This summer, the Whitney mounted a major exhibit on Fuller's life and work, Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe, on view through September. The show features a variety of Fulleriana, arranged in chronological order, allowing for a roughly biographic experience: sketches, architectural models, concept designs, numerous looped clips from the 1971 documentary The World of Buckminster Fuller, maps and diagrams, original publications, and a 12 foot high cardboard geodesic dome built for the exhibit. Though largely a show about architecture, Starting With the Universe presents Fuller as a revolutionary and visionary thinker who worked, as he put it, "comprehensively," across disciplines, and a forerunner of 21st century environmental design and networked culture.
Bloomberg Tower, the headquarters of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's global business news and information corporation, Bloomberg LP, is a sleek, glass and curved steel skyscraper in midtown Manhattan which forgoes cubicles and executive offices for an ostensibly non-hierarchical and sans-wall flow of physical and digital information. As an allegory for globalized information dispersion, this opening-up of interior space reflects the much-discussed contradictions of globalization, itself. Since the building's completion in 2005, the downtown art nonprofit, Art in General, has partnered with Bloomberg LP to produce five contemporary art exhibitions that reflect on this space as well as the model of business practice that it nurtures. The current iteration of the partnership, entitled ONLY CONNECT, features work by artists Larry Bamburg, Tom Kotik, Heather Rowe, Mafalda Santos and Patrick Tuttofuoco that, according to curator Cecilia Alemani, "infiltrate" Bloomberg Tower and offer alternative "systems of communication and exchange that rely on basic materials, fragile geometries or simple, sometimes even natural forms." Given the overwhelming environment of the office building itself, I had to ask what kind of critique could productively challenge or transcend the complex ideas embedded in its surroundings.
Marianne Weems is the artistic director of New York-based multimedia theater group the Builders Association. Their productions often tackle contemporary issues related to technology, such as "post visual forms" of surveillance in Super Vision or the impact of globalization on identity and language in Alladeen. They are currently developing their newest project, Continuous City. The play examines contemporary experiences of location in relationship to the rise of megacities and a distributed sense of selfhood. One unique component of the production is a fictional social networking site named "Zubu" which will collect testimonials and footage from inhabitants in each city in which Continuous City is staged. In conjunction with their week-long residency, Weems, along with fellow collaborators, will give a free public talk on Continuous City at the Kitchen in New York City on Saturday June 21st at 5pm.
"Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea."So wrote Guy Debord, prominent member of the Situationist International and major instigator of the infamous Paris uprisings of May '68. In his most famous text The Society of the Spectacle, Debord articulates the belief that free trade of thoughts and ideas is not only acceptable, but necessary for the intellectual advancement of culture. He did not simply advocate plagiarism as a means of reference, but as an active way to critically engage and subvert dominant media images -- what he and his fellow Situationists referred to as 'détournement.' Put simply, détournement is the appropriation of these prevailing images for meanings in opposition to their original intent -- a strategy that has influenced generations of activists, academics, and artists. So when the estate of Guy Debord recently sent a 'cease and desist' letter to a group of American artists for copyright infringement, people familiar with Debord's oeuvre were rightly shocked. Beyond the obvious irony of the situation, this particular case has raised questions about the complexities of copyright, monetary compensation and the historical legacy of our anti-establishment icons.
As I enter the conference space, I wonder if I'll be tempted to update my Facebook status constantly at Futuresonic '08. Many of my Facebook friends are here, but still I can't resist tapping on my EeePC from time to time: Michelle is happy in Manchester. Michelle has an idea. Michelle is in love with Dirt Party! Michelle is taking a leisurely pace.
Right now, I suppose I should change my status to: Michelle is writing a review of Futuresonic 08, a five-day festival of art, music, and ideas in Manchester, UK. Futuresonic is an established festival that often showcases emerging issues in creative industries, and this year's topic "The Social" took form both online and offline, and sometimes in between.
Joan Leandre defines himself as a "media interpreter." Active as a video artist in the field of independent media from the early 1990s, he won international recognition from 1999 thanks to retroYou (RC) (1999 - 2001), a progressive modification of the parameters used to construct the 3D graphics of a car racing video game. With retroyou nostal(G) (2002 - 2003) he goes on to deconstruct a flight simulator. In both cases, Leandre utilizes software to subvert and re-write a powerful ideological machine, translating a rather conventional generator of reality into a medium for illusions. The Dr. Strangelove of computing, Leandre loves the bomb and knows its mechanisms well enough to transform them into the workings of a multi-layered ambiguous narrative, esoteric and seductive at the same time. This aspect of his work is apparent in his latest project, In the Name of Kernel (2006 - ongoing). The kernel, the heart of every operating system, becomes the myth around which coagulates a symbolic event combining travel literature, the alchemy tradition and science fiction, terrorism and conspiracy theories, programming and mountaineering, 3D modeling and satellite mapping, hallucinations and revelations.
The Centre for Modern Thought at the University of Aberdeen hosted the conference, "Recoded: Landscapes and Politics of New Media" from 24th to the 26th of April 2008. Over three days, mediumistic questions and fantasies ran through the discussion, over the days and around them, talk of interfaces, transmitters, points between, avatars, nodes and graphs, spirits and phantoms and their interlocutors. From the first paper to the last was a meta-conversation: What do we mean by medium, media, new and old? This meta-inflection, as strange as taping yourself listening, became pervasive; even the hotel had a ghost.
Nicholas Weist and Lumi Tan are co-founders and -directors (along with their partner Summer Guthery) of the online curatorial project "Why + Wherefore". Tan was also a guest curator on a previous online curatorial project founded by Weist called pHytonics-- which is now director-less but lives on as a fixture of powerHouse Books' online program.
"Why + Wherefore" was begun in December of 2007 with an invitational featuring over 50 artists. For the current show, entitled "TBD," each of the three curators select works to be loaded individually, reacting to each piece in succession with the following. The work is loaded in real time. The next show, which will include only video-based work loosely related to pop and media culture, will debut in early May. A screening of select work from the show will be held at Monkeytown, Brooklyn, NY, in early June.