Ebon Fisher: Biography
Cultivating "media organisms" in the plasma of culture and mass communications, Ebon Fisher refers to himself as a "media breeder." Wired has dubbed him "Mr. Meme" and New York Magazine has listed him among the "New York Cyber 60." Java Magazine featured him as a "Visionary of the New Millenium" along with Douglas Rushkoff, Howard Rheingold, and Mark Pauline. The Guggenheim Museum has presented Fisher's website in its online CyberAtlas since 1996, which documents the emergence of cyberculture.
In 1984 Fisher began investigating the impact of high technology on culture at MIT's Media Lab and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His creative and unorthodox approach to media earned him the job of teaching the Media Lab's first undergraduate class, Creative Seeing. After completing his MIT studies, Fisher spent a couple of years fronting a multimedia rock band, Nerve Circle, and moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1989. There he began to explore community-based media rituals, including the Media Compressions, (718) SUBWIRE and the Web Jam. According to Domus Magazine, Fisher's Web Jam became a "symbolic climax" to the emerging Williamsburg art and music scene. That densely tangled, multimedia collaboration, known as "Organism," was attended by over 2,000 people and lasted for 15 hours. Newsweek dubbed Fisher's bionic system a "sequel to the rave."
LEFT: A tattoo of a Bionic Code on environmental anthropologist, Erich Schienke
RIGHT: Bionic Code on Japanese Television (via Galapagos Artspace, Brooklyn)
Codifying his media rituals in a network language, Fisher developed a system of voluntary ethics called Bionic Codes. These social problem-solving routines eventually evolved into the media viruses now known as Zoacodes. A wide range of venues have hosted Fisher's media works, including Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art, Harvard's Carpenter Center for the Arts, Kölnischer Kunstverein in Germany, PS1/MOMA, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kitchen in New York, a rave with DJ Ritchie Hawtin (Plastikman), numerous street festivals and nightclubs and a tattoo on environmental anthropologist, Erich Schienke.
Fisher is currently cultivating Zoacodes as part of a virtual world called Nervepool. This alien, gardenlike space, construed as an "operating system for inter-species communion," has materialized in a variety of projects, including life-sized architectural studies in his Brooklyn studio, Web television broadcasts for MIT's Media Lab and the Venice Guggenheim Museum, and a 3D computer model built with graduate students at the University of Iowa.
Ebon Fisher's media organisms have been discussed in the New York Press, FlashArt, Domus, Wired, The Drama Review, Newsweek, Die Zeit and several art history books. Fisher's music has been included in Elliott Sharp's CD anthology of experimental sound composition, "State of the Union," and his bio-cybernetic terms have entered a variety of dictionaries and glossaries. Fisher's Bionic Codes have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and have been broadcast by Fuji Television to 10 million viewers in Japan. The Encyclopedia Britannica has listed Fisher's website as one of the "Best of the Web."
Ebon Fisher received a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1982 and an MS in Visual Studies from MIT in 1986. He has taught media practice and theory at MIT, The Massachusetts College of Art, the New School University and the University of Iowa. He has given lectures at New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, Bennington College, the University of Washington and Columbia University.
In 1998 Fisher created a new digital arts program at the University of Iowa called Digital Worlds and returned to New York in 2001 to help establish the digital arts at Hunter College. Fisher has instigated a variety of exhibitions and forums, including a salon for 600 emerging artists in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and an exhibit at Eastern Connecticut State University linking the rap propaganda of Public Enemy with the soundbites of Negativland and the Riot Grrrl movement. He has written for Artbyte, Digital Creativity, the Utne Reader, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Walker Arts Center.
Zoacodes at the Museum of Art, Univ. of Iowa