eteam is the New York-based duo of German artists Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger. In 2008 they received a Rhizome Commission for their Second Life Dumpster project in which the levels of consumption and disposal typically occurring blindly in the virtual world are manifest in the form of an ever-evolving garbage heap composed of deleted items tagged with a decay script by the artists. This exploration of the social life of spaces and systemic behavior within them is an interesting follow-up to their incredibly ambitious International Airport Montello project in which, after purchasing a piece of land in rural Nevada on eBay for the sum of US$1, they created an airport employing locals -- which they call "an impossible machine, which is perpetually in motion and sometimes on strike." Despite flying a handful of art world insiders there (putting commissioning organization Art in General's curators to work as flight attendants), eteam worked to underscore Montello's outsider status. The contested frontier between the so-called real world and spaces and cultures operating at the edges of constructed reality provided a nice point of comparison between Second Life Dumpster and International Airport Montello in this interview with the artists.
In his book, Parables for the Virtual, Brian Massumi calls for "movement, sensation, and qualities of experience" to be put back into our understandings of embodiment. He says that contemporary society comprehends bodies, and by extension the world, almost exclusively through linguistic and visual apprehension. They are defined by their images, their symbols, what they look like and how we write and talk about them. Massumi wants to instead "engage with continuity," to encourage a processual and active approach to embodied experience. In essence, Massumi proposes that our theories "feel" again. "Act/React", curator George Fifield's "dream exhibition" that opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum last week, picks up on these phenomenologist principles. He and his selected artists invite viewer-participants to physically explore their embodied and continuous relationships to each other, the screen, space, biology, art history and perhaps more.
Fifield is quick to point out that all the works on show are unhindered by traditional interface objects such as the mouse and keyboard. Most of them instead employ computer vision technologies, more commonly known as interactive video. Here, the combined use of digital video cameras and custom computer software allows each artwork to "see," and respond to, bodies, colors and/or motion in the space of the museum. The few works not using cameras in this fashion employ similar technologies towards the same end. While this homogeneity means that the works might at first seem too similar in their interactions, their one-to-one responsiveness, and their lack of other new media-specific explorations -- such as networked art or dynamic appropriation and re-mixing systems -- it also accomplishes something most museum-based "state of the digital art" shows don't. It uses just one avenue of interest by contemporary media artists in order to dig much deeper into what their practice means, and why it's important. "Act/React" encourages an extremely varied and nuanced investigation of our embodied experiences in our own surroundings. As the curator himself notes in the Museum's press release, "If in the last century the crisis of representation was resolved by new ways of seeing, then in the twenty-first century the challenge is for artists to suggest new ways of experiencing...This is contemporary art about contemporary existence." This exhibition, in other words, implores us to look at action and reaction, at our embodied relationships, as critical experience. It is a contemporary investigation of phenomenology.
In recent years numerous exhibitions have been mounted on the subject of "art and music." The Chicago Museum of Art's 2007 show "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967" was an excellent example that explored the cultural and social crossovers between art and music and the stylistic effects they have had on each other. "Looking at Music," a current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (curated by Associate Curator of Media Arts Barbara London), also looks at these cultural synergies but illuminates them further by focusing on the structural and theoretical connections between not only music and art, but also writing, filmmaking and performance. By starting in the early 1960s, the show focuses on a time when the very nature of art was in flux, new forms of writing were emerging, new technologies were pushing the boundaries of moving image and sound recordings, and social attitudes about self expression and gender were radically changing the cultural landscape.
Astria Suparak took the position as Director at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University in Spring 2008. This fall, she begins an ambitious calendar of exhibitions that includes a solo show by artist Julia Christensen and a retrospective of the prankster-politico collective, the Yes Men. Before this position and a stint at the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, Suparak developed her distinctive style as an independent curator; from 1998-2006, she developed touring packages of emerging video and new media works and took them on the road, stopping at Museums, highschools, film festivals and dime stores, introducing audiences, mainly in the US and Europe, to a new generation of artists working with the moving image. One show was in collaboration with this interviewer entitled Fail Better. This interview took place over email before her fall calendar at the Miller Gallery began and sketches out a curatorial career that went from toting video and film prints in a suitcase to more rooted practice.
This past weekend, Barcelona-based artist Liz Kueneke offered a cloth map of Manhattan to passing downtown crowds, inviting them to sew, as roads and icons, their daily routes and personal events onto what amounted to a communal quilt. This may sound quaint in the age of Google Maps, and the legion of amateur cartographers it has created, but such a project would not exist without Google: people's lived landmarks were seldom considered of interest prior to online mapping. The implied value is that our interior, local maps are as worthy as the Mercator.
Kueneke's map, "Manhattan's Urban Fabric," formed a fraction of the cartography, art, talks, performances, and "situations" included in this year's Conflux, the sole arts festival devoted to psychogeography. (Conflux was at one time categorical about its subject, and was called the Psy.Geo.Conflux, but the affixes have since been dropped.) "Psychogeography" -- still a nebulous term that proceeds unrecognized by the standard dictionaries -- here encompasses a great scope of projects, from futurist utopianism and street art to anarchist rhetoric and Situationist homage. With over four hundred submissions, it is not surprising that one of the curators described the selection process as "chaotic." Another divided the works at the festival broadly into categories which either "read" or "wrote" the city, and further, into analog or digital creations.
In it's 29th year as the one of the most important media arts festivals in the world, Ars Electronica 2008 focused on trying to make sense of the economic and social realities of a "knowledge-based" society, where limits of intellectual property and aging copyright laws are beginning to lose relevance in an increased international atmosphere of open systems, sharing information across networks, and collective artistic action and utility. This year's theme was "A New Cultural Economy", a vision of the present and future that imagined cultural and artistic exchange and remixing as a key indicator of the success of current and future generations. Through this 6 day festival, events ranged from conferences, exhibitions, performances, to student exhibitions such as a wide range of projects from the University of Tokyo entitled "Towards a New Horizon of Hybrid Art."
In this interview, conducted by Rhizome Editorial Fellow Gene McHugh, artist Kevin Bewersdorf discusses his philosophy toward surfing the web, the spiritual dimension of his work and his upcoming show "Monuments to the INFOspirit" at the New York gallery V&A.
Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist working at the intersection between art and biology. Last year, Menezes founded Ectopia, an experimental laboratory and artist residency housed at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, Portugal. The program fosters collaboration and discussion between the Institute's scientists and participating artists. In this interview, conducted by Rhizome Curatorial Fellow Luis Silva, Menezes discusses her experience with Ectopia and her larger body of work.