Posts for 2007

Rhizome Commission: Lee Walton

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Since 2001 Rhizome has, as a major part of its programming, awarded commissions for the creation of internet-based artworks. The 2008 commissions were recently announced and the North Carolina-based artist Lee Walton was one of the deserving recipients. Walton's work humorously reframes day-to-day, somewhat banal activities as pieces of conceptual and performance art, often necessitating the participation of unwitting collaborators. In 2005 at Art in General, as part of his Experiential Project, he reversed the viewer's gaze back out to the street to decipher who was and who wasn't a part of his public 'happening,' and in my favorite of Walton's works, The Competitionist, the artist competes with innocent joggers on an outdoor track, culminating in a dramatic photo finish. This conveyance of the simple act as performance, as well as his athletic focus on endurance and duration, allude to 1960s and 70s precedents without being at all derivative. For his upcoming Rhizome commission, 'Remote Instructions,' Walton will solicit participation via the web 'and orchestrate a series of video performances that will take place in real cities, neighborhoods, villages, and towns around the world,' indicating that these participants will be fully aware of their performative potential.

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Redacting the Dotted Line

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In our original post regarding The Dotted Line exhibition curated by Colby Chamberlain at Brooklyn's Rotunda Gallery, we misprinted the dates of the exhibition. The group show will be open from November 7th to December 21st. Our deepest apologizes to the artists, curator, gallery, and to all of our readers.

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Behind the Collection

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As a culture that fetishizes voyeurism and consumer electronics, it is a shame that the focus of our around-the-clock surveillance is all too often the least interesting subjects: Britney, Brangelina, etc. Meanwhile, individuals with despicable levels of power over our lives remain elusive and outside the camera's incessant lens. Jill Miller's new multimedia exhibition, COLLECTORS, opening on November 17th at San Francisco's 2nd Floor Projects is a clever reworking of this model. The SF-based Miller trained for three months with a licensed private investigator, learning how to "conduct surveillance within the legal limits of the law." In an inversion of relations, Miller then turned her eye to rarified species of prominent art collectors in San Francisco, focusing on 10 houses, 5 of them in depth. The exhibition will consist of "video, photography, text, and sculptural elements" made during her undercover surveillance. While it is unclear how Miller feels about her subjects, it is a fascinating tactic.

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Model Collector

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Since 2001, media artist Doron Golan has been doing what no museum or institution has yet managed. He has amassed a significant collection of net art works by major artists in the field, archived at Computer Fine Arts. Furthering his prescient stewardship of the medium is a commitment to exhibition and a collaboration with Cornell University Library's Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art to preserve the work in an off-line form. The current exhibition, NETworks at the Haifa Museum of Art, in Israel, includes a small selection of works from Golan's collection which, in the words of curator Christiane Paul (who wrote for the catalog), includes projects which explore 'the fundamental qualities of net art.' But perhaps what's most impressive about Computer Fine Arts is that it represents a model for collecting and ownership entirely different from that of the hedge fund managers who are driving the current art market. In the Computer Fine Arts model, the artist retains full rights to the piece but Golan has a copy on his server and the rights to exhibit the works when and where he wants. This model reflects an understanding of the realities of digital and distributed art works and further underlines the importance of Golan's contribution to the field, not only as an artist, but also as a patron.



Image: MTAA

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Resensitizing to Light, Image, and Sound

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Based in Hong Kong since 1996, the Microwave International Arts Festival is a pioneering event devoted to new media in Asia. Each year the organization looks at the latest trends in the intersection of art and technology. Exploring the relationship between visuality, illumination, and audio, 2007's theme is 'Luminous Echo.' As the organizers have put it, 'in inspecting our flashing city that is Hong Kong, sound, light, and images are constantly coming at us from all directions, collectively attacking our senses.' The main exhibition brings together several international artists that have turned the gallery within the City Hall into a large, bright display room. Visitors are thus confronted with a new representation of the urban landscape and must reposition themselves as subjects in a postmodern world. Held at the Film Archive, a Project Room program acts as a platform to showcase new works. One of its most interesting projects is 'A la Chinoise + Site Specific,' curated by Sao Paulo-based curators Marcelo Rezende and Fernando Oliva. According to their statement, this initiative 'aims to investigate the political engagement born of the rapid expansion of our repertoire of images generated by the development of information technologies.' Inspired by filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's movie 'La Chinoise,' that dealt with Maoism, 'A la Chinoise' is a video screening that elaborates on the crossing of contemporary imagery and the sense of nostalgia that defines our age. Informed by architect Rem Koolhaas' concept of 'Junkspace,' 'Site Specific' is a website that presents works on YouTube. Through November 18th, this is a must-see festival in which, as the organizers anticipate, 'the pleasure elicited by the audio-visual interactions will help visitors recover the fascinations in our daily lives that have so been overwhelmed and numbed.' - Miguel Amado

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Museum Mash-Up

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Walking into Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is like walking into a larger than life fine art 'cabinet of curiosities.' Commissioned in 1902 by patron of the arts extraordinaire Isabella Stewart Gardner, the museum contains her extensive and eclectic personal holdings. Gardiner's sublime jumble of art works juxtaposes decorative arts and illuminated manuscripts from across the ages with canvases by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, and John Singer Sargent, Greek and Roman antiquities, and Asian statuary--reflecting a particular upper class Victorian sensibility. On display in the museum for the next three months, Cliff Evans's new five-channel video installation Empyrean utilizes a similar juxtaposition of disparate visual elements to reflect a contemporary American sensibility. With the internet as his source, Evans animates both militaristic and commercial images to create dramatic moving photomontages that illicit reverence, fear, and humor. Placed within the context of the Museum, his 'digital polyptych' appears like a religious altarpiece, perfectly at home among Gardiner's diverse and evocative collection.

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Chance Meetings

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The Emily Harvey Foundation, named after the important gallerist and champion of avant garde and fluxus artists, is opening a new space in lower Manhattan tonight. With Programming Chance, a group-show curated by James Fuentes, the space looks to be off to an impressive start. A refreshingly historical mixture, the show's "unifying principal in the work exhibited is having been created by means of a computer or machine." Had all the work been made in the last year, this would be a rather mundane and forgone conclusion, but with works by John Cage, Jean Dupuy, and Ken Knowlton dating from the 1960s coupled with contemporary works, this directive is uniquely significant. First published in 1968, Fluxus artist Alison Knowles's 'House of Dust' is a computerized poem, consisting of "quatrains resulting from randomly generated permutations: 'a house of' (list material), (list location) (list light source) (list inhabitants)." Of course, no exhibit exploring chance would be complete without the work of John Cage, and I'-Ching Hexagram' (1967), his computer generated work inspired by philosophy of the I-Ching text is included. Meanwhile, NY based artist Aaron Young's new "burnout" paintings will be on display, wherein he has ridden a motorcycle over aluminum in an act of machismo that would make Richard Serra blush. Young, like all the artists involved, has a wider interest though--namely the beguiling paradox of improvisation in the otherwise highly-calibrated machine age.


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Yield to Total Elation

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The fluid contemporary art medium that is the World Wide Web is also an omnipresent interface that touches on almost every aspect of our lives. As such, when a site is composed a bit too conservatively it can be easy to ignore. To explore the full spectrum of the internet medium, it is always good to crank it up to 11 and kick out the virtual jams now and again. For those who enjoy total perceptual immersion it is time to rejoice in Triptych.TV, the new web project by Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Subculture. The same artists responsible for Screenfull.net and Disco-nnect here carry over their aesthetic, which is both primal and futuristic. To call the project a sonic and visual assault would be an understatement. Upon entering the site videos and gifs of skulls, snakes, weapons, and other ecstatically puerile images jump out and build into a crescendo of noise that must be experienced to be understood. This island of Dionysian ecstasy is a testament to the more immediate pleasures of net art.

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Background Check

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With Brody Condon's second solo show, titled Three Modifications, opening at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York City this week, l thought I'd take the opportunity to do a little Rhizome-based background research. Condon, an early practitioner in the 'game art' genre, gained much recognition through his work with the collective c-level and his often cited piece 'Adam Killer.' Subverting expectations of the first person shooter game 'Half Life,' Condon inserted and then killed (over and over) an avatar of his friend Adam--to gruesome yet beautifully kaleidoscopic effect. 'Adam Killer' is an important example of this type of game hack and also happens to be part of Rhizome's ArtBase (and the subject of numerous discussion threads on Rhizome, including a great interview with Jonah Brucker-Cohen). For the new work in Three Modifications, Condon exploits his game engine tinkering to more aesthetic ends. Formally comparing the visual similarities between the realistic yet highly stylized look of contemporary 3-D video games with those of 15th Century Flemish painting, Condon raises issues of representation, iconography, and multi-dimensionality. And as always, through his use of the game engine and his "self playing" games, he frustrates our desire for interaction, forcing us instead to participate through meditation, as opposed to physical action.

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Developing Histories

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This week in Berlin, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt hosts Re:Place The Second International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology. Re:Place is the follow up to Re:fresh, a similar conference that took place at the Banff Center in the fall of 2005, which hosted many of the biggest brains in new media art practice and academia. Together these two conferences represent an academic institutionalization of new media art and new media art history. But as the title of this conference would suggest, it is not a rigid canonization. The artists, art historians, and curators, are all presenting papers with an aim towards developing and unearthing multiple 'histories'--narratives that take into account geographic, economic, and gender diversity. Out of what is sure to be a multitude of excellent papers, this need for diverse voices and experience will be directly addressed by the always thought-provoking Erkki Huhtamo from UCLA, who will present a paper addressing Western biases in the history of media art. This said, it is likely that many of the presenters from Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, Asia and Africa will articulate the reality of these histories even more convincingly. - Caitlin Jones

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