Humorous and surprising, smart and provocative, Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media (MIT Press, 2010) jumps from opposing viewpoints to opposing personalities, from one arts trajectory to another. The entire book is a dialectic exercise: none of its problems or theories are solved or concluded, but are rather complicated through revelations around their origins, arguments and appropriations. Overall, the book adopts the collaborative style and hyperlinked approach of the media and practice it purports to rethink. In other words, it is not just the content of the book that asks us to rethink curating, but the reading itself; by the end, we are forced to digest and internalize the consistently problematized behaviors of the “media formerly known as new.”
Kate Mondloch’s first book, Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art (University of Minnesota Press), is a welcome study of the cathode ray tubes, liquid crystal and plasma displays, and film, video and data projections that “pervade contemporary life” (xi). The author reminds us that screens are not just “illusionist windows” into other spaces or worlds, but also “physical, material entities [that] beckon, provoke, separate, and seduce” (xii). Most importantly, however, Mondloch’s approach is that of an art historian. She does not merely use art as a case study for media theory, but rather makes the contributions of artists her central focus in this, the first in-depth study of the space between bodies and screens in contemporary art.
In his book, Parables for the Virtual, Brian Massumi calls for "movement, sensation, and qualities of experience" to be put back into our understandings of embodiment. He says that contemporary society comprehends bodies, and by extension the world, almost exclusively through linguistic and visual apprehension. They are defined by their images, their symbols, what they look like and how we write and talk about them. Massumi wants to instead "engage with continuity," to encourage a processual and active approach to embodied experience. In essence, Massumi proposes that our theories "feel" again. "Act/React", curator George Fifield's "dream exhibition" that opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum last week, picks up on these phenomenologist principles. He and his selected artists invite viewer-participants to physically explore their embodied and continuous relationships to each other, the screen, space, biology, art history and perhaps more.
Fifield is quick to point out that all the works on show are unhindered by traditional interface objects such as the mouse and keyboard. Most of them instead employ computer vision technologies, more commonly known as interactive video. Here, the combined use of digital video cameras and custom computer software allows each artwork to "see," and respond to, bodies, colors and/or motion in the space of the museum. The few works not using cameras in this fashion employ similar technologies towards the same end. While this homogeneity means that the works might at first seem too similar in their interactions, their one-to-one responsiveness, and their lack of other new media-specific explorations -- such as networked art or dynamic appropriation and re-mixing systems -- it also accomplishes something most museum-based "state of the digital art" shows don't. It uses just one avenue of interest by contemporary media artists in order to dig much deeper into what their practice means, and why it's important. "Act/React" encourages an extremely varied and nuanced investigation of our embodied experiences in our own surroundings. As the curator himself notes in the Museum's press release, "If in the last century the crisis of representation was resolved by new ways of seeing, then in the twenty-first century the challenge is for artists to suggest new ways of experiencing...This is contemporary art about contemporary existence." This exhibition, in other words, implores us to look at action and reaction, at our embodied relationships, as critical experience. It is a contemporary investigation of phenomenology.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is seeking a Design Researcher to develop and run its new Design Research Institute in Peck School of the Arts. It's an amazing opportunity at a great school, with wonderful colleagues, and in a lovely city.
Here's the official letter from the Chair of Visual Art:
And here's the official position description:
By all means, contact me or the Chair with any questions you might have. Warmly,
Assistant Professor + Area Head, Digital Studio Practice
Department of Visual Art, Peck School of the Arts
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Artist talks, 4 - 5 August, Joburg and Pretoria
Artist walkabout at AOP, 4 August 18h00
Saturday 30 July - Saturday 13 August 2011
For Nathaniel Stern's ongoing series of performative prints, he straps a desktop scanner, laptop and custom-made battery pack to his body, and performs images into existence. He might scan in straight, long lines across tables, tie the scanner around his neck and swing over flowers, do pogo-like gestures over bricks, or just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond. The dynamism between his body, technology and the landscape is transformed into beautiful and quirky renderings, which are then produced as archival art objects.
Giverny of the Midwest is a panoramic installation of nearly 100 such prints, rendering water, lilies, leaves and other organic forms into lush and rippling images. The source materials were scanned during a week-long camping trip next to a lily pond in South Bend, Indiana, and edited together over the course of nearly 2 years. The piece explicitly cites Monet’s large-scale painting and installation, Water Lilies (1914-1926), at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is similarly an immersive triptych of over 250 square feet (totaling 2 x 12 meters), and follows the patterns of light and color in Monet’s panorama. But Giverny of the Midwest's three large panels move between proximity and distance, and are broken down into differently-sized and -shaped prints on watercolor paper, each evenly spaced apart. The tensions between flow and geometry, life and modularity, place it in further dialogue with other trajectories of modern and contemporary art, and simultaneously activate the possibilities of working across digital and traditional forms.
Also part of the exhibition: The Giverny Series, 8 individual prints (edition 10, 2011) and In the fold, an artist book (forthcoming) - both produced using imagery from the aforementioned "art camping trip" in South Bend, Indiana.
At both artist talks, Nathaniel will talk about his trajectory of thinking and making, which centers around curiosity, generosity and dialogue. He’ll present his work as a series of questions that often lead to interdisciplinarity and collaboration, and the combination of new and traditional media. The walkabout will see an open discussion about Giverny of the Midwest more specifically - the prints, the process, and the in-betweens.
Artist talk: Thursday 4 August, 12h30
Digital Convent, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Co-hosted by Wits Digital Arts and the Division of Visual Arts
Artist walkabout: Thursday 4 August, 18h00
44 Stanley Avenue, Braamfontein Werf (Milpark), Johannesburg
Artist talk: Friday 5 August, 9h00
Sunnyside Campus, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria
Hosted by the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology
44 Stanley Avenue, Braamfontein Werf, Johannesburg
T +27 (0)11 726 2234 F +27 (0)86 510 0970
email@example.com | www.artonpaper.co.za
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Friday 10h00-17h00, Saturday 10h00-15h00
514 West 24th Street on the 2nd floor
An evening of performances & screenings by Ryan V. Brennan, the Wikipedia Art Project, Genevieve White, Adam & Ron
Beginning 6:00 PM (come a little early for a Wikipedia Art Remix treat!)
For Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert’s Wikipedia Art Remix, two actors perform a scene appropriated from Edward Albee’s play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. The dialogue between the iconic characters George and Martha incorporates highlights from the “Articles for Deletion” page of Wikipedia Art, an intervention by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern on Wikipedia, so the couple’s argument becomes one about whether or not art can exist on Wikipedia.
See a video art version of this upcoming performance piece.
Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert have collaborated together on conceptually based performance works, interventions, writings, installations, videos, photography, and prints since meeting each other in 1994. Their work is about power and vulnerability; how it relates to relationship dynamics, society, and politics. Fletcher and Reichert use collaboration as a tool to integrate the negotiation for power into works of art. http://www.life-art.org
Scott Kildall is an independent artist, who intervenes with objects and actions into various concepts of space. Nathaniel Stern is an artist, teacher, writer and provocateur, who works with interactive, participatory, networked and traditional forms.