Opening Times

Contemporary high finance according to Patrick Goddard’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap online at Opening Times, Dec 8

8 December 2017

Patrick Goddard presents new video Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap at Opening Times online platform on December 8.

The new work includes “spoken and musical elements that looks at the abstracting tendencies of contemporary high finance” and is the final commission of 2017. Exploring an imaginary where “money no longer bears any relation to the production of useful goods or services,” the work also includes a doom metal cover of ABBA’s Money Money Money by London-based band Henge.

Previous commissions this year included Alice Theobald‘s library of collated sounds Taking Stock which was “composed and recorded by the artist in response to different states of affect” and released November 13. Steph Kretowicz + Kimmo Modig released interactive multimedia text Somewhere I’ve Never Been on November 24. The project brings together video, field recordings, soundscapes and text excerpts from Kretowicz’s recently released book Somewhere I’ve Never Been (2017) co-published by Berlin’s TLTRPreß and London’s Pool.

Visit the Opening Times website for details.**

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Mercedes Bunz @ Opening Times, Dec 14

14 December 2015

Opening Times is launching a new text and editorial selection, titled Follow Me by Mercedes Bunz on  December 14.

The online platform, at, supports digital and online art practice through online residencies, website take-overs, guest-edited reading resource projects and a screening programme, commissioning the likes of Oliver Sutherland, Megan RooneyNicholas O’Brien and many more.

Bunz is a London-based writer and lecturer focussing on “technology, critical theory and journalism”. She published The Silent Revolution: How Algorithms Changed Knowledge, Work, Journalism, and Politics Without Making Too Much Noise in 2014, which attempts to “map out areas in the knowledge landscape of today” and to examine how these algorithms affect knowledge in the public sphere.

See the Opening Times for details.**

Mercedes Bunz

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An interview with Nicholas O’Brien

6 November 2015

Nicholas O’Brien is an artist interested in processes of becoming. Working in a range of primarily digital media he situates himself at the intersection of the virtual and the physical world, arguing for the breakdown of such an easy binary. Through his writing, filmmaking, curatorial practice and research based methodologies, he explores this burgeoning terrain of not only production online but also the politics of networked culture that surrounds it. From attempting to learn an Irish accent online, to performing karaoke in an empty room and a 2013 series of images revealing his facial expression when the beat drops during a four hour dubstep listening marathon, O’Brien sees the construction of digital identities as work akin to more traditional conceptualisations of labour.

A recent visit to London commissioned by Opening Times saw O’Brien directing his attention to the emergence of online art as a practice of its own accord in his piece ‘You Alright?’. With some humour the artist responds to the need to create sustainable funding and commissioning models for primarily online based works in the UK via the dissection of a common greeting ”you alright?’. As the frame moves through a sparse CGI space populated by nothing by whiteness and columns, a  deep-voiced narrator declares a state of plateau in the traditional push-and-pull of creative resistance as the “rate at which those pop up alternatives have been clamped down by leading systems of domination that have  increasingly intensified.” The new market economy of scarcity of access, as opposed to space, is identified and intensified by the rapid privatisation and commercialisation of the internet: “We are not alright”.

Hence, on the eve of presenting a range of old and new work for PAF New York at the 7th floor loft of  59 E 4th St on November 6, aqnb spoke to O’Brien over Skype to discuss his own becoming as an artist, the research methodologies which unify his work, as well as the rich terrain inherent in the blurring of virtual/real and the labour that it hides.

It’s apparent from you work you have a lot of interests and practices, I’m wondering what you would say is the central preoccupation of your work?

Nicholas O’Brien: I think a particular quality that excites me in my own work is that I’m not tied down to a particular thing. I think it’s more about methodologies. It’s more about approaches to things that I become interested in. I tend to think of my work as being fairly research-orientated, whether it be work that’s reflecting on a place, or a space or a community, or a history, or an art historical moment.

I think that the research methodology, even if the content is quite disparate, is quite similar. It’s an initial curiosity and then kind of delving in further and trying to do what I call “pattern recognition” – trying to find ways of building associations which are drawing equivalences between the things that I’m looking at and other experiences that might be more familiar to me, or universally, or broad.

Do you feel that, with a research-based project, there needs to be an end product, something you produce?

NO: It’s particularly interesting because the end product for a lot these things tends to be digital information, right? Which is not as product-oriented as a painting, let’s say. There are also loads of things that never came to fruition and there are always abandoned projects that are still of interest but never quite manifest…

I wonder if that’s something to do with quality control?

NO: [laughs] When you get curious about a lot of things at once it becomes hard to manage them and you tend to gravitate towards things you can put a period on as opposed to the more meandering, gibberish at the time of thinking about it as it were.

Nicholas OBrien

You mentioned earlier your frustration with the use of the term IRL to exclude digital or online action. In a previous job of mine at a digital campaign organisation, we’d have lots of discussion about what the best term was for offline activism, whether IRL was appropriate etc. So it’s interesting that even the language for the relationship between digital and nondigital seems up for grabs.

NO: I do think those relationships are being worked out. I feel it’s always been in a state of becoming. Without being too philosophical about it, how the corporeal self deals with the virtual has been an ongoing process of becoming more aware, or understanding of that which is immaterial, or that which is virtual.

I think digital technology heightens the awareness of that process but the language we have kind of gravitated towards is a little too ambiguous. The whole process can feel a little wishy-washy but perhaps my work is trying to articulate a better or more precise language of thinking about the conditions of virtual existence, as it were, through network culture.

Alongside the physicality of the digital you also seem to foreground the labour of producing digital works, where the labour is visually tangible in even the most basic designs. ‘As Much as We Sweep’ suggests a futility that comes with labour. I wonder how deliberate this is and how it fits with your own labour as an artist?

NO: For me I think it’s tied to physicality, or the notion of what we do, and the tasks that we perform. The way we present ourselves in network culture is a form of work, a form of labour. To recognise and to pair that type of work alongside what would normally be considered work or labour is an important process or recognition to make.

So in terms of how that manifests in the actual creation of things themselves, I think I’m really interested in the handmade, in the craft of making an environment and I’m really interested in also how to learn new things. Every new project I take on brings on a new challenge that I haven’t accomplished in a previous piece. With ‘The Trolley’ I was motivated by getting my hands on this material and walking around with it in an essayistic form.


There’s this melancholy of work, work as wasted time or work in the service of someone else, but the other thing that comes through is this sense playfulness of working. And this is the progressive side of work right? Work as fun, as engaging…

NO: Totally! I think there’s a joy in work. You know when I was a kid I worked as a carpenter assistant and the satisfaction that comes from finishing a job, having a plan, setting a plan in motion and completing a plan is really unsung in art. I think that’s because art is often thought of as a process but it’s also process of work. Excuse the pun but when you hit the nail on the head there’s great satisfaction in that.

I have a friend who’s a sound recordist on films and he says you know you’ve done a good job when you’re invisible…

NO: Exactly. It’s at that point of invisibility that the excellence of craft really shines. It’s a weird paradox right? So for me, delving into the craft of making something is a way of creating agency that otherwise would not happen in a digital framework or would not happen within other types of digital labour. Having something that I know for certain exactly how it works, how it functions, how it was built, everything down from the polygon that’s in it to the code that’s been put it into it. Knowing all those layers of information creates a sense of agency that I wouldn’t get from appropriating material – or maybe that’s a different type of agency.

Nicholas O'Brien

One final question. There’s a great quote in one of your pieces where a character says, “It was the best way of being alone in the company of others.” I wonder if that stands a little bit for our current predicament within networked society, or is that too long a bow to draw?

NO: [laughs] Ah no. You know I think that I do think about that – it’s something that people are starting to recognise. How do we actually catalyze the networks that we have online? How do we galvanise those groups of affinities, or those groups of camaraderie, or sympatico in network cultures. How we do make them more real, in other ways more tangible, or more alive, more active?

I think in lots of ways, when we create communities online we have these, how can you say, spurts of energy, these flash in the pan moments of excitement and forward thinking but then the question becomes how do we sustain that momentum, how do we create a sense of purposefulness that extends just beyond the network association and into something tangible? That tangibility doesn’t necessarily have to be physical but it has to be something that’s sustained. So I guess the question becomes, as I say, networks can be the best way of being together while simultaneously being alone, but it also can be an extremely good way of creating communities that last longer than you could have ever anticipated. **

Nicholas O’Brien is a New York-based researcher and cultural producer taking part in PAF New York running over one day November 6, 2015.

All images courtesy Nicholas O’Brien.

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Four new digital commissions @ Opening Times

18 December 2014

Opening Times has released new contributions from a selection of artists and writers to mark their six-month anniversary, including writer Orit Gat, artists Richard Healy and Julie Born Schwartz, and editor Victoria Camblin, now live on their website.

For her recent research commission for the site, ‘How We Write When We Write Online?‘, Rhizome-contributing editor and writer Gat posed a series of questions to fellow writers – which include Emily LaBarge, Tyler Coburn, and Frieze co-editor Dan Fox – exploring “how we write on the internet”, culminating in an essay and online research platform also produced by Gat.

Richard Healy’s artwork commission, ‘Where’s Peter?‘, on the other hand, is in the form of a video, incorporating found documents and recorded footage to piece together the relationship between English tenor Peter Pears and composer Benjamin Britten. Julie Born Schwartz’s residency, titled 再吻一次, One More Kiss, also comes in the form of a video, and Victoria Camblin will present her latest editorial selection.

See the Opening Times website for details. **​



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Oliver Sutherland @ Opening Times (2014)

25 August 2014

Newly launched digital art platform Opening Times has commissioned Oliver Sutherland‘s latest exhibition, titled Arabidopsis Thaliana Flammeus and available for viewing here.

Teaming up with a synthetic biologist, Sutherland has altered the genome file of the plant Arabidopsis Thaliana for the exhibition, making the common weed fluorescent under certain light conditions. The accompanying artwork – which exists as an ‘ApE’ file produced by a freeware genetic editor and often used by genetic hackers and biological engineers – contains Sutherland’s altered genome and is available for limited download on the Opening Times’ website (before becoming dependent on peer sharing and seeding via BitTorrent).

An interesting and intentional feature of the exhibition is the absence of consumer tools needed to actualise genetic code into living material, rendering Sutherland’s file obsolete and in waiting for an imagined future state – a play on time not unlike Ruth Proctors Always, another of Opening Times’ recent commissions.

See the Opening Times website for details. **


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Opening Times – Digital Art Commissions

16 June 2014

Opening Times – a digital art commissioning body whose primary means of encounter and body of work exists online – was launched on June 2, 2014.

The not-for-profit platform launched with a handful of concurrent projects that give evidence to Opening Times’ comprehensive range, including a new commission by artist Ruth Proctor, a research project by writer and artist Nicholas O’Brien and a selection of work from resident artist Nicolas Sassoon, as well as an online reading resource edited by Art Post-Internet curator and writer Karen Archey

See the Opening Times website for details about their current collection. **

Welcome to Opening Times – Digital Art Commissions from Opening Times on Vimeo.

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