Video, performance, and installation artist Kate Gilmore often draws on pop culture and musical lyrics to frame her work. We think, then, that she might not mind our saying that the elaborate, yet beautifully and sophisticatedly straightforward challenges she designs for herself might best be described by reciting the first words of the theme song for perpetually syndicated sitcom, Cheers: "Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got." This melancholy refrain is the perfect truism against which to witness Gilmore's physical testimony to the facts that life is hard, the life of an artist is hard, and the life of a female artist is, well... hard. But of course, Gilmore manages to make clear--in a way that channels Valie Export as much as Charlie Chaplin--that there's no reason that one can't have fun climbing whatever furniture piles life may throw in one's way. In fact, if one dolls themselves up in slick satins and slathers themselves in the lipstick befitting a lady, then snaking one's way through the kinds of trap doors and tumultuous tunnels the artist creates in her work is nearly a piece of cake--not that she doesn't put a pot of elbow grease into conquering every such obstacle. On September 5th, Philadelphia's Institute for Contemporary Art will open a solo exhibition of Gilmore's work. It will survey previous projects and present a new entry to this trademark series in which installation, performance, and video documentation commingle. - Marisa Olson
Image: Kate Gilmore, Every Girl Loves Pink, 2006, Video
In this installment of Tools of the Trade, tech writer Melody Chamlee describes Albert Hwang's project Wiremap. - Ceci Moss
In a combination of software development and 3D interface design, Albert Hwang's Wiremap is a multi-view map created with strands of fishing wire that refract 3D projector scenes and bounce back the revolving imagery to viewers - producing a representation of an object in 3D space.
According to Hwang, from the projector's single-point perspective (at the very front of the installation) all the wires appear evenly spaced. Move off to the left or right however, and by degrees the randomized dimension of depth settles on the wires at different angles to create a topographical form.
Hwang says he would like to explore wire displays in a broad range of new installations and is already working on expanded tweaks on the current design to have a bigger, more detailed display framework. In his Wiremap installation at the the 2008 Last Hope Conference in Midtown Manhattan, he was able to produce a green and blue globe with topography and directional changes according to keyboard and mouse input.
To create Wiremap, Hwang used the open source programming language Processing, and says it was an ideal platform for the project:
"When I began...I had very little computer programming experience. Knowing what I needed, I waded through Java GUI tutorials only to be continually faced with frustratingly confusing Java jargon - I needed a programming environment designed to give graphic feedback instead of visual feedback. Processing, an open source programming environment built on top of Java turned out to be a perfect fit for the project."
Since this is open source, Hwang provides his downloadable source files on his site and encourages others to develop their own Wiremaps and contribute to the evolution of ...
Vanessa Renwick, who produces video under the rubric of The Oregon Department of Kick Ass, is one of the cornerstones of Portland's remarkably fecund scene for moving-image art. Her video Portrait #2: Trojan (2006) documents the last days of the locally-maligned Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, which once rose like a toxic concrete toadstool above the lush temperate rainforests that cover the area's rolling landscape; at the video's end, the plant explodes under planned detonations, sending a quiet plume of smoke into the sky. The strange marriage Renwick chronicles between nature and technology is one familiar to the culture of the region, as captured in the Seattle Art Museum's current show "Thermostat: Video and the Pacific Northwest." In addition to Renwick's piece, Ron Tran's The Peckers (2004) records an experiment in which the artist covered electric guitars and drum kits with birdseed and set them in a park, then recorded the ensuing avian orchestra. Further north, Kevin Schmidt's Long Beach Led Zep (2002) depicts Schmidt on a beach in British Columbia, performing a rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" on a generator-powered electric guitar. The Canadian-American lineup rounds out with short works by Jeremy Shaw, Miranda July, Will Rogan, and Jack Daws. - Ed HalterImage: Kevin Schmidt, Long Beach Led Zep, 2002
The Republican National Convention is still a handful of days away, but controversy is already being courted in Minneapolis-St. Paul over CBS Outdoor's decision to cancel its contract with artist Suzanne Opton due to the politically-sensitive nature of her photographs. Working with local organization Forecast Public Art and curator Susan Reynolds, Opton aimed to display several billboards depicting active-duty American soldiers, whom she photographed at Fort Drum, New York in 2004 and 2005. Like Rineke Dijkstra's series of photographs of young soldiers serving in the French Foreign Legion and Israeli Army, Opton's works offer empathetic portraits of her subjects, at a time when American military action in Iraq and Afghanistan elicits increasing national dissent. Her striking, monumental images find their subjects stripped of body armor and military dress and leaning their heads against a table. The photographs are vertically-scaled and cropped to only show each subject's head and neck, a visual decision Opton has suggested lends vulnerability to these unarmed soldiers, but which also, in light of past Al Qaeda videos, carries a far more disturbing undertone. On the project's website -- now the most significant record of the billboards -- Opton accompanies each of the nine photographs with the length of time served, by a given subject, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a sense, because of the ambivalent mix of emotions these images conjure, Opton's choice to exhibit them in equally ambivalent public spaces seemed very appropriate. Yet that ambiguity, the artist claimed, was precisely the cause of CBS Outdoor's concern. Worry about possible misinterpretation of the images -- and the lack of explicit indication that they were artworks, as opposed to advertisements -- contributed, she said, to the organization's decision to discontinue her contract. If nothing else, Opton's proposal will serve as an ...