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transformer fire (2008) - Paul Slocum

By John Michael Boling

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Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

A gallery version of this piece, without the YouTube controls, ran last month at artMovingProjects in Brooklyn. It worked very well as a piece of stand-alone video art. Did anyone else see it?

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Guess not. Anyway, Aron Namenwirth, artMovingProjects co-owner, singled out this piece from the mass of spiritsurfers posts and went to special trouble, working with Slocum, to find a way to present it forcefully in a gallery setting. I saw it and it was interesting in that: (i) the monitor was rotated to portrait position to accommodate the five video clips in a vertical row (ii) white space surrounded the group of adjacent clips giving them a more iconic reading, and (iii) the piece was transformed to a series of YouTubes with ordinary, interactive controls into a rather elegant video collage that saved you having to grope for a mouse.

My understanding is the piece was sold to a private collector.

After Namenwirth's version of the piece opened in December 2008 ( http://artmovingprojects.blogspot.com/2008/11/paul-slocum-transformer-fire.html ) Marcin Ramocki included a link to Transformer Fire in his Best of the Web entry for Art Fag City ( http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/01/08/best-of-the-web-contributors-edition-part-six-of-six/ )

It was also featured on ArtCal, I believe.

In any case, this piece has a history predating its appearance on Rhizome with no explanation or back story about 10 days after Slocum's show closed at artMovingProjects. This comment is an attempt to give some of that background.

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Forgot to mention the artMovingProjects showing of the piece also appeared on the Rhizome calendar a while back.

Aron Namenwirth 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Thanks Tom. This is a testament to the power of the internet. I might add that Paul's amazing "Transformer Fire" was chosen by NYAB as their pick of the day (without a visit) with aMP's screen shot. and ARTCAl also, gave it a PICK. It seems what comes around goes around. I would not be a fan of Spirit Surfers if Marcin had not been telling me what an important tool it had become for channeling his art. "Transformer Fire" fit into my vision of
great Art, and seemed significant to push to another level of transformation. Namely, to take it off the web and bring it into the real world which Paul and I did like two Rock Stars jamming late into the night on cellphones and laptops- stress and excitement building as deadline of an opening loomed. I think any work of Art be it new or old media needs the support of a community to find it's life beyond the bounds of the studio and in this case the Rhizome. Like the founder of the New Museum Marcia Tucker said,
"Great Art asks more questions than it answers."

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

It would be nice to hear from John Michael about why he picked this piece.

Credit should certainly go to all the nameless videographers capturing phone poles wherever they may burst into flames.

Ceci Moss 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Hi Tom -
Thanks for providing a description of the installation of Slocum's post. If you or Aron or Paul have photos of the installation, please post them here, I think that would be a wonderful addition to this post. I was aware of the exhibition, but I thought it closed awhile ago, which is why it wasn't mentioned in the post.

John Michael Boling 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I picked 'transformer fire' for two reasons.

1. Ceci showed me the "ceiling fan" post that directly precedes this post. It reminded me of "transformer fire".

2. "transformer fire" is fantastic.

p.s. I wasn't aware that Paul's piece was in the show at aMP, and I never got a chance to go and check the show out. (I just moved back to NYC… the paint is literally still drying on my walls.)

p.p.s. I am on the fence about the best way to show net art in the gallery. It is probably best translated on a case-by-case basis. That being said, I have shown similar work in the gallery and decided to leave the embed GUI intact. I like the awkwardness of the middle-school dance between the landscape of the personal computing experience and the gallery context.

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Yes, the artMovingProjects version definitely tipped the idea away from the personal home computing experience (although it was shown on a standard Samsung LCD monitor with Mac Mini visible nearby) and injected it into the realm of video art, which has a history and value-set independent of any emerging "net aesthetic." Without saying whether that is better or worse, or more true or untrue to the source material, it is certainly one of the best translations I've seen between contexts. Ah, what the heck, I think it was better piece, for the simple reason that you could watch the actions on all five screens simultaneously without having to scroll up and down and with no loss of scale or resolution. In a sense the full poetry and all the visual connections of the simultaneous disasters could be felt at once. It was a technical tour de force to get that to happen and extra kudos go to Slocum for figuring it out.

Paul Slocum 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Whoa, lot of stuff here! Thanks for the nice comments guys. I was happy with the way the gallery version turned out too. In the future I'll probably be working with the "sideways video" format quite a bit. It just makes sense! ;o)

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

typo: "I think it was a better piece," not "i think it was better piece." (How is babby formed?) I miss not being able to edit my fkubs.

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

typo 2: "the piece was transformed from a series of YouTubes with ordinary, interactive controls into a rather elegant video collage," not "the piece was transformed to a series of YouTubes with ordinary, interactive controls into a rather elegant video collage." jeebus.

mez breeze 6 years, 9 months agoReply


just waiting 4 the tipping-point where everyday type-conventions shift 2 [or 2wards] the unconscious allowance of typos - much like stuttering or mispronunciation in verbal speech.