Posts for September 2008

Conflux 2008

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This past weekend, Barcelona-based artist Liz Kueneke offered a cloth map of Manhattan to passing downtown crowds, inviting them to sew, as roads and icons, their daily routes and personal events onto what amounted to a communal quilt. This may sound quaint in the age of Google Maps, and the legion of amateur cartographers it has created, but such a project would not exist without Google: people's lived landmarks were seldom considered of interest prior to online mapping. The implied value is that our interior, local maps are as worthy as the Mercator.

Kueneke's map, "Manhattan's Urban Fabric," formed a fraction of the cartography, art, talks, performances, and "situations" included in this year's Conflux, the sole arts festival devoted to psychogeography. (Conflux was at one time categorical about its subject, and was called the Psy.Geo.Conflux, but the affixes have since been dropped.) "Psychogeography" -- still a nebulous term that proceeds unrecognized by the standard dictionaries -- here encompasses a great scope of projects, from futurist utopianism and street art to anarchist rhetoric and Situationist homage. With over four hundred submissions, it is not surprising that one of the curators described the selection process as "chaotic." Another divided the works at the festival broadly into categories which either "read" or "wrote" the city, and further, into analog or digital creations.

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Thrilling (2006) - Catherine Ross

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  • Experimental Geography - Traveling Independent Curators International (iCI) exhibition "Experimental Geography" premieres this week at the Richard E. Peeler Art Center in Greencastle, Indiana. The group show explores "the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide and possibly make a new field altogether." Rhizome's Executive Director Lauren Cornell conducted an in-depth interview with curator Nato Thompson about "Experimental Geography" a few months ago for the blog.

  • John Bock: Palms at REDCAT in Los Angeles- This looks amazing: "Gravitating more recently towards multi-media works, Bock's new project, Palms, co-commissioned by REDCAT and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, reflects the artist's current interest in the narrative structure and genre conventions of film. The film noir-inspired, feature-length work follows two German killers as they navigate the landscape of Southern California from iconic Schindler and Neutra residences in Los Angeles to sleepy old town bars in Twentynine Palms and the formidable landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. For its U.S. premiere at REDCAT, Palms will be presented in the context of an expansive sculptural environment with new three-dimensional work."

  • "Amplified Intimacies" by Interstices at OBORO in Montreal- "In order to explore the poetic and sensual potential of the emerging proxemics between bodies, places and machine, the exhibition Amplified Intimacies looks closely at the interpersonal spaces that are increasingly sculpted by digital technologies. The exhibition brings together a range of different kinds of work, from site specific installations to interactive pieces with physical interfaces -- taken from such varied fields as media arts, experimental architecture, fashion design, and interactive game design."
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    A Must See: <br>Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

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    Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' current program of exhibitions offers a stellar example of the dynamic curatorial tactics for which the museum has become known. Alongside "Aïda Ruilova: The Singles 1999 - Now," the first U.S. solo museum show of the New York artist's compulsive, viscerally demanding video loops, the Contemporary presents Berkeley-based artist Lutz Bacher's Spill, one in a three-part project that includes the publication of SMOKE (Gets in Your Eyes) and My Secret Life, a solo exhibition at P.S.1 scheduled for 2009. While the P.S.1 exhibition promises to be a more conventional survey of the artist's 40-year career, Spill is anything but ordinary. Bacher centers the show around eclectic, site-specific installation Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, which features a grouping of life-size Star Trek characters; shattered guitar debris; intersecting, curved ramps; and a multi-channel video of a line-drawing traveling, in anthropomorphic fashion, over a monochromatic landscape. An old Budweiser sign and beer cases draw the exhibition's second space into conversation with St. Louis (Anheuser-Busch's headquarters), motion sensors in the museum courtyard trigger a sound installation, and displays of Bacher's earlier works are periodically supplemented or removed. Considering the diverse quality of the artist's output, which has always relied on appropriation strategies and "deliberately migrates between methods, styles, and attitudes," the piecemeal, shape-shifting nature of Spill seems on point. As if to supplement the exhibition's provisional ethos, the Contemporary's Front Room will concurrently mount a series of shows ranging from one day to a few weeks in length, often by younger artists and collectives indebted to Bacher's practice. Reena Spaulings, Claire Fontaine and Dexter Sinister will all take a turn. - Tyler Coburn


    Image: Lutz Bacher, Spill, 2007, black and white photograph with unknown substance, 50 ...

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    Machines by Michael Kontopoulos

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    Machines that Almost Fall Over from Michael Kontopoulos on Vimeo.


    Machine that Tries to Draw Circles from Michael Kontopoulos on Vimeo.

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    Kind of Blue

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    The cyanotype, in some ways, fuses multiple modern impulses towards empirical knowledge. In this once novel medium, originally used to study the footprints of organic specimens and still common in kids' at-home science kits, objects are left on the surface of photosensitive paper to create a sort of blue and white negative of the item. But the image format also links itself to the study of architectural structures at the site of the blueprint and to the avant-garde's embrace of the color blue to study perception and the psychic effects of color. (Think Yves Klein.) So Christian Marclay's marriage of the cyanotype and the increasingly defunct magnetic cassette medium is just as philosophically rich as it is beautiful. And indeed, the artist's prints are extremely beautiful. On view through October 11th at New York's Paula Cooper Gallery is a solo exhibition of the artist's work. One of the pieces included, Allover, looks like an ocean of castaway cassettes and tape ribbons doing a sort of dead man's float, while the title reads as a double entendre--the image is a time-based collage (blurring representational epochs and the time it takes for the picture to seep into the paper) in which the tapes are "all over" the page and the title also signals the fact that the tapes' heyday is "all over." On the contrary, Marclay's heyday is still roaring, as the artist continues to find new ways to intertwine concepts of visual and sonic composition and to turn what might otherwise amount to commodity fetishism into poignant commentary on the evolution of technology and the narrative forms we've generated to record-keep our romance with it. - Marisa Olson


    Image: Christian Marclay, Untitled (Madonna, Thy Word and Sonic Youth), 2008

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    Termite Art for Terminators

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    For a show with such a substantial title -- Hyper-Spatial Sentient Sopper Serum Scillystrations of Morph-Feral-Foglet-Fabbed Smart-Gels and Quacker-Cast Dataclouds of Public Panopticon Powder on Airborne Algorithmicracked-Out Recreational Diseases -- Shane Hope's exhibit at the Schroeder Romero / Winkleman Gallery Project Space in New York is easy to miss. Mounted in the short, cramped hallway connected the Schroeder Romero to the adjacent Winkleman gallery, it consists of hand-drawn museum-style wall plaques, each marked with a paper tag, as if the actual contents of the exhibit had been moved or borrowed. Upon closer inspection, the story told is much weirder: each absent artwork and its plaque appear to be from an art exhibit decades in the future. One piece entitled Going Splaces is "attributed to endLoc_encod*rk" and is said to consist of "Non-rival routing hyper-spatial wormhole in floating sheet of veiny tissue culture"; its tag claims that the artwork itself was removed for "interspecies study." Another work named How to Display Trans-Substrational Smartificial-Stoop-Ditty Cystemics Sic Schtick Ball, dated from 2066, by getArtistTrace (is that a name or a glitch?) purports to be made of an "airborne recreational disease induced qulinked crystalline rod matrix manifold pushed psy-pry pub-moldy foldies on a seeing-eye orb." This "Gift of cRo0k{$uE^Y1@, 2080.8.54" has been taken away due to "Quarantine/Immunizations." Spoofing both the cryptic inflations of contemporary art-speak and the rapid linguistic-mutations wrought by technological change (imagine explaining "text-messaging" or "phone pictures" to a time-traveler from 1985), Hope's whacked-out art-as-language-game has a warmly and disjunctively retro Joycean feel, but also alludes to the heretofore seldom-asked question of what art will be like in a post-Singularity existence. - Ed Halter

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  • Soundwalk 2008- This year's Soundwalk takes place tomorrow from 5-10pm in the East Village Arts District in Downtown Long Beach. Indoor and outdoor sound installations by more than 60 artists will be stationed in multiple locations. Performances are scheduled throughout the day.

  • Crackle-canvas- Project by Tom Verbruggen on Network Research. "The work is essentially a series of built / circuitbent devices which when patched or networked together produce sounds that can be manipulated in live performance."

  • Audience by Random International and Chris O'Shea at the Royal Opera House- "In their latest installation, 'Audience', they [Random International] have teamed up with interaction designer, Chris O'Shea, to design the basic characteristics of human behavior into the individual elements of the installation, aiming to redefine the relationship between viewer and technology...Showing a group of amicable objects, 'Audience' at the ROH is displayed as a series of autonomously behaving, 'head-like' mirrors, that react organically and collectively to members of the public as they move through them."
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    Encore? - Remi Blanes

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    Taking it to the Tavern

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    Red76 is an artist collective who employ a variety of media, including the internet, video, photography, printed matter, and social interaction. In fact, their use of materials is more a matter of calling up the right tools for the right job, but their projects are always infused with a kind of critical repositioning of default installation techniques and didactics. When exhibiting in a museum, they are likely to eschew wall text in favor of a giant arrow directing your attention to what you are really meant to see. In part, this bravery to bend the rules gets to the heart of their work: a persistent effort to create and critique public spaces. While Portland-based artist Sam Gould founded Red76, its membership constantly rotates, and the group privileges its open source ideals over attributed authorship. In this vein, many of their projects take the shape of "how-to" instructions, such as How to... Protest Song Karaoke, in which participants are encouraged to preface public karaoke performances with comments about the supposedly unknown political content of otherwise sappy mainstream pop hits. News Blackout was a successful example of that celebrated artists' trick known as the one-liner. The piece is a video in which someone strategically blacks out newspaper text with a black marker in order to make a statement about what often gets left out of the news. Their latest project The Battery Republic, which begins this weekend, also positions itself as an intervention. The weeklong series takes the form of a mobile tavern, which will occupy a room at the Park Avenue Armory as part of Creative Time's Democracy In America exhibition, as well as various other locations around the city. The collective will use this politicized space as a site for a variety of activities, ranging from conversations with visitors ...

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