Brian Droitcour
Since 2008
Works in BROOKLYN, New York United States of America

BIO
Rhizome curatorial fellow September 2008 - April 2009, staff writer April 2009 - December 2011, poetry editor January 2012 - 20??

The Prometheus Institute and the Work of Bulat Galeyev


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Image: Light Composition Using Prometei-3

It's hard to sum up the interests and achievements of Bulat Galeyev, who died in Kazan, Russia, on January 5 at the age of 68. He was a teacher of physics and aesthetics. As a scholar, he published scientific research on synesthesia, and as an artist he staged his own theatrical performances that synthesized visuals and music. He studied and championed the work of Lev Termen, even when the theremin's inventor was nearly forgotten in his native country. Inspired by the ideas of early-twentieth century composer Alexander Scriabin, whose orchestral works are usually performed without the colored-light shows that he choreographed for them, Galeyev devoted his life to a multi-faceted study of art and sensory perception. The radical, interdisciplinary nature of his career is even more impressive when you consider that it evolved in the conservative, often stifling intellectual atmosphere of the Soviet Union.

Galeyev's base of operations was the Prometheus Institute in Kazan, a city about 450 miles east of Moscow. To gain official support and funding, Prometheus attached itself to an aviation engineering research institute, and its unique position in relationship to industry was not dissimilar from the experimental initiatives hosted by Bell Labs and Siemens in the West. Galeyev's line of inquiry was certainly not a priority for Soviet science. But when he founded Prometheus in 1962, the country was still euphoric from launching the first human into space a year earlier. The light-music concerts that Galeyev organized at Prometheus blended in with the widespread vogue for science fiction and futurism.

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Image: Debussy's Fireworks Played on Kristall

Thanks to Prometheus' close connections to an official research laboratory, its employees had access to equipment that ordinary citizens could never dream of. Galeyev and his team took advantage of ...

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ArtBase Update


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Image: Christian Marc Schmidt, Marketscape, 2008

Rhizome's ArtBase has been fortunate to receive some great submissions in the last few months. Cody Trepte sent Cody on Cage on Joyce, a text generator based on a series of poems by John Cage where "JAMES JOYCE" is spelled vertically through rows of horizontal text that are as difficult to read as Finnegans Wake. Cage wanted to create a form of writing free of intention, and Trepte uses software to take that idea to its logical conclusion. Tomasz Konart submitted August, the most recent in a calendar of twelve interactive animations that use faint, obscured, or distorted photographs to evoke a feeling of loss and reflection. Roch Forowicz, a Polish artist who explores issues of surveillance, contributed documentation of his installation Panopticon, two rows of eighteen CCTV cameras submerged. As viewers pass down the central aisle, they are observed from all directions, like in the eponymous eighteenth-century prison design. Marketscape by Brooklyn-based artist Christian Marc Schmidt is data visualization of the S&P 500 stock index. It's sure to provide suspenseful viewing for months to come.

Keep checking the ArtBase for more updates or subscribe via RSS, and artists should remember that we're always accepting submissions.

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Interview with Goldin+Senneby


"The boys from Sweden are not really interested in Kate's habits, her lifestyle, the clothes she wears; they're interested in Headless Ltd., a company they want to know more about. And they're interested in a book which they think Kate is writing about them, a book called Looking for Headless."

These lines are from the first chapter of Looking for Headless, a serial novel that artists Goldin+Senneby commissioned from author K.D. The chapter was originally published as the work of Kate Dent, an employee at the offshore consultancy Sovereign Trust, but Goldin+Senneby retracted their claim about the author's identity after some prodding from Sovereign's lawyers. By chapter three, the legal confrontation had already become part of the story, and the lawyers' communication was just another of the many real-world facts woven into the fabric of the novel.

Goldin+Senneby's project Headless (2007-ongoing) uses the idea of investigating the Bahamas-based company Headless Ltd as the basis for a wide-ranging study of how events are remembered, created, and communicated in the production of narrative. The seedy glamour of offshore finance provides an effective context; it is fertile for plots of mystery and intrigue, and the huge sums of virtual money floating offshore make an apt metaphor for the symbols and ideas that compel people to action and set events in motion. Goldin+Senneby further extend the financial trope by adopting corporate practices to make Headless, outsourcing the project's many texts, events, and performances to specialists. For their exhibition at the Power Plant in Toronto, on view through February 22, Goldin+Senneby commissioned documentary filmmakers to interview an investigative journalist about how to make a documentary about investigating Headless Ltd. They also hired a curator and a set designer to devise a didactic display introducing viewers to the characters of the novel Looking for Headless.

A system as rich and recursive as Headless simultaneously generates both questions and answers to them. In previous interviews the artists have responded to questions about the project exclusively in the form of quotes from its various parts. For the interview below, however, they produced some new statements, perhaps mindful of the opportunity to recycle them in future incarnations of Headless. - Brian Droitcour


Raqs Media Collective at the New Museum's Night School


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Image: Raqs Media Collective, There Has Been a Change of Plan, 2006

Tonight at 7 p.m. the Dehli-based Raqs Media Collective will begin a three-day run of programs at the New Museum, as part of the Night School series of public seminars. Raqs has been embraced by the art world, although, as the ambiguity of the group's name suggests, the scope of its projects extend to a larger audience. Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta joined forces in 1992, after they completed their studies in Mass Communications in Delhi, and, at the time, had planned a collective career in independent cinema. But their work in documentary filmmaking and public broadcasting, coupled with their fascination with the nascent internet, drew them to issues related to the production and dissemination of information. Today, they continue to address those "rarely asked questions," to use the phrase the group has half-jokingly suggested its name is an abbreviation for.

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Image: Raqs Media Collective, OPUS [ Open Platform for Unlimited Signification]

Raqs's projects tend to take the form of open-ended, open-sourced networks. OPUS, or Open Platform for Unlimited Signification, is an online database of artist-submitted artworks. Conceived in the spirit of open-source software development, Raqs's online digital commons encourage sharing, collaborating, and appropriation. The collective's commitment to free culture continues in The Sarai Programme at Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. The Sarai network of artists and scholars produce vast amounts of research and other forms of cultural knowledge, all of which is placed in the public domain.

The collective has also expressed its sensibility through a resistance to restrictions and hierarchies in their installations, performances, and theoretical writings. A recent essay in the inaugural issue of e-flux's Journal takes several fresh and surprising approaches to make ...

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24-Hour Smarty People


As promised, I attended last week's "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time" at the Guggenheim and wrote the following report, which attempts to convey both the variety of approaches participants took to the symposium's broad topic as well as the experience of being present and alert for the full duration, with just a break for breakfast and a few power naps.

The HUO-year is a unit of time invented by art critic Jennifer Allen to measure how far in the future a name will be remembered. You get one year for each project, two for an exhibition, seven for an interview, etc. HUO expands to Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator whose intellectual hyperactivity inspired Allen to write a wry essay predicting that Obrist's omnipresence in the present will guarantee him more future name-recognition than John Cage, even as a performance of the latter's ORGAN2/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible) continues to hum through the year 2639. Obrist racked up a few dozen more HUO-years at the "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time," as did the event's organizer, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector. With an eye to the future, the entire Program was recorded, and at this moment the Guggenheim's curatorial staff is surely working to label, transcribe, and catalogue those videos for posterity. In the meantime, here's an elliptical and incomplete summary.

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Image: Excerpt from a visual representation of Ronald Mallett's Time Travel Theory

The symposium began with a talk by philosopher Ted Sider, who gave a lucid description of the theory of static time, which proposes that entities are permanently present at points in space but are only visible to us at certain points in time. Next was Joshua Viertel, president of Slow Foods USA, an earnest nonprofit administrator ...

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