Posts for September 2007

Technological Topographies

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Power lines break through treetops, orange railings surround blue nuclear cooling tanks, and dormant equipment sits inside sterile science facilities. For a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, American-born photographer Lewis Baltz, who a decade or two earlier had been a key player in what has been termed a 'New Topographic' style of photography, turned from taking images of industrial parks and other development-shaped landscapes to impossibly cold interiors molded around the needs of technology. His 89-91 Sites of Technology series employed both traditional photography and images pulled from surveillance cameras to capture such places as the Japanese Space Agency, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the French National Centre for Meteorological Research as crisp, airless centers of power filled with unnatural color and razor sharp lines. The Galleria Civica di Modena, in Italy, is hosting an exhibition of large-scale prints of the work through November 18th, and the entire series has also been collected in a book for the first time. Published by Steidl Verlag, the catalogue could not only revel the series' influence on approaches to technology in the photography of the 1990s, but also rekindle Baltz's influence on a younger generation of architectural photographers.

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Video Darwinism

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The artist residency program at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center has hosted ambitious projects by Nari Ward, Julie Mehretu, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and other notable artists over the years. Most recently Catherine Sullivan completed the multi-channel video project, Triangle of Need (2007), in conjunction with the museum, where it is currently on view through November 18th. Trained as an actor, Sullivan is known for incorporating elements of theater and performance in her work. For 'Triangle' she worked with Minneapolis choreographer Dylan Skybrook among other collaborators to create her most cinematic piece to date, which features two parallel narratives, one set in an archetypal American city, the other in the Gilded-age mansion at Maimi's Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Constructed in 1910 by industrialist James Deering, the Florida estate was designed to replicate successive eras in architectural history--from the Rennaisance to the Neo-Classical--in a single building that reflects the historical fantasies of its creator. Similar riffs on different evolutionary moments coexisting in the present run through the project, and the video itself can be seen to flatten the development of performance media, combining elements of theater, dance, and cinema in a work that frequently resembles a made-for-television historical drama.

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Interview: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

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Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller create multimedia pieces that combine aspects of sculpture, cinema, sound installation, and short-story fiction. Installations such as ‘The Paradise Institute’ (2001) use forced perspective and a three-dimensional sound track to create the illusion that one is sitting in a large theater. Their ‘sound walks’ and ‘video walks’ are immersive pieces that use common consumer technologies, such as iPods and video cameras, to create experiences that blur the line between experienced reality and narrative fiction. Their works are exhibited internationally and they currently have a solo exhibit ‘The Killing Machine and other stories’ that will arrive at the Miami Art Museum on Oct. 15, 2007.

[Click-through for full interview.]

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Originally posted on Networked Music Review by peter


Lap of Luxury

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Lap of Luxury



Have you ever wondered what it was like to be Marie Antoinette? To sit in the Palace of Versailles, surrounded by revolution inducing luxury? Nicole Cohen's new installation, Please be Seated, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles offers a means to experience this historical world of extravagance firsthand. Cohen's interactive video installation reanimates the 18th century decorative arts collection of the Getty, creating not only an immersive artwork but also a pedagogical tool that allows museum visitors to experience their vast historical collections in new ways. Visitors are invited to sit down in one of six white chairs (which are abstracted from period chairs within the Museum's collection) and gaze overhead at large plasma screens. Playing above is a video by Cohen filmed in the Museum's galleries, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Nissim de Camondo Museum in Paris. Like Sophia Coppola's Antoinette biopic but better, Cohen has the benefit of both the physical objects and the moving image to transport the viewer into the lap of luxury.

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Speed Metal.

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Every 5 years or so the guitar needs to be killed. Green did it. Thompson did it. Levine did it. VanHalen did it. O'Rourke did it. Fahey's been dead for 6 years and they're still finding the bodies. Usually though, we don't actually get to witness the crime. It happens behind the closed door of a recording studio, a rehearsal space, or a bedroom. That's not the case in one of the most compelling works I've seen recently, Christian Marclay's Guitar Drag from 2000. It's in the superlative Organizing Chaos group show at PS1.


This one piece is worth the trip to Queens. Marclay plugs a guitar into an amp, ropes it to the back of a pick-up, and takes off down (and sometimes off) a rural road. The sound that ensues is fabulous. The full-bodied shriek of the Fender chases the camera down the road, swaying and sliding from side to side. The visuals are a hot rush of motion coming at--and seemingly past--the viewer. In this sublime work, death has never looked--or sounded--so good. Let the power fall, all over again.

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Originally posted on Heart As Arena by Rhizome


Something Like Cinema

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From the fundamental element of images in motion to more complex figurative, durational, and narrative properties, the conventions of film have bled into many other media over the last century. For 12 days 'Almost Cinema 07' at the Vooruit Arts Centre, in Ghent, celebrates the variety of contemporary art that can rightfully be called cinema-esque--if not cinematic. The second annual festival runs from October 9 to 20 and features a lineup of installations, performances, concerts, readings, and of course, screenings, among other projects that owe a debt to film. The festival begins with a traditional screening of a literal film, 'Sand and Sorrow,' Paul Freedman's documentary on the crisis in Darfur. It is paired with a performance by Sudanese singer Rasha, but from there the program veers into more far-flung interpretations of the cinematic. In the focal point of the festival, a group of media artists has created a maze of interconnected installations throughout the exhibition spaces. Each borrows something form the languages of film to transform real-world experiences. Peter William Holden makes a literal reference to Hollywood in his digitally controlled array of spinning umbrellas, while Julia Willms and Els Van Riel both use the technology of the projector to intervene in physical space. Other artists, including the duo Semiconductor and Gebhard Sengmüller, stitch together unexpected narratives through radical and frequently elaborate editing processes perpetrated on found footage. This year's edition of the festival will also include two conferences, titled 'Immersion: The Art of True Illusion' and 'The Cinematic Experience,' that promise to sketch the historical and conceptual conditions under which all these cinema-style interventions take place. - William Hanley

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Algorithmic Sea Breeze

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For his latest exhibition, Winds Across the Inner Sea at New York's Gehring and Lopez Gallery, artist John F. Simon Jr. has created a number of large-scale works that reflect his continued interest in the relationship between code and its visual representation. Blending the theories of Josef Albers with the abstract painterly elements of Paul Klee, Simon uses his distinctive code to generate limitless combinations of color and composition. With his recent practice of embedding LCD monitors within large and ornate frames of his own construction he reflects on the ephemeral structure of his software through a material one. Part software, part painting, part sculpture, part video, Simon's latest works truly resonate across all four media.


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In Life as in Warcraft

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Los Angeles-based artist Eddo Stern--who famously logged 2000 hours playing World of Warcraft for one of his projects--has found more than a parallel virtual community in massively multiplayer online roleplaying games like WoW. Drawing on fantasy's ability to lay bare the ambitions and anxieties of everyday life, his most recent body of work uses elements taken from games such as Everquest and Warcraft to examine the overlap between desires and social relationships expressed in the online world and those of our own. The artist's solo exhibition at New York's Postmasters gallery through October 13th charts notable points at which these two universes illuminate and influence one another. The kinetic sculpture Man, Woman, Dragon draws on the visual tropes of Warcraft to distill the fabrication of masculinity online into three simple poles that parody the real-world systems of desire from which they emerge. Other pieces such as Best Flame War Ever (King of Bards vs. Squire Rex, June 2004) and Level sounds like Devil (BabyInChrist vs. His Father, May 2006) document actual exchanges in online communities that betray the participants' earnest and impassioned concerns, which have been shaped equally by the logic of gaming and life outside. An entire gallery is given over to a projected series of found 3D animations that show tunnels, wormholes, voids, and other fantasies of transcendence drawn from computer games. Every work uses a similar and more-often-than-not humorous mix of visual style and documentary material to articulate moments of overlap between roleplaying and real life, deftly latching on to what it is that captivates about online gaming.

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The Light Fantastic

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One of the basic elements of the moving image is the light source and a current exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 'Project, Transform, Erase' takes this simple element as its theme. Filmmakers Anthony McCall (American) and Imi Knoebel (German) both use the physical properties of projected light to create and illuminate architectural spaces. McCall's new work, entitled 'You and I, Horizontal' is comprised of two projectors and a fog machine which combine to create a three dimensional space in which the viewer can observe and manipulate the power of light to convey space. In Imi Knoebel's work, 'Projektion X,' originally made in 1971-72 (and remade in 2005 as part of a preservation initiative at ZKM under the curatorial eye of Rudolf Frieling, now at SFMOMA), uses an X-shaped beam of light to illuminate urban architecture. Driving around the city of Darmstadt, Germany, the filmmaker projected this simple geometric form onto the streets-capturing an abstract portrait of the buildings around him. 'Project, Transform, Eras' is on view through September 30th. - Caitlin Jones

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Host Not Found: A Traveling Monument to the Suppression of Search

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A collaborative project [between Patricia Reed and] Markus Miessen which created an unsolicited monument proposal for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) after an investigation about Internet goverance and site blocking politics.

The installation is comprised of an LED Ticker Screen, a research map, a take-away brochure and photos/renderings of the monument proposal. Following the end of exhibition (Nov. 2007) in Just Space(s) the proposal will be sent to the ITU, Geneva.

The ITU initiates summits and conferences around the world to address emerging communications technologies and their employment. Notably, ITU has partnered with the UN in 2003 and 2005, in organizing the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and Tunis.

As a mobile entity, the monument travels alongside the conferences organized by ITU and is installed on both the facade of conference facilities, as well as the interior spaces of the proceedings. The monument adapts to the specific architecture of the location and takes new forms upon each iteration. The ticker-tape LED displays depict, in realtime, blocked web sites internet users have attempted to access, as well as blocked Keyword/Chat/SMS terms (as seen from nations with highly advanced filtering technologies). The display operates as a live repository of forbidden searches.

Adopting the real-time Keyword displays as is infamously found in several Google offices, we propose to also display the queries that are never or only selectively returned. The title of the monument borrows from terminology used by some national firewalls, who mask their filtering practices by serving up web pages reading 'Host not Found' or 'Connection Timeout.' Likewise, the monument references the history of 'moral monitoring' by referring to Anthony Comstock's (of the Comstock Act) founding of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), in 1873.

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Originally posted on del.icio.us/marisaolson by marisaolson