Corinna Kirsch
Works in Minneapolis, Minnesota United States of America

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Performance, Public, and Online Presence: Gretta Louw's Controlling_Connectivity

I'm looking forward to Gretta Louw's webcam series, but I have a huge issue with anything related to Joseph Beuys in this article. Did the author find the information about Beuys' performance from Wikipedia? Beuys was notorious for creating myths to surround his life and work. More than myths about I Like America and America Likes Me (1974), which the author of this article refers to as "I Love America," and how Beuys never talked to anyone in the States during this performance, both egregious in their own right, I just want to say that this article needed a little bit basic art historical fact-checking.


This is Marshall McLuhan

I'm glad Alex Kitnick's preamble was transcribed. When I attended the event, I was awed by his humor and adroitness. I'm still at a loss for McLuhan's contemporary relevance. Yes, he talks about the multi-faceted nature of media and the speed at which it's utilized, something that could be said about the ways we interact with technology now. But McLuhan didn't offer any answers. He was always one to prod, but not to proffer.


Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney

The Photoshop pieces are beautiful and the democracy inherent in their names is very Internet, in a good way. I don't have a problem with those, and your description is apt."

What's so beautiful about black and white diagonal stripes? Or muddied colors? I'm thinking of the large purple one with the yellow stripes. I wasn't getting any sort of sublime awe/Barnett Newman vibe, even if the wall labels wanted me to feel all sorts of feelings about AbEx. I'm not going to argue about beauty and taste. But democracy? Democracy and the supposed ability for anyone to go make his or her own Photoshop gradient print isn't a great idea for liking something. If I told you that I liked an artwork because it's democratic, it would be the same type of awkard statement as if I told you that I'm into shopping at C-Town because it's more democratic than Whole Foods. 

Beat the Champ? Sure, it's big. It's big because the exhibition space needed to be filled - and that's not a good enough reason. Cory Arcangel is not someone I would have pegged on a list of future museum exhibitions, mostly due to the scale of his works.

I didn't like Beat the Champ because the stakes of failure weren't high enough. Throwing a gutter ball during a video game or while bowling is really not a big deal to me. I'm not panged like if I were stuck endlessly rolling some boulder up a hill like Sisyphus. Hacking and glitches are supposed to be about some sort of an intervention, a disruption of some system. I don't see anything or anyone targeted with Beat the Champ. If I had to make a stretch and guess at the target, I guess it'd be the goofy-looking bowler avatars who're made to lose in the game? Targeting the avatar - that's pretty much the same thing as someone thinking it's funny to pull off Barbie's head or melt some action figures; even kids are sick of the avatars/images we're given. Anyway, I guess BtC is kind of funny, but it's only funny because of its absurdity. 

While in the exhibition, I started chatting with an undergrad art student visiting from out of town. He liked the show, but he thought that Arcangel was "just having fun; just playing around." I expect more than "just playing around" or the appearance thereof from artists who've produced good work in the past. Playing around doesn't cut it with a museum show. That's one reason why I think Paddy's validated with her one star review over in TONY.


Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney

“Instead it's the way in which Arcangel's work frustrates the expectation that art, particularly art that engages with technology, somehow demonstrate a kindof expertise that justifies its elevation to the status of art.”

From what I can make out, the main reason why the author likes the Arcangel show is because it shows the failures of art and technology, rather than a happy marriage that’s to be expected.  What continually aggravates me is how people have a short-term memory with art and new media; failure and technology isn’t a new concept whatsoever. There’s no uncharted territory in this exhibition and more than failure, the show’s about randomness to produce an artwork. 

Failure and Art Is a Marriage! Video and Failure!
This isn’t true from an art historical perspective. If people continue to have short-term memories when it comes to new media, then we’re doomed. Look. Video art from the 1970s utilized the new technology of videos and synthesizers and
usually to frustrate the expectations of the medium. It wasn’t always pretty and it was quite often about failure. The expertise level of many of the artists was nil and consisted of a bit of in-studio training about video while some did go to the extreme other hand and make synthesizers – Nam June Paik alongside Shuya Abe.

In video art, Joan Jonas’ well-known video Vertical Roll demonstrates a failure of technology and the body. Dara Birnbaum’s Technology/Transformation Wonder Woman also demonstrates these contrasts. The discussion of the failures of art and technology – and not just its utopian capabilities – isn’t just relegated to art. Bruno LaTour talks about the flawed expectations of design with human usability in almost everything he writes. (Also, please read LaTour; he's funny, mean, and personable. This essay begins: Early this morning I was in a bad mood and I decided to break a law.)

Failure is a lame joke. It’s one of the things that makes this exhibition seem dated. The glossy c-prints aren’t gorgeous up-close. The colors are grossly muddied. There’s no sublime awe that I would have experienced with a similarly scaled Barnett Newmann – regardless of what the wall labels constantly told me to think about the works in terms of AbEx.

Randomness isn’t a solution! 
The works in this exhibition embrace randomness as if randomness were a valid system for producing work. Randomness isn’t a system that would fly in a studio crit, so it shouldn’t in the gallery. I can imagine being in a studio crit while one of the reviewers cocks her head back slightly while muttering, “ It’s like playing Exquisite Corpse…” 

Another 5-minute Romp through the IP makes me sad. Dan Sandin used his IP (Image Processor) to create a 5-minute “romp” which was just 5 minutes of playing around with the processor to demonstrate all its technological
wizardry. Guess what? Almost 40 years later and we can’t think of anything better to do than let Arcangel “randomly” hit buttons and knobs on the IP to create another 5 minute video. Are we really so dumb?


Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney

I thought they looked horrible in the gallery. Some of the rainbow colors were muddied. They look so much better online.