Italian artists Molleindustria promise "radical games against the dictatorship of entertainment," and their latest effort may be their most direct statement against the pleasure industry to date. Touted as "playable theory," the Free Culture Game offers a ludic metaphor for the battle between copyright encroachments and the free exchange of knowledge, ideas and art. A circular field represents The Common, where knowledge can be freely shared and created; your job is to maintain a healthy ecology of yellow idea-bubbles bouncing from person to person before they can be sucked into the dark outer ring representing the forces of The Market. Your cursor, shaped like the Creative Commons logo, pushes the ideas around with a sort of reverse-magnetic repulsion field (a clever alternative to the typical shooting, eating or jumping-on-top-of-and-smooshing actions of many other 2-D games). People who absorb free, round ideas stay green and happy, while those who only consume square market-produced ones become grey and inverted. The game never really ends: you can only do better or worse, suggesting by analogy that the fight for free culture will be an ongoing struggle without end. For those who wish to kill additional worktime minutes, Molleindustria's site includes an archive of past games, which take on topics such as the clash of religions, the Catholic Church pedophile scandal, flextime, labor and their notorious take on McDonald's, a cute simulator that takes you from slaughterhouse to boardroom. - Ed HalterImage: Free Culture Game (Screenshot)
After navigating my way through one of the busiest train stations in the world, and a two hour journey, I arrived in Nanjing where the Nanjing Triennial, the city's third, was still unfinished when I turned up to the city's history museum. Entitled 'Reflective Asia', the exhibition is an ambitious survey of contemporary art in Asia. An anti-western bent ran throughout the show, in stark contrast to Maharaj's declaration of openness and internationalism at the Guangzhou Triennial.
Of those pieces that were in operation the day that I visited, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's piece Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam was a moving underwater video of rickshaws being pulled by their drivers. Kim Kira's A Security Garden as Paranoia is an installation piece that plays on systems of display and surveillance with arrangements of bonsai trees, tacky Disney toys, neon lights, classical Korean artifacts with security cameras and monitors hidden between them. Another South Korean artist, Joonho Jeon's triptych of videos, Hyper Realism, is a comment on his own country's neighbor, North Korea. On one screen is an animation of a crowd of people trying to scale a wall but the video loops before anyone can reach the other side. The middle screen shows waltzing toy soldiers and the third brings the figure on the North Korean 100 won note to life as a man who walks around aimlessly in the scenery.
After my journey around the country, it was evident that the three major bi/triennials took significantly different paths in terms of theme and execution, while at the same time capturing important facets of contemporary art production within the rapidly shifting landscape of China today.
Based in London, but currently resident ...
Christina McPhee recently presented Shake Stations at dorkbot-nyc. The project, which is currently in progress, studies the work of fellow artist and friend DV Rogers' geologically interactive, kinetic earthwork known as the Parkfield Interventional EQ Fieldwork or PIEQF in the form of a stark, dusty Western-style video documentation. McPee calls the work, located in Parkfield, CA, a "sideshow attraction of generative audience participation," where the elaborate wooden scaffolding, looking something like the planked sidewalk of an old West saloon, is activated to shake like an earthquake tremor when motion sensor cameras powered by industrial strength generators trigger movement around it. Incredibly sensitive to its exterior surroundings, PIEQF not only reacts to real seismic events so small they are normally missed by observers, but also to passing cars, wild animals, and even weather patterns.
McPee's film will detail the construction and philosophy behind the creation of the covered pit. PIEQF was conceived as a temporary human intervention to deep time, and McPhee's will elaborate on this point through her meditative use of montage, which in her words, enables "latent energy landscapes" to unfold. Drawing on the uneasy relationship between man and the natural environment, the film will allude to a human sense of both wonderment and dread towards large scale seismic activity.
DV Rogers' PIEQF Station is scheduled to remain in Parkfield from September through part of November, with more details for the adventurous at http://allshookup.org/. - Melody Chamlee
Opening this weekend at Utrecht's BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, "Artur Żmijewski: The Social Studio" features a handful of the Polish artist's recent works, including videos Them (2007) and Powtórzenie/Repetition (2005). The exhibition title offers a helpful, conceptual frame for Żmijewski's pieces, which take the form of quasi-documentary "social experiments," often counterpoising the disabled or marginalized with signs or representatives of societal ideals and political force. In photograph and video series Oko za oko/Eye for an eye (1998), for example, Żmijewski combines the bodies of amputees and those of the physically fit into "corporal hybrids." The articulation of bodily difference here also becomes the precondition for new forms of social interaction and integration, achieved through Żmijewski's manipulation of the conventions of portraiture. These results are in keeping with the artist's broader agenda, comprehensively laid out in his essay, "The Applied Social Arts," that artistic production should "take responsibility and engage...with the current social and political reality." A timely return to past controversy, Powtórzenie/Repetition re-conducts Philip Zimbardo's 1971 Stanford Prison experiment, in which ordinary college students assumed the roles of wardens and prisoners in a mock-prison environment. Claiming to be an expert in the "psychology of evil," Zimbardo here sought to show the predictable behaviors people adopt in such charged, power-based circumstances. While the facility with which the students adopted sadistic or masochistic roles then seemed to confirm Zimbardo's theory, Żmijewski's participants chose an alternative solution: they protested the project and collectively left the prison. Though Powtórzenie/Repetition caused a good deal of outrage in Poland, its participants' action does lend some credence to Żmijewski's belief that provocative art may "influence social consciousness and stimulate reflection." - Tyler Coburn
Image: Artur Żmijewski, Powtórzenie/Repetition, 2005 (Still)
Sarah Cook kindly took a moment to speak to me this week about the exhibition she curated, "Untethered", which opens tonight at Eyebeam in New York. The group exhibition, which takes the form of a sculpture garden and explores "everyday objects deprogrammed of their original function, embedded with new intelligence, and transformed into surrealist and surprising readymades", includes 15 artists, many of whom are current or former Eyebeam fellows or residents. "Untethered" will remain up through October 25th. - Ceci Moss
Ceci Moss: How did you first begin working on "Untethered"?
Sarah Cook: Preamble: I am an inaugural curatorial fellow at Eyebeam through my work with CRUMB (Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss). My position was enabled by a three-year grant received by CRUMB, which allows me to use Eyebeam as a site for research into curating new media art, the question of how collaboration works through international networks, and how curators can work in lab environments. I arrived in New York in April; before that Amanda McDonald Crowley and I had been discussing whether I should take advantage of an opportunity to curate an exhibition as part of the Fall program as one way to put my research into practice, given that exhibition practice is my strength. Eyebeam was interested in challenging that and allowing me, through my fellowship, to think about curating in a different way.
Together with Liz Slagus, Director of Education and Public Programs at Eyebeam, I visited with all of Eyebeam's resident artists and fellows (I had participated in the juries which had selected them) and got to know what they were working on in the labs. At the same time, I tried to learn about Eyebeam's exhibition history, its use of its ...