I don’t remember exactly how I first came across Random Butler’s YouTube channel, besides seeing a video from it in the “Related Videos” sidebar when I was watching something else, and while I can’t say I know much about YouTube’s algorithm for selecting “Related Videos” I suspect the sheer number of videos on the channel helped it get in my window. Since creating his YouTube account on April 24, 2006, Butler has uploaded 1,219 videos—an average of about one a day. And while there are many YouTube users who maintain frequently updated vlogs, Butler’s is the only one I’ve encountered that shifts the video diary’s role from an emotional outlet to a creative one. Instead of focusing on the user’s persona, it presents a direct record of what he sees and what goes on in his inner world. Butler has pointed his web cam at the television as he wins Zelda, and uploaded several “multimedia messages” that show views of a computer screen or out a car window, taken on a Nokia 6102. In recent months, he has been uploading fewer web cam and cell phone videos and spending more time on experiments that distort clips from games and cartoons. A favorite source has been King of the Hill. Like any diary, Butler’s YouTube channel is composed of incremental fragments and best considered as a whole, but nonetheless, I’ll offer a few highlights here.
Michael Guidetti recently released the fifth edition of Skeleton Sweep, a collaborative podcast collage of field recordings and found sound. The project’s poetic title accommodates an array of meanings, from the artist’s embrace of the fleshless quality of sound on an mp3 to the wide-ranging breadth of the material’s origins. Volume 5 includes recordings as diverse as a mother’s affectionate voicemail message, wind chimes, percussive music made with knives, and black boxes of crashed planes.
Skeleton Sweep grew out of Guidetti’s longtime interest in field recordings. Before compiling Volume 1 in March 2007, he mailed a micro-recorder back and forth with a friend living in Japan, to share the sounds of their surroundings. As a serious hobbyist, Guidetti uses high-quality equipment for his own recordings—a Sony DAT walkman with an Audio-Technica stereo mic—but relishes juxtapositions of various qualities of sound. Skeleton Sweep welcomes unsolicited submissions from amateurs but also includes the work of experts, so a volume might take sound off lo-fi cassettes and cell phones as well as pieces by Chris Watson or Toshiya Tsunoda; Volume 4 even has excerpts of compositions by David Tudor and Robert Ashley. Contributors are given credit on the Skeleton Sweep site in a list labeled “Info,” though the term is a bit of an exaggeration, as the barebones descriptions of content on the list often generate more questions than they answer. In any case, when a chorus of witch cackles, a blanket of crickets, and chirping ringtones succeed each other in an early stretch of Volume 5, the connections an active listener draws between those noises—and the nuanced differences of each file’s silence—matter more than the relationship between a sound and ...
From its beginnings ten years ago, e-flux has been an unconventional media model, one that aggregates and distributes announcements for contemporary art exhibitions and events for a fee and uses its profits to fund artist-directed projects. Last November e-flux introduced an online journal with essays by artists and critics. The advertisement-free publication filled a position similar to that of ads in magazines—an appendage that subscribers to the e-flux brand may or may not find useful. To increase the journal’s autonomy from the announcement service—and also to get it off the internet, which is not a favorable environment for long and complex theoretical essays—e-flux announced its plans for a “print-on-demand” feature in February (noted on Rhizome). To get the word out about this new service, e-flux put excerpts of essays from its fourth issue in the summer issues of Parkett, Artforum, Bidoun, Cabinet, Texte Zur Kunst, Afterall, Flash Art, and Frieze. Besides addressing the obstacles an online journal faces in specialized art media, where print still holds a privileged position, the use of editorial as advertising in e-flux’s summer campaign anticipates the shift that will accompany the launch of their print on-demand service this fall, when the journal’s readers can also become its publishers.
In the twenty years that Michael Joaquin Grey has been exhibiting, critics have often employed phrases like “back to basics” and “building blocks” to describe his interest in the conventions dictating the representation of concepts that form the foundation of human knowledge. An exhibition of Grey’s new and old work currently on view at P.S.1 includes a drawing that distills his approach: an outline of an infant playing with two red blocks is the image of a nascent mind grappling with the concept of one plus one. A larger drawing on an adjacent wall reuses the red squares to demonstrate the meaning of prepositions—above, under, behind, etc.—like a diagram in a grammar textbook. Object as preposition (1988-2007), also uses orange circles, a colored form that appears several times in the gallery. The fruit suggested by an orange round is a favorite symbol for Grey (his web site is www.citroid.com). Perhaps it’s because the tautology of the object’s name and the color that describes it produces a conundrum: a schematic picture of an orange is both an abstraction and a concrete representation. The repetition of the orange (or just orange, with no definite article) forces viewers to struggle with the same problem that Grey does: even at the most fundamental level, our descriptions of the world are frustratingly paradoxical and slippery.
Lean, instructional-pamphlet drawings dominate the first of the show’s two galleries; Perpetual ZOOZ (Madonna and Child) (2005-2009), a video projected in the second, darkened room, looks Baroque by comparison. In Grey’s “computational cinema,” The Wizard of Oz plays on both sides of a square that spins against a yellow field. The characters and scenery of the family classic ...
The afternoon of May 30 was clear and sunny, which probably accounted for the low turnout at the New Museum’s panel discussion Networked Equality. Too bad, because the presentations were engaging and generated a lively Q&A; session afterward. More than a month later, the topics raised still seem worth discussion, especially in light of the ongoing conversation about political art and the content of Rhizome’s coverage. The speakers at Networked Equality were researchers, activists, one-time dot-com entrepreneurs and self-described nerds Ethan Zuckerman and Omar Wasow. Zuckerman discussed how the internet’s vaunted potential to increase the flow of ideas across borders of nation, race, and class had been stunted by homophily, the tendency of people to stick to like-minded groups. His project Global Voices is one effort to counter that inclination by aggregating and translating independent media. Wasow, an education specialist, emphasized that access to technology would not narrow the gap between classes, and education was the key to helping disadvantaged segments of the population become participants in a networked economy.
Zuckerman is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where he said his older colleagues—academics who already had established careers when the internet appeared-- greeted networked technologies enthusiastically, predicting earth-shattering change and falling borders. To the contrary, Zuckerman and Wasow’s peers, who helped build the early internet, approached it with a healthy skepticism. This attitude resonates with some pioneering net art works, such as those of Heath Bunting and Daniel Garcia Andujar who reacted sharply to utopian views of networked technologies. BorderXing, Bunting’s project with Kayle Brandon, offered a database with instructions on how to cross borders illegally, but limited access to that database; the project showed literally how political borders were in fact ...
United States of America
The Abrons Arts Center of Henry Street Settlement is proud to present DECENTER: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show, curated by Andrianna Campbell and Daniel S. Palmer. Opening February 17, 2013 and on view through April 7, the exhibition celebrates the legacy of the Cubist paintings and sculptures in the historic 1913 Armory Show by featuring a group of 27 emerging and internationally recognized contemporary artists, who explore the changes in perception precipitated by our digital age and who closely parallel the Cubist vernacular of fragmentation, nonlinearity, simultaneity, and decenteredness. The show highlights the sponsorship of the 50th anniversary exhibition by the Henry Street Settlement in 1963, the occasion which announced the building of what is today known as the Abrons Arts Center located at 466 Grand Street, New York, NY, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The exhibition commences on the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, Sunday, February 17, with a 1913 Armory Show Centennial Event, which will feature panel discussions about the 1913 exhibition, as well as the theme of perception and art in the digital age, followed by an opening reception. The show exhibits a group of artworks in the gallery, and also features digital works displayed at www.decenterarmory.com. The site launches February 17.
At the 1913 Armory Show, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors showcased the “New Spirit” of modern art. A backlash of scathing criticism showed how baffled the general American public was by the seeds of abstraction in the Cubist artworks, which quickly became a shorthand expression for the structural changes precipitated by modernity. They not only redefined artistic practice, but also altered our understanding of the process through which we perceive the world. On its 100th anniversary, we will celebrate the Armory Show by posing the question: What is the legacy of Cubism in the hundred years since the Armory Show’s radical display of modern art, and especially, how has this become relevant today?
Accordingly, this exhibition celebrates the centenary of the groundbreaking Armory Show by assembling artworks that analyze the digital revolution and the ways it has affected our perception of the world. Artists as varied as Sara VanDerBeek, Gabriel Orozco, Liz Magic Laser, and Abrons AIRspace residency program alumna Amy Feldman evoke the formal innovations of the historic avant-garde but differ through an embrace or flirtation with digital mediation. Artists today like Andrew Kuo, Tony Cokes, and Cory Arcangel are inspired by the inter-cultural circulation of images, ideas, and data in a worldwide network. While Pablo Picasso and fellow Cubists combined archaic Western forms and appropriated exotica to shatter inherited modes of representation, today ubiquitous computing and the digital image explosion create an intersection of the physical and the virtual, and in doing so, have decentered the locus of artistic praxis.
Although the far-reaching historical significance of the Armory Show was examined through a partial re-creation on its fiftieth anniversary in 1963 (sponsored by the Henry Street Settlement), even then, scholars acknowledged that the exhibition’s social import could not be replicated simply by re-staging the show. In order to honor that “New Spirit,” and the collaborative process through which the 27 members of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors organized this radical exhibit, the 2013 show will inhabit all available exhibition spaces at Abrons and also feature a corresponding online component of digital works. This web-based portion of the show, accessible at www.decenterarmory.com, will grow as artists invite others to contribute in a process that highlights the diversity and expansiveness of the 1913 show’s legacy as it relates to our world today.
This event celebrates the 1913 Armory Show, exactly 100 years after its doors opened to the public. What is the legacy of the exhibition, and how has it been understood and misinterpreted? Is there a “new aesthetic” brought about by perceptual shifts in the digital era? How do these changes align with the formal innovations of the historic avant garde? These two discussion panels, organized in conjunction with Abrons Art Center’s “Decenter: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show,” will address the legacy of the 1913 Armory Show, and the ways that perception and artistic practice in the last hundred years has been radically transformed by our digital era.
Panel Discussion: The Legacy of the 1913 Armory Show:
Charles Haven Duncan (Collection Specialist, Archives of American Art)
Franklin Evans (Artist, New York)
Andrea Geyer (Artist, New York)
Marilyn Satin Kushner (Curator and Head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society; Co-curator of The Armory Show at 100)
Mary Murray (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute)
Panel Discussion: Perception and Art in the Digital Age:
Introduced by: Israel Rosenfield (City University of New York)
Ethan Greenbaum, Barbara Kasten, Andrew Kuo, Travess Smalley, Sara VanDerBeek
Moderated by: Brian Droitcour
1) Several people have asked me about submitting videos of readings, or video works where words appear as images. The Wordworks series is mainly about writing, rather than performance, video, or other mediums. Any submission should have a core of text that people don't have to press "play" to read. I welcome the inclusion of diverse media objects in submissions as complements to text, but not as replacements of it.
2) Submissions should be able to fit in a Rhizome blog post, without requiring readers to go to another site to read it. I'm aware of the strong traditions of electronic literature, hypertext, interactive fiction, etc., where writers make use of the entire browser window, from the background color to the forward and back buttons. I read and enjoy works like that, but for Wordworks I'm looking for writing that does not exceed the format of the post. This is just an arbitrary decision that I have made in order to maintain continuity throughout the series.
Thanks for reading and responding!