Something Fishy on Pelican State Beach

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Public Access is an art project produced by David Horvitz in late December 2010 and early January 2011. For roughly two weeks, he drove along California's coast from the Mexican border up through the Oregon border. Along the way, he stopped and took pictures of himself looking out at the beach and other scenic vantage points, his stance recalling the iconic romantic painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich from 1818 and Bas Jan Ader's 1971 Farewell to Faraway Friends. He then uploaded these photographs to the Wikipedia entries for these locations, adding new images or replacing existent images. This action produced a flurry of discussion amongst the Wikipedia community, as its members tried to figure out his identity and the purpose of the photos. Many of the original photos were cropped or deleted entirely. This post assembles documentation from Public Access. Graphic designer Eric Nylund has created a PDF publication for the project, which includes a text written by Ed Steck. This text and many of the photos taken for Public Access are now on view in the exhibit "As Yet Untitled: Artists and Writers in Collaboration" at SF Camerawork in San Francisco.

DOWNLOAD PUBLIC ACCESS PDF



A Selection of Photographs that were placed on Wikipedia:
- Border Field State Park. (The fence is the Mexican-American border.) - Silver Strand State Beach. - El Segundo. (The town I grew up in.) - Davenport.

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The Complete Collection: Marian Spore

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Founded by curator Michael Connor in 2009, Marian Spore was a limited-duration art space that closed on December 18, 2010. Rather than organizing group or solo shows per se, the gallery was a perpetual work in progress; Connor added pieces irregularly, leaving them on display so that repeat visitors would find an accumulation of works. Connor has put the acquisitions into storage and will continue looking for buyers, considering the works on loan until they find a permanent home. Situated in a 16,000 ft loft on the fourth floor of a building in the gargantuan Sunset Park industrial complex Industry City and named after an artist who believed she was in communication with spirits of dead artists (and who was the third wife of Industry City’s founder), I visited Marian Spore for the first time only a week before the closing. Connor looked surprised when I referred to the “current exhibition” of all thirteen works he had gathered over the past months; after all, as the collection grew, each object had been on view continuously.

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From the Archives

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In 1993 Howard Rheingold wrote a remarkable book called The Virtual Community. In this book he gives what might best be called a personal account of the expanding culture of people communicating via computer networks. I asked him some questions about the relationship between virtual and traditional communities, most appropriately, via e-mail.

Howard Rheingold has been publishing books and articles on computer culture for many years. He is the multimedia columnist for Publish magazine and editor of Whole Earth Review. He has also been a consultant to the US office of Technology Assessment, and recently he took charge of Planet Wired a network project that will document the digital revolution with local examples, made accessible via the Net to a world-wide audience.

More than merely informative, his book The Virtual Community is above all a highly personal account of the way in which people are using computer networks as communication devices, or rather how they are engaging in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), the term Rheingold prefers. Rheingold maintains that Computer Mediated Communication creates a new sense of community; people from around the world are linked together in public discussions, people who exchange ideas and messages, share interests and work together, outside of the constraints of geographical space and across social barriers.

In his book he provides us with a somewhat formal definition of virtual communities, which he describes as “social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace”. Rheingold has himself been actively involved in one of the early network communities in the US, The Well, based in San Francisco.

Using networking technologies within the context of traditional geographic communities produces Community Networks. I began by asking Rheingold to explain ...

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Elements of Vogue: A Conversation with Ultra-red

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Ultra-red is an activist art group founded in 1994. The group proposes an alternate model for art and activism, one in which it is not the artist's critical intervention that serves as the source of cultural action, but rather that art might contribute to and challenge the process of collective organization and relationship building itself.

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Required Reading

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Petra Cortright, vvebcam (still), 2007;
high-definition digital video; 1 minute 41 seconds; ed. of 3 + AP; courtesy the artist

Brooding, solitary and usually male, the trope of “the artist in the studio” has existed in multiple iterations throughout the history of art. From Rembrandt’s workshop to the twentieth-century Parisian studios of Picasso, Braque and others, to Warhol’s Factory, the studio contains within it an evolving narrative, albeit one that remains focused on a specific physical site of artistic production. In a particularly damning critique of this romantic construct, Daniel Buren posited in a 1971 essay, “The Function of the Studio,” that the studio has a “simultaneously idealizing and ossifying function,”1 a state of “purgatory” that grants artists limited agency in the production and dissemination of their own work and culture at large. Buren’s essay is a concise example of the postmodern conception of “post-studio” practice—a practice cultivated by the likes of Robert Smithson, who came to reject the confines of the physical studio as a site of production in favor of the unconfined natural landscape, or by John Baldessari’s infamous “Post-Studio Art” class at CalArts, in which students were encouraged to “stop daubing away at canvases or chipping away at stone”2 and embrace a wider framework for art production. The influence of these artists is clearly evident in a range of contemporary artistic practices that continue to question traditional modes of production and dissemination.

The legacy of “post-studio” art is amplified for artists working with digital forms and online environments. Generally these types of practices are less an overt negation of the “ossifying” element of the studio and more a reflection of how the digital has changed cultural production at large. What happens when the studio in question is simply a laptop in ...

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Required Reading

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What do you mean by ‘crisis of the unit of measure’?

It is as if the metre, the standard set to measure cognitive and affective experience, no longer works. We see the same crisis in the fields of politics and history: social prosperity is no longer produced by labour time, but by knowledge, by a general knowing, by ‘general intellect’, and as a result social prosperity and labour time are no longer directly connected. 
The new standard to measure prosperity is within the domain of intelligence, language and collaboration. The problem is that social prosperity is still measured by the old standard of labour time, while realities have changed and it is actually determined by ’general intellect’. 
We can see the same thing happening in 20th-century art. It demonstrates the inadequacy of the old standards and suggests, in the formal sphere and through the formal work of poetry, new standards for the appraisal of our cognitive and affective experience. This is a point that brought the artistic avant-garde close to the radical social movement and in this sense there is a kind of brotherhood between the two: they would like to explain that the old standards are no longer valid and to look for what might be new standards. 
Another way to put the problem is: how can you locate a new public sphere, which has nothing to do with the state? Avant-garde art proved the impotence, the inadequacy, the disproportion of the old standards through a formal investigation. The common ground of art and social movements is never about content. Art that relates to social resistance is beside the point, or rather art expressing views on social resistance is not relevant. The radical movement and avant-garde poetry touch on the formal investigation that yields an index of new forms ...

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Interview with Olga Goriunova, Curator of Fun with Software

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Humor, fun and nonsense often figure greatly in the current modes of communication on the web, whereby memes and sardonic blog comments are commonplace -- if not expected. Such trappings have found their way into media art practices from Cory Arcangel’s cover of Arnold Schoenberg’s op.11 Drie Klavierstucke using cat videos on YouTube to F.A.T. Lab’s Kanye West Interrupt bookmarklet. The question that these works and others like it raises is this: does humor appear to be a synergistic outgrowth of technology (and how does it relate to its development)?

In the latest exhibition "Fun with Software" at Bristol’s Arnolfini, curator Olga Goriunova seeks to document and explore how humorous approaches to software lead to innovation. Working with early net and media artists from JODI to Graham Harwood, the exhibition is a retrospective of peculiar approaches to computation. I sat down with Goriunova to talk about the show’s premise and how that premise contextualizes and contrasts the current era of humor and technology.

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Different Strokes: A Report from Abandon Normal Devices 2010

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The latest edition of Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival has jumped across the Northwest UK from Liverpool, where it debuted last year to Manchester. In its second major urban manifestation, after a small rural retreat in the Peak District, the festival followed its previous format and presented exhibitions, performances, cinema screening, talks and workshops across cultural venues in the city. Seeking to agitate, AND’s theme of questioning normality in various forms was represented in Manchester with a focus on identity.

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Required Reading

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Is it still necessary to define art by intent and context? The gallery world would have us believe this to be the case, but the internet tells a more mutable story. Contrary to the long held belief that art needs intent and context, I suggest that if we look outside of galleries, we’ll find the actions, events and people that create contemporary art with or without the art world’s label.

Over the past 20 years, the theory Relational Aesthetics (referred to in this essay as RA) has interpreted social exchanges as an art form. Founding theoretician Nicholas Bourriaud describes this development as “a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context”[1]. In reality, art erroneously known to typify RA’s theorization hasn’t strayed far from the model of the 1960’s Happening, an event beholden to the conventions of the gallery and the direction of its individual creator. In her essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, Claire Bishop describes Rikrit Tiravanija’s dinners as events circumscribed in advance, using their location as a crutch to differentiate the otherwise ordinary action of eating a meal as art[2]. A better example of the theory of RA succinctly put into action can be seen in anonymous group activities on the internet, where people form relations and meaning without hierarchy.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org is one such site, and host to 50 image posting message boards, (though one board in particular, simply titled ‘/b/’, is responsible for originating many of the memes we use to burn our free time.) The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate ...

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