Live and Media Arts Takes a Hit in London

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The Guardian reports that the live and media arts department of the ICA, which was known to show important works in the past but has slowed in recent years, will be closed. According to the ICA's director Ekow Eshun "it's my consideration that, in the main, the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency". Read the full article here.

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Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle (2008) - Jonathan Schipper

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Slow Motion Car Crash

LAUNCH

This sculpture is a machine that advances two full sized automobiles slowly into one another over a period of 6 days, simulating a head on automobile collision. Each car moves about three feet into the other. The movement is so slow as to be invisible.

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Cardboard Breath Guitar by Revel Woodard (2006)

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Over the Long Haul

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There never seems to be an ideal time to write about Longplayer. The thousand-year long musical composition, conceived by Jem Finer, has been playing for the past eight years and two-hundred and thirty-one days in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London (as well as via Internet stream and at various listening posts throughout the world) and at the conclusion of its first iteration, on December 31st 2999, is scheduled to begin again. While the project continues Finer's concern with "representing and understanding the fluidity and expansiveness of time," it also, on another level, serves as a vehicle to speculate about the trajectories of society and technology in the coming millennium, given that the continuing performance of Longplayer is entirely reliant upon these forces. A computer currently performs the composition, which comprises five transpositions of a piece of source music, played simultaneously and then at various advancements on Tibetan singing bowls, but Finer and The Longplayer Trust (established to oversee the upkeep of the composition) worry about its ongoing reliability, given "how few technologies have remained viable over the last millennium." Possible future alternatives range from a dedicated global radio frequency to "non-electrical, mechanical and organic implementations" of the composition and, most far-fetched, a small, computational device like ones "used in deep space missions," designed to play Longplayer and disseminated in the thousands, thereby preserving the piece by "adopting the biological strategy of survival by excessive multiplication and reproduction." Thankfully, humans have not been entirely ruled out of the equation, and in September 2009, a handful will perform a 1,000-minute section of the composition on six concentric circles of singing bowls. What form Longplayer will take in the centuries thereafter remains to be seen. - Tyler Coburn


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Drawn Out Processes

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The convention of the summer show, in New York, has historically been a mixed bag. At times it's an excuse for a gallery to do something fun, restrict work hours, and chill out a bit. It also tends to be the busy season for both emerging artists and curators, with group shows dominating the docket and variably playful, political, or conceptual themes running the show. Chelsea gallery Josée Bienvenu's summer show, "microwave, six," includes seventeen emerging and mid-career artists in their annual effort to (unlike the cooking apparatus that shares its name) slow down and pay attention to artists "who commit to the obscene activity of paying attention." It's hard to say what's obscene about this act, except that it's so rarely done as to potentially render it indulgent in some people's eyes. Each of the selected artists create rather slow-cooked drawings that "document the relentless propagation of delicacy as a subversive attitude." In other words, forget the short attention spans painted by the information economy, these pieces actually manage to transmit a high level of information, even as they eschew the ephemeral forms of files and bits to take up the hard-knocked life of a work on paper. Ernesto Caivano continues his epic series of drawings about an otherworldly landscape in which a man and woman simultaneously evolve into a spaceship and a lowly earth creature. Phoebe Washburn gives us highly-systematized, if cryptic analysis of devices and histories like Gatorade Storage Tank Study. Both Alexandra Grant and Casey Jex Smith offer readings and translations of the visual qualities of language, while Jacob Dyrenforth's newspaper-style pixilated (or is it pointilated?) drawings of concert crowds speak to the age-old effort of visualists to convey the maximum amount of information in the least ...

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Nan Hoover, 1931-2008

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American artist Nan Hoover passed away last week, in Berlin. She left behind a large body of work that has had a pioneering influence on the fields of performance, video, and photography. In a statement about her photos Hoover says, "I am a painter. Everything I do is seen through the eyes of a painter. I only use brushes from time to time." Buried between the lines of this message is an indication of Hoover's tight relationship to her materials--which varied to include not only new media, live performance and photographic media, but also drawing, installation, and perhaps most significantly, light. If there is one thing that cannot go unsaid about her work it's that Hoover owned the light. Indeed, it proved better, more searing, and more beautiful than paint in her many decades of practice, ultimately "shedding light" on the sublime beauty inherent in objects ranging from otherwise banal domestic interiors to majestic outdoor landscapes. In an art world which has, at various times, sought to polarize beauty and intellectual rigor, Hoover consistently proved that the two could live in harmony. An exhibition of her lens-based work just opened at Mannheim's Sebastian Fath Contemporary Art Gallery. The show was in the works before her passing, but is now a retrospective of sorts--a show developed in conversation with Hoover about what it meant to continue her signature first-person visual experiments in a world increasingly mediated by digital experience. A memorial will be held at Amsterdam's Montevideo Institute for Time-Based Art on June 20th. Meanwhile, an online condolence page has been established for the many who were touched by her work to stay in touch. - Marisa Olson


Image credit: Nan Hoover, "Moving Towards 13 degrees," video room installation, Galerie Ulrike BUschlinger Wiesbaden, 2000. Photo: Horst Ziegenfusz

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Review of Olafur Eliasson's "Take Your Time" at the Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1

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by Rafael Tiffany

Olafur Eliasson's expansive mid-career survey "Take Your Time" claims a significant amount of space at both the Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1, giving reason for museum goers to follow its title's injunction. The Klaus Biesenbach and Roxana Marcoci-curated show comes to New York on the heels of a smaller manifestation at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, continuing a dramatic stateside splash for the Danish-Icelandic artist-- which will be literalized later this summer with four waterfalls he's planned for the downtown harbor area. Those who want to experience the diversity of the crowd-pleasing artist's output should make time for all the components of this wide-ranging show.



Olafur Eliasson, Beauty, 1993. Photograph by Matthew Septimus. Courtesy of MoMA and P.S.1.

The works present trace Eliasson's rise to prominence since the 1990s. His earlier pieces-- he prefers "apparatuses" or "experimental setups" -- typically stage modest interventions within our perceptual assumptions, and are frequently disarming in their economy. Beauty (1993) is especially mesmerizing, consisting of an iridescent curtain of mist in P.S.1's dark basement vault, produced simply by refracting light off of water droplets sprayed from a suspended rubber tube. The capacity for this approach to work at a vastly magnified level was apparent with The weather project, his spectacular and now iconic 2003 installation of light, smoke, and mirrors for the Tate Modern. One could compare Wannabe (1991) with Ventilator (1997) in order to gain a sense of this ambition of scale: the former is a single low-hanging spotlight tucked into a side chamber at P.S.1, designating an intimate platform for training viewers to command institutional space; the latter, a free-hanging industrial fan that pendulously sways through MoMA's immense atrium, erratically animates the imposing ...

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The Page Turner

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As if taking a one-man stand against the alleged decline of bibliophilia in the digital age, Charles Broskoski read 356 books in 400 days, ending his own personal Reading Olympics in early 2008. If that doesn't sound grueling enough to you ADHD types, consider this: the books he perused were a collection of O'Reilly tech-guide e-books downloaded as a single torrent in late 2006: fat tomes with such alluring titles as Linux Device Drivers, XSLT Cookbook, Essential System Administration and ASP.NET in a Nutshell. Conceiving the daunting task as an endurance performance entitled Computer Skills, Broskoski took notes on every book he read, and later posted them to his website in both .txt and .pdf formats. Perhaps inevitably, his notes begin as detailed commentaries, but later devolve into sketchy exasperation and sideways minutia: "the photo for the chapter on DVDs is an image of a title screen for a movie called El Masko" reads one of only three comments Broskoski made in response to Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition by David Pogue, thumbed through as volume number 212. Last month, for the Parsons School of Design show at the Chelsea Art Museum, Broskoski mounted further physical evidence: 356 physical copies of the books he read, happily donated to the show by the publisher. Seeing the multicolored monolith of paperbacks assembled together makes for a humbling monument to the sheer amount of information available online. Broskoski's super-sized 400-day book-binge, after all, comprises only an infinitesimally small portion of the networked era's ever-expanding universal library. -- Ed Halter


Image: Charles Broskoski, Computer Skills (Notes from Performance), 2008

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Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

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Artist Robert Rauschenberg passed away on Monday. He was 82. Easily one of the most significant artists to come out of the twentieth century, Rauschenberg began painting in the 1940's, and eventually integrated collage, sculpture, performance, choreography, set design, and printmaking into his trailblazing practice. Throughout his career, he was continually dedicated to the concept that the artist must take on an active, participatory role in relation to the culture at large. This perspective was perhaps encouraged and strengthened while studying in the 1950's at the experimental and visionary Black Mountain College. During this period, he met John Cage and Merce Cunningham, and in 1952, the three participated in Theater Piece #1, cited by some as the first "happening" which involved the simultaneous performance of music, dance, and visual art. In 1967, he co-founded the groundbreaking organization Experiments in Art and Technology, whose mission to foster collaborations between artists and engineers served to bolster the creative application of new technologies in ways unimaginable before. To this day, the formation of Experiments in Art and Technology, along with the series of performances in 1966 from which it emerged, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, mark a major milestone in the history of art and technology. Rauschenberg's openness to experimentation- both formally and conceptually- remain one of his principal contributions to American art. - Ceci Moss


Image Credit: Robert Rauschenberg, Open Score, 1966

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Like an Art Party Where Everyone's Invited

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For all that's been said about how behind-the-times academia can be, university galleries are very often the most risk-taking portholes to contemporary art. This fact is exemplified by Arizona State University's Art Museum where curator John Spiak has demonstrated a keen eye and clear commitment to emerging artists and emergent media. The museum's new Social Studies series turns the gallery over to a visiting artist to use it as their lab and concoct an exhibition composed largely of art work in the form of social interaction. The program's second resident, San Francisco Bay Area artist Josh Greene, is already well-known for such work. He's turned a surprise party for his sister into a public event, organized luncheons for gallery workers, and even managed to seduce Sophie Calle into lending him her bed to lie in as a means of sleeping-off a breakup. Greene is the founder of the Bay Area Leisure Foundation, which hands out giant $500 checks to winning applicants who submit "leisure proposals" which are judged by "leisure experts." Among his best-known projects is Service Works, a monthly grant program in which the artist donates his waitstaff tips (an unpredictable number, thus merging situationism and the legacy of "chance operations," depending on how you look at it) to another artist, based again on the merit of their project proposals. The winners have all embraced fun while, in a roundabout way, using wealthy diners' money to do something positive for the world. For his ASU residency, the artist completed a series of tasks under the banner of the disclaimer "Some Parts Might Be Greater Than the Whole." These include chatting with a chimp about art ideas, installing a show of the museum preparators' artwork, acting in other artists' videos, a "public restroom intervention" entitled ...

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