NY Art Book Fair 2010

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A Young Kim, We Listen to Bach Transfixed Because This Is Listening to A Human Mind, 2010
(from the studio alabaster booth)

Printed Matter's annual contemporary art book extravaganza The NY Art Book Fair opened last night, and I dropped by today to take some shots of the festivities for the blog. Easily one of my favorite yearly art events in New York, the fair hosts an overwhelming amount of booths, lectures, screenings, performances, and more by 200+ participating independent publishers, booksellers, zinesters, and artists. The fair is at PS1 in Long Island City, it's free, and it will be open today until 7pm, Saturday from 11am-7pm, and on Sunday from 11am-5pm. Also, be sure to scroll down to the end of this post for a round-up of media art and digital culture-related highlights.

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Booth for Swiss independent publisher Nieves Books

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"You Are Her" a mini-exhibit of 1990s riot grrrl zines, organized by San Francisco's Goteblüd

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Brooklyn-based Cinders Gallery's booth

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Artist Sto Pit's Facebook at the Cinders Gallery booth

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Editions by Trevor Paglen and Starlee Kine at The Thing Quarterly's booth

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The third iteration of Dispatch's "RE: 1975-76 New York Art Yearbook" at the Dispatch booth
(Dispatch did another version of this project at No Soul For Sale at the Tate Modern, which we covered on Rhizome, here.)

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Promotional prints for Laura Owen's book Fruits and Nuts at independent LA boutique Ooga Booga's booth

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e-flux drew a thematic table of contents (of sorts) to all the essays published in their journal on the walls of their project space

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Really gorgeous paper editions by Tauba Auerbach, at the Printed Matter booth

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Another one of Tauba Auerbach's editions

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Issues of Dutch magazine Open, which covers art and the public domain.

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The art ...

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Pierre Gordeeff's The Built From Scratch Apparatus

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"The Built From Scratch Apparatus" is the general title for a series of projects by Pierre Gordeeff initiated in 2006. Composed of parts salvaged from the trash, yard sales and equipment purchased from bankrupt hospitals, schools and factories, Gordeeff's work has slowly evolved into an ornate sculpture and light show along with amplified moving parts fed into a mixer. This particular configuration of The Built-From-Scratch Apparatus, La Trombe, is performed alongside a duo with electronic musician Boris Jacobek on laptop and Bontempi keyboard.

PIERRE GORDEEFF - LA TROMBE / Juin 2008 / GRRRND GERLAND from Grrrnd Zero on Vimeo.

La Trombe was built specifically for a performance at Lyon, France's DIY venue Grrrndzero and this video was shot during one evening of La Trombe's installation period at the space in June of 2008. Although it seems that throughout most of this improvisation the sculpture is obscured in shadow, spectators could observe the well-lit sculpture before and after the performance.

Initially, Gordeeff's pieces were a less complex juxtaposition of drawings, sculpture and found objects, often depicting images of dystopian angst. By 2004, he began to make use of light and motion as his work became more performative. He eventually added sound by amplifying various moving portions of the sculpture and in his recent musical performances, the process of obscuring and illuminating portions of the sculpture "becomes more detailed than if I were [merely] drawing or sculpting it." When asked about the sculpture's transformation into an improvisatory musical instrument, Gordeeff observes, "I used sound and motion as a tool to overcome my habits of plastic composition. I followed the technical bias of all the items I could find [rather than my own aesthetic decisions] to end up with hybrid objects and shadows of elaborate graphic design. Sometimes sound inhabits space ...

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Code Eroded: At GLI.TC/H

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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.

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Homebrew Electronics

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Lara demonstrating one of her projects

I met with sisters Sarah and Lara Grant of Felted Signal Processing the other week at their Brooklyn apartment. Felted Signal Processing is an ongoing project, which came out of their individual research as graduate students in NYU’s ITP program. Sarah entered the program to further her skills in new media and Lara went to learn how to program, play with hardware and generally learn the electronic side to apply to her interactive fashion. Now graduated, they have teamed together up in their Felted Signal Processing project, which allows them to explore their joint passion for soft circuitry and wearable technology. Together, they build colorful, handmade felt interfaces that allow users to manipulate sound through physical interaction such as pulling, scrunching or stroking. Most of their interfaces are built to output sound, but they are also interested in the development of new materials and techniques for fabricating soft sensors for interfaces that can be hooked up to a variety of outputs. Lara has been felting for 7 years, and they explained that felt is their “dream medium.” Sarah was the first of the two to apply the medium to soft circuitry; the name “Felted Signal Processing” actually came from her thesis, where she hacked a guitar pedal and integrated conductive felt into the circuit, letting users squeeze and scrunch the material in order to literally shape sound. Once Lara embarked on her thesis, she chose to develop a skill set of techniques to create and control variable resistance in soft circuitry. Sarah, a programmer with a background in new media art and a long standing interest in sound, focuses on the software and hardware side of their projects while Lara, who spent years working in fashion and textiles with an emphasis in conceptual ...

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Interview with Jaimie Warren of Whoop Dee Doo

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Whoop Dee Doo is a kid's show, run by about 20-30 volunteers in Kansas City. The show is filmed in the style of public access television shows of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, drawing heavy inspiration from the likes of The Carol Burnett Show, The Gong Show, Pee Wee's Playhouse, You Can't Do That on Television, Mr. Wizard, Soul Train, Double Dare, public access horror show hosts like Svengoolie, and the Chicago public access program Chica-go-go. The group has put together shows around the country and internationally, from the Smart Museum in Chicago, to a holiday party at Deitch Projects, and a collaboration with Loyal Gallery in Malmo, Sweden. In each new venue they draw on local communities of performers and artists to collaborate and contribute. Performers range from musical acts and performance artists to Civil War Re-enactors, Celtic Bagpipers, Christian Mimes, drag queens, drill teams and science teachers. Kids help build the sets and make props along with artists and volunteers, and they are a huge part of the show itself. Whoop Dee Doo is intended to showcase the diversity of artistic talent within the community, and to create an opportunity for these groups to work, and party, together. Unlike many kid's shows, Whoop Dee Doo is in no way dumbed down or infantilizing, and it forms an important part of the vibrant and creative Kansas City arts community.

The show is hosted by artists Matt Roche and Jaimie Warren. Matt plays a quiet, awkward werewolf, and Jaimie is generally wearing red spandex and covered in empty food packaging. I spoke with Jaimie about the art scene in Kansas City, about working with kids and technology, and about the philosophy of Whoop Dee Doo.

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Dis & Dump.fm

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Two heavyweight internet champions - online magazine DIS (check our interview with them here) and image-only chatroom dump.fm (check a statement about the project by co-founder Ryder Ripps here) - will join forces this week for New Style Options, an event where dump.fm users will be encouraged to post fashion and style-related images to a designated DIS portal. If we're lucky, hopefully participants will use New Style Options as an opportunity to venture further into the warped Walmart meets Home Depot meets poolside LA direction of the recent DIS summer fashion spread.

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A Visit to Babycastles

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The setup downstairs at the Silent Barn.

Yesterday Ceci and I went out to Silent Barn in Ridgewood to meet with Kunal Gupta and the other guys who run Babycastles. Babycastles is a DIY arcade space with a rotating set of independent games curated by local artists and game designers. The space is usually set up for play during shows at Silent Barn, but they'll turn the machines on and let you play if you come by any time they're around.

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Dismantled laptop for a costume in Babycastles "Indie Game Cosplay Music Video Shoot Machinima" party

When we arrived, the guys were prepping for a big "Indie Game Cosplay Music Video Shoot Machinima" performance/dance party with CHERYL that they are throwing this Saturday, part of Game Play at the Brick Theater. Upstairs they were disassembling old laptops so that could be attached to the costumes of cyborg dancers that would double as playable arcade games. While they tinkered with soldering guns and laptop guts we played a few rounds of Tristan Perich's 1-bit game KILL JET on a small portable TV about the size of a car battery. The game is operated using two buttons, one to move the plane up and the other to move it down. For previous installations the game was played on a larger TV with the buttons attached to the back, so that the player had to hug the screen in order to play. Kunal showed us some of their costumes in progress and discussed some ideas for interactive dancing machinima gifs before we headed downstairs to see the arcade.

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Jacob playing Tristan Perich's KILL JET

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Glamour shot of Tristan's circuit board for KILL JET

The current series of games on display at Babycastles is curated by Zen Albatross ...

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Homebrew Electronics

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Leon and Brian Dewan Playing the Dual Primate Console

Homebrew Electronics is a new series on the Rhizome blog. For these posts, I will be conducting studio visits with artists and inventors who create unique electronic instruments.

Last week, I met with cousins Brian and Leon Dewan of Dewanatron at Leon’s apartment/workshop in New Rochelle, NY. I first encountered their whimsical, one-of-a-kind instruments at a solo exhibition at Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn a few years ago. Not only do they produce and exhibit their own instruments, they use them in performances and in recordings as well. They split the labor evenly - Leon builds the circuits for each instrument, and Brian crafts the consoles that contain them at his home in Catskill, NY. Despite their jetlag from a recent trip to Los Angeles (Brian had screened his film strips at the Museum of Jurassic Technology’s theater), the Dewans gave me a thorough walkthrough of their work, patiently explaining how each of their creations functioned.



Dual Primate Console

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The Dewans use the Dual Primate Console quite a bit in their performances; it also made a starring appearance on their album Semi-Automatic. Built for two operators (or “primates”), each side provides four rhythmically independent voices, which can be programmed using a rotary telephone dial.

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Rotary Dial on the Dual Primate Console

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They got the idea to use a rotary telephone dial in this fashion from antique Language Lab Machines, which also integrate telephone dials into their interface. The rows of switches control the voices, and Nixie bulbs lining the top of the instrument indicate the different voices selected by the telephone dial. These bulbs were produced from the 1950s through the 1970s and were a precursor to LED displays.

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Close-up of Nixie bulbs on the Dual Primate Console

The bottom ...

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The Migration and Conflation of Forms

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What has happened to “underground” film after the advent of Netflix, file-sharing and the Internet? This veritable, thriving counter-cultural force, building community by way of the distribution of cultural artifacts, has definitely undergone some changes as hard-to-find movies have become easier to locate and view. The transformation of underground film in the face of these factors emblematizes the shift in perspective defining the New York Underground Film Festival (1994-2008), from its offshoot Migrating Forms, programmed by NYUFF veterans Kevin McGarry and Nellie Killian, now in its second year. Migrating Forms shouldn’t be understood as NYUFF with a facelift—such would imply a new identity covering up an old ethos. Rather, if NYUFF combated the poor distribution of alternative cinema with a punk sensibility, Migrating Forms broadened its scope to celebrate works made in the preceding year by artists and filmmakers, somewhat in the vein of an (annual) art world biennial.

Its title, taken from a James Fotopolous film, further evinces the slippery character of pictures shown within McGarry and Killian’s program. Anything on video or film is fair game. The disparate line up includes work of contemporary video artists, anthropologically inclined documentaries, and formalist ruminations by an array of artists and filmmakers. Also shown was a mini retrospective of Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin and the only two, extremely rare films ever produced by Ed Ruscha. The festival brochure touts its ten day massive program, “Across 23 programs, Migrating Forms showcases films and videos by 62 artists living and working in 21 countries—plus 9 special retrospective screenings and special events.”

The conceptual and physical vastness of Migrating Forms’ programming makes it difficult to identify any concerted or intentional leitmotifs. McGarry and Killian composed the festival with no obvious overarching theme other than the charge of presenting new film ...

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Diskmags: Underground Journalism of the Demoscene

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Sex'n'Crime #14, one of the first disk magazines (Commodore 64,1990)

Disk magazines, or just diskmags/mags for short, are digital journals that were originally published on diskettes (hence the name). They share some common properties with their traditional printed counterparts, such as ads, sections and articles, but some features, such as their background music, distribution channels and interactive navigation spring from their digital nature. The demoscene has actively created diskmags starting from the late 1980s, and before the Internet age they could be considered as one of the most important international communication channels of the community. There were also commercial diskmags published by companies and user clubs, but they will not be discussed here.

Diskmags, quite naturally, deal with topics that are of interest to the community. There is a wide variety of content available in them: for example, the largest issues of Imphobia sported as many as 250 articles, spanning several hundreds of pages. Among the most typical topics are news, discussions about the changing field of technology, swapping ads, programming tricks, party invitations, competition results, and interviews of notable demoscene members. Back in the day the discussions were often heated, complete with wars between groups and name-calling. Charts, where people could vote for their favorite groups and productions used to be common as well. Such ranking lists serve as an example of the competitive nature of the community.

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R.A.W. #6, an example from the golden age of diskmags (Amiga 500, 1993)

The first diskmags, such as Sex'n'Crime, were simple and contained maybe only a dozen of articles. In a few years the amount of content and the audiovisual sophistication increased considerably, and as can be seen in the second picture, the magazines on the Commodore Amiga already featured a graphical user ...

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