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.
Event: DATA 2.0 No. 31
Speakers: Karl Klomp, Wolf Lieser, Jane Tynan, Aileen Corkery
Date: Thursday June 26, 2008, 8-10pm
Venue: Filmbase, Curved Street Building, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
The Dublin Arts and Technology Association is proud to present DATA 2.0 No. 31 in collaboration with the Darklight Festival. It will be, as usual, an informal gathering of interested parties, open to the public, where a group of invited speakers will present their art/technology practice and work-in progress.
The DATA @ Darklight Special Event sees presentations by three international curators and cultural commentators followed by a talk and vj performance by Dutch media artist Karl Klomp.
Karl Klomp (Netherlands) is a media-artist, vj and theater technician with a research focus on live audiovisual expressions and interfacing. He has a fascination for glitch-art, visual glitch, video interruption or hyperkinetic audio visuals, dealing with video circuit bending, frame grabbing, hardware interfacing and max programming. He is also doing commissioned video hardware tools together with Tom Verbruggen (Toktek); they play live av performance mnk_toktek across the country. As part of Darklight, Klomp will give one of his audio/video circuit bending workshops, which often in collaboration with Gijs Gieskes via AllesLos.. In 2005 Klomp collaborated with dePonk collective, international holding company of artists.
Wolf Lieser (Germany) is the director of the Gallery [DAM] in Berlin. Since 2003 the gallery has exhibited both early pioneers in digital art and contemporary practitioners. He is also the founder of the Digital Art Museum which aims to become “the worlds leading resource for the history and practice of digital fine art”. The online archive features artists working in the field from as far back as 1956.
Jane Tynan (UK) is a cultural studies lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London. She has taught and published on contemporary art and design, cultural history and art and design education. She has contributed to exhibition catalogues, Film West, Circa, The Irish Times and Time Out (London).
Aileen Corkery (UK / Ireland) is a curator, commissioner/producer and arts consultant currently based in London. She has worked extensively with artists including Matthew Barney, Richard Billingham, Paul McCarthy, Jason Rhoades, TJ Wilcox, Roni Horn, McDermott & McGough, Phil Collins and Gerard Byrne. She has worked in both the private and public art worlds for Hauser & Wirth Zurich London and Artangel.
Fragments: GREAT ART for 40 Euro
Fragments provides a fabulous opportunity to own and collect great, new, contemporary art. All works in the series have been created by established artists specifically for this project by the Haydn Shaughnessy Gallery.
Each Fragments artist revisits his or her existing work, and takes a fragment or detail or still from a print, photo, painting or video that they feel is indicative of their art or practice. The result is a series of ongoing images - Fragments - that capture the essence of their work; every piece has been especially crafted to give a wide public access to astonishing and collectible art at an affordable price.
Each archival Fragments print is available for €40 (about $62) plus shipping and handling from http://fragments.galleryica.com. These signed and numbered works are usually 8 x 10 inches and in editions of 100.
Fragments is part of the This Is Not A Brand art label by the Haydn Shaughnessy Gallery for Innovative Contemporary Artists.
Participating artists for the launch: LoVid, Chris Ashley, E J Carr, Jon Coffelt, Susan Kaprov, Nathaniel Stern. A new print by one of these or other/new artists is added to the site every week! Give the gift of art to yourself, friends or family :)
Image: window, 8×10 inches, lambda print on metallic paper, edition 100
Don't know what you've been reading, but here's some of the fun stuff I liked (whether new or in a revisit) this year...
Jean-Luc Nancy excites me greatly. Brian Massumi for more on virtuality (lovely!), and maybe Katherine Hayles' now classic ironic text on the posthuman, just for fun and history regarding technology and embodiment theory. I've also recently finished Relational Aesthetics - a much easier read, which I had been putting off for some time - and found some interesting parallels with regards to interactive work in the more literal sense (rather than the socially participative sense he means), despite Bourriaud's disdain for such art. Claire Bishop and Nicolas de Oliveira have easier summaries on the general trajectories of installation if that interests (should be in your library), and the former also has a recently edited theoretical book called "participation," which collates many inspired arts texts over the last century or so... And you and I can discuss any and all together when I get to Milwaukee in the Fall!