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 city I've come to immensely appreciate.
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
Announcing the launch of Upgrade! Milwaukee, featuring Chicago-based artist Patrick Lichty and Milwaukee's own Christopher burns!
Please join us, and/or forward as you see fit.
Sunday April 19, 7 - 9 PM
MOCT, 240 E Pittsburgh Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Upgrade! Milwaukee is a regular gathering of digital creatives - artists, musicians, performers, writers, curators and the public - that fosters dialogue and creates opportunities for collaboration within the local new media community. It features 1-3 guest speakers at each event, held at a rotating venue: informal, free, and open to all. We welcome suggestions for speakers, panels or gatherings. Upgrade! Milwaukee will continue to grow as a local node within the global Upgrade! International (UI) network.
Patrick Lichty (b.1962) is a technologically-based conceptual artist, writer, independent curator, animator for the activist group, The Yes Men, and Executive Editor of Intelligent Agent Magazine. He began showing technological media art in 1989, and deals with works and writing that explore the social relations between us and media. Venues in which Lichty has been involved with solo and collaborative works include the Whitney & Turin Biennials, Maribor & Yokohama Triennials, Performa Performance Biennial, Ars Electronica, and the International Symposium on the Electronic Arts (ISEA). He is a CalArts/Herb Alpert Fellow, a Smithsonian New Century/New Media Award recipient, and a multiple nominee for the Rockefeller New Media Fellowship.
He also works extensively with virtual worlds, including Second Life, and his work, both solo and with his performance art group, Second Front, has been featured in Flash Art, Eikon Milan, and ArtNews. His latest work, a collaborative work with Gazira Babeli, entitled 7UP, will have a solo exhibition at SKUC gallery in Slovenia this Fall.
Christopher Burns is a laptop improviser and a composer of instrumental chamber music. His works explore simultaneity and multiplicity: textures and materials are layered one on top of another, creating a dense and energetic polyphony. Both electronic and acoustic music are influenced by Christopher’s work as a computer music researcher. The gritty, rough-hewn sonic materials of his laptop instruments are produced through custom software designs, and the idiosyncratic pitch and rhythmic structures of his chamber music are typically created and transformed through algorithmic procedures. His most recent projects emphasize multimedia and motion capture, integrating performance, sound, and animation into a unified experience.
A committed educator, Christopher teaches music composition and technology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previously, he served as the Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, after completing a doctorate in composition there in 2003. He has studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Berger, Michael Tenzer, and Jan Radzynski.
Upgrade! is an international, emerging network of autonomous nodes united by art, technology, and a commitment to bridging cultural divides. Its decentralized, non-hierarchical structure ensures that Upgrade! (i) operates according to local interests and their available resources; and (ii) reflects current creative engagement with cutting edge technologies. While individual nodes present new media projects, engage in informal critique, and foster dialogue and collaboration between individual artists, Upgrade! International functions as an online, global network that gathers in different cities to meet one another, showcase local art, and work on the agenda for the following year. There are currently over 30 nodes in UI, across North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Second Life.
one night only at the Kunzelmann-Esser Gallery
Friday, December 12th 6-10pm
710 West Historic Mitchell Street, Second Floor
material is one night exhibition of audio and video installation including interactive, experimental, formalistic, and political work.
Artists Include Jesse Egan, Sean Kafer, Kim Ziegler, Kris Martinez, Nicholas Teeple, Matthew Dunlop and Garrett Gharibeh
organized by Nathaniel Stern and Ashley Morgan
with support from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
Peck School of the Arts, Visual Arts Department and