Civilization 2.0

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When introducing digital art to an unfamiliar audience, every piece becomes a manifesto of its own - it simultaneously informs, provokes and educates the viewer. When East London gallery SEVENTEEN put up "Intentional Computing", Paul B. Davis’ first ever solo show in 2007, this was precisely the challenge it faced. In Britain’s oddly conservative art scene, the show acted as a demonstration of the infinite possibilities and theorization of digital creativity. A brief retrospective of one of London’s most adventurous galleries brings out the problems such artists face as well as the complexities technology- savvy audiences are learning to incorporate into their viewing experience.

“Much of the work we began to show at SEVENTEEN was at first alien to people in London,” says Paul Pieroni, co-curator of SEVENTEEN, who had been a fan of Davis’ work with the collective, BEIGE, for years: “I liked the fact that it takes technology not on face value, but in terms of its place within a more diffuse contemporary culture.” "Intentional Computing" featured some of Davis’ NES hacks, as well as glitchy, pixelated videos, reminiscent of the artist’s early encounters with technology. It also raised debates about issues of commodity and reclamation. By quoting recurring parts of his technological environment past and present, including the computer games (Nintendo et al) of his youth, Davis was rejuvenating a practice innovated by major pop artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi’s work in the early 50s as well as his later mosaics, or Richard Hamilton’s famous collages.

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Multiple Views

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Artist Dan Graham (born 1942) has embraced a wide range of media and genres including film, video, performance, installation, architecture (he collaborated with Jeff Wall in 1989 to build Children’s Pavilion), women’s magazines (Figurative—made in 1965 and reproduced in Harper’s Bazaar in 1968), and rock music (where he has collaborated with musicians such as Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth). Graham is well known for his documentary Rock My Religion (1982-84), a fifty-two minute video that explores the religious and spiritual tendencies underlying the American obsession with rock music. In the exhibition catalog for Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, Diedrich Diederichsen claims that this video is “one of the most important texts on the theory of rock music.” Rock My Religion, as well as many other of these interdisciplinary projects are included in Graham’s current solo show, Dan Graham: Beyond, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

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Ducktails - Parasailing (2009) - Richard Law

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Looking Back

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Image: Lisa Oppenheim, The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere Else, 2006 (Still, 35mm slide projection)

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Image: Lisa Oppenheim, Yule Log, 2008 (Still, 16mm film)

Lisa Oppenheim is interested in how the present viewer sees media of the past, and to study this she takes materials from archives and transforms them with editing effects that distill her interpretation of how an image’s meaning changes over time. For a show at tank.tv, on view through July 21, Oppenheim has revealed her sources and processes in texts accompanying five of her moving-image works. E-M-P-I-R-E reconstructs Andy Warhol’s eight-hour film of the same title using a single 100-foot roll of 16mm color film. “Unlike Warhol’s endurance test of extended filmic boredom, this version uses the language of structuralist ‘flicker’ films of the late 60’s and 70’s,” Brian O’Connell writes in an essay excerpted on tank.tv. He goes on to inform us that the rhythm of the flickering Empire State Buildings spells out “E-M-P-I-R-E” in Morse code—a system as obsolete as 16mm film. Explanations like these never hurt, but Oppenheim’s work is stronger when the transformation of an image over time is a compelling sight in itself. The two channels in Story, Study, Print (2005) juxtapose children’s posters used in predominantly African-American schools in the 1970s with a disconnected sequence of still and moving images; here, chance and obscurity force viewers to form their own associative links rather than relying on a statement to decode meaning. In Yule Log, 2008, a soothing image of a fireplace at Christmastime deteriorates through several repetitions, each one a 16mm copy of the last, while The Sun Is Always Setting Somewhere Else (2006) is a slide show where each frame shows a hand holding snapshots of a sunset ...

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All Star Video (1984) - Nam June Paik with Ryuichi Sakamoto

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Analog to Digital

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When television stations in the U.S. switched to digital broadcasting last Friday, viewers across the country documented the event and uploaded it to YouTube. There is something curiously surreal about these grainy videos of television screens switching to static, taped in people's homes on cell phones and digital cameras, only to be posted on YouTube moments later. The novelty of their circulation itself - a historic transition from analog to digital television captured on digital video and then transmitted online - speaks to the media environment we inhabit with accidental precision.









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Edge TV with Animal Charm (2008) - Animal Charm

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Video : The New Wave (1973)

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1973 WGBH Boston Public Television Program

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'Charlie Rose' by Samuel Beckett (2008) - Andre Fillippone Jr.

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Telemistica (1999) - Christian Jankowski

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With the work Telemistica, Jankowski plunges into the medial world of the Italian local TV. Speaking live on telephone with several TV-fortunetellers he asks questions about his forthcoming artwork. The TV sequences are recorded and are Jankowski's later artwork. Here the mystic not only lays in the private prophecy but gains significance within the work as it prophecies itself.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S PAGE ON KLOSTERFELDE'S SITE

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