Required Reading

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Image: Unprojectable: Projection and Perspective (2008), performance documentation, Tate Modern, London

"DG: So just to clarify, you and John Cale took the side of contingency, materialism, and cultural and historical specificity, and La Monte Young and his supporters took the side of permanence, ‘the eternal’ and that which transcends culture and history.

TC: Right. Which led me to become engaged in a reflection on the intersection between idealism in Western philosophical thought and in Western cultural tradition on the one hand, and on the other hand power relations - since our controversy was largely lodged in the context of a legalistic formulation. What about our Greek roots? What about Pythagoras? What about theories of music that had to do with numerology? This ensnared me in a set of concerns around the text of history. To answer your question more directly, the substratum of my current interests, and those that have held my attention most over the last few decades, has to do with the way in which the historical record can become the narrative. On the sound side, this process was really rich, and it branched out. I began to tell myself odd things, like modern physics had been generated as a branch of music. The power conditions in the Western orchestra had their roots in the same conditions as modern state bureaucracies and military drill practices. This gives rise to an analysis of how power is transacted that is not inconsistent with Foucault’s theories, but culturally modulated in a different way."

-- EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW IN FRIEZE MAGAZINE, JUNE/AUGUST 2009

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In the Shadow of the Sun (1980) - Derek Jarman and Throbbing Gristle

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Derek Jarman used some of his 70s home movie footage to produce this wonderful piece of exploitational avantgarde cinema. Actually the original material has been slowed down to a speed of 3-6 frames, then Jarman added colour effects and the pulsating, menacing score by Industrial supergroup Throbbing Gristle

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE UBUWEB BLOG

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Light Art Museumified

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Renowned light artist James Turrell (1943, Los Angeles) was first associated with the American Minimalists that emerged in the 1960s such as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Frank Stella. Today Turrell is known more as an installation artist who uses colored lights to sculpt space and disorient perception. Currently Turrell lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, near the Navaho reservations, where he continues to oversee the completion of his monumental land art project at Roden Crater, an extinct volcano that the artist has “been transforming into a sky observatory for over three decades. In honor of the recently opened James Turrell Museum in Colomé, Argentina, the only museum worldwide dedicated specifically to the artist's career, this article discusses highlights from Turrell’s rich body of work and introduces the new Turrell Museum, where many of these pieces reside.

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The Pause Button

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Image: Ian Bogost , Guru Meditation, 2009 (Still)

For those of us who suffer from Continual Partial Awareness, a new game has arrived that might just succeed in capturing your attention for more than 2 seconds. Created by video game scholar and critic Ian Bogost, Guru Meditation forces the player to remain still and focus. That's it. Move or otherwise signal distraction, however, and the player must begin again. "Guru Meditation" originated as an in house meditation game developed for the Amiga Joyboard by the company's programmers in order to ease their frustration with the temperamental system, and is better known as the mysterious expression appearing in the Amiga's fatal error message. Bogost revived this tidbit of Amiga history by producing a contemporary version for the Atari VCS and the iPhone. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Beyond geekdom, Bogost claims that the project stems from his fascination with the historical intersection between Silicon Valley and hippie counter-culture, which lead him to the game, along with others like it. To get into the guru-oove, click here.

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A Short Week in Shorts

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Long a destination for filmmakers to showcase their work, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has expanded its program in recent years to incorporate experimental film and video art. Beginning in 2006 distributors, such as Lux, Electronic Arts Intermix, Netherlands Media Art Institute, and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center, were invited to spotlight works recently added to their catalogs. This portion of the festival was rounded out by “Unreal Asia”, a themed series of screenings of Southeast Asian film and video art, as well as a profiles on Japanese experimental filmmaker Matsumoto Toshio, Mexican filmmaker Nicolás Echevarría, German filmmaker Herbert Fritsch, the Sarajevo Documentary School and a retrospective on the Russian art group the Factory of Found Clothes. Annual segments, such as the MuVi award for music videos, an international competition, a competition including only German work, and films made by children, were scheduled alongside the thematic programs, resulting in a diverse and active six-day calendar. I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time a week ago, and caught a number of the screenings.

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The Cybernetic Pioneer of Video Art: Nam June Paik

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In the 1960s and 1970s, Nam June Paik, and many of his pioneering video artist colleagues and Fluxus collaborators took the visionary work of Wiener, the electric prophesies of McLuhan and Gregory Bateson and the utopic designs of Buckminster Fuller and concurred that the new video medium would usher in a social utopia that would extend far beyond the spheres of the 1970s experimental art world. For these early media artists, the feedback loops, live circuits, and video flows, coupled with the electronic image’s immediate and physiological stimulations, when used in distinction to commercial models, posited potent possibilities for cybernetic consciousness, ecological human-machine systems, and an end to top-down power relations. In short, the rise of an egalitarian, democratic society through electronic media. In order to fully appreciate Paik’s work, we must remember this historical context. A solo show is now on view at the James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea, "Nam June Paik: Live Feed: 1972 -1994." The show features several of Paik’s older and more recent video installations, all of which reflect his cybernetic ambitions for video technology.

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Required Reading

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"Abstract: Chiptune refers to a collection of related music production and performance practices sharing a history with video game soundtracks. The evolution of early chiptune music tells an alternate narrative about the hardware, software, and social practices of personal computing in the 1980s and 1990s. By digging into the interviews, text files, and dispersed ephemera that have made their way to the Web, we identify some of the common folk-historical threads among the commercial, noncommercial, and ambiguously commercial producers of chiptunes with an eye toward the present-day confusion surrounding the term chiptune. Using the language of affordances and constraints, we hope to avoid a technocratic view of the inventive and creative but nevertheless highly technical process of creating music on computer game hardware."

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Grace Murray Hopper on 60 Minutes (1982)

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Derek Jarman's Films at X and on UbuWeb

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Image: Derek Jarman, Imagining October, 1984 (Installation shot at X)

A survey of Derek Jarman's early films opened earlier this month at the Dia space on West 22nd, comprising a significant portion of programming by X, the new initiative that will activate the space with exhibitions and conversations over the next year. Spanning a massive 3 floors, the show is easily one of the most elaborate installations of moving image work I've ever seen. Although Jarman’s works were originally filmed on Super 8, and, as such, not intended to be transferred to video and then blown up, the installation, with films projected large on video in multiple, open screening spaces, brought new meaning to the original works. I should note my visit to Dia came after a rather disheartening afternoon at the Armory Show, where the pitiful few booths actually screening video choose to exhibit the works in a corner, or in one case, in a corner near the floor.

In his recent discussion with Dara Birnbaum in this month's Artforum, Cory Arcangel asks, "Is there even such a thing as a bastardized medium today?" in reference to increased methods of distribution within the larger cultural realm. (Find an online excerpt from the interview here.) One could suggest that the intimacy of super 8 is compromised in the Jarman show, and, in that, it represents a "bastardization" of the medium. But the theatrical, immersive installation still invites a contemplative engagement with the work, especially the small room and sound system built for Imagining October (1984). I would argue that the installation adds another level to Jarman's films, and in an age of "bastardized mediums" we should consider how these translations can expand a work's reception, not diminish them.

While we're on the topic ...

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Zbigniew Rybczynski

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Tango (1980)


Steps (1987)


Zbigniew Rybczyński is an Academy Award winning Polish filmmaker. He is a recognized pioneer in HDTV technology and was also active in an avant-garde group "Warsztat Formy Filmowej". Rybczynski has created many music videos for artists such as Art of Noise, Mick Jagger, Simple Minds, Pet Shop Boys, Chuck Mangione, The Alan Parsons Project, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Rush, Propaganda, Lady Pank and also for John Lennon's Imagine.

-- FROM WIKIPEDIA

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