Chrome & Flesh: An Interview with Mark Leckey

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Screenshot courtsey of Garrett Lockhart

In July of this year, the video artist Mark Leckey gave an informal lecture at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London on an ephemeral concept he titled 'Touchy-Feely' — a sort of sensory nerve at the tip-end of his cumulative project on distribution and demand, The Long Tail (2009), (which he previously spoke to Rhizome about.) During the talk, he presented an excerpt from Pearl Vision (2012), a short film and 'self-portrait', that premiered at 'Ghosts in the Machine' at the New Museum and was broadcast on BBC4 last month. The sensuous object of the snare drum (physically absent yet present in high definition audio and video) in this latest work addresses contemporary effects of desire and displacement, caused in part by the everyday technological prostheses at the body's disposal. Recently I spoke with Leckey over email. His perspectives on the intricacy of feeling, ever-changing aesthetic hierarchies, the space beyond the screen and the power of rhythm follow:



Do you think the shift from pointing toward the camera, perceiving it as a means of broadcast to using the camera to point – as a prosthesis for our own hands – is a recent phenomenon? It seems that for young artists especially, the cinematic image has suffered; instead of the establishing shot, the long take and other aspects of framing 'the image', video attempts to enter a world, or a flow, of imagery that is bigger than what can possibly fit into a single frame. The tension between on-screen and off-screen feels more fluid today, a sort of David Cronenburg-circa-Videodrome (1983) effect...

It seems to me that Vito Acconci’s Centers (1971), for example, embodies the concerns of single-channel video at that time: one person broadcasting out from the television and attempting to address the masses on the other side. Whereas now it’s a single person, or their hands, in isolation and trying to address the mass that’s on the other side of the screen, that is, inside it. I’ve collected lots of images and examples of hands manipulating objects and stuff sort of ‘inside’ the image. They’ve got their hands in there the same way you’ve described those glove boxes scientists use to carry out radioactive experiments.



We touch things in order to know them, to see them properly. Like when we say: ‘can I look at that?’ but actually we mean: can I hold it, can I manipulate it. And I make pictures or images of things in the same way, so that I can know them better, grasp them, fully apprehend them, ‘grok’ them. Grok is a good word – it was coined by a science fiction writer, and it means to understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. So it’s all about grokking; trying to know something intimately. 

And once you’ve got this image of an evocative object on the screen, and it’s in your hands, then you can start to squeeze it, squish it; it’s totally plasmatic. And once you’re done with that you can point to these manipulations; to emphasize the object’s thingness, its objecthood.

Like the numinous TV screen in Videodrome – it takes us back to older ideas when animals, trees and rocks contained a spirit and we were all connected through the ‘Great Spirit’. It’s the animistic world-view...

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Mark Leckey releases Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore on vinyl

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Turner Prize winning artist Mark Leckey is releasing the audio from his 1999 video work Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. The record is the first release on Boomkat in house label The Death Of Rave, and the B side contains the audio fromGreenScreenRefridgerator, which features a black talking Samsung fridge in front of green screen visuals.

The soundtrack from Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore is lifted straight from the original work, disconnected from the video, and the GreenScreenRefridgerator audio has been edited for length. There's no information on what else the label will be releasing yet, but Boomkat say it will not be restricted to work by Leckey. 

The record has been pressed in an edition of 500, cut at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering, and is due for release on 21 May. Watch Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, and part one of GreenScreenRefridgerator below. More information imminent at Boomkat

via The Wire

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Rhizome Editor-at-Large Picks Top 10 for 2011

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Looking back at and consolidating the year in exhibitions is one of the more challenging tasks an art writer faces. Tracking trips to shows throughout the year, and more importantly, the evolution of your feelings about them, is a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task. While in Europe this spring and summer, I was lucky enough to view some of the exhibitions I found more momentous and personally resonant. Starting in Italy with the 54th Venice Biennale, I traveled up to Switzerland through Geneva and Basel, heading next to the UK and landing finally in Berlin. The list below reflects both personal favorites and those that I felt to be important in the confluence of art and technology.  

Josephine Pryde, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre” at Chisenhale, London

British artist Josephine Pryde bears the unique ability to successfully navigate both photography and sculpture, two mediums which seem almost diametrically opposed. Up until this year I’d only been familiar with Pryde’s sculptures of half-finished baskets precariously suspended by butcher hooks, shown at Galerie Neu in Berlin last year; as well as her strange, oversized macro photographs of fabric, featured at Reena Spaulings in 2009. For her presentation at Chisenhale, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre,” Pryde presented two sets of photographs. The first takes medical images of fetuses, superimposing them in Photoshop against barren desert landscapes; the second stages stock photography-style portraits of young, alternative-looking women contemplating whether or not they’re pregnant. Beyond Pryde’s fascinating material practice is her confrontation of oft-taboo, extremely personal, female-specific issues generally elided in contemporary art discourse. 

Cory Arcangel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York  / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Arcangel Fever spread around early spring 2011 as his Whitney retrospective drew near, the artist being asked by a vertiginous number of New York media outlets to grace them with pre-opening press. The show sparked some lukewarm reviews

 

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Mark Leckey at the Serpentine Gallery (19 May – 26 June 2011)

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The difficulty in making work now is that there’s this model of how a distributed kind of collective work could be made (i.e., through the Internet), but it can’t be made in a gallery. The nature, or structure, of the gallery doesn’t allow for that; it needs certain kinds of forms, certain objects. There’s this term I like, “stigmergy”: an ant goes out, lays a path of pheromones; the other ants follow that path, and then that path gets built up until it becomes a pathway. They use this term in open source to describe a programming language that has being continually added to and amended so that the original code has been lost or forgotten, but you’re left with a structure that everyone can use. As an idea of making art, that seems really interesting—something made with the benefits of technology. At the same time, that idea is a long way from the art being made now, and a long way from Benjamin’s idea of art’s aura. The aura is still there; it still surrounds artworks, massively. The trouble is that more you start to distribute art or disperse it, the more mutable art becomes, until finally, it dissipates into just “LOLCats” or something. - Mark Leckey in an interview with Mark Fisher (Kaleidoscope, Summer 2011)

Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London
(19 May – 26 June 2011)

 

 

Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999.) Installation view

 

 

Previously: Brian Droitcour's interview with Leckey for Rhizome (2009)

 

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