Posts for February 2012

Artist Profile: Rick Silva

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Rick Silva's La Région Decentralized is featured this month on The Download.

Still from La Région Decentralized, image courtesy of the artist

Nature and land are prominent subjects in your work. Could you speak a bit about your interest in nature? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors?

Working with nature and land feels natural to me. Nature and land are part of a larger fascination I have with perception, light, and time. I do spend a lot of time outdoors, my new project/blog En plein air http://enpleinair.org is all about that actually. For the project I’m taking my laptop outside and seeing what I can create while reacting to the immediate landscape and elements.

For your piece in The Download, La Région Decentralized, you explore and remix iconography of Michael Snow's 1971 experimental film La Région Centrale in a endless, self-playing video game. What about Snow's film fascinates you?

I’m interested in Snow’s use of a rotating camera/horizon. Spinning terrains are a reoccurring theme in my recent videos. Texts about La Région Centrale suggest that the camera/horizon movement in Snow’s film creates a cosmic perspective of space at the human scale, and I agree with this reading. My video game version adds an endless random time component to this idea as well.

Is La Région Decentralized your first time working with video-games as a medium?

In 2010 I used video game engines to generate scenes and imagery for video projects. I’ve used 3D spaces like Google Earth for projects since 2005 with my Satellite Jockey performances, but this is the first time that I’m releasing a game as an application. There is something very interesting in the stretching and randomizing of time that video ...

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The Art of Fieldwork

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Simon Fujiwara, The Museum of Incest: A Guided Tour, 2009 (performance), courtesy of Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt

In 2008, the New York-based artist Ellie Ga joined the crew of the Tara, a sailboat drifting in the Arctic Ocean as part of a scientific expedition, occupying the incongruous position of the ship’s “artist-in-residence” among a team of scientific researchers. The role of “artist in residence” on a scientific expedition is a malleable one, without clearly defined parameters, thus Ga decided that her project would be to become the ship’s archivist, attempting to capture the various facets of life aboard the Tara: the ways in which the crew organized the world around them without conventional landmarks; how they entertained themselves; the sense of uncertainty that results from following the whims of weather patterns, never quite knowing where they would move next; as well as her own personal associations and insights about the expedition and their surroundings, unburdened by the demands of scientific fact or reportage.

In the resulting body of work, which has taken various forms, including lectures, performances, slideshows, and videos, her personal narratives and memories often occupy a central role. In the performance Reading the Deck of Tara at the Lower East Side gallery Bureau in 2011, visitors were given one-on-one readings with the artist herself, in which she used a custom deck of cards inspired by those used in fortunetelling to relay aspects of her life aboard Tara. Each visitor’s particular cards determined the form and content of the narrative, with each reading—and thus each version of the story she’d tell—being particular to that visitor, the performance’s element of chance echoing the movement of a ship adrift.

Ellie Ga, Reading the Deck of Tara installation (2011)

Borrowing methods from various disciplines, from sociology to fiction writing, Ga is one of a number of younger contemporary artists whose work is tied to a kind of artistic fieldwork, investigating aspects of their lives and interests by merging the apparent objectivity of documentary forms and anthropological research with a plainly subjective, flexible approach, drawing on multiple methodologies and discourses. While the “archival impulse” in contemporary art is hardly a new phenomenon, and research-oriented practices have arguably become the norm rather than the exception, what seems to differentiate work like Ga’s from those that fall under the broad, often contested banner of “relational,” “dialogical,” or “socially-engaged art,” is that the endgame here isn’t to offer a historiographic corrective or engage an outside community; rather...

 

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Rhizome Presents Renowned Digital Artist Rafael Rozendaal in web-based VIP Art Fair

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Rhizome is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by outstanding artist Rafaël Rozendaal, who is known for his trailblazing explorations of the web browser, and for his forward-thinking contributions to the curation and sale of digital art.

Rhizome will present eight recent works by Rozendaal at the VIP Art Fair, all unique websites, each one an animation representative of the artist’s exploration of the browser as a limitless pictorial space. Here, in the ‘white walls’ of the online VIP Art Fair, each work is represented as a screenshot: a single frame that also includes the browser window that demonstrates how these works exist natively online. Colorful, minimal and redolent with feeling, the exhibited works range from figurative, such as Hot Doom. com’s depiction of a volcanic explosion, to abstract, as seen in From The Dark Past. com’s rendering of a scorched emotional terrain. Rozendaal’s formal aesthetic—his tendency to render commodities, like popcorn, or familiar scenes, like sunsets--recalls Pop art’s interest in the mass market and kitsch. Yet, in these works, each image has been pared down, stripped of idiosyncrasies related to place or time, and transported into a visual language of computer graphics and figuration--a language the artist suggests is more ‘universal’ today.

Rozendaal is noted not only for his own digital work, but for his inventive, free-form curatorial project BYOBthat  has been staged around the world, and his contract that outlines how a browser-based work can be sold. This contract applies to all works for purchase at VIP Art Fair, and is available online here. As an organization dedicated to advocacy of digital art, and education around its history, preservation, and exhibition, Rhizome is proud to share Rozendaal’s contract within the VIP Art Fair as an example of an artist’s bold move towards defining best practices around the sale of digital art. Proceeds from the sale of Rozendaal’s donated works will be split between the artist and Rhizome. 

 

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My Broken iPhone

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Doug Aitken (Victoria Miro) at Art Basel Miami (via)

The day I moved to Brooklyn was the day my iPhone screen first shattered. I struggled to get my keys out of my purse while a group of students were waiting at the door for a friend to buzz them in. Unlocking the door in a confused jetlagged state, I held it open for each of them while juggling several bags with the other hand. After the last student entered the building, I stopped the door with my foot while attempting to redistribute the weight of my belongings. My iPhone slid out of my back pocket and on to the concrete. 

The resulting spiderweb of a crack had no impact on the iPhone's haptic sensitivity. It looked ruined but worked just as well. Eventually, I got used to reading without much eye strain. There were even some benefits. Everyone knew which phone was mine at dinner parties with iPhones strewn on various counters and end tables. I never worried about dropping it again as the screen wasn’t going to get any worse. And I didn’t worry much about it getting stolen, either.

My broken iPhone also resulted in random conversations with strangers. In queues for restaurant bathrooms, on public transportation and park benches, I was asked again and again what happened, and why didn’t I just take care of it? ...

 

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Rafaël Rozendaal tour of the Rhizome booth at VIP Art Fair

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Rafaël Rozendaal created a special video tour of the Rhizome "booth" at the VIP Art Fair.

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The Whitney Artport

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Ursula Endlicher, Light and Dark Networks, 2011.

The Whitney’s Sunrise/Sunset project consists of a series of commissioned internet based works that exist within the axis constraints of Earth’s orbit: New York City’s sunrise and sunset.  Besides the entire website’s background transitioning from white to black each day representing this shift in time (white for day, black for night), each project is designated a net presence between ten to thirty seconds—that is, within this brief timeframe, each work gets to take over the entire Whitney site once only at sunrise and once at sunset; the exact times for each determined day to day by the weather among other environmental fluctuations.

Sunrise/Sunset is part of Whitney’s Artport—an online gallery space demonstrating the institution’s own internet awareness.  First launched in 2002, Artport attempts to engage and archive internet and new media based practices through the commissioning of works specific to whitney.org as well as documenting all Whitney based net/new media exhibitions.  Currently, Artport is featuring commissions from Ursula Endlicher and Scott Snibe.

Light and Dark Networks is a ten second piece from Endlicher that continues the artist’s interest in ‘data performances’.  The morning encounter involves a spider web that is blown into multiple directions of the website based on current New York weather and CO2 levels.  At sunset, an image of the mycelium of a mushroom grows or shrinks based on the temperature of the city while also responding to humidity levels which generates videos of the artist, costumed and reenacting the mushroom’s physical reactive changes.  Endlicher draws attention to the way information and data inform and affect the physical, as well as how the physical can inform quantification itself. 

Snibe’s, Tripolar was originally commissioned in 2002 by the Whitney but now has made its renewed debut as an iPhone and iPad application.  The app involves the path of forms made from a user’s point of touch, reacting to the effect a pendulum makes while swinging over three magnets, resulting in a scribbled line drawing.  Through the app a user can also add, remove and place magnets as to customize and experiment with formal variations of line.  The work, first exhibited in online exhibition CODeDOC, demonstrates the way the input [code]—through random or subtle manipulation—drastically changes its visual output, creating chaotic and unpredictable outcomes.

 

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Mediated Location: Kessler, QR codes, and the new AR

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Jon Kessler, The Blue Period at Salon 94, 2012

Where are you?  Jon Kessler's The Blue Period involves surveillance cameras, cardboard figures, collaged portraits, and video monitors to answer that establishing question in different ways.  In his exhibit, viewers are located via camera capture, then turn to find themselves on video screens.  They become spectators and a part of the spectacle (Kessler has an acknowledged affinity for Debord), pinpointing their actual and metaphorical whereabouts by viewing themselves in a loop of mediated images.  

Jon Kessler, The Blue Period at Salon 94, 2012

If one of the cameras in Kessler's piece had localization functionality, it could infer position based on a current view of the scene like a QR code can.  In scanning a QR code for embedded information, an individual effectively informs on himself, firing a flare in space.  A sort of inverse to The Blue Period's accumulation of intermediary images with unlocatable sources, QR codes create an augmented reality where a mediated physical environment gains content through revealing position.

Eric Mika, überbeamer mapping, 2011

The überbeamer, a hand-held, spatially-aware projection system reminiscent of Ghostbuster weaponry by artist Eric Mika, expands on augmented reality by using a projector to draw content directly onto surfaces.  The device knows where you are relative to where you've been, storing a three-dimensional model of its environment.  Comprehending the geometry of a scene, and your location in it, the überbeamer has the same functionality as a QR code to overlay digital information and track location.  And it does so without covering the world with robot barf.

 

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The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility

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The projects of German artist, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, flirt with the construction of scientific knowledge, grasping and slipping between the object and subject. Drawing from a background in visual and new media art practice, Meyer-Brandis creates installations, performances, and film that drift from scientific theory into fiction and wonder. Her work draws parallels with fictional and quasi-fiction worlds, those of space cadets and armchair rocket launchers.

Exploring recurring subjects such as gravity, weightlessness and space travel, her work has led to collaborations with scientists and researchers providing access to operations and activities usually restricted to scientific experimentation only. In 2007, while working on a project called Cloud-Core-Scanner she travelled on a zero gravity flight in collaboration with the DLR (German Aerospace Centre) to examine the formation of clouds in a weightless environment. As well as a rigorous scientific approach, her work is often tinged with a playful humour, such as her series of public meteor watching events, where participants are instructed to bring a safety helmet.

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Tomorrow: Jodi premiere Untitled (mobile.app) + (one more thing..)

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At this event, renowned Dutch collective JODI will premiere a new mobile application, outfitted for iPhone and Android, that is invested in “Motion/ Figure/ Posture Actions.” The application records users’ quotidian movements and turns them into choreography—one that captures our awkward, mundane, frustrated, addicted interactions with our ubiquitous devices. This focus on dynamics of control, as well as the psychology and behavior produced by technology, is at the core of JODI’s work. For this presentation, the collective will present and discuss the work, and hired performers will enact its choreography.

JODI are looking for performers to participate in Untitled (mobile app) + (one more thing). Participants must have the iPhone4 and must be ready and willing to download JODI's app and demonstrate it during the performance. If interested, please email events@rhizome.org.

Tomorrow: Friday, February 10th, 2012 7 p.m at the New Museum

$6 Members, $8 General Public (tickets

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Artist Profile: Liz Magic Laser

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I Feel Your Pain, Liz Magic Laser, 2011. A Performa Commission. Featuring Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan. Photo: Yola Monakhov.

One of the greatest parts about Chase is the difficulty in determining who the actor is speaking to a great deal of the time - to the other actors through editing, to the camera and the viewer, to the occasional spectators and even apparently to the ATM machines themselves. Was this complication between the project and the viewer, film and theater a goal of the artwork?

For Chase I worked with each actor to make the “Man Equals Man” script resonate in a two-fold manner, both in the context of the original play’s dialogue and in the immediate scenario of the bank vestibule. We were constantly juggling these two registers of meaning: the illusory space of the play and the actual space of the bank. At the beginning I told the actors they could direct their lines to bank clients, my camera, the ATM machines or other inanimate objects in the bank. I outlined these parameters and we played with each line until it struck a cord on both fictional and immediate registers. It was a challenge I put to each performer to imagine that their scene partner could be a passerby or a bank advertisement. The two-tiered approach is then repeated because we are addressing two audiences, the audience we encountered in the bank and the audience who would be watching the montaged video. One audience is exchanged for another, a passerby is incorporated as a player or a machine is treated as if it were a person. The exchangeability of all people and things loomed large throughout the project as both theme and method.

In addition to dealing with the way ATM's transform us into automatons there ...

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