Posts for August 2011

Artist Profile: LoVid (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus)

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LoVid is a 2011 Rhizome Commissions winner for their proposal, iParade: Unchanged when Exhumed.

VideoWear, (2003), Mixed Media Sculpture and Performance


Given your interest in revealing electronic circuitry and conduits as a symbol of the body, do you feel that your wearable pieces like Coat of Embrace are extensions of your own body's natural electric currents? Also, reflecting on early sci-fi and cyborg culture, what is your future vision of human interactions with electronics?

All of our instruments, wearable or not, act as extensions of our bodies. Our tactile relationship with the technologies that we use includes building our instruments by hand and designing them around our bodies. Despite or as a result of their origins, these instruments modify how we move while we play them, in ways we cannot predict in advance. They change not just our use of technology, but also the communication between us and our audience during the performance. In some of our work, we amplify natural electrical signals from the human body when we invite our visitors and audience to touch exposed electronic components that are connected to our instruments. This allows the live signals from their bodies to affect the final audio/video. We like creating this circuit between natural and man-made signals as it fits with our vision of a conglomeration of media/technology/electricity with natural and organic systems. In terms of past/future visions, we tend to think in terms of alternate possibilities for both present and future.  We envision co-evolution of natural and man-made systems where interactions are innate and automatic.

Many of your pieces include live performance and video that feed into each other. When creating these types of pieces with feedback loops, do you start by searching for a particular visual you are trying to achieve or ...

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Dushko Petrovich Reviews MIT Press Book About New Tendencies and Bit International in the Boston Globe

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Bit International (via computerkunst.org)

Dushko Petrovich, editor of Paper Monument, reviews “A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art: New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961-1973” (MIT Press) for the Boston Globe:

From 1961 to 1973, a loosely organized group of artists and scientists coalesced around the radical idea that the emerging technology of the computer could be used to make a different kind of art. Known simply as the New Tendencies, this heterogeneous movement included dozens of men and women from the far reaches of the industrialized world. Often working under collective monikers such as Equipo 57 or Grupo Anonima, most of them were as ambivalent about individual fame as they were about the artistic status of their activities, which they preferred to call “research.”

However they saw their own work, their visual innovations were quickly recognized as cutting-edge art, and in a matter of years began appearing in landmark exhibitions at venues such as the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Almost as quickly, however, these early experiments were overtaken by what they made possible, and the idealistic foundations of computer art got hidden beneath the more elaborate operations that followed...

Curiously, the first worldwide movement of computer art focused many of its forward-thinking activities in a city not particularly known for technology, in a country that no longer exists. Beginning with the 1961 New Tendency exhibition mounted by Matko Mestrovic at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, hundreds of artists, critics, and curators started gathering regularly in what was then Yugoslavia, united in the belief that you could generate visual art using this strange, almost philosophical new machine. Like-minded experimenters flocked from all over Europe, and from as far away as the Americas and even ...

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5 Million Dollars 1 Terabyte (2011) - Manuel Palou

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5 Million Dollars 1 Terrabyte (2011) is a sculpture consisting of a 1 TB Black External Hard Drive containing $5,000,000 worth of illegally downloaded files. A full list of the files with clickable download links can be found here.

 

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RECOMMENDED READING: Marx After Duchamp, or The Artist's Two Bodies

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Excerpt from Marx After Duchamp, or The Artist's Two Bodies by Boris Groys on e-flux. Groys offers a portrait of artistic production and labor as it relates to technology, Duchamp's readymade, and the artist's body:

Gillian Wearing, Everything in life…, 1992-1993, from the series Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say, color coupler prints. via e-flux

At the turn of the twentieth century, art entered a new era of artistic mass production. Whereas the previous age was an era of artistic mass consumption, in our present time the situation has changed, and there are two primary developments that have led to this change. The first is the emergence of new technical means for producing and distributing images, and the second is a shift in our understanding of art, a change in the rules we use for identifying what is and what is not art...

 As masses of people have become well informed about advanced art production through biennials, triennials, Documentas, and related coverage, they have come to use media in the same way as artists. Contemporary means of communication and social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter offer global populations the ability to present their photos, videos, and texts in ways that cannot be distinguished from any post-Conceptualist artwork. And contemporary design offers the same populations a means of shaping and experiencing their apartments or workplaces as artistic installations. At the same time, the digital “content” or “products” that these millions of people present each day has no direct relation to their bodies; it is as “alienated” from them as any other contemporary artwork, and this means that it can be easily fragmented and reused in different contexts. And indeed, sampling by ...

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Contested Terrains at Tate Modern

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Excerpt from a review of Contested Terrians at Tate Modern in London from African Art in London:

Contested Terrains is the first annual project arising from Guaranty Trust Bank’snew partnership with Tate, and it sets the bar extremely high. The show features a foursome of talented artists working in Africa in variety of media: Kader Attia (slide show installation), Sammy Baloji (photomontage), Michael MacGarry (sculpture) and Adolphus Opara (photography). Jointly curated by Kerryn Greenberg (Tate) and Jude Anogwih (Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos), this is an African group show with a difference – exactly the sort of thing that you’d hope for from Tate Modern. There’s no questionable attempt to edify the audience, no over-excited claim to be introducing us to anything, and, perhaps most importantly, no curatorial waffle about ‘African creativity’ – the intelligent, subtle and challenging works on show here speak for themselves...

The final room presents the photomontages of Sammy Baloji, together with two final small pieces from MacGarry, whose work runs like a twisted thread through the whole show. Baloji’s subject here is the history of resource exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in particular the decline of the Gécamines mining company, whose presence has shaped his home region of Katanga since 1906. Mémoire (2006) unflinchingly reveals the catastrophic recent fortunes of the company, through a series of desolate panoramas of industrial decline, upon which the artist has superimposed archival images of officials and labourers from more prosperous times. The colonial officials appear oblivious to the state of their new surroundings, blithely peering at dilapidated old sheds and piles of rusty metal, but the Congolese labourers stare straight out at the viewer, photographic ghosts issuing a warning which comes too late.

images via bbc news

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It’s Only Humanist

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Frank Eickhoff, Application To The Entscheidungsproblem, 2010

A headless statue of winged Nike, black pixels swarming above her stumped neck. A collage of ancient, sand-colored busts and patterns drawn with a Sharpie. A Michelangelo’s Pieta coated in blue-streaked purple sludge. These are some of images you will find on Sterling Crispin’s Tumblr, “Greek New Media Shit.”  As I write this, the most recent post is a looped animation by Jennifer Chan. Two Hellenistic statues remain static in the foreground as a violet blob belches out a browser frame. Flat green letters brand it “recipe art.” Chan, apparently, thinks mixing classical references with internet imagery is formulaic. The opinion is somewhat sympathetic to Crispin, who told me in an email that his blog “started as a criticism of a cliché that I identified and has started self-perpetuating.” But Crispin added that since he started the Tumblr he has become more curious about the reasons behind the formula’s appeal. No recipe passes through so many hands without being good.

To me it tastes like a desire to locate man’s place in a world that he perceives primarily with the aid of machines. The art of the Greeks has been used in the past as a touchstone for artists who measure their own vision against an anthropocentric one. “Greek art had a purely human conception of beauty,” Apollinaire wrote in an essay about a 1912 exhibition of Cubist painting. “It took man as the measure of perfection. The art of the new painters takes the infinite universe as its ideal, and it is to the fourth dimension alone that we owe this new measure of perfection […].” The modernists never determined what the “fourth dimension” was, besides a plane of activity beyond human perception. Today the internet—and the spatial and perceptual relations it has engendered—make a familiar substitute for it. “Greek new media shit” puts representations of the visible and the invisible in the same frame.

 

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Codes of Honor

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Jon Rafman, Codes of Honor, 2011


Chinatown Fair arcade closed down on February 28th, 2011, after over 50 years. Gamers are still in mourning. CF, as it was known, was one of the last video game arcades in America where one could count on finding top-level competition.  I spent the better part of 2009 in that dingy, dim-lit arcade at the end of Mott street, which was the battlegound for the best players in the history of pro-gaming.

The first Street Fighter release in a decade —Street Fighter IV —just came out, sparking a short-lived renaissance in the fighting game community. I got to know the regulars at the arcade and began conducting daily video interviews, asking them to recall their greatest memories at the joysticks. I set up a YouTube channel, which was widely followed and the comment section became a major forum for debate in the community. During that year, I learned that to be a top-pro one could not simply master the technical aspect of the game; to compete at the highest level one needed to have a strong character and a deep understanding of human psychology. I learned that pro-gamers ascribe to the values and virtues of the classical archetypes of yore: honor, respect for the other, and excellence. Hardcore gamers have an experience of acheivement so intense that, although limited in scope and time, it is forever difficult to equal. Although nothing can rival the high they get from defeating a worthy opponent or the reputation during their reign, the fame is as fleeting as the high of the win. And so I learned of the tragic element that is inherent to the experience of video gaming...

 

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Artist Profile: Angelo Plessas

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Monument to Internet Hookups, performance sculpture (2009) at the 2nd Athens Biennale, Splendid Isolation (in collaboration with the Athens Pride) - video documentation


Some of your work exists offline as performances, but the majority of your works are unique websites that present and interactive experience for the viewer. Do you have a preference for exhibiting work online or offline, and have you ever had a title in mind for a work and then had to change it after finding out the domain was owned by someone else?

My priority is to create works that exist online. Having my work online automatically reaches a far greater audience in great speed, creating a powerful social and open condition but I am very much interested in the online-offline interplay. Since the late 90's - when I started creating online, I felt a strong energy and curiosity for the spatial physical outcome of my works. Now we live in the post-internet era and I feel this divided line of the online and offline conditions is almost diminished. This is why extending my pieces beyond the boundaries of a computer screen and present them in physical forms it's a very normal act for me. I am interested in creating an inter-experiential process, a meta-perception of these works but keeping at the same time their internet entity. Regarding exhibiting them in contemporary art spaces I feel are important in terms of historicity but also allows for a moment of sharing the work together with other people in a live space and audience getting a different feedback. The titles of these pieces are their unique domain url's and are registered in the most popular extension which is dotcom. I usually register complex phrases and rarely used, taken from something I read or something I invented like ...

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"In the Nostalgia District" by Lauren Cornell in Frieze Magazine's 20th Anniversary Issue

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Frieze has a massive new issue out celebrating its 20th anniversary with contributions from Bruce Sterling, Lynne Tillman, Kazys Varnelis, Simon Critchley, and Nina Power. Rhizome executive director Lauren Cornell also has an essay in the new issue: 

Since 2005, I’ve been the director of the online organization Rhizome, and have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about why ‘Internet’ is such a gauche word in contemporary art. Here are a few simple reasons I’ve come up with. First, medium-specificity is out of style and the word ‘Internet’ suggests a medium – something separate, something cyber – even though the term can really be used now to describe the experiences that come with an expanded culture and communications system, not just its underlying network protocols. However, this perception of the Internet as a separate artistic territory persists, with its roots planted firmly in the 1990s. In step with Clinton-era rhetoric around globalization, and excitement for new information technologies, the first Internet bubble swelled in the ’90s and burst in the early 2000s, as did patience with ambitious but under-resourced ‘net art’ exhibitions (read: faulty browsers and error signs). Quickly, it was all but abandoned by the art world save for a few ambitious museum media lounges. It’s important to note that much of this ’90s-era ‘net art’ was preoccupied with the technology itself, not with celebrating it, but considering and subverting it. This focus made it somewhat impenetrable for the non-technologically inclined and challenging to exhibit off-line. In the last few years, however, the field of art engaged with the Internet has expanded to being both about new tools and simply how we live our lives – the humanity on top, so to speak.

A second reason for the slow response is that, unlike other industries, such as music ...

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Artist Profile: Laura Brothers

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slip ohno, 2011

Browsing through your work it becomes clear that iteration is an important part of your process. In one of your more recent works, titled cathy drawl, you create six versions themed around the same formal elements. How does the process of iterating around a particular element contribute to your work?

I assume that the way in which my work is normally viewed is through the action of scrolling. You’re on a computer and you are gliding the images in succession past your gaze. I liken this to a sort of super slow motion film strip. It’s a way of storytelling. For a post, each individual image is viewed in relation to the one that comes before it and the one that follows. Meanwhile, they are all sort of floating in an endless black space. There’s no real clear-cut definition between the images in this context. So to me, within each post, each distinct image is really part of the same piece; the same story. In the case of cathy drawl, it was a matter of showcasing the underlying elements of the images and then building on them; transforming them like characters in the panels of a comic. I find the basic formal elements of the images to be what dictates the inclusive mood of the more elaborate pieces so I tend to want to pull them out and show them in isolation but still in conjunction with the compounded imagery. It’s usually about trying to find a gentle balance within my work for how the principal imagery is rendered; spreading from a subdued minimal execution to an overkill of maximum complexity.

In truth, the iteration is also largely a result of my tendency to want to post too much. The blog began as ...

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