Posts for July 2012

Between Early, Prime and Afternoon: Omer Fast at the Wexner Center

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Installation view of Omer Fast: 2001/11 Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University
Courtesy of gb agency, Paris, and Arratia Beer, Berlin Photo: Mark Steele

“We were going for the ‘faceless Modernism’ look,” says curator Christopher Bedford during a tour of the two-video exhibition “Omer Fast: 2001/2011” at Ohio State’s Wexner Center. (I’d visited the Columbus museum days before Bedford’s appointment as the Director of the Rose Museum at Brandeis University.)  “We attempted to recreate the environment that one would inhabit while watching primetime news in 2001,” he says, as we peruse the aesthetically innocuous, comically “normal” room surrounding Fast’s 2002 video CNN Concatenated.  “It all comes from Ikea,” explains Bedford, “and we were actually a bit fearful that this lamp may be a bit too tasteful.” The lamp looked like a rolled-up, bioluminescent albino armadillo, though surprisingly slightly tasteful. Nearby, a television sits center stage in a faux-mahogany entertainment set, an oversized silver ampersand “accent piece” next to it. From the television blares a jerky monologue enunciated by varying, always-pristine news anchors. Each individual word is a frame depicting a flash of a different newscaster—some reporting on 9/11—which are strung together to form sentences. (Hence “CNN Concatenated,” the latter word meaning “to link together in a chain or series.”) Fast utilizes a sort of supercut stylistically reminiscent of “The Clock,” yet its source material is hundreds of hours of taped new programs throughout post-9/11 2001. Rapidly oscillating through various TV personalities, the monologue is distinctly divorced from anything a news anchor may usually utter: 

Listen to me I want to tell you something

Come closer

Don't be upset and don't get emotional

Just get near me and pay attention please

Look, I know that you're scared

I know what you're afraid of

You mistrust your body

Lately it has been looking more and more foreign

It's been doing strange things

....

 

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Custom Culture

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Unboxing Body by Body

"Brand Innovations for Ubiquitos Authorship" focuses on the rise of customizable print-on-demand products as aided by the internet. A sampling of the impressive roster of more than sixty artists includes Parker Ito, Daniel Temkin, Lauren Christiansen, and Jayson Musson. Artie Vierkant, who organized the show at Madison Avenue's Higher Pictures gallery, explained some of the thinking behind the exhibition: 

I always thought of these services as a very interesting sign of where we're headed in consumer space. The Internet has helped make one-to-many content empires stumble and niches to become stronger, and consumer goods are now no exception. The idea is that we've moved past mass production and into something like custom/craft/artisinal production on a massive scale; production for each individual amongst the mass. It's easy to get wrapped into that idea--particularly if you watch something like Zazzle's 'About Us' video, which hits you with a combined rhetoric of liberation-through-self-expression and environmental-consciousness--even if in practice Internet-ordered custom items are often a cheap and mass-produced object marked with an image emblazoned by an expensive printer.

All objects were shipped directly to the gallery and opened on site with little to no prior knowledge of how the artists had chosen to customize their products. Videos of this unboxing process, like the one above, can be seen on the show's Youtube page. Vierkant stressed that by sending all products to Higher Pictures, artists in foreign countries avoided high shipping costs that could have barred even small objects from being included in the show. Vierkant added that not every artist had chosen to work with the suggested on-demand services: Borna Sammak, for example, contributed a limited edition jacket made by Buron, based on one of the artist's designs. "This kind of ...

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Artist Profile: Paolo Cirio

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So much of your work relies on the interaction between technology and performance, and I'm wondering if you can explain the intersection of new media and performance as you see it, in your work and in general. 

Today we deal with a torrential flow of information, a very rapid flux that is contingent on volatile temporary contexts. Beyond high speed, some contextual factors that influence artworks with digital networked technology are the multiplicity of uncontrollable sources of information, unpredictable human and algorithmic interactions and unstable environments, so nothing can happen twice in the same way. Moreover information and media are always more ephemeral, they disappear quickly, often without leaving traces. Data, software and devices continually change, for instance: You can't keep a tweet forever in the streamline, as well as the interface of a social media platform or a smartphone's Operation System. Ultimately the controversial private ownership and restrictive policies of some technology and data don't even allow to the artists to own and maintain their own work. These conditions require us to consider most of the artworks done within networks as a type of contemporary live performances, a thesis reinforced by the participatory elements brought by the audience, whose involvement is often the main aim of the works.

For these reasons I prefer to display offline installations about my works within networks, which is a solution for conserving performance art that’s been adopted for more than half a century already.

To preserve the performance, I translate concepts, material and documentation of the live performances into durable objects, materializing pure information and the processes of making the artwork and live network interventions.

I like to define my artwork as the sculptural performance of information's power, with correlations to Joseph Beuys’ idea of Social Sculptures ...

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Wavelength: "The Paris, Texas of the Second Empire" by Lawrence Kumpf

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The Paris, Texas of the Second Empire

Compiled July 2012 by Lawrence Kumpf

The flâneur is someone abandoned in the crowd. He is thus in the same situation as the commodity. He is unaware of this special situation, but this does not diminish its effects on him, it permeates him blissfully, like a narcotic that can compensate him for many humiliations. The intoxication to which the flâneur surrenders is the intoxication of the commodity immersed in a surging stream of customers. -- Walter Benjamin, 1938

A phantasmagoric journey through mid-20th century Country-Western music inspired by Walter Benjamin’s "The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire."

Like the poet as flâneur in Benjamin’s essay, the country singer holds a position as the susceptible vessel that embodies the incongruities and ruptures characteristic of modern life. Neither an active symptom nor proprietor of a solution for the social ills, the singer finds himself drawn into the intoxicating world of empathetic relations to, with and as commodity. We hear, perhaps more clearly then in Baudelaire, a voice speaking not from the elevated position of a social commentator or critic, but as the desire of the commodity and commodified. Connoisseurs of narcotics sing empathetic odes to inanimate objects and intoxicants, fortifying themselves in homes that are really bars. Hobos, trashmen and ragpickers walk the street collecting and picking through the worn out, exhausted items that have escaped our economy of exchange: the antiques of modernity, the images of obsolescence. The perpetual peregrinator, a rambling man, heroically stripped of the comforts of modern life finds himself stalking graveyards and mourning a loss that has yet to occur, the final refuge of his own death. In a way these songs embody the last gasp of a failed American politics, the moment before county western music slips into an emphatic listing of personal property as banal as Rick Ross’ "Trilla." The tragedy of our era is that the latent revolutionary desires present in Hank Williams Jr.’s "Fax Me a Beer" (not included in this mix) are forever doomed to find their outlet in an inane fantasy of endless technological advancement.

1.Porter Wagoner - The Wino
2.Jim Ed Brown- Bottle, Bottle
3.Porter Wagoner – Shopworn 4.Hank Williams – Men with Broken Hearts
5.Leon Rausch – Glass of Pride
6.Don King – Live Entertainment
7.David Allen Coe – Sad Country Song
8.Don Silvers – Play me another Hank Williams
9.Porter Wagoner – Bottom of the Bottle
10.Merle Haggard – Swinging Doors
11.Porter Wagoner – I Just Came to Smell the Flowers
12.D. Sheridan – Don’t Make Me Laugh (While I’m Drinkin’)
13.The Willis Brothers – Gonna Buy Me A Jukebox
14.David Frizzell – I’m Gonna Hire A Wino to Decorate our House
15.Frank Lowe - "Trash Man"

Lawrence Kumpf is a curator at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY.

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The Composition Is the Thing (After Stein) by Joseph Rosenzweig

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The first step towards a better future for the industry is not likely to cause confusion. Composition of the essential features hereinbefore set. Is it just me or the other hand? The results show clearly enough that the people have been displaced. Thing of the Day is Turf. Seen in this light it becomes clear why some of the biggest blunders cost savings. By using this product and click the button. Every day that gets you organized and makes recommendations to the Board and is protected under applicable laws relating to workers in the private sector is not a valid stream resource. One such case involved an accusation. Living our values does not exceed the maximum number of times that each person has their own things. In the present embodiment is a compound. The most popular password is not working properly. Living and Working Offworld in the world is not enough and living with floods and droughts will be given. They will not be published or reproduced in whole or in part without permission. Are you sure you want to remove this? Doing this allows the user to enter a plea. They can keep private. Are the lyrics to this song not correct? The time now is the time to read this complete guide to information. Composing and decomposing bodies of the slain were the first to find deals. Of these two types of people in this country that are covered by the provisions set out the following information is provided. The current rate is calculated as an average over the period of the first embodiment. Composition for treatment of the subject areas below the mean value of the assets is not available. That is to say that this game is a remake. At least one type of telecommunication device ...

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Package Yourself

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At a time when so many Americans are disgusted with the personhood of corporations, it's surprising that more persons don't move to secure their expanded rights. Dan Graham notes, “Jasper Johns was the first American artist to fully understand that the newly subjectivized advertising icon and the gestures of Abstract Expressionist painting—which struggled against the cultural domination of this new form—were virtually identical.”1 The place of the (white male) individual and his potential for transcendence had already merged with corporate strategy. Warhol began operations at his Factory in 1962, and by 1966 Foucault proclaimed that man “would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.” In 1978, the band Devo told The SoHo Weekly News that they’d decided to “mimic those who get the greatest rewards out of the business and become a corporation."

According to Bernadette Corporation, “Mock incorporation is quick and easy … no registration fees, simply choose a name (i.e. Booty Corporation, Bourgeois Corporation, Buns Corporation) and spend a lot of time together. Ideas will come later.” Bernadette Corporation was founded in 1994 as "the perfect alibi for not having to fix an identity."2 Similarly, the Bruce High Quality Foundation employs a post-individual aesthetic while using the language of a endowed institution as opposed to a corporation. Yet the post-individual kernel is clearer in the Foundation’s mission, which presents itself as the arbiter of the estate and legacy of “the late social sculptor” Bruce High Quality. The Foundation is founded on the negation of an already fictional identity. The Icelandic Love Corporation, based in Reykjavik, adopts the title of a corporation without jettisoning their identities.

Corporate art practice challenges stale narratives of contemporary art, which resuscitate themes and tropes of 20th century conceptualism. By claiming the featureless corporation as the active artmaker, BC and other similar façades maneuver around cliché and retreat from the individual artist-archetype: a character to be media-narrativized into a pop-psychological explanation of their noble craftsmanship or pathology of resistance.

Bernadette Corporation's The Complete Poem installation at Greene Naftali (2009)

Corporations, much like contemporary art, have a unique relationship with the iterable. In an essay discussing the irony of the corporate sponsors of the San Diego Zoo, critic and writer Chris Kraus explains, “Like contemporary art, corporate linguistics seeks to eliminate the dreary mechanics of cause and effect. Shit happens. People demand.”3 Corporate language rests on clichés that are instantly understood. Phil Spector reportedly wondered, “Is it dumb enough?” while listening to “Da Doo Ron Ron.” The question that defined popular music has as much bearing on contemporary art: unencumbered by the boring (Kraus’ “dreary mechanics”), only that which is instantly understood remains. That which is dumb enough.

The artist Ed Fornieles, whose work includes the trend-forecasting agency Recreational Data and the management training company Coaxiom, indicated to me that part of what he likes about working with corporate aesthetics is the power of boring corporate cliché both in language and imagery. “Corporations have their own logic,” Fornieles told me. “It doesn’t always have to be about me.” In a sense, engaging with corporate style makes transparent a generic corporate aesthetic—visible in promotional materials, architecture, offices, commercials— which is both recognizable and unfixed. What’s appealing about something so blandly real is its ability to blend into the fabric of reality without the risk of a unique stake or identity...

 

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Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 2: Strange Attractors

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Mike Flynn's Ferrofluid Magnetoscope via Make

There are a number of us driven to search the world for the newest forms of magical tricks. We dive into the darkest alleys, the most convoluted of document dumps, the blackest of markets, searching for clues. We tune our aetheric antennas, looking for signals that might indicate a disturbance in the order of things— eddies in the production currents of technology— where such supernatural powers might suddenly emerge.

Arthur C. Clarke’s famous words are often repeated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What isn’t often mentioned is that this is third of three of Clarke’s Laws. The full list reads as follows:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The third law is delightfully vague, capable of converting from advice for writing space opera, to a commandment of UX design. But in the context of the other two laws, it reads as a presupposition to how we view technological history. 

Clarke is directing us to look at the means of the generation of history— the intersection point where the impossible is processed into the possible. The impossible is a large domain— containing impossibilities that may become possible in a week’s time, those that will only be possible in a thousand years, and those that for all intents and purposes within humans’ conception of time, will never be possible. Our knowledge of present technology is projected forward into the unknown, and the way forward is illuminated in heavy shadow, unfolding into what we conceive of as the future. To think about the future you must study history. But you also must be willing to perceive the currently impossible as already becoming historical. This temporally augmented reality is we are calling it in this series of essays, the Future-Present...

 

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Rhizome Digest: Best of Rhizome July

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Korakrit Arunanondchai, Installation "2012-2555"

Essays

Installation view of Omer Fast: 2001/11 Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University
Courtesy of gb agency, Paris, and Arratia Beer, Berlin Photo: Mark Steele

 

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CLUI Archive photo

Columns

 

Artist Profiles

 

VHS @ MAD

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Artist Profile: Flightphase

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Sniff interacting with viewers, debug view

Flightphase occupies a unique space as a design studio that creates artwork for the art world. It would be great if you could talk about Flightphase a little bit conceptually--how do you negotiate the space you occupy? The website says says Flightphase is "creating a unique design and format solution for any challenge"--how do those challenges differ and collide in the world of art and design?

We started Flightphase by presenting our artworks in a design context -- to a design audience and a design market.  As a result, the projects we were engaged for were usually some kind of hybrid of design and art including art commissions, and we're hoping it's going to shift even further in the art direction.  This probably speaks more about the state of the art-design tension and about the artworld’s changing attitude towards design -- what used to be seen as the ‘inferior’ art form has gained new respect, as evidenced by shows such as Talk to Me.  New media practice in general seems to engender the attitude that its necessary focus on formal and functional considerations doesn’t preclude a high concept.  

One way to differentiate between design and art is that design challenges have to do with the ‘how‘ (i.e. how to achieve a given goal), and art challenges with the ‘what‘ (i.e. what is the goal).  If you think of design as a process, all artists are designers and good art is always well-designed.
The projects on which we are hired as a design studio normally call for a lot of formal exploration.  In the art projects, we mostly limit the visual language, because their focus is more conceptual.   We always carry what we learn in one into the other though ...

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A Tribute to Chris Marker's Double Life

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Saddened by the news of Chris Marker's death today at age 91, I guided my generic male goth avatar to Ouvroir, Marker's Second Life island chain. Ouvroir is devoted to monuments, art, eclectic means of transportation, and, of course, Monsieur Guillaume. It can be accessed at the coordinates 187, 61, 39. In 2010, Marker made Ouvroir, the movie, featuring Guillaume's wanderings through the space.

Dancing with Guillame. Here is a video of Monsieur Guillaume dancing with an unidentified bald avatar.

A Guillaume submarine.

Mount Guillaume.

A crashed plane, giraffe, and palm trees on the sands of Ouvroir.

Three cat statues and the iconic spherical museum.

Bowing before a giant Guillaume with a sampling of artwork visible at Ouvroir.

Ouvroir from above.

"Every memory can create its own legend," we are told in Marker's 1982 film Sans Soleil. Marker's work always concerned itself with memory and the formation of history, and ranged in subject from the Vietnam war to Alexander Medvedkin's CineTrain. In 1962, he made La Jetée, a short film composed almost entirely of stills. Other films include 1977's A Grin Without A Cat, focusing on Left political movements of the 60s and 70s, and 2004's The Case of the Grinning Cat, which explored France's own political turmoil in the years after 9/11. Famously reclusive, Marker is now free to sprial endlessly into legend.

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