Posts for 2011

Talk to Her: A Conversation with Paola Antonelli

(1)


SMSlingshot, Christian Zöllner, Patrick Tobias Fischer, Thilo Hoffmann, and Sebastian Piatza of VR/Urban (2009) - Photo by VR/Urban

Talk to Me: Design and Communication between People and Objects is an ambitious exhibition at MoMA curated by Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Paola Antonelli. Focused on new modes of communication and interactivity, the exhibition captures over 194 works from an international group of aritsts and designers. The space is divided into five themes and includes work ranging from Jason Rohrer's minimalist game Passage (2008) to Sputniko!'s role-reversing Menstruation Machine-Takashki's Take (2010). After touring Talk to Me on a rainy weekday with Paola, we met in her office to discuss the importance of collaboration, QR tags, and speculate about the future.


Jason Huff: You have curated numerous shows on the frontier of design and its intersection with technology among other fields. Design and the Elastic Mind, from 2008, stands out because of it’s timing within the latest rush of social technology and interaction that has arguably become the norm over the past few years. What makes Talk to Me distinct in this lineage of exhibitions?

Paola Antonelli: In Design and the Elastic Mind, the communication between people was just one of the facets as it was about design and science in general. Therefore, there was a really big presence of synthetic biology, for instance, or nanotechnology, nanophysics, robotics. There were a lot of different topics involved. Thinking back, pieces like Google Earth, Google Moon and Google Mars from Design and the Elastic Mind would have fit in [Talk to Me]. So could have the One Laptop per Child project.

But it really was about designers working with scientists and scientists working with designers. At that time, the conclusion was that designers and scientists worked very well together because they both had ambitions to occupy a different position in society and in culture. Designers want to be taken more seriously; they are tired of being considered “prettifiers” that go straight to the House and Home section of the New York Times, and scientists want to be considered less lofty, less abstract, disengaged, and disinterested in human beings....

 

READ ON »


Joanne McNeil in N+1's Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette

(0)

 

N+1, with the help of Astra Taylor and Sarah Leonard, have published Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette, which is being distributed at Zuccotti Park and other "occupations" around the country. The PDF is also available for free download. Rhizome senior editor Joanne McNeil contributed an essay, "Occupy the Internet":

....

"We must occupy real and virtual spaces,” Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa tweeted, quoting an occupier at the second Washington Square park General Assembly. Without one there couldn’t exist the other.

Every morning the seemingly impossible occurs — the occupied territory remains in the hands of occupiers. Without Facebook, social networking would disperse to dedicated alternatives from Piratepad to Eventbrite. But modularly redistributing Zuccotti Park would destroy its momentum. An encampment of less than 24 hours is not a home. Living in the territory is what sets its example for the rest of the world.

Occupiers play chess with chess pieces and read books made of paper. They partake in activities the internet is said to be dematerializing. Part of the utopic vision of Zuccotti Park as a microcosm is that real and virtual worlds may more peacefully coexist.

Occupy Wall Street’s actual web presence (http://occupywallst.org/) —“unofficial de facto online resource” —is a lean website not much more advanced than what Indymedia provided a decade before it. But its simplicity offers replicability. In the first month, over a thousand cities have occupied, many with bare bones “Occupy” websites of their own...

 

 

LINK »


Artist Profile: Rosa Menkman

(0)

Collapse of PAL 2010-2011, Rosa Menkman

Through your academic research you’ve developed an intimate understanding and typology of the glitch. You even refer to glitches as a “wonderful interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse, towards the ruins of destroyed meaning.” Do you think that the rarity of glitches gives them a greater significance amidst the endless improvements and sleekness of new technologies? Are there any issues around the production and the exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about? 

Naturally, working with and researching glitches, a concept that etymologically refers to an unstable moment(um) makes me reflect on related issues on a regular basis. In glitch art, where the glitch has been lifted from its technological or informational basis into a social context), the glitch often breaks the expectations of the user, the viewer or maker and as such, infuses a specific momentum with a different or new meaning.

Glitch art is often something to reflect on, a momentum that depends on informational input, technology, time, context and the actors (audience) role or perspective. I like to ask questions like: what are the materials of a particular work of digital glitch art? And from which perspectives should I describe it (from the makers point of view, an art historical or technological point of view or a viewers perspective). What is the (technological) process or referenced process behind the glitch? Problems of conservation and preservation I think are equally interesting - although in certain cases a negative answer (glitches don't need to be preserved) can be sufficient. I think the answer to these questions depends on the particular work of art; there is not one unequivocal answer.
 
I don't think glitches are rare; every medium has its glitches, its fingerprints ...

MORE »


A Crash Course in Post-Punk

(0)

It should come as no surprise that under-recognized post-punk band Crash Course in Science met while attending art school in Philadelphia in 1979. Band members Dale Feliciello, Mallory Yago, and Michael Zodorozny experimented with the then-burgeoning musical genre by replacing the jangular and distorted guitars, rhythmic drums, and synthesizer beats with childhood toys and common kitchen appliances. Their choice of instruments was born out of curiosity as much as necessity: How could they create the music they wanted with their limited student resources?

Thankfully, their choices resulted in a sound uniquely their own: peculiarly original minimalism vocals mixed with danceable and downright catchy beats. Coupled with a need to express and explore their interest in performance art and music, their final product in such songs as “Cakes in the Home,” and “Cardboard Lamb” resonated for years after. The band is frequently regarded as an influential force in the electro sound and the techno industrial genres.

I recently spoke with Zodorozny about their initial interest in performance art and how it influenced everything from their live shows to the creation of their Frankenstein-like instruments.

 


 

You've been classified as a post-punk band. Would you consider that to be an accurate term for your sound and aesthetics?

Crash Course in Science was formed in 1979 so we would consider being referred to as post-punk band accurate. We were inspired by punk-rock music and we we’re all big fans of the genre. We were also inspired by the work of Brian Eno prior to the punk explosion. As artists and songwriters, Crash Course in Science became a format for our expression.

 

Can you tell me a little more about the performance art aspect tied to the band? What was/is your history with performance art?

The three of us performed personal performance ...

MORE »


Performance, Public, and Online Presence: Gretta Louw's Controlling_Connectivity

(3)


An artist living in a gallery for the duration of a show is a trope of visual art performance, which left a mark in popular culture portrayals of performance art. Even though these works emphasize considerations of the gallery space, the relationship between the artist and the audience is not always the center of the piece. In the iconic I Like America and America Likes Me, Joseph Beuys was rushed from the airport to a New York gallery in an ambulance and left in an ambulance, leaving the US without having set foot on its soil. Tracy Emin lived in a locked room in a Stockholm gallery as part of Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made in 1996. The audience could only see her naked figure through fish-eye lenses embedded in the walls as she spent her days painting. 

In a new project launching November 2, Berlin-based artist Gretta Louw takes this relationship two steps forward, one step back. Like Beuys, she could not be seen at the gallery, but like Emin, she will be viewed through a lens. Twenty-four hours a day for the ten day duration of the show, Louw will be in constant communication with her audience via different online platforms: Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth. The project, Controlling_Connectivity, is described on Art Laboratory Berlin's site,

Controlling_Connectivity uses the pervasiveness of internet-based social networking, as well as the obligation and opportunity for constant connection with these platforms as a paradigm for a severe and systematic disruption of normal, socially accepted patterns of life and interpersonal interaction during a self-documented performance. Taking to its natural extreme the notion that new technologies are increasingly dictating our social interaction, professional life, and have a far reaching effect on many other aspects of daily life, Gretta Louw ...

MORE »


Snapshots of Occupy Wall Street

(0)

Reuters/Eduardo Munoz via The Atlantic In Focus

On a quiet night, Zuccotti Park feels more like a LARP than a demonstration. Everyone deep in character with a specific task. Extemporized librarians, scanning books. The media team inside a cat’s cradle of crisscrossing wires, barricade by the discarded boxes of donated devices. The scent of detergent from a block away as the sanitation unit mops the pavement. 

What should we be? "Tactical beekeepers!" my friend Melissa suggested; a joke on the state ban on face covering that police were enforcing, accounting for the absence of Guy Fawkes masks and bandanas. But actually my role there was as tourist, which anyone could tell whenever I checked my phone for text messages or turned the device horizontally for snapshots of witty posters.

In what would be the shadow of the World Trade Center, and at the heart of both a neighborhood traumatized and city district that represents financial power the world over; the psychogeography of Zuccotti Park will inspire theoretic naval gazing for years to come. But every Occupy Wall Street march in New York seems to poetically incorporate the history and semiotics of the city. Times Square marchers in Milton Glasner's "I (Heart) NY" t-shirts, waving sparklers in the air, singing show tunes along with a brass band behind the TKTS booth while tourists feverishly snapped photos, as they would any other urban spectacle. Another photo op: the wall of riot cops beneath the Washington Square arch, the Empire State Building gleaming directly north, lights piercing the night sky. After the General Assembly meeting disassembled for the midnight curfew, it seemed like anyone out on Bleecker Street that Saturday night could have been part of it. 

This movement was built on unforgettable images.

 

MORE »


Time and Revolution at the 12th Istanbul Biennial and ISEA 2011

(0)

 

The 12th Istanbul Biennial and ISEA 2011 coincided this year, resulting in a jam-packed week of activity. At any hour of the day, there was a dizzying array of talks, performances, exhibitions, and art openings across the city of Istanbul. Organizing two high profile, international art events at the same time was a wise choice, as it produced an element of synergy between them. The biennial exhibition was especially attentive to the Arab Spring, and the effect this has had in the region, while ISEA was more oriented to the problems and future possibilities of technology. Taking in both the biennial and ISEA in the same week lead me to think about the power of technology, and its significance for both established and emerging democracies.

ISEA kicked off with a keynote entitled “Time to Live” by the writer and academic Sean Cubitt. Taking its title from the TTL mechanism used in the movement of data across a network or computer, Cubitt argued that the struggle over space and time is a defining aspect of digital media, and ultimately, that time becomes alienated in liaison with new technologies. Time, for him, was once a humanistic force, but has now become something that is used over and against humanity through its instrumentalization. In order to chart the progressive alienation of time, Cubitt points to the development of three forms of media that he sees as dominant beginning in the 20th century — spreadsheets, databases, and geographical information systems. These forms have fundamentally altered the use and understanding of both time and space, resulting in their management and optimization towards biopolitical ends. The grid is the organizational method used across spreadsheets, databases, and geographical information systems, and in the closing section of his talk, Cubitt offered the vector as an oppositional form capable of suggesting new alternatives to the grid. In order to unearth differing structures such as the vector, Cubitt urged artists and researchers alike to go back and revisit earlier, obsolete technologies and practices with a fresh eye.

Sean Cubitt's Lecture "Time to Live" at ISEA 2011

I had Cubitt’s call to re-examine history for new solutions at the back of my mind when I visited the Istanbul Biennial, as the show’s unique premise, organized around the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, seemed to similarly dig into the past in order to find pressing correspondences with the present. Curated by Jens Hoffman and Adriano Pedrosa, the exhibition spread across two large warehouses adjacent to the Istanbul Modern. The exhibition’s design, created by architect Ryue Nishizawa, was comprised of a maze-like series of various sized rooms without ceilings, whose entrances and exits emptied out into passageways. Corrugated metal covered the exterior walls of the rooms, giving it the semblance of a building or home. In the catalog, it was explained that the Nishizawa had intended to mimic Istanbul’s intersecting streets and alleys. If anything, the layout allowed for an overlapping exchange between the wide range of subjects explored in the show, as each room was either grouped works around a theme from Gonzales-Torres’ oeuvre or presented work by an individual artist.

 

READ ON »


Weekend Clicking

(0)

Posters from the May 1968 protests are collected in Beauty Is in the Street, via The Paris Review

 

MORE »


Artist Profile: Simon Denny

(0)

Corporate Video Decisions, 2011

“Corporate Video Decisions,” your current exhibition at Michael Lett gallery in Auckland, includes the covers of Corporate Video Decisions, a magazine from the 1980s about the use of video technology in corporate culture, shown on flatscreen televisions, and a series of printouts of the entire content Diligent Boardbooks’s website, a paperless business software company based in Christchurch, NZ and New York. I’m really fascinated by this double inversion of the way content is communicated to us: the print magazine on monitors, the website printed out. Can you talk a little bit about the exhibition and your use of inversion, as well as languages of marketing and advertisement, as an aesthetic strategy?

Yeah, I should say first that there is another layer of processing that is maybe difficult to make out in the online photos of the exhibition. The print magazine covers were actually photographed playing as jpegs on the LCD 3D-enabled televisions, then that whole image is inkjet printed on canvas, twice—like two copies of each canvas—and these are screwed together with aluminum tubing between the two canvasses in each corner, spaced to mimic the dimensions of the monitor they depict. So you have two canvasses with the same image on top of each other in place of the monitors.

To answer the question, for me, the exhibition’s aim is to present two snapshots of different moments in the recent history of commercial video through looking at these quite different pieces of ephemera—a magazine and a website. The nature of video technology is such that a fast, controlled, obsolescence cycle is systemic to its existence, and materials and formats come and go very quickly. As this is the case, making an exhibition that has this fact built into the way it is presented is for me very important. That is to say, the way the content is presented should form a dynamic which helps describe the show’s themes. Depicting the fickle material conditions of video via changing formats of what is regarded at a certain moment to be contemporary ephemera (magazines, websites), which are then presented through another fast shifting technology (printing), one indicates these movements in the presentation structurally.

Contrasting this ephemerality with the themes that are covered in the 80s magazine—trade fairs, gender and minority equality, economic conditions, crisis culture, generic products—(these topics clearly relate very well to our current moment also), underlines the truism that while technology might change, certain issues tend to be relevant for longer periods.

For me the exhibition’s format highlights this tension between the permanent and the impermanent, between vast material change and comparatively slow shifts in life/work conditions.

On the language of advertising, one has of course this ambivalent relationship to it where one knows it’s manipulative, but its efficiency is seductive and affective. One most likely follows this language’s logic implicitly in one’s self. That is to say this way of communicating is unavoidable and is just there. I am not sure if looking at this is really an aesthetic strategy. Even just conversing can be considered to be a commercial act, and it’s not so easy to attach a value to this. It is one’s life, after all...

 

READ ON »


Nett ist die kleiner Schwester von Scheiße: A Little Snapshot of Berlin

(1)

 Ed Ruscha Things Oriental (2011) - Juliette Bonneviot

It has been said that one can see the best and worst art of the entire world side-by-side in Berlin: due to its liberation from more explicitly market-driven cares, art in Berlin can be seen as simultaneously less competitive and less desperate—in essence, it strains itself less to reach a hungry market. Berlin's excess art becomes, well, excessive, and the practice of finding good work becomes a sport more rigorous than that of New York.

Wealth in Berlin and the art collections it begets articulates itself exceedingly differently than the more overt wealth in western Germany, New York or London. While to some Berlin may be an antidote for a more market-driven art world, to others, the eastern German city may just be overrun with mediocre art, or plain old boring.

This list of artists is just a snapshot of a small part of a diverse but interconnected scene, with affiliated peoples coming from nations such as Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, Iceland, France, Poland, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, and more. Although this “scene” has warped and changed significantly since I first began spending extended periods of time in Berlin a few years ago, a number of the key players — AIDS 3D, Rafael Rozendaal, Oliver Laric, Aleksandra Domanovic — remain as integral parts. Perhaps the newest phenomenon connecting this group of artists is the new Neukölln bar “Times”, owned and operated by American artists Calla HenkelMax Pitegoff, and Lindsay Lawson. The three undoubtedly deserve recognition in their own right, not only for bringing a community of expat artists, curators, and writers together from all over the world, but also for their own work.

 

READ ON »