The photos below derive from the online photo archive "Chilton Computing Photographs: 1961-2004." Photos in the collection relate to computing and computer staff on the Chilton, Oxfordshire site that housed both the Atlas Computer Laboratory and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The archive contains over 3000 photos from 1961-2004.
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006) is an artist fabled for what he has achieved, as the instigator of video art, the pioneer of media art and through his influence on the indebted MTV generation. It's as if his career is almost made for the retrospective exhibition. His work is bound to his legacy, and his influence is hard to encompass. The importance of this legacy asks two parallel questions, how to preserve, present and document but also how to react, trace and respond. Both are targeted through a new joint exhibition of Paik's work at Tate Liverpool and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), the first major retrospective of his work since his death in 2006 and the first exhibition of his work in the UK since 1988.
Tate presents a comprehensive chronicle of Paik's movements through the avant-garde, in performance, composition, television and sculpture. There are TV sets, robots and Buddhas, mixed with historical documentation, vitrines filled with exhibition programs, posters and photographs and timelines drawn on walls, which denote his many collaborators and read like a roll call of the most influential artists of the 20th century - John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Joseph Beuys and Merce Cunningham.
In contrast to the Tate, where you can look and listen with historical meticulousness, at FACT you are given a remote control. Here you are encouraged to relax, in an archive lounge, and browse a collection of his video works at leisure. Or lie back underneath Laser Cone (1998) and be dazzled.
Artist Beryl Korot discusses her 1977 video installation Text and Commentary in this brief clip. Korot's solo exhibition "Beryl Korot: Text/Weave/Line—Video, 1977-2010" is on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum until January 2nd.
Note: We reblogged another Art21 interview with Korot earlier this year, in which she talks about her involvement with the pioneering 1970s video art publication Radical Software.
Ready or not, computers are coming to the people.
That's good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. It's way off the track of the "Computers - Threat or menace? school of liberal criticism but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the forefathers of the science such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann and Vannevar Bush.
The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: The youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the freaks who design computer science; an astonishingly enlightened research program from the very top of the Defense Department; an unexpected market-Banking movement by the manufacturers of small calculating machines, and an irrepressible midnight phenomenon known as Spacewar.
Reliably, at any nighttime moment (i.e. non-business hours) in North America hundreds of computer technicians are effectively out of their bodies, locked in life-or-Death space combat computer-projected onto cathode ray tube display screens, for hours at a time, ruining their eyes, numbing their fingers in frenzied mashing of control buttons, joyously slaying their friend and wasting their employers' valuable computer time. Something basic is going on.
Rudimentary Spacewar consists of two humans, two sets of control buttons or joysticks, one TV-like display and one computer. Two spaceships are displayed in motion on the screen, controllable for thrust, yaw, pitch and the firing of torpedoes. Whenever a spaceship and torpedo meet, they disappear in an attractive explosion. That's the original version invented in 1962 at MIT by Steve Russell. (More on him in a moment.)
October, 1972, 8 PM, at Stanford's Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, moonlit and remote in the foothills above Palo Alto, California. Two dozen of us are jammed in a semi-dark console room just off the main hall containing AI's PDP-10 ...
In order to explore the contradictions and the potential of time- based art, especially in its cinematic guise, I trace a number of overlapping and conflicting genealogies of film and video art. I believe that only by creating a constellation of such genealogies can the logic and structural antinomies of film and video art—and of time-based art in general—be brought into relief and related to the wider changes in the political economy of time during the past decades, during which the West has seen a gradual demise of Fordist assembly-line production and a disintegration of the strict separation between work and “free time.” The classic alternation of work and leisure can be called, with Guy Debord, a form of pseudocyclical time, an apparent return to agricultural, “mythical” cycles in a temporal regime built on irreversible, historical time—or rather, on a reified form of such historical time, that of commodity production.
“Once there was history, but not any more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which is inextricably tied to economic history, must repress every other irreversible use of time because it is directly threatened by them all. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of thingswho are themselves therefore possessed by things, is forced to link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, that is, with the preservation of a new immobility within history.7
This immobility is manifested in pseudocyclical time, a commodified temporality that is homogenous and suppresses “any qualitative dimension” or, at most, mimics such dimensions in moments of sham liberation.8 For Debord, time-based art from the 1960s could consist only of such pseudoindividual, pseudoliberatory moments ...
In case you're up at Dia:Beacon this weekend, on October 31st at 2pm, in celebration of the new publication Max Neuhaus: Times Square, Time Piece Beacon, the museum will host a performance by composer David Shively of Max Neuhaus' early concert realizations of works by New York School composers such as Earle Brown, John Cage, and Morton Feldman. A screening of rare Neuhaus films and videos, like Phill Niblock's Max and documentation of Drive-in Music, will follow the performance. More info here.
Britain, under the Conservative government in 1974, slowed to a government-mandated three-day week: not an immense gift of extended vacation, but a foreshortening of the working week based on the amount of electricity available. From January to March of that year, businesses, shops and services were only open for three consecutive days, and television companies were forced to end their broadcasts at 10:30pm. The remarkable visibility of this retrenchment is perhaps an apposite introduction to the fiscal circumstances of Britain at that time, as it was counterbalanced by extreme activity in the visual arts, with a burgeoning moving image practice taking place in various underground clubs and cooperatives in London and other regional centers, and mainstream television ("mainstream" being redundant; except for some regional variations, there were only three channels at the time) airing artists’ film and video, primarily on Channel 4, which was established in 1982.
This is the period revisited by Raven Row’s current show "Polytechnic" - the late 1970s and early 80s, when artists began using the new medium of video to reflect upon and deconstruct codes of representation, politics and social mores. It’s a smart and striking choice for an exhibition, as the legacy of this time is ambivalent and is still in the process of being settled: art-historically, it’s been partially eclipsed by what preceded it (the medium-specific investigations associated with the London Film-Makers’ Co-op) and by what followed - that is, the yBas, who pretty much turned around and rejected the commitment to politics, collective production and art as labor (not commodity) that this group stood for. At the same time, many of the artists included in the show - Catherine Elwes, Susan Hiller, Ian Breakwell, Stuart Marshall - went on to teach in various art schools (many of them former polytechnics, hence, perhaps, the title) and showed their work on Channel 4 during the 1980s, meaning they have had a much more dispersed, though less visible, impact on art and the wider sphere of culture. Have had and have: Elwes, for example, has recently founded a journal devoted to the moving image (MIRAJ), so the territory contested in this earlier period continues, to a certain extent, to be contested.
In the inverted world of glitch art, functionality is just a sterile enclosure of creative space and degradation an agent of renewal.
Such was the spirit in the air at GLI.TC/H, a five-day conference in Chicago organized by Nick Briz, Evan Meaney, Rosa Menkman and Jon Satrom that included workshops, lectures, performances, installations and screenings. Intuitively, most people involved with new media know what glitch art is - it’s art that tweaks technology and causes either hardware or software to sputter, fail, misfire or otherwise wig out. Narrowing in on a more precise definition can be perilous, though. Purists would insist on a distinction between art that uses actual malfunctions and art that imitates malfunctions, but the organizers of GLI.TC/H took a catholic approach to their programming.
Brody Condon has uploaded two videos documenting LevelFive, a live action role-playing game/performance modeled after 1970s self actualization seminars such as Erhard Seminars Training. (The LevelFive site provides a clip of one of these sessions, from Adam Curtis' documentary Century of the Self, here.) Participants, all of whom are volunteers, take up a character for the entire duration of the weekend, and engage in a series of intense self-actualizing exercises and seminars as this person. Similar to Condon's previous project TwentyfiveFold Manifestation, the immersion and duration of the game work plays on the "bleed" between the participant's original self and that of their character. LevelFive took place at the Hammer Museum of Art from September 4-5, 2010 and again at the San Jose Convention Center on September 17-18, 2010, during the Zero1 Biennial.
Last month, I posted Norman McLaren's 1971 work Synchromy to Rhizome. Vernissage TV visited the WRO Art Center in Wrocław, Poland, where the exhibition surveying his career "Norman McLaren: Synchromie. Musique Optique" is currently on display. In this clip, curator Piotr Krajewski discusses McLaren's technique and relationship to sound.