Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey upset the purpose of portraiture--rather than preserving the memory of its subject in his best light, the painting of the title grew gradually uglier to record Grey's sins, even as he kept the beauty that facilitated his sinning--but left intact art's status as an attribute of rich, leisured living. The arch moral tale is invoked twice in "Virtuoso Illusion: Cross-Dressing and the New Media Avant-Garde," an exhibition currently on view at MIT's List Visual Arts Center. Michelle Handelman's hour-long, four-channel video Dorian, 2009, loosely retells Wilde's novel with club kids standing in for opium eaters. In her ghoulishly lit self-portrait Dorian Grey, Manon appears messily caked in makeup, wearing a baggy gray suit, like the corporate conscience of a hedonist spirit. Both of these works introduce to drag a story about beauty, representation, and pleasure, and the anxieties that attend them. This suggests there's more to "Virtuoso Illusion" than an exercise in gender studies; as exhibition curator Michael Rush writes, "[i]n each major historical advancement of experimental art, cross dressing has been present as a strategy that has expanded the possibilities of the perception-bending intentions of artists (as opposed to merely gender-bending)."
I had the chance this week to speak with Carey Lovelace and Sharon Kanach, the co-curators behind a new exhibition of composer Iannis Xenakis’s sketches, drawings, scores and plans spanning from 1953 -1984 titled “Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary.” The show opens at the Drawing Center on Friday January 15th and it will run through April 8th. To coincide with the exhibition, a number of arts organizations in New York City organized public programs on Xenakis’s work in collaboration with the Drawing Center, including a virtual reality rendering of Poème Électronique, a three-day colloquium bringing together Xenakis scholars from the Americas, and much more. Please check the full schedule here (scroll to the bottom).
Based in Paris, Sharon Kanach worked very closely Xenakis for two decades, as a translator of his works, as a scholar and as Vice-President of Centre Iannis Xenakis (formerly CCMIX) in France. Carey is an independent curator and writer based in New York. Both are former students of Xenakis.
Below are excerpts from the 1991 VHS compilation of experimental animated shorts Tony Vegas' Animated Acidburn Flashback Tabu.
One the works on display in the exhibition “Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil - The Adolpho Leirner Collection” at Haus Konstruktiv in Zürich, Switzerland, is Abraham Palatnik’s Aparelho Cinecromático.
Abraham Palatnik is a pioneer of technological art. He was born in natal, Rio Grande do Norte, in 1928, to a family of Russian Jews that had settled there in 1919. When he was four years old, Abraham Palatnik went to Palestine, now Israel, with his family, where he went to school. He went on to take courses in mechanics and physics. Since his early childhood he had been drawing and he spent four years at an atelier studying drawing, painting, and aesthetics. Palatnik returned to Brazil in early 1948 and settled in Rio de Janeiro.
Abraham Palatnik dropped painting to adopt a different technique. He felt sure that using the latest technology, he could bring to “pictorial art the potential of light and motion in time and space”. He built his first two kinechromatic devices as experiments in 1949 and 1950.
In the catalog to the Abraham Palatnik retrospective exhibition at Itau Cultural Sao Paulo in the year 1999, Frederico Morais explains how Palatnik’s kinechromatic devices work: “On a plastic screen covering the front of his devices, he projected colors and forms driven by electric motors, creating a luminous effect with its own timing. Using motors and light bulbs, he replaced paint-as a material dimension-with refracted light. The timing of the lighting was controlled from a console with switches for each lamp. The viewer sees only the colored shapes projected onto the front of the kinechromatic device. Inside there were about 600 meters of electric wires in different colors, linking 101 lamps of varying voltages, rotating several cylinders at varying speeds. Light is projected through a set of ...
Ceci Moss is Rhizome's Senior Editor.
For my top 5-10, I've decided to pull together my favorite online exhibitions of internet-based art from the past 12 months.
Each week or so, Computers Club introduce a new work by an artist. Many of the Computer Clubbers have helped to define the current crop of internet-based art influenced by Larry Cuba and Tron-style computer graphics, such as Laura Brothers, Nicholas Sassoon, and Elna Frederick.
Internet Archaeology is a site devoted to the recovery of graphic artifacts found within earlier internet culture. (Think Olia Lialina's A Vernacular Web.) Their Guest Galleries section features original work using images culled from the collection by Tabor Robak, Krist Wood, Jacob Broms Engblom, Daniel Leyva, Emma Balkind, and Nasdaq 5000. My favorite piece so far is Robak's Heaven, which I posted to Rhizome not too long ago.
Run by Bay Area-based artists Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito, JstChillin's "Serial Chillers in Paradise" series is quite ambitious -- for a full year, they're knocking out a new work, in the form of a solo site, by an artist every two weeks, with an accompanying essay by Denny and Ito.
Like software, the curatorial project NETMARES & NETDREAMS signal the progression of their exhibitions through versioning. The exhibition "2.2" went live last summer, and it is loosely based on beach iconography, with a gloss of dark surrealism. A sense of the ominous pervades throughout, from Harm van den Dorpel's dizzying montage of palm trees to Michael Guidetti's loop of a rippling, virtual ocean.
Now closed, Club Internet's fall exhibition "Dissociation" was ...
Julie Karabenick: Early in your career you made paintings and drawings. Now for almost 30 years you've used computers in making your art.
Mark Wilson: When I started using computers in 1980, very few artists were using them. To me, these machines were totally cool and exciting. Back then, there was little software of interest to an artist like myself. To make art with computers, you had to invent new working procedures. I bought a personal computer and learned to write my own software. I was trying to find a unique way of using the computer and software to create geometric images.
After developing some programming skills, the methodology of writing software to create images became utterly natural.
Cybernetics is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts. The word itself seems sinister and futuristic, but the term has ancient roots - the Greek word kybernetes, meaning steersman. Cybernetics was famously defined in more recent times by Norbert Wiener in 1948, as the science of “control and communication, in the animal and the machine.” Words like "control” may seem to have creepy overtones, but at its heart, cybernetics is simply the study of systems. "Cybernetics is the discipline of whole systems thinking...a whole system is a living system is a learning system," as Stewart Brand put it in 1980. Cybernetic systems have been used to model all kinds of phenomena, with varying degrees of success - factories, societies, machines, ecosystems, brains -- and many noted artists and musicians derived inspiration from this powerful conceptual toolkit. Cybernetics may be one of the most interdisciplinary frameworks ever devised; its theories link engineering, math, physics, biology, psychology, and an array of other fields, and ideas from cybernetics inevitably infiltrated the arts. The musician and producer Brian Eno, for example, was a big fan of connecting ideas from cybernetics to the studio environment, and to music composition, in his work in the 1970s.
Of course, there was certainly a long history of machines and technology inspiring 20th century artists. The path of geometry, technology, and art was in part formed by the late paintings of Kandinsky, Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, and the machine aesthetic of artists like Charles Sheeler and Gerald Murphy. I was also influenced by the work of artists who were currently involved with imagery of machines and technology. For example, I loved the graphics of the London-based avant-garde architectural group, Archigram, and the Pop Art prints and paintings of the Scottish artist, Eduardo Paolozzi. There were also contemporary collaborative experiments like E.A.T—Experiments in Art and Technology—at MOMA, and Art and Technology, an exhibition of collaborations between artists and engineers, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.