Interview with James Voorhies

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Image: Front of Office of Collective Play, the temporary storefront space that will be used for programming during "Descent to Revolution"

Last Thursday, the new exhibition “Descent to Revolution” organized by Columbus College of Art & Design’s Bureau for Open Culture opened in Columbus, Ohio. Taking place around the city and at a temporary location in a former storefront downtown, “Descent to Revolution” will host residencies by five artist collectives and collaboratives over the course of the next three months. These groups will take up projects that engage and respond to the city of Columbus. The first resident is Portland-based collective Red76, followed by Claire Fontaine, Learning Site, REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT, and Tercerunquinto. “Descent to Revolution” curator and the director of exhibitions for the Bureau for Open Culture James Voorhies took a moment to answer a few questions about the show. You can follow the exhibition as it develops through the "Descent to Revolution" blog, here. - Ceci Moss

It seems like the multidisciplinary and fluid nature of the exhibitory framework for "Descent to Revolution" is a natural extension of the Bureau for Open Culture's activities and ethos. I am wondering if you can speak more about the Bureau for Open Culture itself and how the space came into being.

Yes. "Descent to Revolution" is, in a way, a culmination of some of the underlying ideas of what we're doing at the Bureau for Open Culture. The Bureau for Open Culture was created as a way to give shape to the exhibition program I've been operating since 2006. Many of the projects we've organized have taken place outside of the gallery or had components outside of it and often involved participants from diverse disciplines and locations like libraries, non-profit music venues, city-owned sites, empty storefronts and other area universities ...

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Normalized Silence (2009) - Nicholas O'Brien

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With the help of Amazon's Mechanical Turk, I asked workers to record 30+ seconds of "silence" from an on-board, or on-hand microphone. After collecting results, I normalized the submitted silence to a zero decibel level which high-lights the minor - normally inaudible - discrepancies between each recording/location/worker.

In doing so, Normalized Silence approaches the discourse of anonymity that surrounds network and out-source cultures. Accentuating the normally "silent" voices of anonymous workers within this framework provides a aural gesture of individuality within a realm of digital shadows.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Sound Design

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Image: Photo of Chris Watson's Microphone (Source: Chris Watson's site)

Michael Guidetti recently released the fifth edition of Skeleton Sweep, a collaborative podcast collage of field recordings and found sound. The project’s poetic title accommodates an array of meanings, from the artist’s embrace of the fleshless quality of sound on an mp3 to the wide-ranging breadth of the material’s origins. Volume 5 includes recordings as diverse as a mother’s affectionate voicemail message, wind chimes, percussive music made with knives, and black boxes of crashed planes.

Skeleton Sweep grew out of Guidetti’s longtime interest in field recordings. Before compiling Volume 1 in March 2007, he mailed a micro-recorder back and forth with a friend living in Japan, to share the sounds of their surroundings. As a serious hobbyist, Guidetti uses high-quality equipment for his own recordings—a Sony DAT walkman with an Audio-Technica stereo mic—but relishes juxtapositions of various qualities of sound. Skeleton Sweep welcomes unsolicited submissions from amateurs but also includes the work of experts, so a volume might take sound off lo-fi cassettes and cell phones as well as pieces by Chris Watson or Toshiya Tsunoda; Volume 4 even has excerpts of compositions by David Tudor and Robert Ashley. Contributors are given credit on the Skeleton Sweep site in a list labeled “Info,” though the term is a bit of an exaggeration, as the barebones descriptions of content on the list often generate more questions than they answer. In any case, when a chorus of witch cackles, a blanket of crickets, and chirping ringtones succeed each other in an early stretch of Volume 5, the connections an active listener draws between those noises—and the nuanced differences of each file’s silence—matter more than the relationship between a sound and ...

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Civilization 2.0

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When introducing digital art to an unfamiliar audience, every piece becomes a manifesto of its own - it simultaneously informs, provokes and educates the viewer. When East London gallery SEVENTEEN put up "Intentional Computing", Paul B. Davis’ first ever solo show in 2007, this was precisely the challenge it faced. In Britain’s oddly conservative art scene, the show acted as a demonstration of the infinite possibilities and theorization of digital creativity. A brief retrospective of one of London’s most adventurous galleries brings out the problems such artists face as well as the complexities technology- savvy audiences are learning to incorporate into their viewing experience.

“Much of the work we began to show at SEVENTEEN was at first alien to people in London,” says Paul Pieroni, co-curator of SEVENTEEN, who had been a fan of Davis’ work with the collective, BEIGE, for years: “I liked the fact that it takes technology not on face value, but in terms of its place within a more diffuse contemporary culture.” "Intentional Computing" featured some of Davis’ NES hacks, as well as glitchy, pixelated videos, reminiscent of the artist’s early encounters with technology. It also raised debates about issues of commodity and reclamation. By quoting recurring parts of his technological environment past and present, including the computer games (Nintendo et al) of his youth, Davis was rejuvenating a practice innovated by major pop artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi’s work in the early 50s as well as his later mosaics, or Richard Hamilton’s famous collages.

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Giving You S.A.S.E.

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ASDF, the joint collaboration between Mylinh Trieu Nguyen and David Horvitz, announced a new project yesterday, S.A.S.E.. Adopting the format of the self-addressed stamped envelope, where the receiving party sends an empty envelope to the sender in order to obtain a reply, potential viewers of the ten email-based exhibitions must send an email request to ASDF to receive the show in their inbox. Each exhibition contains a statement, a works list, and a selection of images. Many of the exhibitions read much like art projects, such as Michael Mandiberg's "FDIC Insured" in which the artist assembles the corporate logos for banks recently closed by the recession, found from images searches and the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Image searches figure into Jess Wilcox's "Discovery of Orange" as well, a show that loosely collects images referring to the color in an effort to illustrate its artificial manufacturing. The results fluctuate from Vincent Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night to a photograph of construction cones to the Nickelodeon logo. ASDF are offering 11" x 17" prints of the email exhibitions as well, but only through - you guessed it - a self-addressed stamped envelope.

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All Star Video (1984) - Nam June Paik with Ryuichi Sakamoto

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I'll Replace You (2008) - Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

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I'll Replace You from Jennifer & Kevin McCoy on Vimeo.

This film is an experiment in outsourcing everyday life. In it we hired 50 actors to take over all aspects of our daily routines and roles as parents, spouses, professors, artists and friends. The actors play opposite their real counterparts - our kids, our students, our friends, in our studio, presenting our work.

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Take Care of Yourself (2007) - Sophie Calle

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In this “tour de force of feminine responses…executed in a wild range of media,” Sophie Calle orchestrates a virtual chorus of women’s interpretations and assessments of a breakup letter she received in an email. In photographic portraits, textual analysis, and filmed performances, the show presents a seemingly exhaustive compendium with contributions ranging from a clairvoyant’s response to a scientific study, a children’s fairytale to a Talmudic exegesis, among many others. Examining the conditions and possibilities of human emotions, Take Care of Yourself opens up ideas about love and heartache, gender and intimacy, labor and identity. 107 women (including a parrot) from the realms of anthropology, criminology, philosophy, psychiatry, theater, opera, soap opera and beyond each take on this letter, reading and re-reading it, performing it, transforming it, and pursuing the emotions it contains and elicits.

-- FROM THE PRESS RELEASE FOR THE EXHIBITION OF "TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF" AT PAULA COOPER GALLERY

For an interview with Sophie Calle, where she discusses the exhibition of Take Care of Yourself at the French Pavilion in the 2007 Venice Biennale, go here.

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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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Variable Frame Rate: Multimedia Performance at MUTEK 2009

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It is understandable that we sometimes overlook the surge of innovation and experimentation that has taken place within live musical performance over the last decade. A culture obsessed with emerging channels of distribution and incremental software upgrades is almost predisposed to overlook the virtuosity (or lack thereof) that drives live performance. A pertinent frame of reference in considering evolving paradigms in musical performance is the MUTEK festival, a progressive electronic music summit that takes place in Montreal each spring. Launched in 2000, and having just celebrated their tenth anniversary this past week, MUTEK has consistently programmed dynamic lineups of luminaries representing various facets of global house, techno and experimental music communities. The festival has cultivated an idiosyncratic identity that references the pulse and dense revelry of the after hours scene while also showcasing more amorphous, adventurous multimedia and gallery-oriented projects. In addition to positioning Montreal as a key node within international electronic music networks, MUTEK has developed into a platform for showcasing integrated audio-visual performance.

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