Posts for October 2009

Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt, and Cybernetics

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Cybernetics is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts. The word itself seems sinister and futuristic, but the term has ancient roots - the Greek word kybernetes, meaning steersman. Cybernetics was famously defined in more recent times by Norbert Wiener in 1948, as the science of “control and communication, in the animal and the machine.” Words like "control” may seem to have creepy overtones, but at its heart, cybernetics is simply the study of systems. "Cybernetics is the discipline of whole systems thinking...a whole system is a living system is a learning system," as Stewart Brand put it in 1980. Cybernetic systems have been used to model all kinds of phenomena, with varying degrees of success - factories, societies, machines, ecosystems, brains -- and many noted artists and musicians derived inspiration from this powerful conceptual toolkit. Cybernetics may be one of the most interdisciplinary frameworks ever devised; its theories link engineering, math, physics, biology, psychology, and an array of other fields, and ideas from cybernetics inevitably infiltrated the arts. The musician and producer Brian Eno, for example, was a big fan of connecting ideas from cybernetics to the studio environment, and to music composition, in his work in the 1970s.

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Next Week

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Image: Wojciech Kosma, Wait, 2008 (Courtesy of VVORK)

Join us next week, Friday Oct. 30th at 7pm, for this month's New Silent Series event "Variety Evening at the New Museum." Berlin-based collective VVORK will present a contemporary variety show, composed of daring and experimental translations of original artworks. Variety is inspired by how culture of all kinds--sound, moving image, graphics--cycles easily between states and forms. For this one-night event, local performers will stage works by artists Wojciech Kosma, Vladimir Nikolic, Tao Lin, Pierre Bismuth, Adrian Piper, Kristin Lucas and Claire Fontaine. Containing readings, video, performance, dance and music, Variety will present the acts together in a dramaturgy that can be understood as a single performance, allowing for new interpretations of each piece. When finished, the evening will be carried on as a single score, with instructions for how it can be repeated at different venues in the future. VVORK is a website (vvork.com) and curatorial project by artists Aleksandra Domanovic, Oliver Laric, Georg Schnitzer and Christoph Priglinger.

This New Silent Series program is made possible by the Austrian Cultural Forum NYC, and the Experimental Television Center, New York.

Friday, October 30th @ 7pm
at the New Museum, New York, NY
BUY TICKETS HERE

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GrassWalk (2009) - Nicholas O'Brien

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Emoticon (2007) - Eddo Stern

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Call for Submissions

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The Georgia Tech Center for Musical Technology is hosting a competition for new musical instruments. More information and a link to the original call below.

The second annual Guthman Musical Instrument Competition presented by the Georgia Tech center for Music Technology will award $10,000 to the best novel musical instruments as judged by a panel of experts. There will be a $5,000 grand prize — all participants eligible — given by Sharon Perry Galloway in honor of her husband, Dr. Thomas D. Galloway, Dean of the College of Architecture, 1992-2007.

Any new musical instrument is eligible for the competition. Instruments may generate sound acoustically or electronically, they may exist in physical or virtual manifestations, and they may be played by humans, robots, or computers. They may modify, improve, or extend existing instruments — including the human voice — or they may offer entirely new design paradigms. New instruments which cross over these categories or which defy any such categorization are also welcome.

Submissions will be accepted until November 10

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Hand From Above (2009) - Chris O'Shea

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Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

Unsuspecting pedestrians will be tickled, stretched, flicked or removed entirely in real-time by a giant deity.

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Prop (2009) - Siebren Versteeg

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50" Plasma Screen, Stick, Single Channel DVD

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Need for Speed (Cargo Cult) (2005) - Brody Condon

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Need for Speed is a Lamborghini Countach from 1985 made in cast urethane branches. The original 3D model for the car was extracted from the popular racing simulation Need for Speed. The term “cargo cult” refers to the history of low tech, ritualized simulation of military aircraft by indigenous South Pacific tribes in the mid 20th century.

-- THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Upgrade (2007) - Kelly Jazvac

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A used car is completely wrapped, inside and out, in an adhesive vinyl skin to make it look like a 2007 Porsche 911.

-- THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Homeland Security (Blanket) (2008) - Jerilea Zempel

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I was going to write an artist statement about how I wanted to turn an oversized, macho, gas-guzzling vehicle into a technological ghost by shrouding it in a white, fuzzy cover, reminiscent of women's handwork from another time, another place.

What happened when I re-entered the US from Canada made me re-examine what my lowly art project could mean in a larger political sphere. And it gave me an idea for a title.

My worn-out passport set off the first alarm with the US Border Patrol. US citizen who have traveled to the places I've been over the past 9 years (Africa, Australia, Mexico, Central and South America, Turkey and Europe) need to be looked at more carefully.

A half hour at the computer gave the agent cause to put me into another suspicious category that merited a full car search. After going through my computer, digital camera, cell phone, business cads, suitcase, reading materials, boxes of yarn and crochet tools, she returned with my sketchbook in hand. I was taken to a room and told to sit on a bench with handcuffs at both ends.

"Just what were you doing in Canada? We think you're engaged in some kind of copyright infringement." The accusation was based on drawings of cars like this. After a lively discussion, my university faculty status and positive ID persuaded her to call of the dogs. Then she welcomed me back to the US.

-- THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Note: Zempel was also interviewed on the Colbert Report about this incident and project.

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