Amy Alexander has worked in film, video, and digital media. She received a BA in Communications: Film/Video from Rowan University and an MFA in Film/Video with additional work in New Media from California Institute of the Arts. She is currently Associate Professor of Visual Arts: Computing at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to coming to UCSD, she taught at CalArts and USC, as well as working commercially in television, animation, new media and information technology. With a background in music and programming as well as in visual media, her work encompasses live visual performance, public art, and critique of software and its relationship to contemporary culture and politics.
Alexander’s graduate work focused on historical studies of abstract animation (visual music) and its practice in real-time analog video synthesis and computer graphics. Much of her subsequent work has been in software art, net art, and live audiovisual performance. Her early net projects, such as The Multi-Cultural Recycler (1996) and thebot (2000), made use of computer programming and time-based structures acting upon material from the Internet. As Cue P. Doll she developed the tactical barcode-scanning software CueJack (2001) and co-produced software projects with The Yes Men including Reamweaver (2002). Alexander was a founding member and developer of the Runme.org software art respository and the the Discordia.us media culture community weblog project, both launched in 2003. Alexander’s website, plagiarist.org (1998 – present), includes links to most of her projects as well as housing a number of other older, mostly text based humorous projects on topics of digital primacy and ownership. In addition to her net and installation work, many of Alexander’s software-based projects have been performance-based. Several of these projects focused on the humorous possibilities of media and software art, often taking a critical look at the overflow of computer and business cultures into pop culture and leisure, e.g., B0timati0n, CyberSpaceLand, Extreme Whitespace, and The Typewriter. Alexander was also a member of the TOPLAP livecoding audiovisual performance ensemble and online discussion group.
Alexander has been active in the curation of software art and development of software art discourse, with a particular interest in how software influences contemporary culture and vice versa. She is a founding member, developer, and moderator of the online Runme.org software art repository and was involved with the Read_Me software art festival as a juror, reviewer, and co-organizer from its inception in 2002. She has written texts for Runme.org and the Read_Me festivals and books, Low-fi.org and others, as well as participating in software art panels at Transmediale/Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and at Ars Electronica in Linz. She has served on the software art juries for the Read_Me and Transmediale festivals. In 2004, she curated the exhibition, “Softside: A selection of projects from Runme.org” at the Sonar festival in Barcelona.
Drawing on her early background in musical performance and real-time video synthesis, Alexander’s recent work focuses on contemporary audiovisual and new media performance from a performing arts perspective. In collaboration both with other video artists and with computer vision researchers, she developed SVEN: (Surveillance Video Entertainment Network), a real-time video performance and installation that takes a humorous but critical look at artificial intelligence surveillance algorithms by developing techniques that detect when people look like rock stars instead of criminals. She has continued to develop her CyberSpaceLand VJ performances, focusing on developing the performative aspects of gestural control, Internet-based narrative, and chaotic properties of visual software. Together with Annina Rüst and composer Cristyn Magnus she developed Discotrope: The Secret Nightlife of Solar Cells. Discotrope an audiovisual performance for public space that uses solar cells and their energy production for aesthetic and performative ends to create a large-scale visual environment that examines the curious history of dance in cinema. She is currently developing and performing PIGS (Percussive Image Gestural System) – a platform for creating improvisational audiovisual performance using gestures and percussion instruments. Alexander has also written chapters on historical and contemporary live audiovisual performance for The Cambridge Companion to Electronic Music and Audiovisuology Compendium: See This Sound.
Alexander’s work has been presented in art venues, public spaces and mainstream settings. Exhibitions include ISEA, Zero1, SIGGRAPH, Prix Ars Electronica, Sinking Creek Film Festival, Steirischer Herbst, Transmediale, European Media Art Festival, net.congestion, Santa Monica Museum of Art, pARTS Gallery, Read_Me, Next Five Minutes, Sonar, The Tirana Biennale, The New Museum and The Whitney Museum – as well as in nightclubs, on the streets and on the Internet. Her projects have been reviewed in publications including Leonardo, ArtNews, Neural.it, Furtherfield.org, Rhizome, USA Today, The New York Times, Wired, Slashdot, Libération, The Boston Globe, The Independent, as well as in various books and articles on digital media art. More info on Amy’s background can be found on her CV.