Ben at Autonomedia on Tue, 21 Sep 2004 17:05:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Steve Kurtz benefit, 10/3 NYC

greetings, all --

Autonomedia is helping to organize a benefit for Steve Kurtz of the 
Critical Art Ensemble; a release is pasted below, and any help spreading 
word of this event is welcomed. Highlights of the evening will include a 
screening of Manuel DeLanda's documentary of his graffiti activities of 
the late 70s, a talk by one of the Institute for Applied Autonomy folks, 
and films by a number of people familiar to readers of this list. Hope 
you're able to make it, or send someone in your place.

Ben / Autonomedia

organized by Autonomedia and Marianne Shaneen

Sunday October 3, 2004 at 7pm
Price: $6
Ocularis at: Galapagos Art & Performance Space
70 North 6th Street (between Wythe and Kent)
Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY 11211
nearest subway: Bedford Ave L Train
venue tel/fax: 718-388-8713
Press contact: Ben Meyers,, tel 646-496-2353

* * * * *
FILMS BY: Manuel DeLanda, the Critical Art Ensemble, Keith Sanborn,
Peggy Ahwesh, Eli Elliott, Dara Greenwald, Eric Henry, Rachel Mayeri,
and the United States Dept of Defense

WITH COMMENTARY BY: Nato Thompson, Greg Sholette, Keith Sanborn, and John Henry
* * * * *

For nearly 20 years, the Critical Art Ensemble has produced art,
performance, and texts critically examining the relationships between
science, politics, social life and the State. Since May 2004, some of
this work has triggered a Federal investigation and criminal lawsuit,
with a founding member facing numerous indictments, possible prison
time and excessive fines (details below). In the face of huge legal
defense bills in this case, many fundraising events are being
organized internationally and online.

On October 3rd, 2004, Ocularis will present an evening of film and
video work with a focus on science and political critique, with
commentary by some primary figures in the Critical Art Ensemble's
case. Filmworks range from animations about bioengineered
"Frankencorn" and documentary work around the Human Genome Project to
a video "cut-up" of a Department of Defense training video and an
archival DoD propaganda film on how to deal with biological warfare.
Speakers include the curator of the MASS MoCA show on interventionist
art where subpoenas were delivered to the CAE, and a member of the
Institute for Applied Autonomy, developers of the "TXTMOB"
phone-messaging technology widely used during the Republican
Convention protests. Books by the Critical Art Ensemble will be
available, and all proceeds will go to the Steve Kurtz Defense Fund.

* * * * * FILMS INCLUDE * * * * *
Critical Art Ensemble: Four short films
  From 1986-1993 Critical Art Ensemble made numerous low-tech films and
videos. In 1993, the launch of the visual digital revolution through
the use of graphic user interfaces and the WWW signaled an end, for
CAE, of the cause for legitimating low-tech production in mass media,
and CAE abandoned video production at this time to explore on-line
and digital graphic possibilities.

Manuel DeLanda: Ism-Ism.
This rarely-seen film documents Manuel DeLanda's graffiti activities
between 1977 and 1979. Instead of tags and other more familiar forms
of art interventions on the street, DeLanda attacked commercial
billboards, morphing the faces of people in ads into bizarre looking

Keith Sanborn: "Operation Double Trouble", a detourned US government
propaganda film.

Peggy Ahwesh: She-Puppet
Re-editing footage collected from months of playing Tomb Raider,
Ahwesh transforms the video game into a reflection on identity and
mortality, acknowledging the intimate relationship between Lara Croft
and her player. Moving beyond her implicit feminist critique of the
problematic female identity, she enlarges the dilemma of Croft's
entrapment to that of the individual in an increasingly artificial

Eli Elliott:"ASSCroft"
A hilarious 4 min. PixelVision piece touching on the Patriot Act.

Dara Greenwald: "Strategic Cyber Defense"
4 mins. of jaw-dropping paranoid pathology from the Dept of Defense,
a warped 'in-house' training video chopped up into the perfect mix of
shredded clueless hysteria.

Eric Henry: Bear Witness III and Pirates & Emperors (or, Size Does Matter)
Bear Witness III, a music video for Dan the Automator, is a four-part
study in hubris. Each section explores a different ego trip-military,
cosmetic, scientific, and engineering/industrial-and takes it to its
logical conclusion. Pirates & Emperors (or, Size Does Matter) is a
wry political cartoon about bullies big and small. It is set to
original music and animated in a style reminiscent of the popular
"Schoolhouse Rock" educational video series. It illustrates the
notion that if you are a successful enough bully, you can pretty much
write your own ticket and go by the name "emperor" or "president"

Rachel Mayeri: Stories from the Genome
Part cloning experiment, part documentary, Stories from the Genome
follows an unnamed CEO-geneticist whose company sequenced the Human
Genome in 2003-a genome that secretly was his own. Not satisfied with
this feat, the scientist self-replicates, producing a colony of
clone-scientists to save himself from Alzheimer's. Mayeri's video
comments on the dangers of short-sighted, self-interest in
contemporary biotechnology and its appropriation for profit of human
genetic information.

The US Federal Civil Defense Administration: What You Should Know
About Biological Warfare (1952)
How can we protect ourselves against the threats of germs and toxins?
This Cold War-era government film teaches viewers how to fend off
threats from unconventional bioweapons.

Speakers for this event will include:
-Nato Thompson, MASS MoCA curator of May 2004 show "The
Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere - a brief survey of
interventionist political art practices of the 90s" which was to
include work by the CAE, but instead saw the issuing of subpoenas to
those CAE members present at the opening.
-Greg Sholette, artist, writer and activist. He was a founding member
of the REPOhistory artist's collective and of Political Art
Documentation and Distribution, and has collaborated with the
Critical Art Ensemble.
-Keith Sanborn, artist, theorist and curator, has been working in
film, photography, digital media and video since the late 1970s. He
has also translated several of the films of Guy Debord into English.
-John Henry of the Institute for Applied Autonomy, an art and
engineering collective that develops technologies for political
dissent. Projects include the development of robots that can leaflet
or draw graffiti, and the text messaging "TXTmob" tool used by
protestors at the Republican National Convention.

Background on the case:
Since May 2004, Steve Kurtz, founding member of the acclaimed
Critical Art Ensemble and professor in the Art Department at SUNY
Buffalo, has been under Federal investigation on Grand Jury charges
relating to bio-terrorism under the PATRIOT Act. The investigation
stems from Steve's possession of biological equipment and bacteria
seized by the FBI from Kurtz's home, materials which can be found in
any high school science lab, but was used to create art critical of
the unrestrained use of biotechnology and the history of US
involvement in germ warfare experiments (including the Bush
administration's earmarking of hundreds of millions of dollars to
erect high-security laboratories around the country). In July, Steve
and his collaborator, Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the
University of Pittsburgh, were formally charged with four counts of
mail and wire fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in
prison and a $250,000 fine. The Federal charges have been met with a
huge outcry from artists, scientists, researchers, and professors.
Clearly the absurd and disturbing charges are an attempt to use the
Patriot Act to target and intimidate artists and researchers who are
critical or controversial, and to curtail artistic and intellectual

For more info on Steve's case, please visit

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