A Return to Content? Polytechnic at Raven Row

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Britain, under the Conservative government in 1974, slowed to a government-mandated three-day week: not an immense gift of extended vacation, but a foreshortening of the working week based on the amount of electricity available. From January to March of that year, businesses, shops and services were only open for three consecutive days, and television companies were forced to end their broadcasts at 10:30pm. The remarkable visibility of this retrenchment is perhaps an apposite introduction to the fiscal circumstances of Britain at that time, as it was counterbalanced by extreme activity in the visual arts, with a burgeoning moving image practice taking place in various underground clubs and cooperatives in London and other regional centers, and mainstream television ("mainstream" being redundant; except for some regional variations, there were only three channels at the time) airing artists’ film and video, primarily on Channel 4, which was established in 1982.

This is the period revisited by Raven Row’s current show "Polytechnic" - the late 1970s and early 80s, when artists began using the new medium of video to reflect upon and deconstruct codes of representation, politics and social mores. It’s a smart and striking choice for an exhibition, as the legacy of this time is ambivalent and is still in the process of being settled: art-historically, it’s been partially eclipsed by what preceded it (the medium-specific investigations associated with the London Film-Makers’ Co-op) and by what followed - that is, the yBas, who pretty much turned around and rejected the commitment to politics, collective production and art as labor (not commodity) that this group stood for. At the same time, many of the artists included in the show - Catherine Elwes, Susan Hiller, Ian Breakwell, Stuart Marshall - went on to teach in various art schools (many of them former polytechnics, hence, perhaps, the title) and showed their work on Channel 4 during the 1980s, meaning they have had a much more dispersed, though less visible, impact on art and the wider sphere of culture. Have had and have: Elwes, for example, has recently founded a journal devoted to the moving image (MIRAJ), so the territory contested in this earlier period continues, to a certain extent, to be contested.

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Statics (2010) - Wim Janssen

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[Source: Artist's site]

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[Source: We Make Money Not Art]

In this work Wim Janssen cuts polarization filter into small rectangles of one cm, in random orientations, like large pixels. These little squares are fixed between two large rectangular pieces of plexiglass. At first sight, the screen looks like a banal, slightly darkened window. But in front of this screen stands a slowly rotating disc, also made of polarization filter. When the screen is seen through this disc, it changes into a half transparent field of video noise.

This phenomenon occurs because lightwaves, besides their frequency and amplitude, also have an orientation. Polarization filter let light pass in only one direction. When you look through a piece of this filter, it's perfectly transparent, just a bit darker than normal plexi or glass. When you look through the filter at an other piece of this material which is rotated 90°, the second piece becomes an opaque black surface, because the light passing through the first filter, can't pass through the second filter. Every other orientation gives a different degree of opacity.

By cutting thousands of little pieces of polarization filter and putting a rotating polarization filter in front of them, Wim Janssen succeeds in imitating television static by using an almost banal technique.

-- EXCERPT FROM ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Originally via We Make Money Not Art

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A Visit to Audio Visual Arts (AVA)

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Over the weekend I popped by Audio Visual Arts (AVA), a sound and media art space located a few blocks away from the New Museum, in the East Village.

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Founded by Justin Luke two years ago, the storefront space hosts a range of exhibitions and events, the majority of which relate to the experience of sound and listening. Artists and musicians alike have organized projects at the gallery, from a listening party for Glasser (Cameron Mesirow) to a sound installation by composer Alan Licht to an exhibition of paintings by the legendary guitarist John Fahey to an immersive stroboscopic light and sound installation by Nicedisc (Jeff Pash and Nick Phillips), to name a few. Justin and his brother have a recording studio in the basement of the building, and when the storefront above opened up, Justin decided to move in and start the gallery. AVA also doubles as his apartment, which is located in the back, and this aspect frees him up to be creative and take with risks with the programming, as the shows are not necessarily tied to profit like a regular gallery.

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Antoine Catala’s solo show "Topologies" just opened at AVA, and it features a single luminous, magnificently mind-bending sculpture titled HDDH. On display until November 4th, the work is comprised of two HD flat screen televisions connected by what the artist terms "a magic tube." The tube is seamlessly affixed to the surface of the screen, dramatically warping the continuous flow of images emanating from the television set. The audio signal from the TVs is projected both inside and outside the gallery, thunderously filling up the space. Catala uses broadcast television as the basic material for his hallucinatory sculptures, which heighten the artificiality and absurdity of television programming. HDDH seems like a natural evolution from ...

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Removed Landscapes (2006-2009) - Marina Gadonneix

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seasight seats (2007) from the series "Removed Landscapes"

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The Niagara Falls (2006) from the series "Removed Landscapes"

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Tribune on an Icefield (2006) from the series "Removed Landscapes"

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GreenScreen (extrActor) (2005) - Benjamin Lee Martin

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GreenScreen (extrActor) (2005) is a greenscreen made of hydroponically grown grass which allows the viewers to insert themselves into virtual video backgrounds, which they can choose via remote control.

Originally via VVORK

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rude dude (2007) - Justin Kemp

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Danny Tanner (2010) - Derek Larson

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Part III of Closed System Media, an ongoing series of videos addressing sculptural space in video and online media with the intention of closing the work in a culturally specific feedback-loop.

Originally via DIS Magazine

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Light Is Waiting (2007) - Michael Robinson

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You're Not My Father (2007) - Paul Slocum

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This video project is composed of a sequence of recreations of a 10 second scene from the television show, Full House, overlaid with a set of sound loops from the scene's original music.

The crews who re-shot the scene were recruited through Internet message boards and Craigslist, and each of the original 10 crews were paid $150, using a commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., for Networked Music Review. The project included participants from Austin, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Denton, London, and San Francisco.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Sala de Máquinas (Engine Room) (2010) - Daphne Polyzos, Jordi Planas, Miguel Neto, Rodrigo Carvalho

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An electronic oscillator is connected to an open circuit, in a way that when the user touches 2 metal bars he/she himself/herself becomes the electrical resistance therefore being able to vary the frequency of sound.

The old modified TVs react to this sound as an oscilloscope having all kinds of different patterns and reactions.

-- FROM THE VIMEO DESCRIPTION

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