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A Year in Review of 'First Look: New Art Online Monthly Digital Projects'

One year ago, for the launch of its new website, the New Museum initiated First Look: New Art Online, a monthly series through which new digital artworks are commissioned and presented. The selected works represent the breadth of art online-from interactive documentary, to participatory applications, to performance-all exploring the formal, social, and aesthetic possibilities of the web. Lauren Cornell, Curator of the 2015 Generational Triennial, Museum as Hub, and Digital Projects, has devoted the fall lineup of First Look projects to the innovative and unusual ways that artists are approaching archiving online. Five of the six works presented from August 2013-February 2014 are newly commissioned works for the First Look series.

All six works take a proactive approach to archival forms: they build new social systems; capture elusive elements, such as time or attention; or promote emerging forms of activism or pop culture. Collectively, they show how the web engenders fresh possibilities for archival forms and methodologies, and reinvigorates a conversation about the classification of history and culture that has been present in contemporary art for decades. The theme of archives is concurrently being examined in the New Museum Education Department's fall season of public programming.

Past and present First Look: New Art Online works can be viewed here.


Damon Zucconi, Multiple, 2013. New Commission

A uniquely visual picture of time, Damon Zucconi's Multiple (2013) depicts all past New Museum programs (including exhibitions, talks, or screenings) in terms of their duration. Each event-be it Adrian Piper's retrospective in 2000, Founding Director Marcia Tucker's iconic exhibition "Bad Girls," or this summer's exhibition "XFR STN"-is represented by a digital counter that presents the years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds that have lapsed since the event ended.

Martine Syms, Reading Trayvon Martin, 2012-ongoing
Reading Trayvon Martin is an online bibliography created by artist Martine Syms for the criminal case following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. In the work, reading, once considered a solitary endeavor, is construed as an active stance through the newly available dimensions of posting, sharing, and commenting, which enable readers to contribute to a broader conversation through social media. The act of bookmarking-of saving and listing online content-becomes synonymous with the process of staking out a position and publicly declaring a side or a perspective.


Brian Droitcour, Fifteen Stars: A Study of Vernacular Criticism, 2013. New Commission

Brian Droitcour's Fifteen Stars is an idiosyncratic study in how embodied experiences of taste and memory relate to art's institutional structures. The site comprises an illustrated collection of five reviews of visits to the New Museum found on Yelp, ranging in ratings from one to five stars. Droitcour's accompanying commentary does not address these nonprofessional exercises in art criticism directly, but takes them as a catalyst for discussing the politics of the various apparatuses surrounding contemporary art, to which he assigns ratings of his own.


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Xavier Cha, Disembodied Selfie, 2013. Live performance commissioned by Lyon Biennial and accompanying media documentation supported by the New Museum

Disembodied Selfie by Xavier Cha is a performance piece that explores the psychological and sexual dimensions of the "selfie," and the broader culture of sharing confessional, confrontational, and highly vulnerable photographs of oneself online. The piece originates with a live performance, choreographed by Cha, that will be presented at the Lyon Biennial on October 19 and 20, 2013. In the performance, a nude male actor will move through the galleries of the biennial in a psychoactively dissociated state and obsessively post photographs of himself to various social media, including Vine, Twitter, and Instagram. First Look will present an original dedicated website accompanying the project, which will serve as the main documentation channel for the piece where photographs and videos will be aggregated and archived.


Cory Arcangel, AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound, 2013

From 2011-12, Cory Arcangel's Brooklyn studio archived 839 trance and underground LPs that had been purchased from legendary DJ Joshua Ryan. AUDMCRS is a public archive of these LPs, presenting all relevant data (i.e., format, size, speed, generation) on each record with an accompanying image of the album's cover art. The project underlines the personal obsession often involved with collecting, as well as Arcangel's own interest in preserving a cultural history that relates to his work and life. "It is said that the music we hear as teenagers is, and will always be, the most important music for the rest of our lives," said Arcangel. "For me, this music is techno-the cheap, voiceless machine-age disco that became popular in the clubs of Chicago in the late '80s and from there quickly spread throughout the globe."


Rheim Alkadhi, Untitled, 2013. New Commission

Scripted, staged, and photographed by Rheim Alkadhi, this new work will tell the intertwined stories of multiple characters living in Beirut. Consisting of an inventory of texts and images, the work will capture intimate moments from daily life in the city, at the intersection of the everyday and the chaos of conflict.


First Look is made possible, in part, by Droga5

Additional support provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

About First Look: New Art Online

First Look is curated by Lauren Cornell, Curator of the 2015 The Generational Triennial, Museum as Hub, and Digital Projects. This new series reflects a strengthening of the New Museum's ongoing commitment to the digital realm as a space for art-making and its relationship with Rhizome, a leading online platform and longtime affiliate organization in residence at the Museum.

For its initial season, Cornell invited over nineteen artists who take the internet as their primary medium to present as part of the series. The inaugural work in the series, Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz'sImage Atlas (2012), emerged from Rhizome's signature Seven on Seven Conference-a unique event that bridges the fields of art and technology around the creation of new work.

A complete list of the initial year of projects and commissions includes:

Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz: Image Atlas

Aboveground Animation: 3D-Form

Jonas Lund: Public Access Me

PaperRad: Welcome to my Homey Page

Anna Lundh: Q&Q 2022

Jon Rafman and Rosa Aiello: Remember Carthage

Dina Kelberman: Smoke & Fire

Cathy Park Hong and Mores McWreath: The Rub

Jeremy Bailey: Famous New Media Art Patent Office

Harm van den Dorpel: Dissociations

A Little About Me: Four Works by Robot (John Miller and Takuji Kogo)

Image: Brian Droitcour, Fifteen Stars: A Study of Vernacular Criticism, 2013 (screencap). Courtesy the artist

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