[Stills from various episodes of PARTY FOOD.]
PARTY FOOD is a multi-dimensional art project that began as a few drawings and short stories in 2006. What followed has become a blend of performance, installation, and media that cannot be defined but through experience.
A new project by Brody Condon, LevelFive, is seeking participants for two intensive seminars in September - one at the Hammer Museum in LA from Sept. 3-5 and the other in San Jose from Sept. 16-18 at the San Jose Convention Center during the Zero1 Biennial. I'm curious to see what comes of this event - it seems really interesting. You can read more about it below. To register, visit the sign-up section of the LevelFive site. Space is limited.
LevelFive is a live role-playing event focused on critically exploring self actualization seminars from the 1970’s. The LevelFive performance will loosely follow the structure of early Large Group Awareness Training sessions like Erhard Seminars Training, but it is not a re-enactment. The open-ended live role-playing environment provides a space in which players are free to explore self actualization issues with varying degrees of personal intensity, but via an alibi or fabricated character.
During the 1970’s hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans came for weekend seminar sessions, to be taught how to free themselves from the restraints of contemporary society. Intended as a kind of self transformation for the masses, the seminars utilized a combination of various philosophic and spiritual teachings focused on “allowing participants to achieve, in a very brief time, a sense of personal transformation and enhanced power.” Quickly copied, successors included not only similar self actualization seminars, but also grew into the mass of success and corporate training seminars that we are familiar with today.
Players will arrive as their characters, and are expected to emote, and experience as their characters, with minimal interruptions for the 2-3 day duration of the game. LevelFive is a live game based on the Nordic style of progressive live role-play that explicitly works with “bleed”. In role-playing games, bleed happens when ...
Homebrew Electronics is a new series on the Rhizome blog. For these posts, I will be conducting studio visits with artists and inventors who create unique electronic instruments.
Last week, I met with cousins Brian and Leon Dewan of Dewanatron at Leon’s apartment/workshop in New Rochelle, NY. I first encountered their whimsical, one-of-a-kind instruments at a solo exhibition at Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn a few years ago. Not only do they produce and exhibit their own instruments, they use them in performances and in recordings as well. They split the labor evenly - Leon builds the circuits for each instrument, and Brian crafts the consoles that contain them at his home in Catskill, NY. Despite their jetlag from a recent trip to Los Angeles (Brian had screened his film strips at the Museum of Jurassic Technology’s theater), the Dewans gave me a thorough walkthrough of their work, patiently explaining how each of their creations functioned.
The Dewans use the Dual Primate Console quite a bit in their performances; it also made a starring appearance on their album Semi-Automatic. Built for two operators (or “primates”), each side provides four rhythmically independent voices, which can be programmed using a rotary telephone dial.
They got the idea to use a rotary telephone dial in this fashion from antique Language Lab Machines, which also integrate telephone dials into their interface. The rows of switches control the voices, and Nixie bulbs lining the top of the instrument indicate the different voices selected by the telephone dial. These bulbs were produced from the 1950s through the 1970s and were a precursor to LED displays.
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This disjunct between reality and its illusory other, the world of privileged consumerism, was at the heart of the 6th Berlin Biennial. In the exhibition catalog, curator Kathrin Rhomberg wrote that there is a growing "gap between the world we talk about and the world as it really is." In an effort to close this gap, the Biennial wrestled with contemporary issues and realities far beyond the gallery walls - an all-too-rare impulse in the hermetic field of visual art.
Unfortunately, this Biennial may well have convinced many of its visitors that artists should stick to the studio; too many of the works lacked any nuance in their portrayal of external realities. There was a highly unpleasant video of a horse being knocked off its feet, subtly titled Problems with Relationship. There was Bernard Bazile's inept installation of shouty protest videos from Paris. There was Sebastian Stumpf running into private garages just as the doors closed behind him, Indiana Jones-style.
Yet there were also moments of brilliance along the way. At its best, the Biennial yielded keen insights into the conditions of contemporary capitalism and the relationship between the personal and the political. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.
Knifeandfork explores the media-perpetuated nature of the chance moment in Trying the Hand of God, hosting a carefully choreographed continuous reenactment of the infamous illegal, but not penalized, "Hand of God" soccer goal from the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The performance is staged on a recreation of Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, constructed within the confines of the MOCA Sculpture Plaza. A limited number of audience members have the opportunity to play the role of Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer legend who scored the controversial goal against England during the quarterfinals, eventually leading his team to win the match and the tournament.
Through live performance, Knifeandfork introduces the potential for variations on a familiar, media-repeated image. The issue of variation is particularly interesting in this case, as the controversy over the "Hand of God" goal raised complex questions of chance, skill, and fate. In their choreographed reenactments, Knifeandfork attempts to control for all possible variables, yet the possibility of a "perfect" performance inevitably remains elusive. Rather, the repetitions serve as a form of kinetic documentation, both of what was and what might have been, and they grant the audience agency over the representation of this iconic event which has been otherwise ossified by media reproduction.
Montreal in June is an explosion of festivals. MUTEK, the annual festival of “digital creativity and electronic music,” is one of the most intriguing. The focus of the festival, now in its eleventh year, is on live experimental electronic music. This year's MUTEK sported an impressive roster -- electronic supergroups like Matmos and Mouse on Mars; cutting-edge UK dubstep producers such as Ikonika; and notable German DJs like Dixon, Henrik Schwarz, and DJ Koze.
One of the most anticipated live sets at MUTEK was a rare performance by the trailblazing British group Nurse with Wound. Nurse with Wound is a difficult act to pin down. The band, a revolving cast of characters helmed by the shadowy Steven Stapleton, has been in existence, in some form or another, since 1978. Some call Nurse with Wound "industrial music," but that's a bit of a misnomer. The band does bear some similarities with crusading British bands like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Current 93, but their music -- disorienting sound collages, ambient drones, tape edits, noise -- is defiantly anti-genre. Perhaps a better way to describe Nurse with Wound is through their artistic inspirations -- Dada sound poetry and French musique concrète, Futurist rhetoric and Surrealist cinema. The band's third album, released in 1980, was titled "Merzbild Schwet," a reference to Kurt Schwitters and his "Merz" philosophy and series of works; Side One was titled "Futurismo"; Side Two was titled "Dada." (Interestingly, many other musicians of the time were referencing Kurt Schwitters -- Faust, Brian Eno, and later the Japanese noise artist Merzbow -- the "Merzbau" being one of Schwitters' most famous works.)
Nurse with Wound played a haunting set in a dark auditorium against a sinister black-and-white film backdrop. Ambient drones were punctuated with harsh, sudden crashes -- reminiscent of ...
Video and performance artist Shana Moulton, whose series "Whispering Pines" Brian Droitcour profiled here on Rhizome recently, will speak at EAI tonight at 6:30pm. This is her first artist talk in New York City, and it includes a screening of her newest additions to "Whispering Pines." This should be worth checking out, plus, it's free to the public! More information here.
On June 18th at 7pm, artist Nicoline van Harskamp will present for the first time in the U.S. her performance work Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech at the New Museum, an event part of Rhizome’s New Silent Series. Her practice investigates the political implications of language and speech, and her pieces often take the form of performance. Van Harskamp took some time to answer a few questions regarding her upcoming Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech.
What of your other projects and/or research may have laid the groundwork for Expressive Power Series Part 1?
The performance takes as its basis the script for Any Other Business, a 6-hour performance that I made last year, set in a conference center in Amsterdam. I wanted to bring out the central thesis of that work, to summarize it down to an hour in a way. So, for Expressive Power Series Part 1, I took four of its most contradictory and most outspoken characters and planted them in a seminar room of an art center. During the 6-hour Any Other Business piece, the characters never get to speak to each other, but are merely juxtaposed. In the new piece, I wanted them to confront each other directly. And when writing their new lines, they started to say things they didn’t say before.
Things that I learned or heard since last year; things that I am working on for new pieces; things that I was thinking about a long time ago and that suddenly seemed relevant again. They ended up summarizing my own thinking at the moment, in a way representing the voices in my ...