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??

Just the Fax


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Image: Peter Coffin, Untitled, 2009

A sign at the entrance to “FAX” tells viewers that the exhibition was organized by The Drawing Center and that its subsequent tour will be managed by Independent Curators International. A show of artists’ faxes could be exceptionally travel-friendly—just call the artists and ask them to send their work again. But iCI plans to do it the hard way: The original faxes will be taken down and transported to the next venue, along with the three-ring binders full of faxes displayed on a desk in the gallery’s simulated curatorial office. That decision could be chalked up to the art world’s reverence of scarcity, or it could be seen as a sign of heightened attention to the medium. All of the pages bear the machine’s signature, a line at the top that identifies their dates and origins, which bolsters the idea that each work is a specific act of communication between the participating artists and curator João Ribas.

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Image: Warren Neidich, Detail from "Some cursory comments on the nature of my diagrammatic drawing"

The expendability of the medium encouraged playful responses. Sam Owen flipped and exceeded the standard 8”x11” sheet of paper in his letter to Ribas, which he wrote out by hand in big, chunky letters on a few dozen sheets of paper, enough to cover several square feet of the gallery’s back corner. Olav Westphalen sent cartoonish instructions for setting a fax machine aflame: draw a fire on the cover page, extend its rising column on the second page, then set it on a loop it so that the receiving machine keeps working until it overheats and starts spewing real smoke. Amanda Ross-Ho took a more philosophical approach. She printed out photographs of products for sale at ...

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Surveying the Limitless Field


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Image: Still from Lucy Raven's "China Town"

When the staff of the New York Underground Film Festival decided to end the fifteen-year-old institution and start fresh, they named their new venture Migrating Forms. The title of the new festival, which debuted last week at Anthology Film Archives, resonates with the theories that heavyweight curators like Roger Brueghel and Nicolas Bourriaud have proposed to describe art-making in conditions of international interconnectedness, where a finite number of cultural models yield a seemingly infinite number of variations. The term “migrating forms” could also refer to the travel of moving-image art between gallery and cinema, or describe aspects of films in the festival program, from the content of documentaries like Lucy Raven’s China Town, a stop-motion photographic animation about the U.S.-China copper trade, to the form of shorts that repurposed found footage, like Jesse McLean’s Somewhere Only We Know, which included a montage of reality-show contestants’ faces as they are kicked off television.

Oksana Bulgakowa’s The Factory of Gestures, based on her book of the same name, explored how Russian and Soviet cinema manufactured and recalibrated codes of body language over eighty years of social upheaval. Running commentary explained gestures’ shifting meanings, and the replacement of the films’ sound with a spare, atonal score helped separate the actors’ motions from narrative. The subject matter of The Factory of Gestures had limited appeal for the experimental film crowd (I was the only viewer at the Saturday afternoon screening), but Bulgakowa’s work suggested an interesting direction for creative presentations of scholarly research.

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Image: Still from Jacob Ciocci’s "The Peace Tape"

The lecture format appeared again in Oliver Laric’s Versions, a pithy essay on the irrelevance of the notion of authenticity and the “animistic” attitude that has taken ...

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Object Study


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Image: The score to Matmos’ Supreme Balloon, as seen on screens of PLOrk members

Last weekend the Kitchen hosted two night of performances by Matmos, So Percussion and PLOrk, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra. In addition to playing the conventional array of instruments, So Percussion exploits the unnoticed sonic properties of everyday objects -- Friday’s program began with their Cactus Song, in which the ensemble’s members huddled around a miked squash, stuck it with resonant tines, and plucked it like a karimba. So Percussion’s pairing with PLOrk highlighted the latter’s treatment of computers as objects. Technology from the phonograph to the sampler and beyond has been used to disembody sound, but PLOrk is among the growing ranks of electronic musicians who adapt gadgets to fix sound production in its physical context. They make laptops behave less like mixing machines and more like percussive instruments.

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Image: Musicians rehearsing at The Kitchen. (Courtesy of PLOrk.)

PLOrk uses hemispherical speakers that localizes the sound rather than mixing all the input into a single system, to give each computer an individual voice, like instruments in a symphony. (They also look awesome.) The ensemble’s members write software that connect each action to a result in order to make playing the laptop more like hitting the keys of a piano, so they’re not just dragging a cursor to manipulate parameters in a window. Another favorite PLOrk device is hacking the Mac’s motion sensor and connecting it to a sampler, so that swinging the laptop creates the illusion that a musician is grabbing sonorities from the ether and throwing them across the stage. The orchestra made effective use of that technique in Supreme Balloon, a Matmos piece that began with drones and transitioned to a tuneful idyll as the accompanying video shifted ...

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Migrating Forms Kicks Off Today!


Video: Migrating Forms Trailer by Michael Robinson

Migrating Forms, an offshoot of the defunct New York Underground Film Festival, runs tonight through Sunday at Anthology Film Archives in lower Manhattan. The five-day program is book-ended with feature-length films -- a 1960s-flavored, episodic satire of religion, philosophy, and criticism (Owen Land’s Dialogues) and a documentary about creationist geologists who offer evidence that the world is 6,000 years old (Michael Gitlin’s The Earth Is Young). In between there are almost one hundred long and short works to suit every taste. If you can’t get enough YouTube appropriation, montage, and computer effects, try going Saturday at 7:15 for "Mixed and Maxed," a program featuring Animal Charm and Oliver Laric, or Sunday at 4:45 for "Mature Audiences," with works by Jesse McLean and Takeshi Murata. At Saturday night’s "Tube Time!" tournament, audience members will decide which contestant found the weirdest footage online. The full schedule is here. Single tickets cost $10, and a festival pass costs $50 -- or you can get one free by being the third person to email info[at]migratingforms.org with Rhizome in the subject line!

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On Sale!


Video: "Forms of Melancholy" Video Tour

What would Marx make of the internet? The man who envisioned future communists hunting and fishing by day and writing criticism by night would probably appreciate blogs, but think less of groceries on demand. Marx also believed that alienation stems from the worker's lack of control over the distribution and use of his product -- a theory that informs the exhibition "Forms of Melancholy," organized by Chris Coy at Sego Arts Center in Provo, Utah. Coy had about thirty of his artist friends submit designs to Café Press, the online store selling over 150 million user-generated goods. The full catalog of "Forms of Melancholy" can be viewed on a Café Press site. Coy said he wanted to show all of those products at Sego, but the order would have run over the show’s budget. His edited display can be seen in a deadpan YouTube gallery tour. It looks like a souvenir store, full of the sort of useful trinkets that, in advanced capitalist economies, function as vehicles for announcing social affiliations -- the mug with the insignia of the coffee drinker’s alma mater, the T-shirt with a bald eagle proclaiming that the wearer is a proud American. But “Forms of Melancholy” tweaks these conventions. Jeff Baij’s black hoodie reads "I hate U Mom & dad & School & Town" in Gothic script, making the message implied by a surly teen’s wardrobe bluntly explicit. There are several mugs with vacation pictures of strangers, or pictures made strange. With so many everyday things, “Forms of Melancholy” almost looks more like a novelty store rather than a gallery show. When Eilis McDonald puts the "pinwheel of death" -- the spinning Mac icon that signifies a forced pause -- on crude, animated wristwatches, it’s a pure play of signs ...

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EVENT

DECENTER: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show


Dates:
Sun Feb 17, 2013 04:00 - Sun Apr 07, 2013

Location:
New York, New York
United States of America

Artists: Cory Arcangel, Tony Cokes, Douglas Coupland, David Kennedy Cutler, N. Dash, Michael Delucia, Jessica Eaton, Franklin Evans, Amy Feldman, Andrea Geyer, David Gilbert, Ethan Greenbaum, Gregor Hildebrandt, Butt Johnson, John Houck, Barbara Kasten, Andrew Kuo, Liz Magic Laser, Douglas Melini, Ulrike Mohr, Brenna Murphy, John Newman, Gabriel Orozco, Rafaël Rozendaal, Seher Shah, Travess Smalley, Sara VanDerBeek

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


DISCUSSION

Shu Lea Cheang on Brandon


A bit of related trivia: Rhizome commissioned a splash page based on Brandon: http://www.archive.rhizome.org/exhibition/splashback/06_cheang.php

DISCUSSION

Poems by Steve Roggenbuck


Oh hi, "Guest Blogger" is me, Brian Droitcour.

DISCUSSION

Letter from the Poetry Editor


ALSo Wordworks posts will appear twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays.

DISCUSSION

Letter from the Poetry Editor


Hi, I just wanted to clarify a few things for people who are interested in submitting.

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!