Smoke Screen by Michael Bell-Smith (2007)

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Smoke Screen can be seen from dusk until 2am at Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA as a part of Lumen Eclipse's August showcase.

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Repeating Residual Histories

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In their 2005 project With Respect to Residue, the Raqs Media Collective printed a theory of residues on disposable placemats, which were then distributed to various restaurants. Defining residue as, "that which never finds its way into the manifest narrative of how something (an object, a person, a state, or a state of being) is produced, or comes into existence," the placemats demanded that diners consider why and how "residues" were left out of history, as they themselves consumed. Raqs Media Collective's latest endeavor, co-curated as a portion of the nomadic biennial Manifesta 7, resides much in the same vein. From July 19th-November 2nd, they will be presenting an exhibition entitled "The Rest of Now" which includes many net art pioneers as well as other artists and non-explicitly artist-practitioners in addressing historic residues in the present tense. Set in an abandoned aluminum factory in Bolzano, Italy, the show works "to see what can be salvaged from the oblivion to which the residues of Modernism are normally consigned." In other words, both the site of the show and the works presented explore the ideas, qualities, and realities that have been swept under the rug in the process of European industrialization. The layers of self-reflexivity are piled high, here. The curators acknowledge that Europe is known for hosting many art spaces sited within old industrial spaces and their show works to juxtapose "remembered industrial energy and a more current melancholia of abandonment" to explore what the cultural embrace (or even coddling) of these spaces means. Their suggestion is that it is "symptomatic of Europe's unwillingness to come to terms with aspects of its own difficult path into, and through, the 20th century." So, in a sense, this show will work to retrace these footsteps of so-called progress, with the almost ...

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Getting to Your Safe Space

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British artist Larisa Blazic has a background in architecture and an official graduate degree in hypermedia. For the last decade, she's been pursuing mergers of the two, using site-specific, interactive installations as a means of exploring space as a carrier of meaning. Her projects often employ audio and explore creative surveillance technologies to think-through and beyond the traditional ways in which so-called public art interventions communicate to the general public. In conjunction with the 2008 London Festival of Architecture (from July 14-20), she'll create an installation at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre called In This Place of Safety. Blazic's argument is that we no longer rely solely on the basic needs of food, shelter, and emotional validation to feel safe, but that there is now a new environment for safety which can be observed in the structure of our surroundings. The project "uses a building as a projection screen to explore intersections between temporary video interventions, architecture, and art." In this case, the video will screen images of deserted public playgrounds overlaid with audio recordings of children discussing and defining personal safety. By activating the hot button issue of safety within this particular public format, Blazic hopes to initiate a correspondence between the content of the video and the context of the large, staid Southwark building facade onto which the images are cast. - Marisa Olson


Image: Larisa Blazic, In This Place of Safety (Video Still), 2008

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On Top of the Fold: Art

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Steve Lambert's Add Art project (a 2008 Rhizome Commission co-developed with the artist's colleagues in the Eyebeam R&D lab) offers home-delivery art exhibitions in the form of your Firefox browser window. Internet users who download Lambert's free open source plug-in will see an aesthetic overhaul in the sites they visit, as advertisements are replaced by visual art created or curated by a different guest, every two weeks. The project is a perfect outgrowth of Lambert's involvement with the Anti-Advertising Agency, who work to co-opt "the tools and structures used by the advertising and public relations industries" to call into question "the purpose and effects of advertising in public space." These efforts have manifested in forms ranging from bus shelter ads and stickers to ideologically-bent think tanks and objects of propaganda. With a keen awareness of the impact of advertising on public space, the move to the internet--where so many of us dwell and encounter a daily barrage of ads--is a thoughtful one. Rather than offering yet another software tool for blocking-out advertisements, Add Art fills this space with something more intriguing, and the biweekly exhibits that have thus far been presented successfully generate discourse about value, aesthetics, and the contextual frameworks within which we receive information about the world. The current show (imagine each ad box in your browser window as a gallery) is a rather humorous and almost absurdly literal take on the context of adding art to your field of vision by replacing ads with it. Charles Broskoski essentially blacks-out the ad boxes on sites with his contribution, which is a collection of digital reproductions of famous black monochromatic paintings, cropped, resized to the proper specs, and optimized for the net--meaning that these paintings by the likes of Rauchenberg, Kelly, Malevich, Marden, Reinhardt ...

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Time to TRIP Out

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Despite their long lineages, the fields of locative media and psychogeography have only recently entered the art world. Every year there are increasingly more festivals and exhibitions devoted to the work of a growing number of artists who identify with these terms, but there has yet to be a substantial enough response on the part of art critics, academic journals, and others whose engagement is needed to help flesh-out the art historical trajectory and even genre conventions associated with locative media. Now a Manchester-based program called "Territories Reimagined International Practices" (conveniently abbreviated "TRIP") seeks to bring together artists, academics, and arts professionals under the umbrella of a three-day event (June 19-21) designed to present the best work in the field and generate more discourse around it. The gathering will feature a full-fledged conference, along with citywide performances, exhibitions, and interventions. Interestingly, the organizers have made precise efforts to wrestle differences between the few existing narratives currently swirling around this work, such as the seemingly contradictory aimlessness of the "psychogeographic drift" and the tightly-honed artist intervention. Like many subsets of new media art, those with a stake in this field have the double-edged challenge of speaking to the pronounced, shared qualities of its practitioners and also their diversity, which is indicative of a thriving field. Visit their blog for more details on the evolving program and use it to start your own psychogeographic bibliography. - Marisa Olson


Jane Samuels, "3.15pm, School House. Torches off. Cold, bright, quiet." (From the Abandoned Buildings Project), 2007

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Social Notworks

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Organized by project.arnolfini, "antisocial notworking" is an online hub for critical and creative practices appraising the contradictory agendas of many of the internet's most popular websites. As Art & Social Technologies Research member Dr. Geoff Cox persuasively argues, in an essay accompanying the project, websites like Facebook and Myspace have amassed tens of millions of users through a promise of providing virtual spaces built upon user-generated content and geared towards positive interpersonal relations. While a peer-to-peer (p2p) system engages the same democratic project in the web's public realm, these social networking sites exist in the private sector, operating through a top-down, server-client relationship with its membership and harvesting social relations towards their own economic benefit. 'antisocial notworking' does not propose abandoning these programs, but rather seeks to elucidate the process by which social positivity became a marketable tool of capitalistic enterprises, and to consider how antagonism (to Cox, a necessary component of politics) may be constructively introduced into the virtual demos. Notable among the current projects on the site is Linda Hilfling's "Participation 0.0 - Part I" (2007), documentation of the 112 billboards the artist installed throughout "Second Life" that collectively display the full 7,000 words of the Terms of Service which users traditionally skim and agree upon before gaining access to the program. By planting this text on "Second Life" land, Hilfling allows users to recognize their tenuous position in a virtual world in which they may develop businesses and purchase land, but from which they may also be erased, according to Hilfling's reading of the terms, "for any or no reason." In keeping with its critical agenda, "antisocial notworking" will retain a dynamic, open-ended structure, to which people can add further texts, projects, and documents of their own navigation through similarly fraught online ...

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Rhizome Commissions 08: Conversation with Rafael Rozendaal, Evan Roth, Eteam and Steve Lambert

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The Rhizome Commissions Program was founded in 2001 to provide support to emerging artists working with new technologies. The forty-four works commissioned to date represent some of the most innovative, pioneering efforts in the field. At the New Museum on May 22nd, several artists who received support in the 2008 cycle will present their finished projects as well as other select projects. Artists to present include Evan Roth, Eteam (Hajoe Moderegger and Franziska Lamprecht), Steve Lambert and Rafael Rozendaal.



Thursday May 22nd, 7:30pm
the New Museum, New York, NY
$6 Members/ $8 General Public

2008 Commissioned projects:
http://www.rhizome.org/commissions/2008/

Image Credit: Rafael Rozendaal, JELLOTIME.COM, 2007

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Like an Art Party Where Everyone's Invited

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For all that's been said about how behind-the-times academia can be, university galleries are very often the most risk-taking portholes to contemporary art. This fact is exemplified by Arizona State University's Art Museum where curator John Spiak has demonstrated a keen eye and clear commitment to emerging artists and emergent media. The museum's new Social Studies series turns the gallery over to a visiting artist to use it as their lab and concoct an exhibition composed largely of art work in the form of social interaction. The program's second resident, San Francisco Bay Area artist Josh Greene, is already well-known for such work. He's turned a surprise party for his sister into a public event, organized luncheons for gallery workers, and even managed to seduce Sophie Calle into lending him her bed to lie in as a means of sleeping-off a breakup. Greene is the founder of the Bay Area Leisure Foundation, which hands out giant $500 checks to winning applicants who submit "leisure proposals" which are judged by "leisure experts." Among his best-known projects is Service Works, a monthly grant program in which the artist donates his waitstaff tips (an unpredictable number, thus merging situationism and the legacy of "chance operations," depending on how you look at it) to another artist, based again on the merit of their project proposals. The winners have all embraced fun while, in a roundabout way, using wealthy diners' money to do something positive for the world. For his ASU residency, the artist completed a series of tasks under the banner of the disclaimer "Some Parts Might Be Greater Than the Whole." These include chatting with a chimp about art ideas, installing a show of the museum preparators' artwork, acting in other artists' videos, a "public restroom intervention" entitled ...

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Request for Qualifications: Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City

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The Architectural League of New York announced a request for qualifications today for their Spring 2009 exhibition Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City. Details below.


Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City
An exhibition critically exploring the evolving relationship between ubiquitous/pervasive computing and urban architecture


SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 27, 2008


The Architectural League of New York invites architects, artists, designers, technologists,engineers, urbanists, or teams thereof, to submit qualifications for an exhibition that will critically explore the evolving relationship between ubiquitous/pervasive computing and urban architecture. The League will commission five to seven teams to develop urban interventions-to be installed in and around New York City in spring 2009-that will imagine alternative trajectories for how various mobile, embedded, networked, and distributed forms of media, information and communication systems might inform the architecture of urban space and/or influence our behavior within it. Commissioned projects will receive support ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.


The exhibition continues the League's commitment to supporting original research into the implications of ubiquitous/pervasive computing for architecture and urbanism. In fall 2006, the League, along with the Center for Virtual Architecture and the Institute for Distributed Creativity [iDC], presented "Architecture and Situated Technologies," a 3-day symposium organized by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard, that brought together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of Situated Technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary city. The project continued in winter 2007 with the publication "Urban Computing and Its Discontents," the first of nine pamphlets to be published over the next three years that explores how our experience of the city and the choices we make in it are affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics and other Situated Technologies.


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Off the Grid, Into the Air

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On view at the Neuberger Museum of Art, through June 1st, is a group show entitled "Off the Grid," which presents the work of thirteen artists injecting a sense of ecological responsibility into a world increasingly polluted by an obsession with power, energy, and wireless communication. In this case, the concept of "the grid" takes on multiple meanings. While it initially invokes the act of unplugging from a communications network, it also means escaping the rigid conventions artists have traditionally followed in addressing environmental issues. This is to say nothing of the historical role of the grid, in modern art, in entrenching the perspectives and organizing principles of machine culture. Curators Jacqueline Shilkoff (of the Neuberger Museum) and Galen Joseph-Hunter, Tianna Kennedy, and Tom Roe (of free103point9) say that they sought to include "contemporary works which formally and/or conceptually challenge conventional and commercial infrastructures"--a wise idea, since it is commercial enterprise that has delivered us to the messy environmental quandary in which we now find ourselves. These works include Seth Weiner's Cryptographic Payphone (2008), which "employs a chaotic motion system to encrypt wireless data transmission, modeled upon the patented use of lava lamps to generate random numbers for the creation of cryptographic codes;" Nina Katchadourian's Ant Static (2003), a continued exploration of inter-species collaboration in which a mass-mob of ants are assigned the creative role of meditating on the levels of competition and technological conflict found in nature; and Cary Peppermint and Christine Nadir's (a.k.a. EcoArtTech)'s Environmental Risk Assessment Rover-AT (2008), a "solar-powered, all-terrain mobile station that collects real-time risk data relative to its GPS coordinates," thus reacting to and changing its environment by projecting videos (cued by a 14-tier threat level system) onto immediate surfaces. Also included in the show are ...

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