Live in the Studio

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For Internal Message Search: A Performative Installation, opening Friday, April 18th, pioneering video and internet artist Nina Sobell will install her Location One artist residency studio in the not-for-profit art center's project space, where she will carry on her practice for the duration of the show. Visitors will be able to see Sobell's recent wax sculptures and drawings, interact freely with the artist, and even accompany her for impromptu musical sessions (Sobell is a skilled improvisational guitarist and keyboardist). In keeping with Sobell's interest in extra-institutional viewing communities, the entire exhibition will also be webcast at all hours of the day, allowing online users access to the conventionally closed-off realm of the artist studio, in a fashion that constructively challenges existing divisions of public and private space, while also placing her web audience in the ambivalent role of surveillants. Sobell and multimedia artist Emily Hartzell realized a similar project in 1994, also using real-time webcasting to transform their studio at NYU Center for Advanced Technology into one of the internet's first time-based installations. Reflecting on the experience, they described moments when "our actions were heightened by our awareness of unseen Web visitors," and others when "we felt ourselves dissolved in...ubiquitous surveillance." Given her open invitation for musical collaboration for the duration of her forthcoming exhibition, it seems Sobell is presently aiming to produce an installation that both foregrounds the "artist-in-studio as spectacle" and facilitates a new type of community-centric performance space, accessible to viewers near and far. - Tyler Coburn

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Christoph Cox Lecture Tonight at the MATA Festival

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Critic and art historian Christoph Cox will give a free talk tonight entitled "From Object to Process: Time in the Sonic Arts" as part of the MATA Festival, a decade-old event for young genre-defying composers in New York. The lecture will begin by examining sound art and music in the 1960s, an era marked by great cultural anxiety around time in relation to advances in technology (a topic elaborated in Pamela Lee's Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960's), and will continue by charting the direction set by the artistic experiments coming out of this period. Cox will devote specific attention to "the shift from time as a measured whole to time as fluid duration." The lecture begins at 7 pm tonight at the Brooklyn Lyceum. A discussion with composer and sound artist Micah Silver will follow Cox's presentation. For more information about the lecture and other activities related to the festival (including concerts and sound installations), visit MATA's website. - Ceci Moss

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Process Makes Perfect

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The process behind generative art often holds as much fascination as the final product, as software artist C.E.B. Reas seems well aware, judging from his latest exhibition at Manhattan gallery Bitforms. Aptly titled "process / form," the show offers an unusually multifaceted glimpse into the methodology of the artist, who is well-known for co-creating the programming language Processing and for using code to mimic natural forms and behaviors in his own works. On display are software installations, prints, and relief sculptures created using Process 14 and Process 18, two new systems in Reas' "Process" series, first begun in 2005. At Bitforms, the software installations feature a clever set-up: side-by-side screens let viewers see two interpretations of each process unfurl. The right hand screen of Process 18 (2008) offers up a minimalist-inspired display, where simple white lines rapidly dart and cluster across a black background. In contrast, the neighboring screen offers a more lush, painterly vision: The same motion plays out there, but the lines' movements leave soft strokes of white, gray, and black, creating forms reminiscent of feathers or splinters. Similarly for Process 14 (2008) --- based on the form of a circle -- the right-hand screen shows stark round forms drifting and repelling one another like solitary amoebas, while on the display to the left, the circles leave gentle swirls like a field of blossoms. While such works defy materiality, Reas created the show's prints and relief sculptures to bring Process 14 and Process 18 into tactile form, he said in an interview at last night's exhibition opening. Especially intriguing are the two fiber-composite sculptures of Process 18-generated images, created using a milling machine. Matter-of-factly titled P18 (Object 1) (2008) and P18 (Object 2) (2008), the sculptures translate grayscale values into three dimensions, forming rocky-looking ridges suggesting a ...

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Floating Above

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These days it's common to hear about the "ephemerality" of digital media. Artists and scholars love to celebrate and critique the presumed immateriality of work composed of zeros and ones, but rarely have we seen insightful theses on the deeper conceptual implications of this condition. Now, a group exhibition curated by Thomas Charverlat, at Shanghai's Island 6, takes the leap of considering the digital condition as one of Zero Gravity. Charverlat's curatorial statement argues, "new technologies have created an effect of contemporary weightlessness that resembles the spatial-temporal suspensions produced by the absence of gravity," and the included works (by Yang Longhai, Zane Mellupe, Zou Susu, Christophe Demaitre, Zhang Deli, Wang Dongma, Thomas Charveriat, and Zhu Ye) seek to create a sensation of floating, with regard to the viewer's interaction with objects. Aside from these unique physical qualities, the content of the work sounds deeply engaging. For instance, Yang Longhai and Zou Susu's LED collages address sleep paralysis; Zhang Deli and Wang Dongma present inventions and elixirs to aid in the act of flying; and Zou Susu addresses lunar systems, merging the history of China's calendar system with the scientific mysteries of outer space. This must be what the organizers mean when they say the show aims for "new altitudes of consciousness." - Marisa Olson

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A Year in the Life

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Are you still sticking with those New Year's resolutions you made a few weeks ago? Jeffrey Beaumont is just getting started. The NY-based creative writer has embarked on a Year of Hyperliving, his first-ever New Year's resolution. Described by him as "A maximalist approach to living right," Beaumont is taking a quasi-Zen approach to mindful situationism, and blogging heavily about it. Each week, this year, he will take on a new task--difficult ones he'd not ordinarily face, like trying to write a poem a day or talking to a stranger everyday and trying to make that conversation meaningful--which is, admittedly, how this writer discovered his project. His diary entries about these experiences are humble and easy to identify with, given their openness about the difficulties of carrying through on the week's commitment. So far, they've also been fruitful to readers, who this week have been cashing-in on his effort to "Make a different themed 60 min. cd mix each day." Next week Beaumont is abstaining from aural pleasure. His (Working) Manifesto of Hyperliving 2008 explains that his goal is to overcome his interrelated fears of commitment and failure and we wish him the best of luck. If you'd like to keep up with Beaumont's weekly tasks, visit his blog and subscribe to his Google calendar. - Marisa Olson

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Numerous Beginnings

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"The beginning of an unfinished sentence" reads No.47 (2007) by Pavel Buchler, one of many contributions to the ongoing online exhibition Why + Wherefore. The sentence fragment succinctly captures the premise of the show, which explores the tension between an art work's initial conception and completion. Curators Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist invited a diverse group of artists, practicing both online and off, to submit entries around the process of beginning a piece. With the involvement of over 50 artists, the interpretations of "beginning" vary widely. The website deceptively divides separate areas for "Works" and "Project Beginnings + Proposals", after some navigation, however, it becomes quite clear that the entries could easily translate to either category. Filed as a "Work", multimedia installation artist Assume Vivid Astro Focus submitted a series of long and elaborate to do lists. As a list of unfulfilled, amusing intentions (see: "13. Buy urgent: "The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell" by Aldous Huxley"), the To Do Lists (2007) demonstrate how quickly and powerfully ideas can emerge and then get lost. Artist Colby Bird's Dave and Tim (2007), also filed as a "Work", opens with the typed lyrics of Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys "Neva Eva" and then rotates through an unending loop of found digital images of keg parties, speaker systems, hallways, cats, teenagers, etc. Framed by an nondescript magazine advertisement, Dave and Tim uses the internet's store of visual detritus to present a bleak portrait of American life marked by consumerism. Artist Bard Ask's Global Perspective (2007), filed as a "Proposal", opens dramatically on a satellite image of the earth, and progressively narrows in on the state of Florida. The dramatic score heightens suspense, and the video closely recalls the opening sequence of a doomsday thriller. Florida ...

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Let's Do the Time Warp

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Time travel has long been a popular plot convention in science fiction and has, since at least the early 1700s, been a locus for societies' most utopian ideals regarding technology. Nonetheless, the ability to construct a working time machine has eluded countless inventors. But this week, New York-based artist Jamie O'Shea built what may amount to just that. As the world was waking up to a New Year, Tuesday, O'Shea was entering a 'time machine' of his own design. At midnight on January 1, 2008, he 'shut the door to a room with a slow clock, delayed news media, and artificial day and night cycles.' The idea is to trick his mind and body into slowing down, experiencing 36-hour days, rather than 24-hour ones. He's made use of fellow Eyebeam residents' tools in doing so, with Geraldine Juarez's Hexaclock counting two minutes for every three, and Jamie Wilkinson's Internet Delay Pedal doling out web-feeds in slower motion. O'Shea will emerge from this 'temporal deprivation chamber' on January 19th (our time) a week behind us. Given the demonstrated relativity of time--or of temporal perception, it seems accurate to describe the artist's construction as a working time machine. Skeptics or otherwise curious readers can peek in on O'Shea, via a live webcam at his site. The big question, in representations of time travel, tends to be that of how the traveler will influence the future. This query remains unanswerable except to say that our present is now O'Shea's future and he's sending us messages via a witty blog. Meanwhile, he pleas with readers, 'Time travel is boring. Please send anything to keep me company.' Consider this your opportunity to communicate with the past. - Marisa Olson

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