Throughout his career, English filmmaker Patrick Keiller has explored the nuances of his country's landscape. His investigations are set apart by their interest in the way the social, economic and political forces have shaped the nation's geography. One of his most famous films, London (1994), is a documentary account of the year 1992 in England's capital, as narrated by a fictional protagonist "Robinson". Keiller captures the grit and strife of London during the early 1990s, against the turbulent backdrop of declining infrastructure, IRA bombings, and longstanding Tory rule. Keiller combines static camera shots of London streets and landmarks with a poetic voice-over to create landscapes that evoke the political situation of the time. In his new installation The City of the Future (2007), currently on view at the British Film Institute on London's Southbank, Keiller marks a new phase in his exploration of England's socio-economic geography. Based on his research project "The Future of the Landscape and the Moving Image" (2007) at the Royal College of Art, The City of the Future unfolds as a multi-channel installation composed of moving images of London's late 19th century and early 20th century urban landscape collected from "actuality films," an early genre of documentary film that loosely captures footage of events and areas. Using an interactive map, visitors to the space may select a city and play films corresponding to the location. As such, the participant is made aware not only of the differences and similarities of the city's urban geography over time, but also the ever-changing social and economic realities written on the city itself. - Caitlin Jones
Image: Patrick Keiller, The City of the Future, 2007
Similar to photography, the 19th century invention of photogammetry was used to discern empirical truths (measurements, altitudes, etc) about objects. Given his interest in the elusive relationship between observation and knowledge, it is no surprise that prolific German artist Harun Farocki would take photogammetry as an entry point for one of his most well-known films Images of the World and The Inscription of War (1989), which explores the military's use of imaging technologies during World War II. One particularly compelling narrative in the film points to how Allied analysts, while studying aerial photographs of Nazi Germany for munitions and factories locations, failed to locate the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Farocki's most recent work, the 12-channel video installation Deep Play (2007) calls upon a range of media forms to dismantle the elaborate spectacle of televised sport- specifically the 2006 World Cup Finals between France and Italy. The piece plays with our anticipation of the "big event" of the game which was, of course, not matchpoint but rather Zinedine Zidane's infamous head butt of Guiseppe Materazzi. The installation juxtaposes numerous views of this memorable game including live feed footage of the game, 3D models of the players, statistical analysis of players' speed and positions, surveillance feeds from inside and outside Berlin's Olympic Stadium and images of the editors and analysts responsible for collating the multiple streams into a single broadcast. Deep Play asks how these multiple points of view offer a nuanced entry into the event and how our expectations can blind us to all other elements of the game. Like Farocki's other works, Deep Play elegantly leads us to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and assumptions that underlie the way we see and how this leads to our understanding of the world. The show is ...
The term "manipulation" comes to mind when discussing the vast and varied practice of artists LoVid (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus). For years now, the duo have created an impressive, diverse body of handcrafted video work, spanning from performances, installations and tapestries to sophisticated image processors. Their creative image and sound distortion is deeply informed by the work of a previous generation of video artists, not only luminaries like Nam June Paik and Steina and Woody Vasulka, but also the lesser known creators of image processors and synthesizers such as Dan Sandin (of the Sandin Image Processor) and Dave Jones. This influence is pronounced in LoVid's wearable image processor Coat of Embrace and pseudo minimalist sculptural instruments such as Sync Armonica. In their most recent work, a Turbulence Networked_Music_Review commission, Hinkis and Lapidus took a new approach to manipulation. Rather than create an elaborate machine from scratch, they transformed the physical constraints of the web and a home computer into a vehicle for distortion. More of the Same (2007) starts simply enough: a single pop up window, a photograph of the artists and their broken laptop, and a few lines of dialogue, ("What's up with this computer? Is it the browser? The connection?")- and from there multiplies exponentially with each successive pop up window. Window #1 loads one image and one audio file, window #2 multiplies the image and loads the audio twice, and on and on until your computer is simultaneously trying to load 514 audio files to sometimes cacophonic, sometimes eerily silent ends. Don't worry about your processor, the artists give thoughtful instructions to avoid any serious computer crashes. - Caitlin Jones
Lithuania may seem an unlikely hub of the avant-garde, but as the birthplace of Fluxus founder George Maciunas and avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas, the country has an undeniable place in art history. Its capital city of Vilnius is quickly becoming an emerging location for cultural activity. Set to be Europe's 'Culture Capital 2009,' rumors of a new Guggenheim/Hermitage outpost, and the recent opening of the Jonas Mekas Visual Art Center, Vilnius seems to have 'arrived' on the growing global culture circuit. The inaugural show, 'The Avant Garde from Futurism to Fluxus' (which runs through the beginning of February) highlights the place of Vilnius in the history of the avant-garde. Mekas' impressive collection of documentation Collection of 40 Films forms the backbone of the show, and works by other key artists including Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota strengthen it. A Mekas-curated film series, which includes classics by Luis Bunuel, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Richter and Fernand Leger, is hopefully an indication of future programming. Of course, the degree of fanfare and attention this capital city is currently getting is not always a great thing, and a number of quotes from the press release (e.g. "Scott Weinkle designed the super white cube space of the Art Center-- a formidable transplant of a New York Chelsea gallery to Vilnius") hints at the more troubling trend of art world homogenization. But with the Center's mandate to promote film, video and computer based arts, let's hope that Vilnius will embody the nature and spirit of its Fluxus and avant-garde fathers. - Caitlin Jones
Jonas Mekas, Fluxus on the Hudson, 1971
Update: This post covers the opening of the Jonas Mekas Visual Art Center. It implies that Vilnius is not seen as a contemporary art hub when, in fact ...
"THIS world, as a glorious apartment of the boundless palace of the sovereign Creator, is furnished with an infinite variety of animated scenes, inexpressibly beautiful and pleasing, equally free to the inspection and enjoyment of all his creatures."
Thus begins 18th Century American botanist John Bartram's natural history classic (and verbosely titled), Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws; Containing An Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians. Bartram not only recorded his observation and taxonomies, but also imbued them with commentary and personal mediations on American wilderness and all its inhabitants. American artist Mark Dion has long focused his work on the subject of natural history, the scientific method, and the tension between objective and subjective accounts of the natural world. In his most recent project Travels of William Bartram- Reconsidered , Dion follows the path of Bartram through Northern Florida while keeping a journal, collecting specimens (both natural and manmade), taking photographs, and recording audio and video. Like his predecessor, Dion is also publishing his travels, but in web form, allowing us to follow him on his journey in a more immediate sense. He left Bartram's Gardens in Pennsylvania on November 15th and since then has searched for Bartram's 'infinite variety of animated scenes' in the swamps of northern Florida, the bars of New Orleans, and a flea market in Charleston. Humanity is not 'other' in Dion's scientific journey. His specimens include items of botanical interest, but also images of golf carts and the fishermen who save them in a swamp. All are part of the pantheon that, for better or worse, now ...
Job Title: Exhibitions Curator
Position Type: Full-time contract, 35 hours/week
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Years Experience: 3+
The Western Front Society seeks an outstanding, highly motivated arts professional to step into the role of Exhibitions Curator.
The Western Front is one of Canada’s pioneering artist-run centres and produces and presents works in five programs: Exhibitions, Performance Art, New Music, Media Arts, and FRONT Magazine. The Western Front was founded in 1973 by a small group of interdisciplinary artists, and has developed into an exemplary multi-disciplinary environment for experimental art practice and research. With a staff of ten plus interns and volunteers, the Society collectively produces over fifty events a year.
The Exhibitions Program has a mandate to present contemporary visual art by local, national and international artists. Intentionally open, this mandate has historically focused on artwork that is conceptual, media-based or otherwise ephemeral in nature. Currently the program promotes experimentation with conceptual models and contexts for visual art that have allowed the program to expand beyond gallery exhibitions to include artist books and posters, cross-disciplinary works, site-specific and Internet projects, and commissions.
The Exhibitions Curator reports to the Executive Director, and is responsible for:
• Developing and communicating a dynamic vision for the Exhibitions Program
• Curating exhibitions and all associated programming
• Editing publications
• Writing grants and seeking opportunities for additional funding or support
• Supervising one part-time staff member, contract workers, as well as volunteers
• Exemplary knowledge and understanding of contemporary art practices
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills
• Proven financial management experience
• Strong organizational skills
• Ability to provide direction and work with a diverse staff
• High capacity to meet deadlines and work under pressure
• Knowledge of a broad range of issues related to the arts
• A clear understanding of the philosophy and history of the Canadian artist-run centre movement
• Knowledge of the principle funding agencies and prior grant writing experience
• Knowledge of managing publications and print projects
• Experience installing a variety of art exhibitions
• Mac OS, Microsoft Office, electronic mail and Filemaker Pro, an asset
A competitive benefits package is available after the three months probation period is complete. After eight months of employment, four weeks paid vacation may be taken during the period when programs are recessed. An additional ten days paid holiday time may be taken during the December/January holiday period.
A part-time Exhibitions Assistant supports this position. Provisions are also made within the program budget for research-based travel.
HOW TO APPLY
The Western Front Society is committed to the principles of Employment Equity and encourages applications from Aboriginal persons, members of a visible minority group or persons with a disability.
Applications containing a cover letter, curriculum vitae, three references, and writing samples, must be received by 4:00 p.m. on December 14, 2009.
Please send applications by email only to:
Exhibitions Curator Hiring Committee
Western Front Society
303 East 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1S1
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Therefore, not a distraction at all. I think it's a good barometer of where many of the artists (that I see in Chicago, Brussels, San Fran, and elsewhere) are pointing their vector of effort. To me, this shows me what is being "seen as important", when only 40 years ago, media art was still in a mode of challenging the galley and the object itself. This is a major shift...
While I agree with you Patrick that artists are directing efforts towards marketability, I certainly don't see it as a major shift. I think many Internet Artists who are gearing a part of their practice towards the institution/gallery setting, still create work that disrupts and challenges that system. And, I'm sorry, maybe my perspective as the one time programing director for a chelsea gallery that played a role in bringing some first generation net artists into the commercial sphere, but I just don't see this as a problem. I certainly see it as a trend to follow with interest, but don't see it as a whole hearted conversion to 'art world traditionalism.'
First off. Yes. the ongoing snark/sarcasm/animosity between tom, tim and mriver is super/totally/unbelievably "boring."
Secondly. And this is somewhat off topic on this particular string, but I think this entire net.art 1.0 v. net.art 2.0 conversation is, while not exactly boring, maybe a red herring. To be very simplistic about it, I don't really perceive much theoretical distance between the work of 'the old guard' and the work of the current "3rd generation" net artists. I think both were/are responding to the web as it existed at the time. In the late 1990s people wrote their own html, they 'view(ed) source,' and things were for the most part text based. And the art of the time responded accordingly, creating work about language, translation and disrupting the emerging systems that the general public was so quick to accept unconditionally.
Now, the web has obviously evolved into the web 2.0 (and all that comes with it). You don't need to code to be an internet artist because no one really needs to code to use the web anymore. You just need a myspace or facebook page, access to youtube or flickr, or a blogger address and you are 'actively' participating in the web (obviously a lot of people have written about the deeper implications of this type of migration - notably Olia in her Vernacular Web 2) http://www.contemporary-home-computing.org/vernacular-web-2/). So if internet artists are now making work that is a collection of links, a series of other people's youtube videos? Fantastic. As far as I can tell most of this work is doing so as a means to question the ease with which we are living our most intimate moments online.
The web is a different place, and so obviously the art that comes out of it is going to be different. But I think, at its very core, it is the same. Internet Art responds to the web, its development, and how we use it, regardless of whether it was made by MTAA or Guthrie Lonergan. Like I said, very simplistic, and not a fully formed argument at this point, but I think looking at why this work is so different is far less interesting than exploring its shared characteristics.
ps. This is just an aside. All the muttering about the 'newer generation' of Internet artists having more gallery success is also a bit of a distraction. I guarantee that Vuk, Olia, Thomson and Craighead alone have sold/exhibited more work in the past three years than all of the newer generation put together.