Last Friday, I popped by Spencer Brownstone Gallery for B.Y.O.B. or Bring Your Own Beamer, a one-night-only exhibition organized by artist Rafaël Rozendaal. Artists were invited to bring their own projector (or "beamer" in European parlance) and project whatever they wish - videos, animated gifs, live streams, etc. Despite some problems with electricity and short-circuiting at the space - apparently 30+ projectors and laptops all running simultaneously tested the gallery's supply - the show was a hit and very fun. My favorite work was the live lobsters in a fish tank in the back room by Hayley Silverman and Charles Broskoski. A clip lamp "projected" the tank onto the wall behind it, so it was a creative interpretation of the show's theme. I think they even named them too - Tootsie? Wootsie? I can't remember. Anyway, here are some shots from last Friday. If you live in Los Angeles, lucky you, they'll be organizing another BYOB this coming week on November 19th at USC Gayle and Ed Roski MFA Gallery, info here.
Evelien Lohbeck’s multimedia artwork noteboek (2008), has been selected as a Top Video in the Biennial of Creative Video, the showcase organized by the Guggenheim Museum and YouTube. 1 Noteboek exemplifies what I call ‘reversed remediation’. 2 This aesthetic strategy subverts Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s notion of ‘remediation,’ which serves a historical desire for immediacy.3 Countering Marshall McLuhan’s fear of the narcotic state that the user of a medium can enter when becoming a closed system with the medium; reversed remediation offers a chance to wake up the viewer. 4 It creates a state of critical awareness about how media shape one’s perception of the world. (Art)works that employ reversed remediation destabilize remediation mechanisms, by making media visible instead of transparent. It makes critical awareness possible because it lays bare the workings of media instead of obfuscating them. The following discussion distinguishes between the theories of remediation and reversed remediation and applies this theoretical foundation to Lohbeck’s noteboek.
In order to explore the contradictions and the potential of time- based art, especially in its cinematic guise, I trace a number of overlapping and conflicting genealogies of film and video art. I believe that only by creating a constellation of such genealogies can the logic and structural antinomies of film and video art—and of time-based art in general—be brought into relief and related to the wider changes in the political economy of time during the past decades, during which the West has seen a gradual demise of Fordist assembly-line production and a disintegration of the strict separation between work and “free time.” The classic alternation of work and leisure can be called, with Guy Debord, a form of pseudocyclical time, an apparent return to agricultural, “mythical” cycles in a temporal regime built on irreversible, historical time—or rather, on a reified form of such historical time, that of commodity production.
“Once there was history, but not any more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which is inextricably tied to economic history, must repress every other irreversible use of time because it is directly threatened by them all. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of thingswho are themselves therefore possessed by things, is forced to link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, that is, with the preservation of a new immobility within history.7
This immobility is manifested in pseudocyclical time, a commodified temporality that is homogenous and suppresses “any qualitative dimension” or, at most, mimics such dimensions in moments of sham liberation.8 For Debord, time-based art from the 1960s could consist only of such pseudoindividual, pseudoliberatory moments ...
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.
YouTube Play, the biennial of creative video organized by the Guggenheim, YouTube, and HP, has been up for awhile, but tonight from 8-9:30pm the Guggenheim Museum in New York will host an event celebrating the project. The top videos, selected by an eclectic jury ranging from the likes of Laurie Anderson to Ryan McGinley, will be projected on the facade and in the interior rotunda, and there will live performances by OK Go, Kutman, LXD, Megan Washington and Mike Relm. If you can't make it in person, there will be a live stream as well.
Note: Next month on November 10th, we will run an essay by Saskia Korsten on one of the YouTube Play selections, Evelien Lohbeck's noteboek (2008), which will discuss the work as it relates to Korsten's concept of "reversed remediation."
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.
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.
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 ...!--more-->
Painting the entire gallery a uniform bright green, Guidetti employs an unfixed/in-flux context created by the production environment of chroma-key (green-screen) video compositing technology. Rather than providing a blank neutral space it serves only as a temporary stand-in, demanding to be replaced. The viewer is confronted with this provisional setting in a state of waiting, without a final composite image. Markers for motion tracking and spatial reference placed around the space further enforce the absence of context.
Within the environment an array of equipment actively measures the physical, visual, and acoustic properties of the space. Reminiscent of tools used for ghost hunting, the instruments attempt to describe something non- visible/physical and provide some concreteness to something abstract. A video monitor among the equipment displaying computer generated 3D renderings of the exhibition shown in various perspectives and states, further complicates the ability to reach a complete, relative conception of the space.
Next week, on October 14th at 6pm, Laurel Ptak of photography blog iheartphotograph will host FREE KEVIN at Art in General. The screening will present films depicting hackers and computer culture from the past 30 years, all sourced from Pirate Bay member pirateturk. For the AIG event, Ptak will show WarGames (1983) and Hackers (1995) from pirateturk's 15.4 GB collection, and the screening will also be an informal ripping party, so attendees are encouraged to bring their USB sticks and laptops to lift material for later viewing. Named for Kevin Mitnick, a hacker arrested in 1995 by the U.S. Government for computer fraud, FREE KEVIN examines the representation of hackers in popular culture and its relation to concerns about security, intellectual property, and technology. A roving, evolving project at its core, FREE KEVIN is realized as a website as well, with a smattering of clips from the films in the collection, and the organizers invite other, parallel FREE KEVIN screenings around the globe. (To arrange a screening in your town, email screening [at] freekevin [dot] info.)