MUTEK 2010 / Montreal

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Montreal in June is an explosion of festivals. MUTEK, the annual festival of “digital creativity and electronic music,” is one of the most intriguing. The focus of the festival, now in its eleventh year, is on live experimental electronic music. This year's MUTEK sported an impressive roster -- electronic supergroups like Matmos and Mouse on Mars; cutting-edge UK dubstep producers such as Ikonika; and notable German DJs like Dixon, Henrik Schwarz, and DJ Koze.

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Nurse With Wound Live at MUTEK 2010

One of the most anticipated live sets at MUTEK was a rare performance by the trailblazing British group Nurse with Wound. Nurse with Wound is a difficult act to pin down. The band, a revolving cast of characters helmed by the shadowy Steven Stapleton, has been in existence, in some form or another, since 1978. Some call Nurse with Wound "industrial music," but that's a bit of a misnomer. The band does bear some similarities with crusading British bands like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Current 93, but their music -- disorienting sound collages, ambient drones, tape edits, noise -- is defiantly anti-genre. Perhaps a better way to describe Nurse with Wound is through their artistic inspirations -- Dada sound poetry and French musique concrète, Futurist rhetoric and Surrealist cinema. The band's third album, released in 1980, was titled "Merzbild Schwet," a reference to Kurt Schwitters and his "Merz" philosophy and series of works; Side One was titled "Futurismo"; Side Two was titled "Dada." (Interestingly, many other musicians of the time were referencing Kurt Schwitters -- Faust, Brian Eno, and later the Japanese noise artist Merzbow -- the "Merzbau" being one of Schwitters' most famous works.)

Nurse with Wound played a haunting set in a dark auditorium against a sinister black-and-white film backdrop. Ambient drones were punctuated with harsh, sudden crashes -- reminiscent of ...

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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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Rhizome at No Soul For Sale

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Customs form from David Horvitz's Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern

Rhizome will be one of the over 70 alternative arts organizations participating in this year's No Soul For Sale festival at the Tate Modern, May 14th-16th. We will be exhibiting the unopened packages sent in as part of David Horvitz's Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern in our space in the Turbine Hall. For a live display of the movement of all these packages, please visit the Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern site. I will be offline today, as I myself will be in transit. I plan to blog from the festival all weekend. So, stay tuned...

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Rhizome at No Soul for Sale and David Horvitz's Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern

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Rhizome will be participating in this year's No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents at the Tate Modern. From May 14-16th, more than 70 independent arts organizations from all over the world will present films, performances, exhibitions, and more within the Turbine Hall. If you live in London or happen to be there during that weekend, please drop by and say hello.

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For the festival, Rhizome has teamed up with artist David Horvitz to present "Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern. This project invites anyone to track and mail empty packages to the Tate Modern, where they will be displayed unopened in the Rhizome space. The website for Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern will display the movement of all these packages, creating a "mental picture of the vast global infrastructure of shipping." Visit the website Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern for instructions about participating in this exhibition -- all packages must be received by May 10th or 11th.

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Call for Proposals

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Pixelache, Helsinki's electronic arts festival, is seeking proposals for both their project (installation/performance/etc) and program (seminars, workshops, exhibitions, screenings, series of performances/concerts, club events, etc.) sections for next year. More information here. Deadline is April 20, 2010.

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NOISEnotNOISE

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Poster for Noise Not Noise, 2010 (Image: Andy Gilmore)

Vancouver-ans will be noising it up this week, with the music fest Fake Jazz Festival as well as the two-day symposium Noise Not Noise, organized by Western Front Society's Exhibitions and New Music Department. The activities will cover the changing role of noise, especially in light of digital technologies and general information overflow. (One critical strand is the subject of a recent book, Caleb Kelly's Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction, which covers the historical development of music made with failed or broken electronics, reviewed on Rhizome by Greg J. Smith.) For those who can only attend in spirit, fear not, as the Western Front Society's Executive Director, Caitlin Jones, has curated an online exhibit, NOISEnotNOISE, in conjunction with the festivities, with work by Cory Arcangel, JODI, Guthrie Lonergan, Lee Walton and Aleksandra Domanovic. The show proposes to take on the "noise" of the online environment and the constant generation of data from sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. This dynamic surfaces in the cluttered confusion of JODI's My%Desktop (2002-2010) to the schizophrenic pastiche of Aleksandra Domanovic's Biennale (Dictum Ac Factum) (2009). To view the full exhibition, visit NOISEnotNOISE here.

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Call for Submissions

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Canadian sound art festival send + receive have extended the deadline for submissions to March 5, 2010. Read the below for more information, or visit the original call for submissions.

Calling all Sound Artists! send + receive is an annual audio art festival showcasing current and newly emerging areas of sonic investigation in a variety of forms through live performance, radio broadcasts, web-based projects, internet streaming projects, installations, film and video screenings, workshops, talks and panel discussions.

send + receive is an international festival that advances the discipline of sound art, and is one of the few annual media arts festivals in North America focusing exclusively on sound-based work.

As the festival is programed well in advance of each edition, most submissions received by the March 5, 2010 deadline will be considered for future editions and off season programming in 2011 and beyond.

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Report From Cyberfest 2009

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The stage at St. Petersburg's Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Center was set for a blast of live electronic music, with seating for ten performers, each station equipped with samplers, laptops, and electric guitars. As the audience arrived the musicians tinkered with the controls; one stood near a huge glass jug, adjusting wires submerged in its murky liquid. But when the appointed time for the concert's start arrived, the performers retreated to the wings, and recorded music came up and continued for the next twenty minutes. It seemed almost like a wry comment on the detachment of the physical presence of the performer from the source of sound in electronic music. But in fact it was an unannounced presentation of past issues of Tellus, the 1980s journal of experimental sound produced by Harvestworks, selected by director Carol Parkinson. As it faded, the musicians took their places, at last, to perform Third Eye Orchestra, a piece written and conducted by Hans Tammen. It was a controlled improvisation, where Tammen lifted numbered cards indicating which of the score's instructions should be read at that moment. The musicians, all local recruits, visibly relished both the spontaneity and the monstrously loud sound that only an ensemble of many amplified electronic instruments can produce.

The Harvestworks evening was part of the program of the third edition of Cyberfest, an annual festival conceived and organized by Anna Frants, a New York-based artist and gallerist, Marina Koldobskaya, director of the St. Petersburg branch of Russia's National Center for Contemporary Art.

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Interview with Brody Condon

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Cover of William Gibson's novel Neuromancer

Scheduled for its New York premiere this Sunday, November 22, Case is an experimental adaptation of the 1984 novel Neuromancer by William Gibson. Considered a classic work of the literary genre cyberpunk, Neuromancer tells the story of Case, a fallen super hacker whose glory days have long since ended, leaving him in a drug-addled, regret-ridden state that lifts when a mysterious entity offers him a second chance. Charged, kaleidoscopic, and prescient, Neuromancer dilates on virtual reality, artificial intelligence and a globalized world through the intricacies of Case’s story. Case (2009), conceived and produced by artist Brody Condon, will be a day-long installation and performance that, in the artist’s words combines “Gibson’s 1980s dystopian techno-fetishism with faux ‘virtual reality’ scenes that will unfold via moving Bauhaus-inspired sculptural props accompanied by the Gamelan ensemble Dharma Swara.” I asked Condon a few questions in advance of the New York premiere so readers, near and far, could get a sense of how this ambitious work will unfold on Sunday.

Case is commissioned and presented by Rhizome and Performa 2009: the New York Biennial of performance art, whose theme this year is futurism. It will take place at the New Museum on November 22 from 1-6pm. Viewers may come and go; there is no set time required to stay. Advance tickets are available here: http://www.newmuseum.org/events/384.



Lauren Cornell: Why were you inspired to adopt Case's story in 2009?

Brody Condon: One core theme of Gibson's novel is addiction and transcendence, and is embodied by the hacker Case. The performance will feature Ray "Bad Rad" Radtke, an infamous Midwestern hell-raiser and activist, reading as the main character. This work started as a series of interviews with Ray, which I mashed ...

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Performa '09 Picks

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Performa, New York's super duper mega whirlwind performance biennial, will take over the city for the next month. I thought I'd assemble a list of events that might be of interest to our audience. Before you dive in, I want to mention that one of our 2009 commissions, Brody Condon's Case, is also part of Performa. Case, a six hour performance and installation based on the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer by William Gibson, will take place at the New Museum on Sunday November 22nd from 12pm-6pm, so pencil it in!



Brody Condon * Without Sun * The Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd Street * Monday, November 2 7:00pm

Condon’s “Without Sun” (2006), is an edited collection of ‘found performances’ - online videos of individuals who recorded themselves while having a psychedelic experience. The 15 minute video will be followed by a performative re-creation featuring the dancer Linda Austin and actor Russell Edge. Utilizing the original video as choreography document and script, the performers simultaneously repeat the gestures of the individuals, the actor mimicking the voices and the dancer matching the body movements. The title connects the references of memory, technology, and travel in Chris Marker’s seminal personal essay film “Sans Soleil” to the dissociation of bodily control and mental function induced by the hallucinogenic experience in the online videos.



Broadside * Radio Broadcast * Saturday, November 7 - Monday, November 9, times vary

BROADSIDE, the collaborative initiative of Alexander Fleming and Alistaire Knox, will broadcast a series of feminist inspired audio performances, including experimental readings, consciousness raising dialogue, presentations and live music. Contributors include Danny Snelson, Strength in Numbers founder Karen Soskin, curator Wendy Vogel, artist Liz Linden, art historian Jen Kennedy, The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Windy and Carl’s Windy Webber, experimental musicians Crown Now, and more ...

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