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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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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On Tour

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Image: Kosmoplovci, P3225504-procesor, from the series “Fragments”

In June I traveled through southeastern Europe from Venice to Athens, where I’m looking at art and blogging. Part three of the travelogue is about Belgrade, Serbia.

With a population of two million, Belgrade is twice as big as Zagreb, which is thrice as big as Ljubljana, but the sizes of these three cities have a paradoxically inverse relationship to their cultural infrastructure, particularly at the intersection of art and technology. While little Ljubljana had enough events to fill my schedule for four days, Zagreb’s handful of galleries were in a summer slumber. But organizations were actually there, even if hibernating, while Belgrade had nothing. Many attributed that to the smaller country’s attempt to find a niche or a brand for itself in Europe’s crowded contemporary art world. “New media in Slovenia was as a more or less organized way of deterritorialization from the ex-Yugoslavian context, a systematic attempt ‘to be more serious than the system itself,’" said Maja Ciric, a Serbian curator, citing Zizek. “But in Belgrade the new media paradigm is self-driven and performed individually.”

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Image: Kosmoplovci, stills from Satelitska Stanica

Belgrade had a small but active demoscene in the 1990s, which gave rise to one of the most interesting art collectives in the former Yugoslavia, Kosmoplovci (pronounced “kos-mo-PLOV-tsee”). The name means something like astronauts or space sailors, and comes from a 1970s do-it-yourself science and technology magazine that some demoscene friends found at a flea market in the early ‘90s. The members of Kosmoplovci are fond of rummaging through the past, and their varied output—which includes internet works, videos, music, comics, and books—usually involves allusion and found media. Satelitska Stanica is based on an old 8mm film extolling a joint project with Japan to ...

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Good Copy Bad Copy (2007) - Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen, Henrik Moltke

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a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture

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Sonic Outlaws (1995) - Craig Baldwin

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Within days after the release of Negativland's clever parody of U2 and Casey Kasem, recording industry giant Island Records descended upon the band with a battery of lawyers intent on erasing the piece from the history of rock music.

Craig "Tribulation 99" Baldwin follows this and other intellectual property controversies across the contemporary arts scene. Playful and ironic, his cut-and-paste collage-essay surveys the prospects for an "electronic folk culture" in the midst of an increasingly commodified corporate media landscape.

-- FROM UBU

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After the Amateur: Notes

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Film, video and photography once fell easily into two categories: professional or amateur. Professionals mastered their crafts, often through guild-like programs of training, and sought to make a living from their abilities. Amateurs learned on their own, or through informal clubs of like-minded aficionados, and pursued their arts for reasons other than money or wide-ranging prestige. Professionals pursued careers. Amateurs pursued hobbies.

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Interview with InCUBATE

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InCUBATE storefront (Photo by Bryce Dwyer)

I first encountered InCUBATE’s work at Creative Time’s exhibition “Convergence Center at Park Avenue Armory.” For the run of the show, this Chicago-based artist-run organization set up a temporary soup cafe in collaboration with artist Robin Hewlett and artist group Material Exchange. Visitors were invited to purchase soup, and these funds were then directed toward small grants to support art projects. The soup cafe was an extension of their ongoing project Sunday Soup, which offers monthly meals in their storefront space in order to fundraise money for individual artist’s projects. Sunday Soup is but one example of the alternative economic models put forth by InCUBATE’s varied activities and research. In a shaky economic climate, InCUBATE’s grassroots approach to arts funding propose useful solutions to enduring, and most likely, increasingly pressing obstacles. For our ongoing series dealing with contemporary art and the recession, I decided to interview InCUBATE (Abigail Satinsky, Bryce Dwyer, Roman Petruniak, and Matthew Joynt) about their activities. - Ceci Moss

What is InCUBATE and how did it begin?

InCUBATE stands for the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and the Everyday. We are an experimental research institute and artist residency program dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding. Acting as curators, researchers and co-producers of artist's projects, our main focus has been to explore ways that artists, both historically and today, have incorporated models of resource allocation, community building, funding structures and forms of exchange as part of their artistic practice.

We originally came together while studying Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Given our desire to provoke a critical recognition of how art practices can better relate to alternative systems of economic and cultural exchange ...

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The Benders

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Snaps and crackles and bleeps and bloops prevail at New York's annual circuit bending festival Bent, which kicked off last night and will continue through Saturday evening. Hosted by The Tank, the event brings together benders and homemade electronics aficionados for three days of workshops, demos, installations and concerts. If the promise of a Chiptune Marching Band or an army of miniRunglers isn't enough to peak your interest, perhaps the stellar lineup for Saturday's concert, which includes a performance by Lesley Flanigan using her signature feedback instrument the Speaker Synth as well as composer Tristan Perich's epic 15 channel work involving 18 modified television sets and 5 dancers Impulse Manifold will be enough to get you off your couch and over to Hell's Kitchen.

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Required Reading

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"[Jeff] Krulik may be public access's only true success story. He perceived the weird essence of the medium, then moved beyond it. Emerging from that 1980s no-zone, he has been able to create his own brand of television art: documentaries in the service of a unique screwball populism. Before community TV became outstripped by newer technologies, it gave us the obsessed world of Jeff Krulik, a guy who finds something remarkable in the unremarkable and sees everyday people as stars."

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OffOn (1967) - Scott Bartlett

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Making of OffOn (1980) - Scott Bartlett


Via WFMU's Beware of the Blog

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