"Ghost Hardware," Sean Dack's latest exhibition at New York's Daniel Reich Gallery, builds a visual language, in photography and sculpture, from the limits of technological legibility. Over a series of unique c-prints, thoughtfully hung throughout the gallery, Dack coats a panoply of sourced images with thick layers of digital interference: glitches that "tangle and halt the flow of information," but in so doing also provide the precondition for the exhibited art-objects. Formally, these images are beautiful, their striated lines of pixels at times staining underlying images in cyan and magenta; at others, reducing them to wholly abstract geometries. These techniques prove most effective when echoing the sourced images, as when Dack's pixels form postmodern building block analogues to the structural units of the unfinished, contemporary skyscrapers in Building (Hotel, Pyongyang) (2008) and CCTV #2 (2007). Yet on a broader level, Dack's choice of images risks belaboring his conceptual inquiry. Shots of isolated women, an airborne helicopter, unmarked CIA airplane and a missile test quickly move the exhibition into well-trodden, conspiracy theory terrain. One wonders whether Dack's Pop sensibility - most explicitly manifest in his rubber encasings of obsolete tape decks and CD changers, also on display - extends into the realm of his photographs' subject-matter and thus justifies the indulgence. Whether or not this is the case, the artist's formal investigation of the psychic life of digital technology would be far more interesting without its narrative props. - Tyler Coburn
ArtFagCity's Paddy Johnson couldn't have picked a more damning category in which to place British painter Dan Proops--"BoingBoing artist"-- glossing that mega-blog's indiscriminate penchant for tiki-bar kitsch, airbrushed girlies and steampunked everything as merely "art pabulum for readers who can clearly handle more." To be sure, Proops's work does seem unduly suited to geek-pandering, offering quick-glance commentary on medias new and old through easy-to-get juxtapositions: Proops's oil paintings depict familiar art-historical subjects with random parts pixilated (as if censored) or "desktop" images of iconic images, complete with trashcans and folders at their margins. To be fair, one must withhold ultimate judgment until seeing the work in physical form, but even online reproductions suggest that Proops' paintings, evidently bereft of any compelling composition or technique to offset their facile gimmicks, suffer from the dull ache of YBA hangover. If you can't travel to London to see them in Proops's upcoming show Sam's Desktop III, then be sure to catch them sometime in the future, when they will be displayed in the spacious living rooms of Hawaiian-shirted IT dudes with more money than taste. - Ed Halter
Image: Dan Proops, Caravaggio, Censored, 2007
Things aren't always as they appear in automated communication. Cory Arcangel humorously showed us this when he posted instructions for rapidly saving $500 by adding a "Sent by my iPhone" signature to one's GMail account. A similar effect is achieved in Permanent Vacation, wherein two computers enter a logjam of endlessly bouncing auto-replies announcing that each user is away. Viewers watch as the self-generated feedback loop leads to the piling-up of messages in the respective computers' inboxes. The actual message is, in fact, never seen, but a "ding" is heard each time the index of repeated subject lines becomes longer. The work is actually a four-part series that has been showing throughout Europe since last Fall, most recently at Salzburg's Ropac Gallery. Each time it's been exhibited, the computers and their attached monitors or projectors change slightly. Originally, used computers were purchased online and the original owners' names were the names on the inboxes. In the last incarnation, brand new Macs were purchased and placed atop shiny new IKEA tables--perhaps the most convincing "workstation" of the four. Asked whether this evolution in materials was a comment on media change, the master of using defunct hardware replied, "remember, new computers become old computers very very quick, so in the end, they will all look similar." The joy of Permanent Vacation lies partly in its subtle tugging at fears about the "ghost in the machine" or artificial intelligence--the idea that these computers are somehow complicit in this tete-�-tete. Nonetheless, it also implies a kind of human glitch or failure on the part of two subjects to successfully communicate. In science fiction terms, Arcangel has created what might be called a "stasis field"--a space and time characterized by an almost blissful lack of progress. (This would be ...
Infinite, randomly generated song, based on glitches from a bad taping of Rodox Video Programme 358 by Color Climax Corp.
Tone Poem is a web-based work by London-based digital artist and animator Marc Kremers. This piece, which presents a peach-colored screen periodically intercepted by flashes of colored light and a minimalist score, is derived from a pornographic video tape. The final product totally obscures the original source material, rendering it invisible. Kremers, along with Thomas Eberwein, also launched the website As-Found which culls random images from the web. As-Found proposes to, "...choose images for different qualities than those which were intended to be seen. Therefore the creator is often irrelevant." Tone Poem similarly reframes and redirects visual imagery toward a new configuration, away from the intent of its initial creator. - Ceci Moss
In 2000, electronic musician Kim Cascone proclaimed the emergence of a discernable "post-digital" genre, using the example of 'glitch music,' through which artists crafted "deconstructive audio and visual techniques" to test the limits and possibilities of their software. Cascone points to this tendency as the harbinger of a conceptual shift in art practice, in which "...the medium is no longer the message...specific tools themselves have become the message". Over the past few years, "post-digital" disassembly has run parallel to a more widespread interest in dismantling and refiguring analog technologies. Many of the artists selected for this year's Netmage, an international electronic arts festival held in the castle Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna, Italy, reflect this direction. The live audio and visual performances slated for the three-day event, which kicked off yesterday, demonstrate a variety of methods by which artists work with and through analog hardware. TONEWHEELS, by sound artist Derek Holzer and media artist Sara Kolster, is inspired by the peculiar electronic music contraptions of the early 20th Century. Revolving see-through tonewheels form the locus of the performance, whose unwieldy movement across the lens of an overhead projector activates sound and visuals through light sensitive circuitry. The open exposure of the technology used in TONEWHEELS demystifies its inter-workings, revealing how rudimentary most systems are. Media artist Luka Dekleva, sound artist Miha Ciglar and musician Luka Princic draw on analog video feedback techniques in FeedForward Cinema, a project in which the trio perform distortion generated by a feedback loop between two video devices. Similarly, audio/visual group Demons (Nate Young, Steve Kenney, Alivia Zilich) produce stark, mind-bending analog video feedback alongside bleak, resonating soundscapes eminating from damaged vintage synthesizers. The overall jarring effect recalls 1960s psychedelia, yet is stripped of its joyful exuberance and deeply cognizant of the anger ...