A Photo Essay of Brody Condon's "Case"

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Organized by the artist Brody Condon, Case is a deadpan reading of the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer by William Gibson in a rehearsal-like atmosphere. Combining Gibson's 1980s dystopian techno-fetishism with early twentieth-century abstraction, faux "virtual reality" scenes will unfold via moving Bauhaus-inspired sculptural props accompanied by the Gamelan ensemble Dharma Swara.

Case premiered at the New Museum on November 22nd. It will also be performed in summer 2010 in a small outdoor community theater in rural Missouri. The actors for the November 22nd performance include Ray Radtke, Sasha Grey, Lionel Maunz, Sto, Tony Conrad, Sindri Eldon, Peter Segerstrom, Melissa Baxter, Rachid Outabia, Emily Mahoney, Brandon Stosuy, Jee Young Sim, Guil R. Mullen, Brody Condon, and Mallory Blair. The script was prepared by the writer Brandon Stosuy, with sound design by Peter Segerstrom, and graphic props by Breanne Trammell. The event was commissioned and presented by Rhizome and Performa 09.

Below you will find a photo essay of the six-hour long performance, that documents the performance, musicians, and actors at various stages of Case. All photographs were taken by Kristianna Smith.

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Interview with Mark Amerika

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Amerika describes himself as a "thoughtographer", an "artist-medium", a "fictional philosopher", a "remixologist", a "network conductor", a wanderer who constantly changes identities and roles in a fragmentary world where time acquires an a-synchronic and non real dimension. By trying to express the complexity and the interest of contemporary digital reality, he delves into different aspects of himself and draws on elements and traits that he transfers to the characters of his works, by using the media, the technological platforms of our time. Developing projects on the net, filming with mobile phones, remixing common moments and figures of today's culture in a VJ-like audiovisual rhythm, Amerika redefines the characteristics of today's culture and opens up the possibilities for new interpretations and thoughts from the audience itself. -- "UNREALTIME" at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens

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Interview with Brody Condon

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Cover of William Gibson's novel Neuromancer

Scheduled for its New York premiere this Sunday, November 22, Case is an experimental adaptation of the 1984 novel Neuromancer by William Gibson. Considered a classic work of the literary genre cyberpunk, Neuromancer tells the story of Case, a fallen super hacker whose glory days have long since ended, leaving him in a drug-addled, regret-ridden state that lifts when a mysterious entity offers him a second chance. Charged, kaleidoscopic, and prescient, Neuromancer dilates on virtual reality, artificial intelligence and a globalized world through the intricacies of Case’s story. Case (2009), conceived and produced by artist Brody Condon, will be a day-long installation and performance that, in the artist’s words combines “Gibson’s 1980s dystopian techno-fetishism with faux ‘virtual reality’ scenes that will unfold via moving Bauhaus-inspired sculptural props accompanied by the Gamelan ensemble Dharma Swara.” I asked Condon a few questions in advance of the New York premiere so readers, near and far, could get a sense of how this ambitious work will unfold on Sunday.

Case is commissioned and presented by Rhizome and Performa 2009: the New York Biennial of performance art, whose theme this year is futurism. It will take place at the New Museum on November 22 from 1-6pm. Viewers may come and go; there is no set time required to stay. Advance tickets are available here: http://www.newmuseum.org/events/384.



Lauren Cornell: Why were you inspired to adopt Case's story in 2009?

Brody Condon: One core theme of Gibson's novel is addiction and transcendence, and is embodied by the hacker Case. The performance will feature Ray "Bad Rad" Radtke, an infamous Midwestern hell-raiser and activist, reading as the main character. This work started as a series of interviews with Ray, which I mashed ...

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Illuminated Manuscripts

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The metaphor of the brain as a database (or, if you prefer, the database as a brain) flatters and anthropomorphizes the machine more than it explains the mind. Gray matter doesn't seem to be organized in a way that makes the storage and retrieval of information easy; rather, the classification and categorization that characterize the database are pre-digital technologies invented to manage the ever-increasing amounts of information that civilization requires citizens to master. Cicero used a "memory palace" when delivering orations. As he spoke, he would imagine moving through a house where each room and object represented points he needed to make in his speech and the supporting evidence he needed to make them. The antithesis of such memory systems might be the dream, the mind's nightly refresher that reconfigures the day's events and data in disjointed, symbolic narratives. Both the memory palace and the dream are based on irrational elements: subjective experience, arbitrary connections, and word play. That the memory palace is created under the thinker's deliberate control only highlights the conscious mind's eagerness to do what the unconscious mind does automatically. Even as Cicero publicly performed the constructs of reason, his brain was circumventing them.

Last July, in a New York University faculty residence on West Houston Street where Picasso's sculpture and I.M. Pei's architecture face off in a courtyard invisible to Google Earth, Alexandre Singh delivered an installment of his Assembly Instructions Lectures, a series of talks illustrated by a pair of overhead projectors. After introducing his audience to Matteo Ricci, a sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary who taught the memory palace technique to Chinese officials to convince them of the superiority of Western (and by extension, Christian) thought, Singh launched into a detailed recounting of a dream he supposedly had, in which Ingvar Kamprad, founder and principle shareholder of Ikea, announced that the master floor plan implemented in every Ikea store around the world encodes a classification of all human knowledge. For instance, the arrangement of shoes, hangers, and sweaters in a display closet, as Singh demonstrated, represented the kingdoms and phyla of life on Earth. What's more, the Ikea system of Singh's dream world does not merely encode--it controls. If something changes in a store--say, a new couch model is introduced for the new season, or a passing child moves a prop coffee-table book around a fake living room--the fabric of reality is altered.

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Required Reading

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Gears of War depends on a conventional anti-hero/redemption narrative set in another world where it is up to a motley band of once-disgraced brigands to save what remains of humanity from a subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. Its formidable commercial success aside, the game is simply a well-executed shoot-’em-up that offers no significant expansion on that well-worn genre. Its television advertisement is of far greater interest: the emphasis on the melancholy, pathos and self-reproach communicated by ‘Mad World’ connects Gears of War to a contemporary understanding of war produced in large part as a response to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conundrum for the producers of war-based video games is a delicate one: how to craft and market a war game in an era when public opinion has turned against war as a paradigm? How, for instance, is heroism rendered in a fictional narrative when the most obvious contemporary social referents - the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan - do not, as social histories in the making, embody the kind of unambiguous moral bases easily identified, for example, in World Wars I and II? How can our period eye, in all its ambivalence, be satisfied while still offering a compelling narrative of heroism?

Those responsible for the advertisement of the juggernaut franchise that is Gears of War obviously concluded that to acknowledge the public’s ambivalence was key to eradicating it as an obstacle to the game’s commercial success. While the game’s story is not a romanticized one, the commercial relies on age-old Romantic notions of self. This is, of course, a rather insidious strategy.

-- EXCERPT FROM "MAD WORLD" BY CHRISTOPHER BEDFORD AND JENNIFER WULFFSON IN FRIEZE MAGAZINE, NOV-DEC 2009

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Secret Agency

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Image: Jill Magid, Prologue, 2009
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

"The secret itself is much more beautiful than its revelation." Written backward and presented through translucent paper, this text can be deciphered on the obverse of a large framed page of the suppressed novel Becoming Tarden in Jill Magid's solo exhibition at the Yvon Lambert Gallery. On another wall hang seven detailed photographs of banal notebooks with brightly colored tabs and scrawled titles, a white pedestal with a glass case contains a stack of prints neatly wrapped in paper, and a monitor plays a fuzzy live feed from a security camera at the Tate Modern. "Objects to Be Handed Over or Destroyed" documents a project that explores the connections between transparency, secrecy, and, ultimately, power.

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Image: Installation shots of Jill Magid's "Objects to be Handed Over or Destroyed" at Yvon Lambert New York
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

In 2005, the Dutch secret service (AIVD) invited Magid to create a work of art for their headquarters with the dual objective of improving the agency's public image as well as fulfilling a Dutch law requiring new buildings to commission art. In response to their offer, Magid posed as an undercover agent and interviewed members of the AIVD with the intention of giving a personal face to the organization without revealing individual identities. The commission resulted in the exhibition "Article 12" in 2008, but the agency refused to allow the public display of seven prints from the letterpress series "18 Spies", and heavily redacted a manuscript for a novel based on her experience.

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Image: Jill Magid, Notebook I Personal Data, 2008
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

Consistent with her earlier work, Magid's project attempts to personalize ...

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He CHOSE It (2009) - Constant Dullart

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A Letter From Schoenberg: reading piece with player piano (2008) - Peter Ablinger with Winfried Ritsch

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Peter Ablinger - A Letter From Schoenberg from mediateletipos on Vimeo.

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Monument (1967) - Ture Sjolander and Lars Weck

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Speaking in Third Person

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MIT Press recently published Third Person, an essay collection that follows First Person and Second Person in a series exploring how new media has changed the roles of author and audience. Third Person declares its subject to be “vast narratives,” which editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin define as cultural products that extend beyond the physical and temporal parameters usually associated with their medium. While most television detective shows devote one episode to one investigation, The Wire, for example, can stretch a case out over a season, and the continuity of characters and settings puts demands on a viewer’s memory that other shows rarely make. If the Harry Potter series of books is considered the authoritative source of that fictional world even after the release of the films, Lucasfilm delegates storytelling duties for Star Wars among books, movies, and animated series, and each addition extends the fictional universe in new directions in time and space. Vast narratives can also be generative frameworks that allow for many reconfigurations of the characters and settings over several instantiations, as in computer role-playing games and their pencil-and-paper counterparts like Dungeons & Dragons.

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