In this short clip, from a segment on artist Krzysztof Wodiczko from the Art21 episode Power, designer Adam Whiton of MIT's Interrogative Design Group talks about developing technologies for Wodiczko's complex interactive installations.
The video 'Pruitt-Igoe Falls' takes its title from Pruitt-Igoe, a large urban housing project built in the 1950s in Saint Louis, United States; quickly facing decay, its demolition by implosion started in 1972, 18 years only after construction, and was the first of this kind on such a scale. Designed by American architect Minoru YAMASKI, also responsible for the World Trade Center twin towers, Pruitt-Igoe has become an emblematic icon often evoked by all sides in public housing policy debate, and its destruction was claimed by Postmodern architectural theorician Charles JENCKS to mark 'the day Modern architecture died'.
Under these auspices, Cyprien GAILLARD's video consists of two static and silent shots, linked through a subtle crossfade plan. The first part captures the demolition, at night, of a building in Sighthill housing estate in Glasgow. A city favoured by the artist, the capital of Scotland has the highest number of high-rise housing projects in the United Kingdom, some built in the middle of ancient cemeteries and many now bound to be demolished as part of a large urban rehabilitation plan. The video starts with the striking and fraught with meaning vision of a concrete monolith rising from tombstones, under a powerful lighting that makes the whole scene look like a cinema set. When the grey block implodes and collapses, a thick cloud of dust rises slowly to the foreground and eventually covers the audience and the lights, plunging the image in the dark, out of which only emerge shadows of tombs and vegetation.
A faint light appears in the center of this nocturnal romantic vision, before intensifying and outshining what remained of the first scene: the second shot is a sight of Niagara Falls when they 'light up' at night, illuminated by spotlights that transform them into a dreamy show ...
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006) is an artist fabled for what he has achieved, as the instigator of video art, the pioneer of media art and through his influence on the indebted MTV generation. It's as if his career is almost made for the retrospective exhibition. His work is bound to his legacy, and his influence is hard to encompass. The importance of this legacy asks two parallel questions, how to preserve, present and document but also how to react, trace and respond. Both are targeted through a new joint exhibition of Paik's work at Tate Liverpool and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), the first major retrospective of his work since his death in 2006 and the first exhibition of his work in the UK since 1988.
Tate presents a comprehensive chronicle of Paik's movements through the avant-garde, in performance, composition, television and sculpture. There are TV sets, robots and Buddhas, mixed with historical documentation, vitrines filled with exhibition programs, posters and photographs and timelines drawn on walls, which denote his many collaborators and read like a roll call of the most influential artists of the 20th century - John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Joseph Beuys and Merce Cunningham.
In contrast to the Tate, where you can look and listen with historical meticulousness, at FACT you are given a remote control. Here you are encouraged to relax, in an archive lounge, and browse a collection of his video works at leisure. Or lie back underneath Laser Cone (1998) and be dazzled.
Whispering Pines 10 is a one-act opera by artist Shana Moulton in collaboration with composer Nick Hallett, and featuring vocalist Daisy Press. It features a live performance by Moulton as her alter ego Cynthia, a hypochondriac agoraphobe prone to colorful hallucinations and absurd fantasies. While Cynthia seeks health and total happiness within her virtual environment—an interactive video set that utilizes real-time multimedia techniques its creators call “live animation”—she usually settles for fad cures and new-age kitsch, creating situations in turn comic, contemplative, and surreal. This new production of the opera is directed by Elyse Singer.
Whispering Pines is the celebrated video serial created by Moulton in 2002 that has previously spawned nine episodes, along with related performances, videos, and gallery installations. Whispering Pines 10—the latest installment—is an innovative performance hybrid that incorporates elements of traditional opera into contemporary video and performance art. Its premise—a woman alone in her private environment, aided by technology—enables a flexible sensibility wherein popular and experimental forms can mingle. The original music and libretto composed by Hallett takes advantage of the narrative’s dream logic to weave what is essentially a pop music vocabulary into an experimental idiom, enabling a virtuosic exploration of the human voice. As the protagonist does not effectively speak, the sounds of her inner psychology are sung—glossolalia and the songs in her memory, ostensibly derived from tacky pulp culture, but somehow heightened. The work is a conversation-generating update of the monodrama or “mad scene,” realized within a mediated, medicated, feminized, and quintessentially American vernacular.
Music by Tom DeWitt and Vibeke Sorensen.