Seven Big Ideas from Seven on Seven 2014

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Frances Stark and David Kravitz during the Seven on Seven work day. Photo: Ed Singleton.

The fifth anniversary edition of Rhizome's Seven on Seven took place on Saturday. The project pairs seven leading artists with seven influential technologists in teams of two, and challenges them to develop something new–whatever they choose to imagine—over the course of a single day. The results were unveiled to the public on Saturday at the New Museum, and are recapped here.

#1. Occupy invented #normcore

In the keynote, Kate Crawford suggested that K-Hole's #normcore trend report, as well as the Snowden-leaked GCHQ Powerpoint, could be read as manifestations of the anxieties of an age of mass surveillance, those of the surveillers and those of the surveilled.

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TEDxVaduz: Towards a new future through a moribund format

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Femke Herregraven speaks at TEDxVaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Dec 2013. Via DIS.

TEDxVaduz was held at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein in December of 2013. Designed and organized by artists Simon Denny and Daniel Keller, the event seemed, at first glance, like a well-organized parody. But the list of speakers included an array of legitimately exciting artists and thinkers—Peter Fend, Andi Götz, Femke Herregraven, Michaela Hogenboom Kindle, Michael Littger, Michel André Maréchal, Katja Novitskova, Emily Segal, and Regula Stämpfli—convened under a relevant theme, "Radically Open."

From the outset, it was clear that TEDxVaduz aimed to work both within and against the context provided by the TED brand. Denny opened the event by giving a brief history of TED and the TEDx conferences. Keller provided the current context of TED, its format and the recent criticism due to presentations that relied on pseudo-science. Denny highlighted the elements of the TED brand that match his and Keller's interests, such as Silicon Valley and tech entrepreneurialism. Denny also noted that the backdrop, a tag cloud comprised of most used words in TED talks and the floor graphic of an island shaped like Vaduz, was a collaborative design by the two.

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Remote Control

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Simon Denny, Those who don't change will be switched off, (2012)

A TV set burns fiercely. These are the last days of the British analog television broadcast.

I kid you not, the United Kingdom limps sorely behind on digital conversion. Luxembourg was first to the finish line, followed by most of Europe, the States, North Africa, Japan. The UK, a chain-smoking marathon runner, who might or might not have gout, has decided — to hell with the lot of you — to race dressed as Chewbacca.

As we drag ourselves sodden and bronchial through those final steps, a slow clap from the ICA gallery greets us. The exhibition 'Remote Control' (April 3, 2012 - 10 June 10, 2012) marks the end of the analog signal by uniting works that take TV and break it apart.

Artist David Hall set television ablaze in 1971. His TV Interruptions were broadcast during normal BBC scheduling in Scotland. No announcement, nor explanation. A tap in the top right-hand corner filled the screen up with water as if it were a cross-section of a sink, a man filmed out at the audience from inside the set, a television burned to cinders in an open field. Each short film held its own during broadcast with a cool irony. Yet the creation and destruction of illusions simultaneously undermined the tyranny of any box masquerading as a window into reality. Hall pioneered art in television and continues to work with the medium and concept. With it, and in opposition to it, for the artists in 'Remote Control' hold their enemy close.

            Still from David Hall, TV Interruptions (Tap piece) (1971)

Commercial broadcasting is the adversary in Television Delivers People (1973) by Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman. A six and a half minute credit roll tells us merrily that we are the end product of TV, delivered through broadcast to be consumed by advertisers. The medium itself emerges banal, or shrill; the mechanisms of corporate control form the malevolent baseline. Screened in the ICA alongside these works by Hall and Serra as well as Gerry Schum, are further exposés on television advertising from TVTV, misogyny from Joan Braderman, and violence from Marcel Odenbach. Sixteen CRT televisions line up neatly to show us how artists rankled with the system over the decades past. 

It doesn't sound very radical does it? The wit of the interruptions has already been dampened by their removal from the broadcast context. They confront an engaged, expectant audience, not their passive target. Can we understand quite how difficult it must have been to infiltrate the mainstay of the British broadcasting industry, the BBC, when there is such a multitude of platforms available today? Should an institution that holds the contemporary at its core not be addressing the hidden power lines of the mass media that immerse us now?

 

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Rhizome Editor-at-Large Picks Top 10 for 2011

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Looking back at and consolidating the year in exhibitions is one of the more challenging tasks an art writer faces. Tracking trips to shows throughout the year, and more importantly, the evolution of your feelings about them, is a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task. While in Europe this spring and summer, I was lucky enough to view some of the exhibitions I found more momentous and personally resonant. Starting in Italy with the 54th Venice Biennale, I traveled up to Switzerland through Geneva and Basel, heading next to the UK and landing finally in Berlin. The list below reflects both personal favorites and those that I felt to be important in the confluence of art and technology.  

Josephine Pryde, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre” at Chisenhale, London

British artist Josephine Pryde bears the unique ability to successfully navigate both photography and sculpture, two mediums which seem almost diametrically opposed. Up until this year I’d only been familiar with Pryde’s sculptures of half-finished baskets precariously suspended by butcher hooks, shown at Galerie Neu in Berlin last year; as well as her strange, oversized macro photographs of fabric, featured at Reena Spaulings in 2009. For her presentation at Chisenhale, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre,” Pryde presented two sets of photographs. The first takes medical images of fetuses, superimposing them in Photoshop against barren desert landscapes; the second stages stock photography-style portraits of young, alternative-looking women contemplating whether or not they’re pregnant. Beyond Pryde’s fascinating material practice is her confrontation of oft-taboo, extremely personal, female-specific issues generally elided in contemporary art discourse. 

Cory Arcangel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York  / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Arcangel Fever spread around early spring 2011 as his Whitney retrospective drew near, the artist being asked by a vertiginous number of New York media outlets to grace them with pre-opening press. The show sparked some lukewarm reviews

 

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Artist Profile: Simon Denny

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Corporate Video Decisions, 2011

“Corporate Video Decisions,” your current exhibition at Michael Lett gallery in Auckland, includes the covers of Corporate Video Decisions, a magazine from the 1980s about the use of video technology in corporate culture, shown on flatscreen televisions, and a series of printouts of the entire content Diligent Boardbooks’s website, a paperless business software company based in Christchurch, NZ and New York. I’m really fascinated by this double inversion of the way content is communicated to us: the print magazine on monitors, the website printed out. Can you talk a little bit about the exhibition and your use of inversion, as well as languages of marketing and advertisement, as an aesthetic strategy?

Yeah, I should say first that there is another layer of processing that is maybe difficult to make out in the online photos of the exhibition. The print magazine covers were actually photographed playing as jpegs on the LCD 3D-enabled televisions, then that whole image is inkjet printed on canvas, twice—like two copies of each canvas—and these are screwed together with aluminum tubing between the two canvasses in each corner, spaced to mimic the dimensions of the monitor they depict. So you have two canvasses with the same image on top of each other in place of the monitors.

To answer the question, for me, the exhibition’s aim is to present two snapshots of different moments in the recent history of commercial video through looking at these quite different pieces of ephemera—a magazine and a website. The nature of video technology is such that a fast, controlled, obsolescence cycle is systemic to its existence, and materials and formats come and go very quickly. As this is the case, making an exhibition that has this fact built into the way it is presented is for me very important. That is to say, the way the content is presented should form a dynamic which helps describe the show’s themes. Depicting the fickle material conditions of video via changing formats of what is regarded at a certain moment to be contemporary ephemera (magazines, websites), which are then presented through another fast shifting technology (printing), one indicates these movements in the presentation structurally.

Contrasting this ephemerality with the themes that are covered in the 80s magazine—trade fairs, gender and minority equality, economic conditions, crisis culture, generic products—(these topics clearly relate very well to our current moment also), underlines the truism that while technology might change, certain issues tend to be relevant for longer periods.

For me the exhibition’s format highlights this tension between the permanent and the impermanent, between vast material change and comparatively slow shifts in life/work conditions.

On the language of advertising, one has of course this ambivalent relationship to it where one knows it’s manipulative, but its efficiency is seductive and affective. One most likely follows this language’s logic implicitly in one’s self. That is to say this way of communicating is unavoidable and is just there. I am not sure if looking at this is really an aesthetic strategy. Even just conversing can be considered to be a commercial act, and it’s not so easy to attach a value to this. It is one’s life, after all...

 

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Simon Denny, 3-D Vessel 2 (2011)

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3-D Vessel 2, (2011.) Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin. (Based in Berlin.)

Simon Denny explores how material is encountered in an age in which technological overproduction and media overkill are yesteryear’s assumed norm. For based in Berlin, Denny will present a project developed in Aachen, which focuses on a German production company’s input in shaping the appear- ance of a global media exemplar. The artist will present a sculptural illustration of material surrounding a “scripted journey” and the spaces that provide these. The presentation spotlights the Aachen-based chrome-finishing factory responsible for fitting out the fantasy cruise liner boats of an internationally dominant U.S. entertainment company. The exhibition features a video made by the factory of their products alongside a 3D walk through their equally scripted factory premises in Aachen, shot by Denny on the new 3D Panasonic HDC-SDT750, the supposed first 3D home video camera. In doing so, Denny applies the industry’s latest gimmicky must to the production process that gives its material relics their seductive sheen.

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