There was an awesome response to my MTAA presentation at Upgrade! Joburg yesterday - really interesting discussion followed, mostly about their continual throughline of accenting relationality, as well as their gamut from punk work (Pirated Movie), through community building (Reference Resource), and discussions with the history of contemporary art (1ypv). Below is more from Christo (great to hear a different perspective from that of the presenter!):
Via atjoburg.net, and posted by Christo Doherty (photographs also by Christo):
The second Upgrade! Event featured the work of New York net artists, MTAA, in a presentation by Nathaniel Stern. Nathaniel began by playing an audio greeting to Johannesburg from T.Whid, one member of the MTAA duo and then launched into an eclectic overview of MTAA's work, which emphasized the subversive intelligence and humour which is a common thread throughout their work.
For Nathaniel, MTAA - the artists T.Whid and M.River - embody a deliberately anti-academic, punkish attitude towards Net Art. Since the beginning of their collaboration in 1996, they have pushed the possibliities of Net Art and the limits of intellectual copyright in an impressive range of works.
The enthusiastic audience in the Wits Digital Arts seminar room were treated to glimpses of works such as Random Access Mortality from 2002, in which MTTA took a couple of hundred short samples from either side of the 'Hello Operator' single by The White Stripes and built an interface which allows users to access these samples in a completely random fashion.
One theme that emerged strongly from Nathaniel's presentation was MTAA's strategy of "updating" classic pieces of performance art from the 1970s and 80s. These Updates are characterised by a wry retrospective irony towards the "classics" combined with a canny repurposing of the work using the interactive potential of the Internet. Perhaps the most striking example of this was MTAA's 1 year performance video (aka samHsiehUpdate) This piece, commissioned and hosted by Turbulence.org, reworked a classic piece of performance art, Sam Hsieh's "One Year Performance, 1980 - 1981". The MTAA update, however, shifted the onus of the performance from the artist's to the viewers. MTAA transformed the act of living in a cell for a year into over 160 video clips of themselves living in a cell. Viewers who logged onto the site were invited to watch the video clips for a year.
Nathaniel Stern showing one of this favourite pieces by MTTA,
"Five Small Videos About Interruption and Disappearing".
Other works covered in Nathaniel's presentation included Endnode (a.k.a Printer Tree) a networked sculpture created during their 2002 Residency at the Eyebeam Gallery in New York; Pirated_Movie in which MTAA screened a pirated version of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" with a new soundtrack improvised by DJs and musicians; and DC 9/11 - The Evildoers' Remix a guerrilla edit of a pro-Bush propaganda film.
A clip from "Pirated Movie" - a participating DJ is visible in
silhouette on the right hand of the screen.