“The Most Boring Places in the World” is a Google Earth tour that pinpoints the location of bloggers, live journal-ers, and chat room commentators. These authors all claim that the city they live in or vacationed in is more boring than any other place they can imagine, at least during the time of their post. Most locations do not repeat (with the exception of North Carolina, Ohio, Zurich and Singapore). What these destinations share in common is their ability to inspire existential crises, home-from-college woes, and the suffering specific to beautiful scenery, suburban sprawl and shopping malls.
Britain, under the Conservative government in 1974, slowed to a government-mandated three-day week: not an immense gift of extended vacation, but a foreshortening of the working week based on the amount of electricity available. From January to March of that year, businesses, shops and services were only open for three consecutive days, and television companies were forced to end their broadcasts at 10:30pm. The remarkable visibility of this retrenchment is perhaps an apposite introduction to the fiscal circumstances of Britain at that time, as it was counterbalanced by extreme activity in the visual arts, with a burgeoning moving image practice taking place in various underground clubs and cooperatives in London and other regional centers, and mainstream television ("mainstream" being redundant; except for some regional variations, there were only three channels at the time) airing artists’ film and video, primarily on Channel 4, which was established in 1982.
This is the period revisited by Raven Row’s current show "Polytechnic" - the late 1970s and early 80s, when artists began using the new medium of video to reflect upon and deconstruct codes of representation, politics and social mores. It’s a smart and striking choice for an exhibition, as the legacy of this time is ambivalent and is still in the process of being settled: art-historically, it’s been partially eclipsed by what preceded it (the medium-specific investigations associated with the London Film-Makers’ Co-op) and by what followed - that is, the yBas, who pretty much turned around and rejected the commitment to politics, collective production and art as labor (not commodity) that this group stood for. At the same time, many of the artists included in the show - Catherine Elwes, Susan Hiller, Ian Breakwell, Stuart Marshall - went on to teach in various art schools (many of them former polytechnics, hence, perhaps, the title) and showed their work on Channel 4 during the 1980s, meaning they have had a much more dispersed, though less visible, impact on art and the wider sphere of culture. Have had and have: Elwes, for example, has recently founded a journal devoted to the moving image (MIRAJ), so the territory contested in this earlier period continues, to a certain extent, to be contested.
Chapter I: The Discovery is an impenetrable, geometric object and a series of videos restaging the moment of its discovery, as if it were a scene from a sci-fi movie, where the hero is suddenly confronted with an alien, slightly chilling figure.
The videos are broadcast in the first room. Images show the dodecahedron in places which are fictitious and devoid of any human trace. No matter the context, the alien entity reproduces the same light and sound animation, expressing a state of waiting by emitting a signal of presence. The sculpture itself waits for visitors in the second room. As the viewer gets closer, the machine detects the movement and "tries" to engage in communication made entirely of light and sound code. If the sculpture is surrounded on all its vertical faces, it will respond by releasing its maximum energy.
Chapter I: The Discovery questions the viewer's perception about the truthfulness of what is shown, right from the visioning of videos with synthetic images and ending up in an encounter with an interactive object which co-opts information flows, sound and light transmission.
Remember, a few months ago, when we posted about David Karp and Ryan Trecartin's Project Ten, a site which assembles ten second clips uploaded by users, navigable by 3 keywords? I called it "totally, totally cool" and expressed how I really hoped they would develop the site. Well, dreams do come true! Project Ten has been redubbed riverthe.net and is now live on the web, thanks to programming by Rhizome's Director of Technology Nick Hasty and Sergio Pastor. AFC unveiled the site today with an exclusive interview with Trecartin by Paddy Johnson, which you can read here. riverthe.net will also be in the upcoming exhibition "Free" at the New Museum which opens on October 20th.
Loops of cassette tape are moved through a transparent mechanical armature to create three dimensional line-drawn scenes of one ship's encounters with variously fantastical, formal, poetic, and personal obstacles. Each sculpture in the series depicts a single event in the ships journey through polar waters, such as One ship struck by lightning, twice, and One ship leaves the South Pole, all directions seem north. The soundtrack on the tape propels the loose narrative, and creates a tumultuous foil for the cool, calm, exterior of each piece. The video documentation cuts between the ambient sound of the gallery and excerpts of the sound heard in headphones attached to each piece.
A typology of rap videos and an attempt to construct the most generic Rap and R&B video out of many. Musical genres are always heavily codified and rap seems to be one of the most extreme ones, each video has similar if not identical subjects, the same light, the same cars, the same girls, the same dance moves etc. Through their likeness they seem to be almost ‘classic’, just as classic theater or opera.
40 minutes, dimensions variable
Creative Time presents Matthew Buckingham’s film Muhheakantuck - Everything has a Name with free screenings aboard a New York Water Taxi, navigating the river from Christopher Street to the film’s endpoint at the Statue of Liberty, and back. The 40-minute-long film features a single continuous shot from a helicopter as it traveled above the Hudson River. The film is accompanied by a narration by the artist meditating on the region’s turbulent history, and asks the question, “What role does social memory play in defining the present moment?” ...
Buckingham’s film explores the social and political impact of the relatively brief but violent period of contact between Dutch colonists and the Lower Hudson River Valley’s indigenous Lenape people. By examining how maps are constructed, how places are named (and thereby owned), and what stories are left silent, the film exposes the consequences of Henry Hudson’s journey. Buckingham's narrative reminds us that “The river that became known as the Hudson was not discovered—it was invented and re-invented.”
The film describes how differences between the languages of the Lenape and colonists were integral to how each group experienced concepts of place, but that for all people, maps and other abstractions of place are like histories: condensed versions that contain only shades of truth.
Passengers will board a NY Water Taxi on Manhattan’s West Side at Pier 45. The screenings will take place in the early evening, when the light is low yet still present, allowing viewers to see the river from the windows of the boat—linking the present with the historical narrative of the film.
From video game writer and critic Ian Bogost's blog come two videos from last Spring's Art History of Games conference at Georgia Tech. Bogost co-organized this interdisciplinary symposium that explored games as an art form. In the first clip, Frank Lantz champions the unique aesthetics of games and their defiance of other artistic categories in his talk "Doorknobs and Butterflies: Games After Art." In the second, Brenda Brathwaite discusses her use of game mechanics in elaborating tragedy and her newest work One Falls for Each of Us. All of the talks from the event are now currently online.
When Orpheus’ beloved Eurydice dies, he cajoles his way into the underworld with his musical charms and his lyre. Wanting her but not her shade, he cannot forbear looking back to physically see her and so loses her forever. In this modern day Orphean tale, an anonymous narrator also desperately searches for a lost love. Rather than the charms of the lyre, contemporary technological tools, Google Street View and Google Earth, beckon as the pathway for our narrator to regain memories and recapture traces of his lost love. In the film, they are as captivating and enthralling as charming as any lyre in retrieving the other: at first they might seem an open retort to critics of new technology who bemoan the lack of the tangible presence of the other in our interactions on the Internet.
Our narrator remembers that once, with her back turned while facing the Adriatic Sea, a Google Street View car drove by and took a picture of his beloved, who detested being photographed, without her realizing it. Our narrator cherishes this photograph and the entire relationship becomes encapsulated in the screen capture replacing all other experiences and memories. Soon it is not enough. Our narrator cannot imagine that, in a world where everything is recorded, that someone could completely disappear. In daily systematic searches for photographs of the nameless other, Google Street View and Google Earth allow him to move seamlessly through vast detailed three-dimensional space. This extraordinary geographical and social exploration is favored by Google satellite images, user-created 3D renderings of Stonehenge and Machu Picchu and Street View panoramas of favorite vacation spots. As an undifferentiated series of cultural, historical and contemporary symbols float together or follow one another in rapid succession, in a world where Dutch anthropologists discover pre-Socratic fragments on Turkish islands ...
This sculpture generates a three scene narrative with the scene lengths and order controlled by a mechanical randomizing mechanism which is also part of the sculpture. All video and audio switching occurs via mechanical switches.