Long a destination for filmmakers to showcase their work, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has expanded its program in recent years to incorporate experimental film and video art. Beginning in 2006 distributors, such as Lux, Electronic Arts Intermix, Netherlands Media Art Institute, and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center, were invited to spotlight works recently added to their catalogs. This portion of the festival was rounded out by “Unreal Asia”, a themed series of screenings of Southeast Asian film and video art, as well as a profiles on Japanese experimental filmmaker Matsumoto Toshio, Mexican filmmaker Nicolás Echevarría, German filmmaker Herbert Fritsch, the Sarajevo Documentary School and a retrospective on the Russian art group the Factory of Found Clothes. Annual segments, such as the MuVi award for music videos, an international competition, a competition including only German work, and films made by children, were scheduled alongside the thematic programs, resulting in a diverse and active six-day calendar. I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time a week ago, and caught a number of the screenings.
Curator Hanne Mugaas launched a new pdf exhibition in collaboration with Private Circulation this week, "The "Painting" Show." Much like ASDF's For a Brief Time Only, the curator sends the exhibition personally to the viewer, who then has complete control over its display. While For a Brief Time Only delivered the show's 24 photos off to a local lab for print and pick up, thus examining the ease and accessibility of photography's circulation in the age of Walgreens, "The "Painting" Show" looks at the distribution of painting, or rather, "painting". By inserting the quotation marks around "painting", Mugaas signals that this isn't the real thing, but perhaps a new sort of something, stating,"the results are not paintings, not pictures of paintings, but 'paintings'." The show's 10 "paintings" by artists AIDS 3-D, Kerstin Bratsch, Charles Broskoski, Marcel Dionne, Aleksandra Domanovic, Anders Nordby, Guillaume Pilet, Hayley Silverman, Anne de Vries, and Ulrich Wulff are a painterly spin-off of the standard brush, paint and canvas combo, coming from sources such as computer programs, video, and scanned versions of paintings on paper, and the show's only instructions are that these images be printed on 32lb paper. Although much more expensive to produce, I would've liked to see these "paintings" actually repainted again, perhaps by oil painting "manufacturers" such as Canvaz, thus pushing painting or "painting"'s claim to originality even further.
Oil and acrylic on panel, 42 x 60 in
The painting in the age of the internet? The idea for E.G. is simple: the machine is the new painter and its languages are the new painting techniques. The brush stroke is now replaced by a portion of HTML code, the painter is your own computer, each painting is generated each time and everytime is brand new. References to the past abstract masterpieces are evident, but today a work of art like a Rothko's painting is reduced to a mathematical formula that give instruction to the machine to create the final painting.
The current exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, "The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989" is in many ways a bold take on the "group show" genre. Not focused on a particular era, style or group of artists, Senior Curator for Asian Art Alexandra Munroe has instead created a sweeping show of over 110 artists around an idea as ethereal and subjective as cultural "contemplation." The show's thesis, that "vanguard artists consistently looked toward 'the East' to forge an independent artistic identity that would define the modern age -- and the modern mind -- through a new understanding of existence, nature, and consciousness" certainly seems timely in this era of rampant globalization, but it simultaneously opens the door to a host of debatable issues around cultural appropriation.
The broad scope and variety of art forms covered under this broad thematic umbrella, from paintings of James McNeill Whistler and Mary Cassatt through multimedia works of Tehching Hsieh and Laurie Anderson, creates a compelling alternate to the usually mono-cultural narrative of Art History. For those of us interested particularly in time-based media, it also provides a compelling context through which to view issues such as duration, notation, communication systems, and networking that are so prevalent in time-based forms.
This work was created as a response to the open call for Who's Afraid of Blue, Red and Green?, a project sponsored by Creative Time in 2004. Artist Günther Selichar invited participants to submit animations using the colors blue, red and green. Works were then displayed on the "59th Minute: Video Art on the Times Square Astrovision by Panasonic."
Responding to the unease and restlessness of late 1970s Britain, The Fall wrote a song in 1979 declaring the emergence of a "2nd Dark Age." For the two-minute duration of the song, Mark E. Smith rails against the omnipresent political and social inertia of the time, and the lyrics take specific aim at the short sightedness and staleness of hippie politics and spiritualism, which were so ineffective in the face of rising conservatism: "And the commune crapheads sit and whine, While the commons near my birthplace is now a police college"
Fast forward thirty years, and Ben Jones, in his latest exhibition at Deitch, announces another Dark Age, the "New Dark Age." Building off his solo show "Celebrate the New Dark Age" at AMP in Athens, Greece this past Fall, the galleries at Deitch could equally pass as a playground, meditation chamber or rec room. The pervasive feeling that Jones is merely replicating the same stock themes and imagery as if by rote, however, depletes the exhibition of the organic sense of leisure or contemplation often associated with these spaces. In the main room, a gigantic neon Transformer salutes the visitor, Gumby meditates in the center of three televisions, a video projection of the mesmerizing focal point of Space Wars loops incessantly in a far corner, and, in the front room, ladders reminiscent of Chutes and Ladders abound, clownishly oversized neon versions scale the walls or incessantly repeat in eye-popping wallpaper. The ambiance feels much like a commercial window display comprised of motifs from Jones's 1980s childhood.
Indeed, if there is anything "dark" about ...
Juried Exhibition: Earth, at 440 Gallery, Brooklyn
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator