Making Word: Ryan Trecartin as Poet

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All images: Screen captures from KCorea-INC.K

Is Ryan Trecartin a video artist? A “video-installation” artist? Reviewing “Any Ever,” the exhibition now on view at MoMA PS1, Roberta Smith grasped for precedent, naming Paul McCarthy, Matthew Barney and Pipilotti Rist. But, she admitted, the comparisons fell short. To find another artist who engages a plurality of art forms with simultaneous, equal intensity—all while rethinking what art is and how it touches its audience—you’d have to go back to Wagner. Video is an outcome of his process, but watching is not the only or best way to understand it. Trecartin says he starts each work by writing a script. Language—the primal, biological system of symbols—is the model and vehicle for art and commerce and every other manifestation of social activity. And the forms of all the aspects of Trecartin’s work—the camerawork, the editing, the music, the makeup, and the costumes, as well as Lizzie Fitch’s sets for the videos and “sets” for their viewing in “Any Ever”—are prefigured in the way he works with words.

To study Trecartin’s language, I read the script for K-CoreaINC.K (Section A), which is freely available thanks to ubuweb’s “Publishing the Unpublishable” series. Like any script, it starts with dramatis personae: Argentinian Korea, Hungary Korea, French Adaptation Korea, and so on. The litany of locales recalls the lyrics of a club hit (“Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza”: so sings J-Lo in “On the Floor”) or the “Paris, Milan, Moscow, Tokyo” you see on the front of designer boutiques. But only remotely. Countries aren’t named to evoke the exotic, but because geographic names, unlike human names, are tied to place and awkward in reuse. Slapped together, they don’t merge nicely. One plus one is two ones and the ozone emitted by their collision. Combos like these are a favorite device of Trecartin’s. So is the willful disregard for parts of speech. A character’s “first name” can be a noun or an adjective or one of each. Grammatical difference meets geographical difference as both are jettisoned. No setting is indicated—the list of characters is enough to locate the action in an unanchored imaginary.

 

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Mark Leckey at the Serpentine Gallery (19 May – 26 June 2011)

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The difficulty in making work now is that there’s this model of how a distributed kind of collective work could be made (i.e., through the Internet), but it can’t be made in a gallery. The nature, or structure, of the gallery doesn’t allow for that; it needs certain kinds of forms, certain objects. There’s this term I like, “stigmergy”: an ant goes out, lays a path of pheromones; the other ants follow that path, and then that path gets built up until it becomes a pathway. They use this term in open source to describe a programming language that has being continually added to and amended so that the original code has been lost or forgotten, but you’re left with a structure that everyone can use. As an idea of making art, that seems really interesting—something made with the benefits of technology. At the same time, that idea is a long way from the art being made now, and a long way from Benjamin’s idea of art’s aura. The aura is still there; it still surrounds artworks, massively. The trouble is that more you start to distribute art or disperse it, the more mutable art becomes, until finally, it dissipates into just “LOLCats” or something. - Mark Leckey in an interview with Mark Fisher (Kaleidoscope, Summer 2011)

Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London
(19 May – 26 June 2011)

 

 

Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999.) Installation view

 

 

Previously: Brian Droitcour's interview with Leckey for Rhizome (2009)

 

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An Interview with Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt)

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Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhard) are artist explorers of the natural world, they build installations and moving image with animation and sound drawn from their encounters with prestigious scientific institution such as NASA’s Space Science Laboratories and the Smithsonian Archive as well as journeys to alien places like the Galapagos Islands and Ecuadorian volcanoes.

 


Two new works drawn from their other worldly travels, Worlds in the Making and Inferno Observatory are now showing at FACT in Liverpool, UK, Peter Merrington talked to the artists about their work.


 

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404 Page Found

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404 pages have been a staple since the web’s early beginnings. Custom designed 404 pages range from meme remixes to a parody of the classic “blue screen of death”. The history of the 404 page even has it’s own fictional myth linking it to a story of young scientists at CERN unsuccessfully routing data in a room numbered 404. The real meaning of the numbers, however, is simply an indication of a client to server file location communication error.

psyklone.com 404 page

huml.org 404 page

Earlier this month, the artist Steve Lambert created his own 404 error page titled, The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on The Internet. Wrapping up at approximately 6 minutes and 20 seconds, Lambert passes through multiple phases of dead-end questions, small talk, and suggestions that point to the basics of web browsing and encourage you to move on and navigate to more “cool stuff”. Taken as a performance nested into a default error page, Lambert's limited set up reveals what might be a minimalist artist's studio. With cheeky self-aware lines Lambert reminds us that he is "an artist" and that he's not "pretentious". This kind of minimal set up and ironic self-reference combined with instructions to the viewer is reminiscent of Vito Acconci's 1973 video, Theme Song. Although unlike Acconci, Lambert takes a neutral position inviting visitors to hang out or head to another page. Just as a 404 error page, in its most basic form, serves as a home for the absence of content and misguided navigations, Lambert's video is reminiscent of time both before and after a performance where everyone involved is waiting for something else to happen.

 

Still from Steve Lambert's video The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on The ...

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A Two-Minute Visual History of the Spacewalk (Video)

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The Atlantic's Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg created this visual history of the spacewalk using archival footage from NASA and the Internet Archive.

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Fatima Al Qadiri's Global .Wav Channel

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Global .Wav is a "weekly presentation by Fatima Al Qadiri of attention-worthy music videos from around the world." Among recent findings, a Tanzanian heartthrob, a "tween trance act from Iran," a Kazakh boy band, a Moroccan pop singer Snooki doppelganger and a "super-hot" Mongolian rapper ("all the machinations of an obvious gangsta rap video: a cage containing an agitated (jailed?) homeboy, gang signs/tattoos, appropriated hood styling via bandana and XXXX-L tees, etc. On closer inspection, however, the beat and the melody are actually sick.")

Tanzania - Pasha - Ni Soo

Farsi=Tajiki=Dari (Dj negor)

Silhouette Khorshid Khanoom

Gee- Sanaa tavi

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Julian Lynch - "Ground" (2011)- Zahid Jiwa and Miko Revereza

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Zahid Jiwa and Miko Revereza, Julian Lynch - "Ground" (2011)

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Cao Fei "Play Time" at Lombard Freid Projects

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Cao Fei "Play Time" at Lombard Freid Projects:

Play Time Fingerboard Park Installation, 2011

East Wind, 2011 video (still)

Shadow Life, 2011 video (still)

With Shadow Life, a work composed of three distinct narrative sequences Cao Fei invokes the days of childhood. The narrative draws upon the remembrance of a Chinese Spring Festival Gala celebration that ran on China’s official Central Television...In East Wind, the charmingly naive smile of Thomas, the British cartoon train engine, is superimposed on the front of a Chinese-manufactured Dong Feng truck (literally “East Wind” truck), which barrels across urban highways and overpasses with a single mission: to deliver refuse from a construction site in the city to a trash dump on its outskirts. The title of this work has clear historical overtones centring on Mao Zedong’s famous declaration that the east wind prevails over [the] west wind. This statement is associated with Mao’s so-called Third Front strategy, which sought to protect China from invasion by foreign powers by building industrial installations in western China. China’s “East Wind” (Dong Feng) automobile was founded in 1969 as a part of this campaign. But today, as this Western face is married to the Dong Feng truck, the power relationship between the two take on an indeterminate quality, just like the plight and pattern we see in the real world...

With a reconstituted urban model, Cao Fei’s installation work, Play Time perpetuates the open space created in RMB City, which offers a mode and mentality for more people to enjoy and participate in. In this fingerboard skate park sculpture, the buildings that Cao Fei uses as references come from all over the world. They are all charged with authoritarian and mystical connotations and take the form of some sort of belief. In this ...

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Brody Condon - Without Sun (2008)

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Brody Condon Without Sun (Video), 2008 Found performance documentation, 15 min

Named after the classic Chris Marker video Sans Soleil, Condon’s Without Sun is a edited compilation of “found performances” of individuals on a psychedelic substance. Images and sounds from the various clips collected from the internet overlap and combine into one seamless experience, creating a 15 minute pseudo-narrative focused on the exterior surface of their "projection of self" into visionary worlds. Condon’s global players in Without Sun have recorded themselves looking at the camera this time. Taking up where Marker left off, these (inner) travelogues question memory, perception, and the effects of current participatory media and technology on culture.

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Third Annual Migrating Forms Festival

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Migrating Forms returns this week with its third annual festival, running Friday, May 20th through Sunday, May 29th at Anthology Film Archives in New York. Nellie Killian and Kevin McGarry have selected new work by more than 48 artists representing a broad spectrum of contemporary film and video practices, retrospective screenings, and special guest curated programs. Here are a few highlights to look forward to:


Friday, May 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM
Popular Unrest (60 min., Canada/UK/USA 2010) dir. Melanie Gilligan

Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Group Program 1
The Yellow Bank (30 min., USA/China, 2010) dir. J.P. Sniadecki
Tokyo-Ebisu (5 min., Japan, 2010) dir. Tomonari Nishikawa
Track One (2 min., Taiwan/USA, 2011) dir. eteam
In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails (14 min., USA/Brazil, 2010) dir. Fern Silva

Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8:30 PM
Holidays in the Sun: Cynthia Maughan (70 min.) dir. Cynthia Maughan

Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 9:15 PM
Group Program 4
The Writer in Residence (3 min., UK, 2010) dir. Stephen Sutcliffe
Art Tape: Live With / Think About (3 min., USA, 2011) dir. Michael Bell-Smith
I, Popeye (6 min., USA, 2010) dir. Takeshi Murata
Your Life/Your Language (7 min., USA, 2010) dir. Jacob Ciocci
The Galactic Pot Healer (9 min., USA, 2010) dir. Shana Moulton
The Artist (10 min., UK, 2010) dir. Laure Prouvost
Versions (9 min., Germany, 2011) dir. Oliver Laric

Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 9:15 PM
The Art of the Supercut (40 min., video)
Re-edit master and pop culture parser Rich Juzwiak (fourfour.typepad.com, VH1) presents a program of his influences and favorites. Followed by a screening of Curt Hanks epic Star Wars: Chewbacca Supercut

Friday, May 27, 2011 at 9:30 PM
Tube Time
Tube ...

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