Reading Group 11.04.02 — Jim Costanzo — RadioActive Series

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Reading Group 11.04.02 — Jim Costanzo — RadioActive Series
1. About this Monday
2. Description of datamap_2001.02
3. About the Reading
4. About RadioActive Series
5. e-fax Note
6. Download
1. About this Monday
Monday Novermber, 4 2002
When: 7pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 5th Floor
Open to All
This Monday night, as a part of our RadioActive Series and the ongoing
series of discussions organized by the 16Beaver Group, we have invited
Jim Costanzo, artist/activist to discuss his work and questions of
cultural participation within the context of resistance.
The evening will be divided into two parts.In Part One, Jim will discuss
his most recent work and projects, which will include the
datamap_2001.02 project recently on view at the Annex (more info below).
Part Two of the evening will be an open q&a/discussion with Jim about
his work and the questions it raises. To frame this discussion, we are
also sending some short texts from the Democracy project by Group Material.
The selected texts include:
Barbara Ehrenreich — Men I Have Liked
Gary Indiana — Blood Brothers
Alexander Cockburn — Them
Roundtable on Cultural Participation
(with David Avalos, Martha Gever, Lucy Lippard,
Randall Morris, Robert Farris Thompson, Deborah
Wye, Group Material
2. Description of datamap_2001.02
Jim Costanzo
datamap_2001.02 is a multimedia installation that records the movements
and activities of artist/activist Jim Costanzo over the past two years.
Photographs, video and data collected from bank and credit card
transactions are used in conjunction with readings from Global Position
System, video footage and photographs to map the artist’s activism and
movements around the world.
In the mid 1990’s Jim Costanzo’s apartment building installed
surveillance cameras, which meant that he could not enter or exit his
residence without leaving electronic footprints. The following year he
documented a trip through New England and Upstate New York by taking
simulated surveillance photos whenever he used a bank or credit card.
This work, titled “Transaction Profile” was published in New
Observations #122, in the 1999 Summer Issue. As Costanzo traveled
abroad, he expanded his surveillance strategy to include the use of GPS
and video to track and document his movements with the intention to draw
attention to the surreptitious data generated by the mundane activities
of those fortunate enough to be plugged into the global economy.
Reacting to the 2000 presidential election, Costanzo changed his
strategy and expanded his scope further to include images from the news
industry and popular culture.  Reacting to the arbitrary conclusion
and the dubious activities that followed the election, he set out to
record his activities during the presidential election. Along with
documenting his usual consumer activities he organized a demonstration
in New York City and then went to Washington, DC to protest the election
results at the inauguration. In DC he also recorded additional footage
of the actions of the other demonstrators and shifted the focus of the
datamap from the consumer profile to government surveillance.
During and after the events of 9/11 and the resulting “war on terrorism”
he documented the events unfolding on the streets and around the world
via his TV screen and by downloading images from the FBI’s website.
Costanzo continued to participate in and document the demonstrations of
artists/activists who staged the peace vigil “Our Grief Is Not A Cry For
War”, and the demonstrations at the World Economic Forum meeting in New
York City. After 9/11 the work became even more resonant by drawing
attention to the way this information can be used as evidence in
court.  datamap_2001.02, a 48 X 80 inch photo montage with over 200
images and a three?channel video, will be shown along with small prints
of the more lyrical data that gets trapped in the subconscious. 
These soft-focus low-resolution enlargements of images taken from TV
screens reflect the infiltration of media images into our collective memories.
Costanzo is a co-founding member of REPOhistory, an artist collective
that created site-specific public artworks that dealt with issues of
class, race, gender and sexuality. He was the creative director of their
website www.repohistory.org and he coordinated the transfer of the
REPOhistory archives to NewYork University’s Downtown Collection located
in the Fales Library. He teaches at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of
Design and the International Center of Photography.
3. About the Reading
Democracy a project by Group Material edited by Brian Wallis
(Bay Press, 1990)
To download the text for this week, you will need
to download a free copy of efax messenger, see efax
note (#5 below) for instructions.
If you have efax messenger, please proceed to:
(as some using a PC may have) WRITE TO:
Doug Ashford of Group Material spoke a year
ago at 16Beaver, the following is a brief
description of their method taken from the
“Democracy” text.
a note about Group Material (from Democracy)
Our working method might best be described as painfully democratic,
because so much of our process depends on the review, selection, and
critical juxtaposition of innumerable cultural objects, adhering to a
collective process is extremely time-consuming and difficult. However,
the shared learning and ideas produce results that are often
inaccessible to those who work alone.
Our exhibitions and projects are intended to be forums in which multiple
points of view are represented in a variety of styles and methods. we
believe, as the feminist writer bell hooks has said, that “we must focus
on a policy of inclusion so as not to mirror oppressive structures.” As
a result, each exhibition is a veritable model of democracy. Mirroring
the various forms of representation that structure our understanding of
culture, our exhibitions bring together so-called fine art with products
from supermarkets, mass-cultural artifacts with historical objects,
factual documentation with homemade projects. We are not interested in
making definitive evaluations or declarative statements, but in creating
situations that offer our chosen subject as a complex and open-ended
issue. We encourage greater audience participation through interpretation.
–Group Material from Democracy: A Project by Group Material, Dia Art
Foundation, 1990, p.2.
Some Loosley Related Links
4. About RadioActive Series
RadioActive a conceptual work concerning the
role of culture in offering points of resistance
within the current political climate
Some notes about the questions we are interested in.
Among the topics we were originally interested in exploring, (including
the disintegration of civil liberties within the post 9-11 context of
the”War on Terror” and “Homeland Security”). we have been directed to
highlight some of the more subtle questions which have been implicit in
the project.
Within this context of a “security without end”. Where do cultural
workers and organizations reside? Is there any struggle necessary?
Where and how are the struggles to be waged? How can alliances be set
up to encourage collaboration?
What strategies should or should not be used in these struggles?
Within the context of the creation of a Cultural Bureau of Homeland
Security, there is a question about what would such a Bureau like this
do. Why does it exist? What are the real threats of censorship? Are
they really from without or from within the cultural field?
Furthermore, how can such intersections between cultural freedoms be
linked to other contexts struggles like the crisis with detainees being
held in jails throughout this country, like the expansion of the prison
industry, like the misdirected “war on terror” which purports to secure
our interests, but does so in a manner and strategy that speaks of far
more troubling agendas?
The war is not waiting to happen against Iraq, it is already being
waged, and it is an endless one, resembling as Agamben has alluded to, a
civil war, a endless police action. What creative strategies can be
utilized to foster a resistence that is also as endless?
5. e-fax Note:
For this and future readings you will need to have a version
of the efax messenger on your computer.
You do not need to open an account but you will have to give
an e-mail address to get your free version for MAC or WIN.
just visit
for PC’s with some sort of unzipping software (e.g., winzip):
for MAC’s with stuffit expander: