Signal Path is a site-specific sound installation for one performer. Sensors monitor eight electroencephalographic signals (brainwaves) while performer focuses his/her attention. Each EEG signal generates one tone. Each tone occupies a specific frequency range. When the artist’s attention level is above a certain threshold, tones will begin to stabilize and collectively produce an approximation to the harmonic series. Paradoxically, the moment that the artist becomes aware of the alignment he/she is distracted. This constant focus-distraction constitute a perpetual signal feedback loop that turns the artist into a cyborg and “short-circuit” the sense of hearing.
Rosa Menkman meditates on the occurrence and aesthetics of the glitch amidst software and hardware obseletion in her essay Glitch Studies Manifesto. This essay was part of the Institute of Network Culture's second collection of texts titled Video Vortex Reader II that critically explores the shifting dynamics and expanding field of online video. See below for an excerpt, full essay here.
Technological Progress is an Ill-Fated Dogma
In the beginning it was calm... Then humans built technologies and the ﬁrst forms of mechanical noise were born. Since that time, artists migrated from the grain, the scratching and burning of celluloid (A Colour Box by Len Lye, 1937) to the magnetic distortion and scanning lines of the cathode ray tube (as explored by Nam June Paik in MagnetTV in 1965). Subsequently digital noise materialized and artists wandered the planes of phosphor burnin, as Cory Arcangel did so wittily in Panasonic TH-42PWD8UK Plasma Screen Burn, in 2007. With the arrival of LCD (liquid crystal display) technologies, dead pixels were rubbed, bugs were trapped between liquid crystals or plastic displays and violent screen crack LCDperformances took place (of which my favorite is %SCR2, by Jodi / webcrash2800 in 2009). Today artists even surf eBay to buy readymade LCDs with T-con board failure or photo cameras with loose CCD (charged coupled device) chips (the latter I too exploited in The Collapse of PAL, 2010).
When conjuring up a reason why white is the dominant shade of Modernity one might think of the soon to be retired space shuttle Atlantis or the seminal architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (also known as Le Corbusier). Depending on your preference of medium you can view it as an additive or subtractive color, but the question remains: why is the color white linked to "hi-tech" gadgets, architecture, and visions of the future?
John Powers, a Brooklyn-based sculptor recently ruminated on this question and discovered it has an intriguing and complicated history and relationship with technology. Powers maps the trends of the color against various historical events, revealing along the way that Jacob Riis' 1890 flash photographs of lower Manhattan's tenements and Platex bra construction played surprisingly important roles. According to Powers' research, Modern white's psychological associations and aesthetic perceptions are driven by a mix of technological advancements in electric lights, the garment industry, and space travel.
Original Edison light bulb; Weissenhofsiedlung (1927) via Star Wars Modern
Seamstress Jane Butchin, Delma Domegy, Inspector Mary Todd, and others at ILC Plant (1967); Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alen Bean (1969) via Star Wars Modern
John Powers' ten-part essay titled White Walls:
- Part 1: Saturn Rockets
- Part 2: Elgin Marbles
- Part 3: Double Negative
- Part 4: Tighty-Whities
- Part 5: Foundational Garments
- Part 6: Hard Wear
- Part 7: Crime Waves
- Part 8: Soft Wear
- Part 9: Abundance
- Part 10: The Gold Standard
Madeline Schawrtzman examines technology's affects on human perception in her new book See Yourself Sensing: Redifining Human Perception, published by Black Dog Publishing. Schwartzman gathered her materials from the last 50 years of contemporary art and design capturing examples of work that exhibit a broad range of materials and techniques:
Hyungkoo Lee, from The Objectuals series, 2007 via we-make-money-not-art.com
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Dis-Armor, 1999-2000 via we-make-money-not-art.com
George Yu, Blow-up, 2004 via we-make-money-not-art.com
Ann Hamilton, Untitled (Body Object series) #5-bushhead, 1984/1993 via we-make-money-not-art.com
Nicolas Sassoon and Sara Ludy have a deep collective interest in pixelated virtual architecture and are both members of the online art collective Computers Club. Sassoon has an extensive collection of architectural animated gifs on his own site and considers them representatives of an ideal, only achievable in virtual space. Ludy, with a background in interior design, creates videos of catalog-like architecture melting together in saw-toothed fades. Their latest collaboration, WALLPAPERS, reframes their interest in physical space. Up for only one day at 319 Scholes and curated by Lindsay Howard and Katie Miller, Sassoon and Ludy’s installation transforms the location into immersive wall-sized animated gifs.
Their attention to detail and layout of the space coalesced to create a mesmerizing field. Spanning two large walls of the front room, Sassoon’s snowfield drifted upwards surrounded by darkness revealing different patterns of movement at varying distances. This added contrast to Ludy’s well cropped hybrid violet animation that rendered a mixing slow motion waterfall of abstracted texture landing somewhere between moss, leaves, and stone. Pausing for a moment, the landscape revealed itself. Ludy’s image projected onto the doorway connecting to the second room synced perfectly with the existing perpendicular lines of the architecture. Snow was falling up as the viewers walked into a temple entrance cast out of a forgotten 8-bit videogame nightscape.
The technical setup was acutely tuned to the relationship between the images, viewers, and projectors. Two laptops cropped out of the floor resembling viewing stations for the scene. This intentional placement informed the tremendous scale shift between screen and wall. Viewers walking through the space playfully interrupted projectors beaming their images from floor level below the laptops. Staring closely at an image on one of the laptops made it possible to see the pixelations. Walking close to the wall, however, revealed a serendipitous match between the pixilated screen of the projectors resolution limits and the pixels of the animated gifs themselves. WALLPAPERS effectively wraps the viewers into architecture.
Hi Tom, and all
First off, the purpose of Required Reading is to point to compelling articles relevant to new media. We're not always endorsing them 100%, but also often sharing them with Rhiz readers for the purpose of discussion. (Its a column Rhizome has been running for 2 years.) I thought Davis' article was worth inclusion because its an attempt at defining the field, and its a proposition: The first five sections draw lines between what Davis describes as social media art and other forms of new media. But in his final section, he closes his analysis with some self-criticism: "It’s not a frame to think within. It’s a box that needs to be escaped."
With that in mind, Salas makes a good point about it including traditional definitions of art, and the absence of participatory art, including contemporary practitioners like Miranda July and Harold Fletcher. In my opinion, I appreciate a non media art critic calling for a deeper and broader research of social media artwork - but I agree, to some extent, that an attempt to form definitions at a point of emergence can prove to be problematic, and boxes art in inappropriate ways.
Thanks for writing.
Again, a great initial resource is the Rhizome list of New Media Programs. We have programs listed and linked in the States and Abroad. I think there is a good school in the south of France. If I find the link I'll post here.
Definitely check the New Media program list with Rhizome first. I'm in the MFA program at RISD right now and can say that it offers a lot of flexibility and resources to students. As a note, we're in the middle of an international search for a new department head which should end at the end of this academic year. Feel free to email me if you have any extra questions. The programs website is here: http://dm.risd.edu
You can also cruise this mega list of national new media programs:
It's not exclusively MFA but it's a good starting point for broader research on schools.
I know SVA just started an Interdisciplinary MFA program that might be worth checking out:
I've had a few friends who have gone to ITP too that had a good experience. The RISD program is geared more toward Fine Art and you can take courses at Brown - ITP is more technically focused. At least that's my understanding.