective memory or consciousness.

Unlike her last three New York exhibitions, which centered on specific themes of conflict or violence, this grouping is united only by the loose suggestion of images possibly taken at precisely the same moment in very different locations around the world. Garnett circles the planet to underscore perhaps the unstoppable imperative of this new lingua franca. The images Garnett paints are culled from digital mass media outlets and then archived for sometimes months at a time, permitting their context to evaporate. Returning to the image with a fuzzy at best memory of what it reportedly documented, Garnett’s process highlights the role misremembering plays in this new dubious “reality.”

The optimistic rising sun in Morning in China references the economic ascent of the Asian giant, even as its smoggy landscape hints at the potential environmental disaster such rapid expanse can bring. The explosion and chaos suggested in the bright daylight of Noon points to the inescapably volatile nature that defines the seemingly ubiquitous power grabs taking place around the globe or simply the natural consequences of so much movement all at once. The South American seascape at moonlit dusk seen in Harbor (2) belies a calm similar to the Chinese morning, even as the blood red reflections hint at something sinister. And the overwhelmingly dark and massive destruction conveyed in the rubble of the World Trade Center in Night reminds us that there remains the potential for as-yet unimaginable nightmares. The first painting Garnett has been able to paint of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks (despite it being the single most photographed event in human history), Night is a tour-de-force of expressionistic recollection visited upon its ubiquitous source image. It is also the only incident that’s clearly identifiable among the exhibition’s paintings, but as the event that only served to speed up an already insanely speedy world it has already taken on legendary status and become the central catalyst of the enhanced and panicked race to globalize.

Joy Garnett received her MFA from The City College of New York and studied painting at L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Her notable exhibitions include, Strange Weather at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC; Image War, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art (2006); When Artists Say We, Artists Space (2006); Visionary Anatomies, Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition (2004-2007); and Without Fear or Reproach, De Witte Zaal, Ghent, Belgium (2003).

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or

iCommons benefit auction

The iCommons Auction: Unique Internet Artifacts

iCommons, the global non-profit incubated by Creative Commons, and based in Johannesburg, South Africa is auctioning off paraphernalia donated by some of the world’s leading Internet figures.

The over thirty items on the auction list run the gamut from the historical: the coats worn by Internet activist and Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig while he traveled the world talking about free culture, to the cultural: pre-print copies of books by best selling sci-fi author Cory Doctorow and Internet guru Jonathan Zittrain and the fun and funny: one of the 20 limited-edition, plush Fox-keh dolls, made by Firefox Japan and a selection of Indian intellectual property expert Lawrence Liang’s favourite Bollywood films – not to mention high quality prints of Internet entrepreneur, Joi Ito’s best photographs.

The people who have donated to the iCommons Auction are leading figures in the global movement to make the Internet a powerful tool for change, innovation, sustainability and development. Their donations tell stories of a history that is currently being written about the power of the Internet for change and development.

All the proceeds of the auction, which will take place online between the 19th of November 2007 and the 14th of December 2007, will go to developing and sustaining the iCommons Node programme, which connects global free culture projects around the world.

For more information, visit

critique and comparison

Some nice further discussion in the comments section of Tom Moody’s post about my Wireframe Series, and I’m glad for the crit – some positive, some negative, all useful for when I implement the next iteration (hopefully in Joburg in September). I’m even more grateful for his second post, a point by point comparison to Stephen Hendee (image: The Eye, New Britain Museum, New Britain, CT, USA, 2005):


-specifically evokes “wireframe” computer model (or “invokes” in the case of Stern, who uses the word in his title)
-reproduces wireframe outlines as an actual object
-“problematizes” computer drawing with surrealist invention, deformation
-use of materials such as tape and foamcor (Hendee) and rope (Stern) suggests folk-like or cargo-cult-like reification or fetishization of high technology
-inverts the idea of a computer as effortless and airy through the conspicuous employment of hand labor

I think that these, coupled with his point of it being “activated through its contact with people” (both the performers/volunteers, and the public) are where I should re-double my efforts.