That's Bananas!

(2)

banana1.png

Montreal-based artist Cesar Saez has an interesting labor of love. He wants to launch a Geostationary Banana Over Texas. For three years, he's been researching the technology to do so and he's now ready to begin fabrication. All that stands between him and his dream is a fundraising goal of $1.5 million. Once launched, Texans will look up to see a banana that appears to be one-tenth the size of the moon. The 1000-foot, fruit-like assemblage will be composed of bamboo and balsa wood and will run on hot air, much like a blimp. Saez says he wants to think about space as a "canvas for expression" and to explore "territory as sovereign within the social context of today's global society." The territory of which he speaks is not simply Texas air space, it's the space for technological research into aeronautics currently "monopolized by wealthy governments and large corporations." In some ways, the artist likens himself to a cowboy, defiantly sending a rather phallic foreign object (bananas don't grow in Texas) into an orbital pattern above a state marked by a legacy of corporate pollution. Though Saez admits that the banana, itself, is simply and "oddity with a sense of humor," he's hoping that this intentionally "unthreatening intervention" can appear like a message in the sky to inspire community growth. In many ways, Saez's banana is just an arbitrary symbol for something much bigger than itself. His development process is one that has involved far-ranging and ground-breaking collaboration between artists, researchers, and locals. He hopes that the next step, after this major DIY feat is accomplished, will be regional community members stepping up to create their own DIY communication networks, allowing them to evade profit structures in "monitoring forest fires, the weather ...

MORE »


Art World Data Visualization

(0)


Jennifer Dalton's work very often takes up the art world as its subject matter. Art about art--and the world that revolves around it--can often be cheeky at best, but Dalton manages to pull it off with grace, wit, and originality. She also tends to merge newer and more traditional media in doing so, ranging from internet art to paintings to temporary sculptures. On March 8, Brooklyn-based alternative art space Smack Mellon will open a solo show of her work, entitled "Jennifer Dalton is a Scientist--Not!". This moniker comes from an entry written by a gallery visitor on one of the surveys Dalton facilitated over the last year, in preparation for the show. As the gallery notes, the project puts a unique spin on the concept of site-specific art by revolving the work around the space's audience. The show will include a Powerpoint-style DVD infographically presenting the results of a survey entitled What is the Art World Thinking? (2007-Ongoing), in which "this particular slice of New York's art-going public has been invited to take a short anonymous survey consisting of a few simple questions on topics ranging from art to feminism to philanthropy to politics." The results of a previous poll, entitled How do Artists Live (2006) will also be presented in a slide show, along with a new "'insta-survey" asking viewers to respond to a pressing question by taking a candy." These questionnaires raise interesting unspoken questions about the attention spans and consumptive habits of contemporary artists and patrons, as well as the lack of demographic information we have about these individuals, despite the fact that we now live in what many have called a "database society." If you can't make it to Brooklyn but want to participate in the Q&A festivities, check out Artsurvey ...

MORE »


Tiny Specimens

(0)

 


The "nature expedition" is a tried and true exercise in elementary school science class. Assuming the identities of junior scientists, students embark into nature to collect samples of bugs, plants, twigs and sundry living things for study. The artists Pascal Glissmann and Martina Hofflin, working in conjunction with the Academy of Media Art, Cologne, have updated this model, but with a distinct twist: their samples are solar-powered Electronic Life Forms (2004-2007) or "elfs". According to the artists, "elfs are small, analog creatures reacting to light, calling the attention of the observer with their delicate sounds and movements." Isolated in glass Mason jars and accompanied by photographic documentation of the machines inhabiting their "natural" environment, the artists present elf "specimens" in the gallery much like exotic fauna. The set-up falsely attributes these simple robotic creatures with the characteristics of a living being, thus enduing the elfs with an endearing quality. Glissmann and Hofflin explain the underlying motivation for the project as a questioning of "the relationship between technology, nature and humans." The elf installation is currently on view in the "Urban Living" exhibition at Pittsburgh's Wood Street Galleries. - Gene McHugh

MORE »


Straight-Faced Art

(0)


Opening this weekend at San Francisco art space, The Lab, is the third and final installment of an international exhibition informed by a comedy genre known as "deadpan." Named "Deadpan Exchange", the project refers to communicative moments in which a statement is delivered with a straight face and the listener must determine whether it is funny or tragic. It is a model which gives the audience power to react and move in their own direction, and in this case it serves as a nice simile for the form of collaboration among the participants. The first two installments of the show were in Berlin and Copenhagen, and in each iteration a group of artists brought their work abroad, made their "statements" and then a subsequent group responded in the next show. Pieces have included a PowerPoint video by co-organizer Jonn Herschend, entitled, The Exact Chain of Events; Kara Hearn's video, 7 reincarnations, in which the artist "re-shot scenes from 7 Hollywood films in her apartment;" and video and installation projects by several artists that question the fidelity of language in storytelling and translation. This final chapter includes work by the Danish Koh-i-noor collective and the show opens with audio/visual performances by Joe McKay, Matthew Hughes Boyko, and the aggressive mimes of Team Lexington. "Deadpan Exchange" is intended to "begin a dialog that might not otherwise take place outside of formal institutions," and like all deadpans, it requires audience participation. - Marisa Olson

MORE »


Bad Beuys, Bad Beuys

(0)


Bad Beuys Entertainment is an art collective that was founded in 1999 at Cergy-Pontoise in the Parisian suburbs. Their creative mission is summed up in their moniker: a hybrid of American showbiz-ness (aka Bad Boys Entertainment, a major U.S. hip-hop recording label) and the ideals of German artist Joseph Beuys, whose conception of social relationships as art has had enduring influence. Fittingly, their works operate between the slickness of commercial entertainment and the human or handmade. Take Champions (1999). Recently exhibited in New York by independent curator Hanne Mugaas, the mock music video, which possesses the beaten-up quality of a bootlegged VHS tape, features three boys in tracksuits dancing. Without a refrain or climax to abide by, their choreography progresses into a parody of itself with initial tough guy moves replaced by what looks like a combination of elementary school theater and voguing. Meanwhile, tracksuits begin to fly (via special effects) and the video, itself, drops audio for the entire last half only to amble back at the credit sequence. Long before the onset of video-sharing platforms, the three handcrafted what would be an amazing Youtube find: an amateur homage to the culture industry that winds up as a critique not only of media's power, but our own consumption of it. Another video, not available online, is SICTOM (2001), in which the group enacted a soap opera in an IKEA store, using the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom displays as ready-made backdrops. The group also makes sculptures, light installation, websites and more. Those with an appreciation of early net art should visit the website of Matthieu Clainchard, one of the founding members, for an intricate mash-up of browser windows that present bits and pieces of manifestos and artworks as well as links to peer projects and artists, such as ...

MORE »