The ambient noise of common machines and the unexpected sounds that come from familiar objects have been a part of music for some time, but over the last fifteen years French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot has been joining the two, using instruments and objects to construct complex, apparently self-sufficient systems that play music without any beginnings, endings, or performers. Videodrones (2001) isolates and amplifies the hum that all video signals make when hooked into audio systems. From Here to Ear (1999) now showing at the Barbican in London, is an aviary that resonates when its finches alight on electric guitars. In Harmonichaos, which was on view at Paula Cooper Gallery until this weekend, Boursier-Mougenot affixes the grooves of harmonicas to the mouths of vacuum cleaners, and the staggered grid of thirteen pairs produces an undulating, reedy drone.
The set-up of Harmonichaos could only be the product of a playful mind, even though its appearance deflects suggestions of human involvement. Both the vacuums and harmonicas have an assembly-line sameness, and while they perform according to design, their functions have been diverted away from the needs for clean homes and entertaining song that they were intended to meet. As a viewer and listener, you're made to feel like a confused outsider: a system of switches modulates the intensity of the air flow, as well as the sound emanating from the vacuum cleaners, but it's nearly impossible to identify the source of these fluctuations. False clues are sent by a randomized blinking of bulbs on the vacuums' bodies. As usual, Boursier-Mougenot brings a sense of humor to his work, from the irony of the hokey harmonica becoming eerie when forced to drone (like the accordion in the music of Pauline Oliveros) to the punning title. He finds both harmony and chaos in ...
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey upset the purpose of portraiture--rather than preserving the memory of its subject in his best light, the painting of the title grew gradually uglier to record Grey's sins, even as he kept the beauty that facilitated his sinning--but left intact art's status as an attribute of rich, leisured living. The arch moral tale is invoked twice in "Virtuoso Illusion: Cross-Dressing and the New Media Avant-Garde," an exhibition currently on view at MIT's List Visual Arts Center. Michelle Handelman's hour-long, four-channel video Dorian, 2009, loosely retells Wilde's novel with club kids standing in for opium eaters. In her ghoulishly lit self-portrait Dorian Grey, Manon appears messily caked in makeup, wearing a baggy gray suit, like the corporate conscience of a hedonist spirit. Both of these works introduce to drag a story about beauty, representation, and pleasure, and the anxieties that attend them. This suggests there's more to "Virtuoso Illusion" than an exercise in gender studies; as exhibition curator Michael Rush writes, "[i]n each major historical advancement of experimental art, cross dressing has been present as a strategy that has expanded the possibilities of the perception-bending intentions of artists (as opposed to merely gender-bending)."
Google's mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" centers around faith in the power of the keyword to unlock its bottomless treasure chest and put the right answer in one window. Years have passed since the company's ranking algorithm outpaced the approach of human navigators filing information into channels -- an approach that Yahoo has been trying to keep alive by farming the digital labor to users themselves. But even as search algorithms make dinosaurs of the Dewey decimal and other brain-powered systems, it might be worth considering the benefits of staying open to a plurality of variously scaled methods.
These issues converge in Danny Snelson's work as a writer, editor, and archivist. His titles increasingly overlap in the internet's library without walls--an environment that often embodies the Foucauldian idea that "one never archives without editorial frames and 'writerly' narratives (or designs)," as Snelson put it in an email. As an archivist, he has made substantial efforts to preserve endangered cultural artifacts -- making them universally accessible and useful, you might say -- on behalf of PennSound, an audio archive specializing in recorded poetry, and UbuWeb, where, at the suggestion of founder Kenneth Goldsmith, he scanned out-of-print titles and reformatted them as PDFs for free distribution via the site's /ubu channel. The PennSounds and UbuWebs of the internet undertake preservation projects that small presses and recording labels can't touch due to financial reasons, thus ensuring that experimental work will continue to reach audiences in years to come. Distribution networks like these matter in an environment where the internet (for those without access to academic libraries, at least) is often the first and last stop for research -- a realization that impelled Goldsmith to formulate a radical ontology in the title of his 2005 essay, "If it doesn't exist on the internet, it doesn't exist."
Brian Droitcour is a writer, curator, and Russian-to-English translator. From 2002 to 2007 he lived in Moscow, where he covered art for The Moscow Times and Artchronika, a Russian monthly magazine. In 2008 he moved to New York, where he started working for Rhizome, first as curatorial fellow, then as staff writer. As a translator he's worked on several exhibition catalogues and art anthologies.
Jon Rafman's Google Street Views and the accompanying essay he wrote for Art Fag City's IMG MGMT series are sure to get several well-deserved mentions in end-of-the-year lists. Tom Moody on Google Street Views: "Jon Rafman's gathering of images from Google Street Views isn't really collecting at all but solid, groundbreaking journalism. Obviously untold hours were spent perusing this recent-but-everyday tool for images in very specific, focused categories. Photos that look like art photos, photos of mishaps, photos showing the success and failure of Google's face-blurring software, photos that show class issues in a supposedly 'universal' product (the down and out are more likely to be photographed unsympathetically than the up and in). As much as one hates to see more attention paid to the monopoly that aspires to put the happy face on Big Brother, this is worthwhile, thoughtful research." Kool-Aid Man in Second Life is a distorted twin to Google Street Views, another set of screen captures singling out accidental beauty and quirks of surveillance, only this time in a fantasy world that lets Rafman personify his searching gaze in a pitcher of fruit drink.
кремль.рф (kremlin.rf) won't go live until early next year, but the Russian presidential administration's new Cyrillic URL already made waves last month, when Russia became the first country to register top-level ...
The stage at St. Petersburg's Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Center was set for a blast of live electronic music, with seating for ten performers, each station equipped with samplers, laptops, and electric guitars. As the audience arrived the musicians tinkered with the controls; one stood near a huge glass jug, adjusting wires submerged in its murky liquid. But when the appointed time for the concert's start arrived, the performers retreated to the wings, and recorded music came up and continued for the next twenty minutes. It seemed almost like a wry comment on the detachment of the physical presence of the performer from the source of sound in electronic music. But in fact it was an unannounced presentation of past issues of Tellus, the 1980s journal of experimental sound produced by Harvestworks, selected by director Carol Parkinson. As it faded, the musicians took their places, at last, to perform Third Eye Orchestra, a piece written and conducted by Hans Tammen. It was a controlled improvisation, where Tammen lifted numbered cards indicating which of the score's instructions should be read at that moment. The musicians, all local recruits, visibly relished both the spontaneity and the monstrously loud sound that only an ensemble of many amplified electronic instruments can produce.
The Harvestworks evening was part of the program of the third edition of Cyberfest, an annual festival conceived and organized by Anna Frants, a New York-based artist and gallerist, Marina Koldobskaya, director of the St. Petersburg branch of Russia's National Center for Contemporary Art.
United States of America
The Abrons Arts Center of Henry Street Settlement is proud to present DECENTER: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show, curated by Andrianna Campbell and Daniel S. Palmer. Opening February 17, 2013 and on view through April 7, the exhibition celebrates the legacy of the Cubist paintings and sculptures in the historic 1913 Armory Show by featuring a group of 27 emerging and internationally recognized contemporary artists, who explore the changes in perception precipitated by our digital age and who closely parallel the Cubist vernacular of fragmentation, nonlinearity, simultaneity, and decenteredness. The show highlights the sponsorship of the 50th anniversary exhibition by the Henry Street Settlement in 1963, the occasion which announced the building of what is today known as the Abrons Arts Center located at 466 Grand Street, New York, NY, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The exhibition commences on the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, Sunday, February 17, with a 1913 Armory Show Centennial Event, which will feature panel discussions about the 1913 exhibition, as well as the theme of perception and art in the digital age, followed by an opening reception. The show exhibits a group of artworks in the gallery, and also features digital works displayed at www.decenterarmory.com. The site launches February 17.
At the 1913 Armory Show, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors showcased the “New Spirit” of modern art. A backlash of scathing criticism showed how baffled the general American public was by the seeds of abstraction in the Cubist artworks, which quickly became a shorthand expression for the structural changes precipitated by modernity. They not only redefined artistic practice, but also altered our understanding of the process through which we perceive the world. On its 100th anniversary, we will celebrate the Armory Show by posing the question: What is the legacy of Cubism in the hundred years since the Armory Show’s radical display of modern art, and especially, how has this become relevant today?
Accordingly, this exhibition celebrates the centenary of the groundbreaking Armory Show by assembling artworks that analyze the digital revolution and the ways it has affected our perception of the world. Artists as varied as Sara VanDerBeek, Gabriel Orozco, Liz Magic Laser, and Abrons AIRspace residency program alumna Amy Feldman evoke the formal innovations of the historic avant-garde but differ through an embrace or flirtation with digital mediation. Artists today like Andrew Kuo, Tony Cokes, and Cory Arcangel are inspired by the inter-cultural circulation of images, ideas, and data in a worldwide network. While Pablo Picasso and fellow Cubists combined archaic Western forms and appropriated exotica to shatter inherited modes of representation, today ubiquitous computing and the digital image explosion create an intersection of the physical and the virtual, and in doing so, have decentered the locus of artistic praxis.
Although the far-reaching historical significance of the Armory Show was examined through a partial re-creation on its fiftieth anniversary in 1963 (sponsored by the Henry Street Settlement), even then, scholars acknowledged that the exhibition’s social import could not be replicated simply by re-staging the show. In order to honor that “New Spirit,” and the collaborative process through which the 27 members of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors organized this radical exhibit, the 2013 show will inhabit all available exhibition spaces at Abrons and also feature a corresponding online component of digital works. This web-based portion of the show, accessible at www.decenterarmory.com, will grow as artists invite others to contribute in a process that highlights the diversity and expansiveness of the 1913 show’s legacy as it relates to our world today.
This event celebrates the 1913 Armory Show, exactly 100 years after its doors opened to the public. What is the legacy of the exhibition, and how has it been understood and misinterpreted? Is there a “new aesthetic” brought about by perceptual shifts in the digital era? How do these changes align with the formal innovations of the historic avant garde? These two discussion panels, organized in conjunction with Abrons Art Center’s “Decenter: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show,” will address the legacy of the 1913 Armory Show, and the ways that perception and artistic practice in the last hundred years has been radically transformed by our digital era.
Panel Discussion: The Legacy of the 1913 Armory Show:
Charles Haven Duncan (Collection Specialist, Archives of American Art)
Franklin Evans (Artist, New York)
Andrea Geyer (Artist, New York)
Marilyn Satin Kushner (Curator and Head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society; Co-curator of The Armory Show at 100)
Mary Murray (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute)
Panel Discussion: Perception and Art in the Digital Age:
Introduced by: Israel Rosenfield (City University of New York)
Ethan Greenbaum, Barbara Kasten, Andrew Kuo, Travess Smalley, Sara VanDerBeek
Moderated by: Brian Droitcour
1) Several people have asked me about submitting videos of readings, or video works where words appear as images. The Wordworks series is mainly about writing, rather than performance, video, or other mediums. Any submission should have a core of text that people don't have to press "play" to read. I welcome the inclusion of diverse media objects in submissions as complements to text, but not as replacements of it.
2) Submissions should be able to fit in a Rhizome blog post, without requiring readers to go to another site to read it. I'm aware of the strong traditions of electronic literature, hypertext, interactive fiction, etc., where writers make use of the entire browser window, from the background color to the forward and back buttons. I read and enjoy works like that, but for Wordworks I'm looking for writing that does not exceed the format of the post. This is just an arbitrary decision that I have made in order to maintain continuity throughout the series.
Thanks for reading and responding!