After completing her informal education in Berlin's underground club scene, artist and musician Holly Herndon relocated to the Bay Area to pursue an MFA at Mills College's esteemed music program. Now continuing her studies in computer-based music at Stanford, Herndon has an inquisitive approach to technology, finding common threads among often-divided disciplines and communities: electronic music, academia, the tech sector, and contemporary art. As a result, her work is not easily categorized, whether she's composing music for brass ensembles or working on robotic sculptures with artist Conrad Shawcross, touring festivals in Europe or making dance music with heavily processed recordings of the human voice. This week, she released a 12" entitled Chorus on RVNG Intl.
Ceci Moss: Your new 12" Chorus comes out this week. The title track recalls the experience of continuous partial attention in online browsing, using audio samples derived from your own daily browsing. Chorus begins chaotically, taking form with the addition of percussion. Could you discuss the ideas behind this composition? Also, what did you use to sample your browsing history, and how did you technically create the track?
Ben Aqua, NEVER LOG OFF, 2013 (Limited edition t-shirt designed for #FEELINGS)
We are no longer mostly dealing with information that is transmitted form a source to a receiver, but increasingly also with informational dynamics—that is with the relation between noise and signal, including fluctuations and microvariations, entropic emergences and negentropic emergences, positive feedback and chaotic processes. If there is an informational quality to contemporary culture, then it might be not so much because we exchange more information than before, or even because we buy, sell or copy informational commodities, but because cultural processes are taking on the attributes of information—they are increasingly grasped and conceived in terms of their informational dynamics.
- Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age
Post internet, post media , post media aesthetics, radicant art, dispersion, formatting, meme art, circulationism—all recent terms to describe networked art that does not use the internet as its sole platform, but instead as a crucial nexus around which to research, transmit, assemble, and present data, online and offline. I think all of the writers advancing these terms share a sense that since the rise of mainstream internet culture and social media, art is more fluid, elastic, and dispersed. As Lauren Cornell astutely points out in the recent "Post Internet" roundtable for Frieze, terms are always placeholders for more complex ideas, and when successful, can instigate further, deeper conversation. Towards that end, I'd like to introduce another word to the list—expanded. Drawing from the definition of expansion as "the action or process of spreading out or unfolding; the state of being spread out or unfolded," I consider "expansion" not as an outward movement from a fixed entity, but rather, in light of data's dispersed nature, a continual becoming. Expanded internet art is not viewed as hermetic, but instead as a continuously multiple element that exists within a distributed, networked system. In order to elaborate this term, and to take small steps towards thinking through the changing conditions for art production in the early 21st century, I will use Tiziana Terranova's notion of an "informational milieu" to describe the dynamic process of exchange among artist, artwork, and network.
Photo of Earth by the crew of Apollo 8. December 22, 1968
The central theme for this year’s Venice Biennale exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, comes from an obscure patented design for an encyclopedic palace by the self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti. Envisioned as a 136-story building that would take over sixteen blocks of Washington, D.C., Auriti’s palace was to house all the available knowledge in the world. Titling the show "Il Palazzo Enciclopedico" after Auriti’s unrealized model, Gioni and his team selected an eclectic group of artists, psychologists, mystics and more whose work resonates with Auriti’s desire to create a total image of the world. In many ways, the exhibition can be seen as a response to the exhaustive overabundance of information available on the internet. As Gioni pointedly asks in his essay, "…what is the point of creating an image of the world when the world itself has become increasingly like an image?"
The Paris, Texas of the Second Empire
Compiled July 2012 by Lawrence Kumpf
The flâneur is someone abandoned in the crowd. He is thus in the same situation as the commodity. He is unaware of this special situation, but this does not diminish its effects on him, it permeates him blissfully, like a narcotic that can compensate him for many humiliations. The intoxication to which the flâneur surrenders is the intoxication of the commodity immersed in a surging stream of customers. -- Walter Benjamin, 1938
A phantasmagoric journey through mid-20th century Country-Western music inspired by Walter Benjamin’s "The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire."
Like the poet as flâneur in Benjamin’s essay, the country singer holds a position as the susceptible vessel that embodies the incongruities and ruptures characteristic of modern life. Neither an active symptom nor proprietor of a solution for the social ills, the singer finds himself drawn into the intoxicating world of empathetic relations to, with and as commodity. We hear, perhaps more clearly then in Baudelaire, a voice speaking not from the elevated position of a social commentator or critic, but as the desire of the commodity and commodified. Connoisseurs of narcotics sing empathetic odes to inanimate objects and intoxicants, fortifying themselves in homes that are really bars. Hobos, trashmen and ragpickers walk the street collecting and picking through the worn out, exhausted items that have escaped our economy of exchange: the antiques of modernity, the images of obsolescence. The perpetual peregrinator, a rambling man, heroically stripped of the comforts of modern life finds himself stalking graveyards and mourning a loss that has yet to occur, the final refuge of his own death. In a way these songs embody the last gasp of a failed American politics, the moment before county western music slips into an emphatic listing of personal property as banal as Rick Ross’ "Trilla." The tragedy of our era is that the latent revolutionary desires present in Hank Williams Jr.’s "Fax Me a Beer" (not included in this mix) are forever doomed to find their outlet in an inane fantasy of endless technological advancement.
1.Porter Wagoner - The Wino
2.Jim Ed Brown- Bottle, Bottle
3.Porter Wagoner – Shopworn 4.Hank Williams – Men with Broken Hearts
5.Leon Rausch – Glass of Pride
6.Don King – Live Entertainment
7.David Allen Coe – Sad Country Song
8.Don Silvers – Play me another Hank Williams
9.Porter Wagoner – Bottom of the Bottle
10.Merle Haggard – Swinging Doors
11.Porter Wagoner – I Just Came to Smell the Flowers
12.D. Sheridan – Don’t Make Me Laugh (While I’m Drinkin’)
13.The Willis Brothers – Gonna Buy Me A Jukebox
14.David Frizzell – I’m Gonna Hire A Wino to Decorate our House
15.Frank Lowe - "Trash Man"
Lawrence Kumpf is a curator at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY.
New York-based musician and artist Eli Keszler integrates piano wire into his compositions in a way that falls between installation and improvisation. For Cold Pin, motorized beaters controlled by a generative sequence struct 14 piano strings hung across the wall of Boston's Cyclorama in 2011. Keszler then invited Ashley Paul, Greg Kelley, Reuben Son and Benjamin Nelson to play off the work, improvising alongside the randomized clunks, scraps, and bangs emanating from the wall.
His recent L-Carrier at Eyebeam complicated this format by activating the motors in tandem with a changing visual score designed by Keszler. Hosted on a dedicated website commissioned by Turbulence, these images evolved when visitors tripped up "targets" on the site that interfere with the code, modifying the pattern of the motors. On June 7, Keszler again played in a seven piece ensemble in conjunction with the installation, including musicians Ashley Paul, Anthony Coleman, Alex Waterman, C Spencer Yeh, Catherine Lamb, Geoff Mullen, and Reuben Son.
In both compositions accompanying Cold Pin and L-Carrier, the installation serves not as a simple backdrop, but a central element. On their own, the installations continue to have a commanding presence. Unlike the extended resonating tones of Ellen Fullman's Long Stringed Instrument, which meditatively fill a room, Keszler's approach to auditory space reveals his training as a percussionist, where the plucks are akin to hits - busy, feverish and complex. Taken out of an enclosed environment, such as in Collecting Basin, piano wire is not only responsive to the whims of the motor beaters but also the wind and the elements. Here, Keszler hung the wire from a large water tower, transforming an industrial space into an open air instrument.
> It seems more like a style that starts over and over again independently from use of similar tools rather than a tradition
That's a good point. Are the Computers Club artists I cited really using similar tools though? How close is the connection between a program like GRASS and an animation made in Flash? I don't have an educated answer for that, and I'd be interested in hearing what other people have to say about this. I also want to clarify that I wasn't trying to lay out a grand tradition of computer animation here by calling up Cuba and Tron, rather I wanted to simply point to a similarity in terms of the use of geometric forms and movement.
I second Michael suggestion that you go through Rhizome's blog to find artists working in online video - there are quite a few.
Rhizome's been heavily involved with this area for some time, in terms of Rhizome-specific resources related to online video and web 2.0, I would consult:
Rhizome Artbase (searching for works tagged "video"):
Montage: Unmonumental Online
Montage: Unmonumental Online Panel, videos available through Rhizome's Vimeo
Net Aesthetics 2.0 Panel, videos available through Rhizome's Vimeo
Ed Halter, After the Amateur: Notes
Greg J. Smith Out of Context: Artists and Web Inventories
Carolyn Kane Dancing Machines: An Interview with Natalie Bookchin
Jonah Brucker-Cohen Report from Ars Electronica 2008: A New Cultural Economy
Rick Silva, Interview with Mark America
Resources relevant to the role of video in the atmosphere of the internet - copyright issues, circulation, history of bootlegging, etc:
Sven Lutticken Viewing Copies: On the Mobility of Moving Images
Oliver Laric, Versions, 2009
In Defense of the Poor Image by Hito Steyerl
Dara Birnbaum and Cory Arcangel: In Conversation from Artforum, March 2009
Lucas Hilderbrand's Inherent Vice
Ed Halter's Television for the People
Open Video Conference in 2009
Marisa Olson Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture
Resources relevant to the history of cinema, video & the online environment:
Sean Cubitt's The Cinema Effect
Yvonee Spielmann Video: the Reflexive Medium
Mary Ann Doane The Emergence of Cinematic Time (esp. the chapter The Instant and the Archive)
Anne Friedberg The Virtual Window
Lev Manovich The Language of New Media (esp. the chapter What is Cinema?)
Thank you for your patience.