Posts for November 2008

One Thousand and One Biennials

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Does anyone know how many biennials there are in the world, now? There is a whole sub-field of biennial studies that looks at such issues as the economic impacts of the shows on their host cities and the artists' market values, or the relationship between Eastern biennials and Westernization. Of course, the latter question hinges on whether the show is called a "biennial" or a "biennale"... The truth is, there are now so many of these that it's easy to overlook them. Even the fledging field of electronic art has a few! But Sweden's Electrohype is a unique one, bringing ambitious installations to the beautiful Malmö Konsthall. Now in its fifth incarnation, the show draws large audiences but avoids the temptation to be a mega-show, instead opting to give serious space and consideration to good work by often more emerging artists. Electrohype 08 features ten international artists whose projects focus on "ongoing processes and time." These are Doug Back (CA), Ralf Baecker (DE), Serina Erfjord (NO), Kerstin Ergenzinger (DE), Jessica Field (CA), Voldemars Johansons (LV), Diane Morin (CA), Kristoffer Myskja (NO), Erik Olofsen (NL), and Bill Vorn (CA). While time and endurance are age-old themes in the modern art world, there's not a usual suspect in the bunch! Nonetheless, there is due notice paid to the histories and influences traced by the show. For instance, Doug Back's Sticks (1979) is showing aside Ralf Baecker's Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space) (2007). Despite a large difference in scale and nearly thirty years between them, both are kinetic sculptures fleshing out what it means to compute and how mechanics might be used to reflect upon human movement. Ironically, the big piece looks at micro-motions within the body and the smaller one looks at social interaction! Other interesting works include ...

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"Schematic: New Media Art From Canada" at [ space ] London

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Image: Peter Flemming, Canoe, 2008

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Image: Norman White, The Helpless Robot, 2008 (Photo by Michelle Kasprzak)

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Image: Joe McKay, The Big Job, 2008 (Photo by Michelle Kasprzak)

Bringing together five Canadian machine-makers, Schematic: New Media Art From Canada is a group show currently on view at London's [ space ] gallery. Curator Michelle Kasprzak begins her essay accompanying the show with a description of Jacques de Vaucanson's duck. Citing the appeal of this quirky and captivating invention within its time, she argues that machines today continue to instigate the same degree of fascination, a response to enduring questions of representation and behavior. The show also claims that the group of artists selected -- Peter Flemming, Germaine Koh, Joe Mckay, Nicholas Stedman, and Norman White -- draw on their particular experience as Canadians in their exploration of such themes as weather, the environment, and craftsmanship. I don't know if those topics are necessarily "Canadian", but I had to chuckle a little bit at the explicit play on the rugged frontiersmen stereotype. That aside, the most compelling strand in the show seems to be that of futility and failure. Three works -- Joe McKay's The Big Job, Peter Flemming's Canoe, and Norman White's The Helpless Robot -- engage in actions that reflect the limitations of machines and often their inutility. The Big Job is a mechanical progress bar that moves in accordance to a loading webpage. Repeating infinitely as the page reloads over and over again, it serves as both documentation and a representation of frustration. Similarly, Peter Flemming's Canoe paddles itself to nowhere, while The Helpless Robot relies entirely on the aide of visitors to move about the gallery, actions which are dictated by a synthesized voice. Rather than cater to the "gee whiz" quality of machines, these projects elicit ...

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Expand your mind...

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....with Expanded Video!

Electronic Arts Intermix's one-day conference, Expanded Video, will take place tomorrow afternoon at their location on West 22nd Street in Chelsea. Composed of two panels -- one on "Exhibiting" and the other on "Collecting" -- the event brings together leading curators, conservationists, gallerists and artists in the field of media art to discuss the movement of moving image across multiple platforms (most notably, digital) and the significance this shift bears on medium-specificity, viewing, conservation and copyright. Rhizome's own Lauren Cornell and Ed Halter will speak, along with independent curator Caitlin Jones, Whitney Curator Chrissie Illes, Joan Jonas, Jacob Ciocci, Glenn Philips of the Getty Research Institute, Jenny Moore of Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Christopher Eamon of the Kramlich Collection, and Rebecca Cleman of EAI.

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Viva Cyborg Theory

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Donna Haraway once wrote, in her infamous "Cyborg Manifesto," of the idea that there were no separations between bodies and objects. Our life force flows through us and out into the objects we make, she reasoned; thus there ought to be no distinction between the so-called real or natural organisms that nature produces and the artificial machines that humans make. Her conclusion: We are all cyborgs. While this theory was developed prior to the internet's big boom (in 1991, presumably before the word "cyborg" took on the stale whiff it has now), and explicitly as a means of wresting feminism from the binary system in which she saw it entrenched, it turns out that it applies very well to the work of a net art boys club that calls themselves "Neenstars." In 2000 the group was so determined to set themselves apart from the existing paradigm of media art discourse that they hired a Silicon Valley branding firm to invent a new name for them and what they do. The resulting word, "Neen" has been used by the boys (and a few girls along the way) to refer to their work and practice, which revolves around replication and the exploration of an ever-upgraded series of machines. It's all spelled out in their manifesto, in which they say, "Our official theories about reality--quantum physics, etc.--prove that the taste of our life is the taste of a simulation. Machines help us feel comfortable with this condition: they simulate the simulation we call Nature." Open now at Brussels' think.21 Contemporary Gallery is a show of the work of Neen godfathers Andreas Angelidakis, Miltos Manetas, and Angelo Plessas. It won't surprise you that their work moves fluidly through media that includes paintings, web animations, photos, and architectural structures. More ...

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Catalog (1961) - John Whitney

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Created with an analog computer and camera system John Whitney built by converting a World War II M-5 Antiaircraft Gun Director.

Via Javier Morales

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untitled window 2 (2008) - Arend deGruyter-Helfer

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LAUNCH

More work by Arend deGruyter-Helfer

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Esquire.com Hosts New Game by Jason Rohrer

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Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage and Gravitation, has a new game, Between, which is now available for download through Esquire.com. Unlike his previous works, which pull their narratives from life experience -- such as one's path through birth and death in Passage and inspiration in Gravitation -- Between occupies more surreal territory. Directions are not explicit, and while a two-player game, the presence of the other player, and the correlation between players to action in the game, is obscured. The players, drifting between "wake" and "sleep", must navigate the space in order to decipher their tasks, which involve building a tower of colored blocks. The tower can only be built using certain colored blocks, and the availability of these colors is entirely dependent on the progress of the other player's tower. Thus, while the individual player's tower building seems to operate in remove from the other player, he is, in fact, reliant on their decisions in order to complete the job. The game's ambiguity sets up an interaction between players that draws on cooperation, but a cooperation that is both confusing and difficult to attain.

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The Setting Sun (2007) - Maureen Keaveny

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photocopier, photocopies, light bulb, extension cord, drill, electronics, 2007

More still documentation of The Setting Sun

Video documentation of The Setting Sun

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Xerox Astronomy and the Nebulous Object-Image Archive (2008) - Joe Winter

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Pre-visualization of installation

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Image of installation in the group exhibition "Untethered" at Eyebeam in September and October 2008 (Photo: Christine Butler, courtesy of Eyebeam)

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Images of Nebulous Objects

More documentation of Xerox Astronomy and the Nebulous Object-Image Archive

More work by Joe Winter

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fragments (2008) - Tom Merrell

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LAUNCH

More work by Tom Merrell

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