Over the weekend, forward-thinking contemporary art information distribution service e-flux released the inaugural issue of Journal, a new online publication dedicated to art criticism. The introduction, written by editors Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle, asks why many "have nearly stopped reading art magazines." The obvious answer is that the web has surpassed print, but the authors here cite "the current climate of disciplinary reconfiguration and geographic dispersal." With Journal, the editors hope to draw on the historical importance of art publications as a forum, and revitalize the practice by translating what was initially a printed object to the web. Issue #0 includes thematic articles and experimental writing by Raqs Media Collective, Omer Fast, Boris Groys, Bilal Khbeiz, Sebastjan Leban, Marjetica Potrc, Irit Rogoff, and Pelin Tan.
The cyanotype, in some ways, fuses multiple modern impulses towards empirical knowledge. In this once novel medium, originally used to study the footprints of organic specimens and still common in kids' at-home science kits, objects are left on the surface of photosensitive paper to create a sort of blue and white negative of the item. But the image format also links itself to the study of architectural structures at the site of the blueprint and to the avant-garde's embrace of the color blue to study perception and the psychic effects of color. (Think Yves Klein.) So Christian Marclay's marriage of the cyanotype and the increasingly defunct magnetic cassette medium is just as philosophically rich as it is beautiful. And indeed, the artist's prints are extremely beautiful. On view through October 11th at New York's Paula Cooper Gallery is a solo exhibition of the artist's work. One of the pieces included, Allover, looks like an ocean of castaway cassettes and tape ribbons doing a sort of dead man's float, while the title reads as a double entendre--the image is a time-based collage (blurring representational epochs and the time it takes for the picture to seep into the paper) in which the tapes are "all over" the page and the title also signals the fact that the tapes' heyday is "all over." On the contrary, Marclay's heyday is still roaring, as the artist continues to find new ways to intertwine concepts of visual and sonic composition and to turn what might otherwise amount to commodity fetishism into poignant commentary on the evolution of technology and the narrative forms we've generated to record-keep our romance with it. - Marisa Olson
Image: Christian Marclay, Untitled (Madonna, Thy Word and Sonic Youth), 2008
(In collaboration with BFFA3AE)
Way back before most people had even heard of new media art, one publication (a classy zine, really) was charting the rise of the field. Intelligent Agent was founded in 1996, still the early days of the net for all intensive purposes, by a smart German woman named Dr. Christiane Paul-- she'd later go on to become new media curator at the Whitney. Like many such DIY ventures, the publication has gone through a series of phase changes, from print to online, to hiatus, and back. Now edited by artist and media scholar Patrick Lichty, under Paul's guidance as publisher, the venerable magazine is available in both print and PDF formats. It continues to present the front wave of art and theory, and the most recent issue, which is built around the catalog for the "Social Fabrics" exhibition curated by Lichty and Susan Ryan, is no exception. While big fashion magazines produce their fattest ad-driven issues during the summer months, IA's latest free PDF will give readers a chance to see projects by a handful of forward-thinking artist/designers who not only design wearable art that marries textiles and technology, but also push fashion from the realm of pop culture into deeper social engagement. The resulting portfolios, interviews, and essays offer critical insight into the work and, in keeping with the fashion mag analogy, posit trend alerts for the future of media art. - Marisa Olson
Have you ever noticed that sometimes spam emails contain the most interesting images? In an effort to encrypt their messages, thus bypassing inbox filters, many spammers will convert their text to an image format, and the pixellated camouflage of these images is very often very beautiful. This junk mail camo finds its origin in what artist Elizabeth Duffy calls "analog mail." She and the team at Purgatory Pie Press sifted through their mail to collect envelopes containing security patterns, images of which they've subsequently published in a hand-made book called Enclosure Exposure: Data Protection Patterning. The piece is the newest in PPP's "InstaBook" subscription series of DIY, folded, single-sheet books. There's something about the automation, the serialization, and the repetition of these patterns and even this book itself that make the project intriguing. The patterns are an institutionalized veil between what is and isn't meant to be seen, and like visually-encrypted spam messages, the banality of their simple, mostly monochromatic, repeated lines and overlapping patterns adds up to something much more formally interesting. - Marisa Olson
In conjunction with the 2008 Whitney Biennial, creative workshop and independent press Dexter Sinister will use the Commander's Room at the 7th Regiment Armory as an outpost to release a myriad of often playful and absurd texts through various channels of distribution. Meant as a spoof of the official communiqués of the Whitney Biennial, the project is ironically entitled "True Mirror." A revolving group of artists, designers, and musicians were invited to participate, such as Jason Fulford, Walead Beshty, Rob Giampietro and Alex Waterman. One of the releases, Sans Comic by Cory Arcangel, presents the Biennial's press release entirely in the widely mocked font Comic Sans. A simple gesture, the act illuminates how easy it is to disrupt institutional authority with a detail as basic as a typeface. "True Mirror" will terminate its dispatches this week on March 23rd.
Move over, ink jet, it's time for Junk Jet! If you think the era of DIY zines has withered in an age of electronic reproduction, think again. Junk Jet is an online fanzine and lo-fi print publication concerned with "tinkering (bricoler, basteln), with forms and found objects, with theories and (small) narratives, with fashions and styles, and of course with computers and other electronic devices." The point of the collaborative project is to discuss the status of piracy and potentials for subversion in the era of digital media. With contributions by the likes of Amy Alexander, Kim Cascone, Jaromil, and Olia Lialina, readers can expect fun, politically-engaged, visually and aurally stimulating content with which Junk Jet lives up to its promise to distort the digital hype and collapse the technological seduction. - Marisa Olson
On January 18, Northwestern University's Block Museum of Art, located 15 minutes north of Chicago, will open an exhibition of major value to those with an interest in the relationship between art, technology, and design. Imaging by Numbers: A Historical View of the Computer Print surveys the work of over 40 international artists who have, since the 1950s, worked with computers to make drawings and fine prints. The show emphasizes artists who have penned their own code or collaborated with engineers to create custom programs for the production of images. The very concept of "drawing" is tested in works such as Ben Laposky's and Herbert Franke's photos of electronic wave forms (here the electronics do the drawing and the artist documents it), and the tools used to make the works range from DIY printers to fancy 3D-imaging software. Artists Lane Hall and Roman Verostko combine "traditional" and digital methods in their work, while Joshua Davis and C.E.B. Reas hack software programs to produce contemporary works. The sixty pieces in this show, curated by Debora Wood and Paul Hertz, are contextualized by a complementary exhibit called Space, Color, and Motion, which presents time-based installation projects by four artists exhibited in Imaging by Numbers: Jean-Pierre Hebert, Manfred Mohr, James Paterson, and C.E.B. Reas. The museum is also presenting an ambitious slate of public events, including gallery talks, studio workshops, a screening of early computer animations and a symposium entitled "Patterns, Pixels, and Process: Discussing the History of the Computer Print". This all adds up to one remarkable program. If you can't make it to Illinois, check out the slide shows and video samples online. - Marisa Olson
Image: Tony Robbin, Drawing 53, 2004