Required Reading

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"Art and social media" -- this topic is all anyone wants to talk about these days. The discussion extends from the staid -- the National Endowment for the Arts released a report titled "Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation" -- to more spicy ruminations on what "social media art" offers as a new category, as in the artist An Xiao’s recent three-part series for Hyperallergic.

On the one hand, this faddish obsession with "social media" is understandable. The Facebook Corp. has begun to wrap its fingers around every other aspect of life, so it is clearly logical to ask what effects social media might have on art-making. But at the same time, I find the chatter somehow sad, as if visual art’s power to inspire passion among a larger audience is so attenuated that it has to throw itself on whatever trendy thing is out there, to win some reflected glory for itself.

So, the question for me is this: Is there any more interesting way to think about the topic than the loose and impressionistic manner that it is currently framed? Maybe it’s worth noting that, of all the buzzwords of the present-day lexicon, "social media" is perhaps the only one that is more vaguely defined than "art." Let’s begin, then, by clarifying terms to see if we can get to a more interesting place.

-- FROM "SOCIAL MEDIA ART" IN THE EXPANDED FIELD BY BEN DAVIS IN ARTNET MAGAZINE

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Exploding Space: Conceptions of Space and Network in Interactive/Dynamic Architectures

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An interactive architecture offers an explicit engagement for the user, a de-emphasizing of the architect; allowing anyone who enters the space to become at minimum a collaborator and in some cases a co-creator. The moment of the aesthetic of the collaborative, the utilitarian, the designed and empowering solution has arrived. In the histories of kinetic sculpture, video, installation, performance, littoral practices, there exist historical antecedents for interactive art practices. To the architectural, participating in the computational data rich experience and the interactive, presents a new escape, a new collaborative attitude, and an antidote to the static, extemporal, and spectacular that has dominated architectural thinking over the last 50 years.

The medium of architecture itself is changing, becoming a combination of spaces, networks, and agents both mechanical and organic. We already experience architecture as a shifting array of mediums. Architecture bloggers Stephen Becker and Rob Holmes winkingly named the iPhone as one of the most important architectural works of the first decade of the new millennium, arguing: “urban systems are defined most fundamentally not by structure and infrastructure, but by practice, action, and thought-process; what act has more significantly altered the practices and thought-processes of urbanites in the past ten years than the mass distribution of smart phones?” The Rhinoscript-ing of Parametric Architecture is most certainly, if nothing else, a demonstration that compelling notions of space can be generated by algorithmic processes. Architecture historian Beatriz Colomina argues in Architecture between spectacle and use that the fame of Mies van der Rohe is largely based on photographs of his work. The medium of architecture is already diffuse and complex. The interactive architectural environment simply extends that diffusion, integrating a dynamic system, an interconnected series of structures, situations, and objects that participate in the myriad ways that we consider and shape urban and living space.

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Required Reading

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Mader, Stublić, Wiermann, Façade, 2007 (Electronic Projection) 2007

The received notion of the public sphere in fact melds an array of narrative and structural elements into a domain of expressive possibility whose center of attention serves both aesthetic and intersubjective concerns. This commingling entails two dynamic affordances that have been especially open to manipulation through new media art: the presence of architecture as sculptural object, and the use of projective strategies for pluralistic communication. The latter works as a new branch of street performance, not for actors, but for media. The sense of novelty here is more than mechanical; it compacts the distance between human and machine, the latter increasingly assuming roles played by the former, but organizes both in a new coordinate space that is neither entirely physical/real nor virtual/technological.

-- EXCERPT FROM "SPATIAL ENGAGEMENT'S CHRONOTOPE IN ELECTRONIC ART AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE" BY FRANCISCO J. RICARDO

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Street With A View

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In Street With A View, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley take a fresh approach to the age-old practice of street theater. Working in tandem with the Google Street View team and the surrounding community of Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they staged a number of playfully silly scenes, ranging from the laboratory of a mad scientist to a seventeenth century sword fight, which now appear in Google Street View. These acts introduce a vibrancy normally omitted from the utilitarian Google Street View feature, while also opening up the possibility of collaboration between artists and the company.

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Self Portrait With Dog (2008) - Carlo Zanni

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LAUNCH

More work by Carlo Zanni

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Share and Share Alike

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Long before flash mobs, liveblogging, and file-sharing were part of the vernacular, artists were creating social sculptures and elaborate systems for public collaboration. The upcoming SFMOMA exhibition, "The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now" takes a sweeping look at work that addresses co-authorship, exchange, and rapidity--all themes we associate with life in a digital society, but which the show traces back within a post-war art historical context. Organized by the museum's new media curator, Rudolf Frieling, the show includes works ranging from groundbreaking projects by Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, John Cage, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Lynn Hershman, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Andy Warhol, to contemporary work by Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Janet Cardiff, Minerva Cuevas, Antoni Muntadas, the Raqs Media Collective, Warren Sack, and Erwin Wurm. The show also casts a glance at the ways in which the title's theme has evolved with communicative media. Take, for instance, the old-fashioned gesture of audience participation. Tom Marioni's legendary public project The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art offers an intoxicating stance on the act, while MTAA's Automatic for the People: ( ) allows you to vote on the theme, props, and even subtitle of a performance they'll publicly enact at the museum on November 7th. If you can't make it to San Francisco to see the show and participate live, you can, of course, get in on the act with the online works. Because, really, the show's nothing without you. - Marisa Olson

Image: Lygia Clark, Diálogo:

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Traveling Exhibition

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A unique take on the form of a traveling exhibition, For a Brief Time Only... takes the exhibition to you -- yes, you. The instructions are simple -- visit this site, email Mylinh Trieu Nguyen and David Horvitz of ASDF your address, and then they will send 24 image files by 24 artists to a photo developer near you. You can then pick up the prints from this location, and display them wherever, whenever and however you want. One caveat though -- as the title indicates, these images can only be obtained for a limited period, from November 6 to December 4 to be exact, so hop to it!

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AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs' "Invocation of the Queer Spirits"

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Tonight, Creative Time will sponsor a ritual performed by artists AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs in an undisclosed location in New Orleans, beginning at dusk. Bronson and Hobbs' Invocation of the Queer Spirits will draw on New Orleans' unique cultural history as an enclave for marginalized populations as well as the mysterious, spiritual nature of the city. The hope is that this ceremony will conjure this energy and "christen" New Orleans as a site, once again, for creativity and cultural production. In an adjoining interview, Creative Time's President and Artistic Director Anne Pasternak speaks with AA Bronson about spirituality and healing in his practice, which spans almost 40 years.

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Superflex FREE SHOP in Haugesund, Norway

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Over the course of the next few weeks, Danish art collective Superflex (Rasmus Nielsen, Jakob Fenger and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen) will stage FREE SHOP in different stores around Haugesund, Norway as part of the arts festival Dynamo-Haugesund 08. Superflex experiment with alternative systems of distribution and economic production in their work, such as their Creative Commons-licensed beer franchise FREE BEER and their free photocopy shop and intellectual property discussion forum COPYSHOP. As the name implies, shops participating in FREE SHOP allow purchases free of charge. The stores do not advertise their involvement with the project and often customers are surprised when they attempt to purchase their merchandise. The project plays with customer expectation as well as accepted systems of exchange.

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Glimpses of Unease: Olga Chernysheva

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Image: Olga Chernysheva, Moscow Area, 2008 (Silver-gelatin fiber print)

Moscow artist Olga Chernysheva seeks out moments of awkwardness and discomfort that arise when reality falls short of the imagination. Whether working with oils or watercolors, analog photography or digital video, Chernysheva uses a plain, unaffected style, deliberately constructing her compositions to be as inconspicuous as she is when fixing her voyeuristic gaze. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. she will present a screening of video works at the Museum of Modern Art. Rhizome Curatorial Fellow Brian Droitcour met with Chernysheva in her Moscow studio.

There's a park in the north of Moscow called VVTs, or All-Russia Exhibition Center, but Muscovites persist in referring to it by its old name, VDNKh, the Exhibition of the People's Economic Achievements. Neither name is a good fit. The old one sounds clumsy and communist. The new one seems too ambitious, since most commercial fairs prefer newer, centrally located facilities to VDNKh's whimsical and ill-equipped pavilions, which were built in the 1930s to showcase products of the Soviet republics or economic sectors whose names they still bear. Today most of them are improvised stores, with plastic banners stretched over marble and gilded facades to advertise the inexpensive goods for sale inside, such as furniture, seeds, radio parts, and honey. As a metaphor for the collision between a Soviet "bright future" and the present's imperfections, VDNKH seems almost too pat to exist. But this juxtaposition is alive in the experience of the thousands of shoppers and strollers who congregate there every day.

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Image: Olga Chernysheva, Panorama, 2006 (Oil on canvas)

Olga Chernysheva usually looks for material in her neighborhood, and at the VDNKh, just a few kilometers north along a major Moscow thoroughfare, which has provided her with inspiration on many occasions ...

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