Posts for September 2008

Interview with Astria Suparak

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Astria Suparak took the position as Director at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University in Spring 2008. This fall, she begins an ambitious calendar of exhibitions that includes a solo show by artist Julia Christensen and a retrospective of the prankster-politico collective, the Yes Men. Before this position and a stint at the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, Suparak developed her distinctive style as an independent curator; from 1998-2006, she developed touring packages of emerging video and new media works and took them on the road, stopping at Museums, highschools, film festivals and dime stores, introducing audiences, mainly in the US and Europe, to a new generation of artists working with the moving image. One show was in collaboration with this interviewer entitled Fail Better. This interview took place over email before her fall calendar at the Miller Gallery began and sketches out a curatorial career that went from toting video and film prints in a suitcase to more rooted practice.

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Re-Animator

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Kota Ezawa's current exhibit at Murray Guy, New York presents two new pieces done in the artist's own established method of rotoscoping, for which he uses a computer to re-draw individual frames from video or film source materials, then compiles them into moving images, granting his work the look of motion-captured digital animation, but created through a more classic, labor-intensive process. The first is Brawl, based on a YouTube video of an infamous 2004 Pistons-Pacers game that erupted into a massive free-for-all fight. Ezawa retains the footage's original soundtrack, and has transferred his animation to 16mm, looped for exhibition. The second, LYAM 3D, repurposes moments from Alain Resnais' 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad, choosing sequences in which actors stand stock-still while the camera pans. His video is processed in stereoscopic 3D, and watched through colored glasses, giving the re-drawn actors the quality of 2.5-D cut-out puppets. The two pieces continue the artist's penchant for taking on emotionally-charged sources (the OJ Simpson trial, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's sex tape, the Kennedy assassination) and draining them of their punch by rendering them as superflat, designy cartoons. The artist has said that he aims for a "banality" or "hollowed-out" quality for his work, and in this objective he succeeds. He also claims to see his work as moving paintings, rather than films or videos per se -- citing Brawl, for example, as a nod to compositions one might find in a work by Rubens. However, these would be rather unambitious goals for anyone who takes on the medium of animation; one wonders, for example, if the use of 16mm might bear any greater consequence than its ability to project more muted tones. Though some viewers apparently find satisfaction in Ezawa's coy formal references and cool ...

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  • Heartland- "Heartland is an interdisciplinary project which reflects on the visual culture, art and music of the heart of the United States. The Heartland project consists of a group exhibition in the Van Abbemuseum together with a musical programme in the Muziekcentrum. It will also include ancillary events, such as debates, lectures, a photo exhibition, publications, and an artists in residence programme."

  • Michael Riedel, Filmed Film, David Zwirner Gallery- "From 1999 to 2002, over forty hours of video footage were recorded in an effort to film existing films and to capture, incidentally, the circumstances of their screening/viewing...Chiefly interested in the natural disruptions and imperfections, Riedel allows predetermined factors to dictate the project. For example, the length of the recording tape and the battery-life of the camera determine the length of the artist's works. Thus, the original film and the filmed version are rarely identical in length; most of the films end inside a camera bag and some start even before the original film has begun. All of the works were shot in color-mode and with sound, so otherwise defining characteristics of the original film such as "black-and-white" or "silent" are rendered inconsequential."

  • Venice Biennale 2008- Three part series covering the Venice Biennale of Architecture from Wallpaper*. The 2008 theme is "Out There: Architecture Beyond Building" and author Jonathan Bell explores the use of digital technology and green design in this year's exhibits.
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    Dialogue (1999) - Kumi Yamashita

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    Light, Motor, Styrene, Shadow

    More work by Kumi Yamashita

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    Sounding the Alarms

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    Jane Philbrick's "PULL" installation, at New York's Location One gallery, is definitively interactive. Not only does it require viewer participation to really make the work happen, but it invites reflection on the agency, authority, and influence of the viewer. Flanked by walls of 502 beautifully symmetrical, gridded, illuminated fire alarms, strobes, smoke detectors, siren horns, and control panels, the installation relies on (or questions) the human impulse to pull the trigger. Once a viewer does pull on an alarm handle, loud noises, flashing lights, and loud words bombard the participant's eyes and ears in a simultaneously beautiful and overwhelming cascade. The project is intended to reflect on questions of fear and control, as well as the seductive versus destructive nature of power. Philbrick's collaboration with Honeywell Labs instigates commentary on the ways in which these issues have trickled down into architectural, industrial, and consumer devices, while upping the volume on her ongoing investigations into the subjective dimensions of language and the voice. - Marisa Olson


    Image: Jane Philbrick, PULL, 2008

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    A Short Tour of Three Major Contemporary Art Exhibitions in China

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    Image: View from the 19th Floor of the Third Guangzhou Triennial

    Over the next three days, Claire Louise Staunton, current resident curator at the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Shenzhen, China, will file reports from this year's Guangzhou Triennial, Shanghai Bienniale, and Nanjing Triennial. - Ceci Moss

    The first stop on my journey is Guangzhou in the southwest of China, a humid and densely populated city with a liberal reputation. On the day of my visit to the Third Guangzhou Triennial, torrential rain poured down, which had a comically disastrous effect on the proceedings. Invitees were trapped and latecomers barred from the location for the exhibition's opening comments, Alain Fouraux and Rem Koolhaas' Times Museum, a rather utopian project proposed at the 2005's triennial that housed a small part of the larger exhibition. The rising flood and the downpour threatened curator Sarat Maharaj and his team with electrocution as they attempted to bid 'Farewell to Post-Colonialism' on the short-circuited PA system.

    Sadly California-based artist Simon Leung's video piece on the ground floor was rained out, but after waiting 30 minutes to get into the only elevator, the 14th floor served as a life boat with video work The Rock Point Inn from Huang Xiaopeng. The piece interrogates the self-colonialization of contemporary China through his subtly manipulated depiction of Thames Town, an exact replica of Lyme Regis, UK. In the adjacent room was Wang Jiahao's F1City:REeAL TV a video game using real-life footage which presented itself as a commentary on the growth of Formula One racing in the third world.

    I ascended the theoretical and actual quagmire of the top floor where the rain poured dangerously close to the numerous sound and video installations from German artist Marc Behrens, the Chinese collective Sound Unit (Zhang Anding ...

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    Displacements (2005) - Michael Naimark

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    LAUNCH

    More work by Michael Naimark

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  • Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture by Marisa Olson- From Words Without Pictures, this essay is a must read. "There is a strain of net art referred to among its practitioners and those who follow it as "pro surfer" work. Characterized by a copy-and-paste aesthetic that revolves around the appropriation of web-based content in simultaneous celebration and critique of the internet and contemporary digital visual culture, this work -- heavy on animated gifs, YouTube remixes, and an embrace of old-school "dirtstyle" web design aesthetics -- is beginning to find a place in the art world. But it has yet to benefit from substantial critical analysis. My aim here is to outline ways in which the work of pro surfers holds up to the vocabulary given to us by studies of photography and cinematic montage. I see this work as bearing a surface resemblance to the use of found photography while lending itself to close reading along the lines of film formalism. Ultimately, I will argue that the work of pro surfers transcends the art of found photography insofar as the act of finding is elevated to a performance in its own right, and the ways in which the images are appropriated distinguishes this practice from one of quotation by taking them out of circulation and reinscribing them with new meaning and authority."
  • Now is the Time- Lectures series spread over 4 months at the University of Amsterdam. Program looks promising. "Now is the Time: Art and Theory in the 21st Century is a series of seven lecture evenings dedicated to seven themes that encircle the complex arena in which the arts of the new millennium are situated. Socially engaged themes like 9/11, globalisation and the turn to religion of our contemporary society are juxta¬≠posed with ...
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    Interactive Crowd Sourcing

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    zellen.jpg

    While the term "crowd sourcing" generally refers to a large group of people (i.e. internet users) contributing to the realization of a project, it might also apply in interesting ways to the newest installation by Jody Zellen. In "The Blackest Spot," at LA's Fringe gallery, she culls footage of crowds and corrals them into content categories which are in turn activated by visitors to the exhibition. While the crowd is usually theorized as a single entity or herd, Zellen's selections exemplify the many different means and reasons for which people choose to assemble in a single spot. When viewers step on censor-marked spots on the floor of the gallery, they trigger audio responses linked to the gatherings, ranging from quietude to cacophony. As a result, Zellen's audience is compelled to consider their own identification with those portrayed in the collected images. - Marisa Olson

    Image: Jody Zellen, The Blackest Spot, 2008

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    A Short Tour of Three Major Contemporary Art Exhibitions in China

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    shanghai-museumsmall.jpg
    Image: Shanghai Art Museum

    I arrived by air over the uniform grid-like cityscape of Shanghai, a graphic image that acted as an uncanny precursor to this year's bienniale. In the center of the slick corporate heart of the city resides the location for the 7th Shanghai Bienniale, at the Shanghai Art Museum, a former colonial equestrian sports club now surrounded by Western coffee chains and mirrored towers. Curators Julian Heynen and Henk Slager employ their neologism 'Translocomotion' to title a show dealing with issues of migration and urbanism both particular to Shanghai and in a wider context. In comparison to Guangzhou's "Farewell to Post-Colonialism," the show was carefully organized and maintained a well rehearsed theme. That said, it came across as rather sterile, despite some remarkable works by Chinese and international artists. Divided into three main sections, spatially and thematically distinct but interdependent, the Shanghai Biennale comprised 'Project', 'Keynotes' and 'Context', with an annex devoted to the heritage of the People's Square, a park next to the museum.

    'Project' on the ground floor and on the external peripheries of the museum involved 25 different artists, each commissioned to work in response to the People's Square. One stand out was a series of videos by Ayse Erkmen which captured many of the clichés and western interpretations of the dynamically expanding city of Shanghai. Zhou Tao's video, 1,2,3,4 was a hilarious parody of the militaristic chants typically sung by Chinese service industry employees as a form of unifying the workforce. A couple of installations from Bethan Huws and Yin Xiuzhen were worth the pause.

    'Keynote' on the second floor was devoted to just three major artists or groups. Mike Kelley's Kandor-Con was a disturbing alternate sci-fi reality, embodying real-life issues facing the ...

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