Our Best Machines are Made of Sunshine, 2009.
The notion of “feedback” is an important element for your sonic sculptures, where the viewer/listener is pulled into and directed by the work. As you stated in our visit, “What you hear affects how you move and how you move affects how you hear.” Your work SA-3, which you developed as a MFA student at Stanford, is a prime example of this technique. Could you discuss this piece and your research going into the project?
Well, for that piece it really started with noticing the moment in which I would become conscious of a localized sound, and how that awareness would pull me into or out of a particular relationship to the space. You could say an in-body/out-of-body type mediation. Through research in sound localization I learned of various directional speaker technologies and I combined that with an ongoing interest in how and why speaker systems are installed and controlled.
I was already looking into military projects involving sound as well as new developments in sound system technology. Talking with some folks at Meyer Sound in Berkeley, I was particularly interested in their Constellation system and their long-range speakers while I was also learning about spatial sound at Stanford’s CCRMA (Center for Computer Music and Research in Acoustics). I came across the “audio spotlight” by Holosonics and the LRAD speakers at the time made by American Technologies. These both use ultra sonic transducers that heterodyne into an audible frequency controlling the localization of the sound through the inherent directionality of ultrasonic waves. The police and military are using the LRAD as hailing devices and have occasionally used them for crowd dispersal, a technique which is super dangerous because the key component of these speakers is that the user can control them without affecting their own ears. The person in control of the sound can inhabit the same space with those that it affects, while remaining immune to its force. Never before has this been the case. There’s a frightening disjunction in that control loop. So I was doing this research and I found a few really cheap small ultrasonic speakers on EBay and combined them into a hanging speaker array loosely based off of one of the Meyer Sound systems. I have always been attracted to the hanging speaker arrays and wanted to combine the ultrasonic speaker technology with the aesthetics of the stadium speakers to address the ways these more known systems control our bodily relationship to sound. In a theater or performance setting there’s a loop between the performer, the sound engineer, the speaker system and the audience that returns back to the performer. With the LRAD system there’s a different loop where the person controlling the sound (performer and the sound engineer) do not experience the sound, yet they could see their “audience.”
Going back to SA-3, I wanted to play between those experiences by having the speakers of SA-3 play the sounds that you as a viewer make in the gallery. A mirror of sorts where you control what the sound is but how you chose to place yourself inline with the directionality of the speakers decides how you experience that sound in space. The audience is the performer. And I guess, as the designer of this system, I am the sound engineer.
Michael Guidetti, Bell, Book, and Candle, 2010
You originally studied painting as an undergraduate. How did this spark or inform your interest in perspective? How and when did you begin to investigate 3D digital imaging software (like Maya) and its use of perspective?
When studying painting I became interested in the viewer's physical relationship to the image and that naturally led into thinking about perspective. Since then, a lot of my paintings have been composed from a one-point perspective with the idea that the scene is drawn from the perspective of the viewer as they are standing in front of it. This began to dovetail with my longstanding interests in computer graphics and virtual environments, which due to their dependence on the user's subjective viewpoint, most often use this same visual perspective. With an image drawn from this type of perspective, one may feel as if they are no longer looking at an objective depiction of a space, but are looking into or existing inside it.
I was also interested in the relationship between abstract and representational imagery in painting, a pretty common painting concern. I was particularly curious about how the context of a semi-representational setting could influence the reading of an abstract shape. My early paintings were trying to smash these two types of representation together. I was then intrigued by the possibility of expanding this idea further into the work's form and I began layering projected 3D computer graphics on top of the mixed-media paintings I was doing.
A few of your pieces, such as Untitled (Standards) (2009), Bounce Room 1 (2009), and Bounce Room 2 (2009), depict standard figures and shapes used in digital animation, such as balls and the Utah teapot. Why are these ubiquitous and recognizable figures featured so prominently in your work?
Untitled (Standards) may be the most intentional in acknowledging these standard objects' historical roles like you mention. The objects in the piece are shown as some type of archetypical virtual object reverently being preserved in a timeless environment. Most of the models on the pedestals in that piece are rendered with the actual data from Stanford where they were originally digitally scanned (all but the teapot). It's interesting to think of these early models as an origin story for computer graphics and the starting point for a new kind of visual experience. When a new 3D graphics technology is developed, out of some sense of lineage or tribute, the creators make sure that rendering a teapot or a clay bunny work nicely. I find something funny and compelling about that.
On the other hand, Bounce Room 1 and Bounce Room 2 are using that aesthetic for more economical reasons. I think both of these works are attempting to embody something basic about their form in order to make the co-operative relationship between the two separate elements as evident as possible; a one-point perspective painting with a projected digital image overlaid. The digital projection represented as three red, green, and blue spherical lights; and the painted environment as five flat planes receding in perspective. That's about as far as I could boil them down to. Separately they are elementary and flat, but when they come together, the simulated light and physics of the spheres bouncing around in the space becomes illusionistic. Bounce Room 2 complicates things a little further by adding the wood structure and lights....
The Stars Below, 2011. Mixed media installation
One thing I like about your work is the fact that you seem to operate like a hacker, taking things apart, finding new ways to misuse technology. But throughout your approach appears to be deliberately poetic, wherein you bring out these singular moments of beauty. For example, when you first started working on your scanner films during a residency at the MacDowell Colony, you mentioned that you began by simply placing a scanner outside of your cabin at night. The footage became a kind of accidental biological study, as the scanner intrigued light-seeking moths and other bugs, resulting in a time-lapsed nighttime sample of the various critters in the forest. I’m wondering if you can comment on how you “hack” technology in your work, and what you hope to achieve in that process. Are you guided by a kind of poetic hacking? How so?
In most of my works that involve a technological device (printer, scanner, photocopier, etc.) the technology itself is actually fairly un-altered. I tend to adjust the context in which the object is placed, or introduce variables or conditions that exist outside what I might call the area of expertise of the device. To use your example of the scanner: whether I'm scanning documents or moths in the woods, the scanner is still executing its function in exactly the same way; I've simply adjusted the expected input. I'm interested in looking at a given system and seeing what else it has the potential to speak about aside from its narrow band of acceptable usage, and how its native landscape (office, classroom, computer lab) might be related to other sorts of spaces, systems, or sets of ideas.
Since you brought up the topic of systems, I’m wondering if you could discuss that further. How do you approach the notion of “system” in your work? How do you reveal the presence of these systems, is it simply an act of mimesis or a disturbance or something else?
At different moments, I might describe my work in terms of systems, structures, frameworks, rules, and/or devices. I think there are a few things at play for me on that page of the thesaurus. The first is that I am always looking for various sorts of engines to move a project forward. Just like a physical device I take up may immediately describe a set of material and procedural constraints, I'll often involve a secondary framework--south polar exploration, the history of astronomy--that will both move a material system beyond itself and help to select supporting materials, an installation’s logic, etc. The second is developing a relationship between the system immediately at work and the secondary framework through a third, usually less visible system. To use my recent piece, The Stars Below, as an example: I first developed the material process. A series of solenoid valves release drips of water onto upright sticks of chalk, slowly eroding them. The secondary framework--an installation space suggesting something between an office and a classroom--arises from the materials involved (what is the domain of a stick of chalk? Where does this drip of water originate?) and provides a context in which to situate the erosive activity. Between these two things is a conception of Deep Time, of which slate and chalk are both products, which complicates the scales of time at play within institutional spaces. So, the work tries to establish a series of interrelations between a set of materials, landscapes, and ideas. In short, a system. Whether or not the audience is able to unravel all of that immediately is not as important to me as their awareness that there is a sense of order, an underlying logic at work.
The 12th Istanbul Biennial and ISEA 2011 coincided this year, resulting in a jam-packed week of activity. At any hour of the day, there was a dizzying array of talks, performances, exhibitions, and art openings across the city of Istanbul. Organizing two high profile, international art events at the same time was a wise choice, as it produced an element of synergy between them. The biennial exhibition was especially attentive to the Arab Spring, and the effect this has had in the region, while ISEA was more oriented to the problems and future possibilities of technology. Taking in both the biennial and ISEA in the same week lead me to think about the power of technology, and its significance for both established and emerging democracies.
ISEA kicked off with a keynote entitled “Time to Live” by the writer and academic Sean Cubitt. Taking its title from the TTL mechanism used in the movement of data across a network or computer, Cubitt argued that the struggle over space and time is a defining aspect of digital media, and ultimately, that time becomes alienated in liaison with new technologies. Time, for him, was once a humanistic force, but has now become something that is used over and against humanity through its instrumentalization. In order to chart the progressive alienation of time, Cubitt points to the development of three forms of media that he sees as dominant beginning in the 20th century — spreadsheets, databases, and geographical information systems. These forms have fundamentally altered the use and understanding of both time and space, resulting in their management and optimization towards biopolitical ends. The grid is the organizational method used across spreadsheets, databases, and geographical information systems, and in the closing section of his talk, Cubitt offered the vector as an oppositional form capable of suggesting new alternatives to the grid. In order to unearth differing structures such as the vector, Cubitt urged artists and researchers alike to go back and revisit earlier, obsolete technologies and practices with a fresh eye.
Sean Cubitt's Lecture "Time to Live" at ISEA 2011
I had Cubitt’s call to re-examine history for new solutions at the back of my mind when I visited the Istanbul Biennial, as the show’s unique premise, organized around the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, seemed to similarly dig into the past in order to find pressing correspondences with the present. Curated by Jens Hoffman and Adriano Pedrosa, the exhibition spread across two large warehouses adjacent to the Istanbul Modern. The exhibition’s design, created by architect Ryue Nishizawa, was comprised of a maze-like series of various sized rooms without ceilings, whose entrances and exits emptied out into passageways. Corrugated metal covered the exterior walls of the rooms, giving it the semblance of a building or home. In the catalog, it was explained that the Nishizawa had intended to mimic Istanbul’s intersecting streets and alleys. If anything, the layout allowed for an overlapping exchange between the wide range of subjects explored in the show, as each room was either grouped works around a theme from Gonzales-Torres’ oeuvre or presented work by an individual artist.
Over the summer, I met with Mark Pauline, director and founder of the legendary Survival Research Laboratories, who gave me a tour of his studio workshop in Petaluma, CA. Since its inception in 1978, SRL has quite literally blazed new territory in the field of performance, robotic engineering and sculpture, producing dangerous, overpowering live shows with custom robots built by Mark and his team. The performances provoke both a fear of and fascination with the power of technology, as well as the potential loss of human control over machines. Extremely affable and intelligent, with a no bullshit air about him, Mark’s technical knowledge was astounding. I’ve been following SRL’s work for years, so actually meeting Mark and seeing the robots up close was a real treat.
Survival Research Laboratories is currently operated out of three large garages in Petaluma, an idyllic, historic town about an hour north of San Francisco. Mark moved to the new location in 2007, lugging 180 tons of equipment with him, when the landlord of his old warehouse in San Francisco decided to hike up the rent after decades of affordability. The Petaluma spot seems perfectly suited to SRL’s activities, it even has a parking lot large enough to accommodate test runs of gigantic, menacing robots, and laidback neighbors who never complain about the noise.
The first garage I got a peek at is the laboratory, where the robots are made.
United States of America
For her new installation, emergent entity chant array, Murphy has designed a type of fractal involving self-similar patterns at varying scales. Constructed out of a precisely configured assemblage of 3D printed sculptures, LED lights, light boxes, and wood cut forms, the installation resembles a real life version of her complex and dizzying internet-based works. Like Murphy’s virtual video game environments, emergent entity chant array plays upon the visitor’s perception of both space and dimension, encouraging the exploration of elevated states of consciousness.
Deeply post-humanist in her approach, Murphy views her creative process as a form of meditation in which she seeks an intuitive, harmonious relation with the tools used to produce her work. Her intricate arrangement of forms focuses her own energy and that of the viewer, drawing them in. This sense of an attuned connection with an audience is also an active element in the art collectives of which she is a member, MSHR and Oregon Painting Society.
Architecture and Computation with Keller Easterling and Erica Robles (Part of PROGRAM: Media and Literature at NYU)
United States of America
Architecture and Computation
19 University Place, Great Room
New York, NY 10003
Free and Open to the Public
"PROGRAM" is an interdisciplinary event series organized by graduate students within New York University’s Media, Culture and Communication, English, and Comparative Literature Departments. Intentionally broad in scope, the series will present talks that explore the cultural, historical, aesthetic and political impact of software and programming logic.
This first event in our year-long lecture series explores the intersection of architecture and the logic of computation. How does computation structure our physical world, and in what ways has the function of computational media been applied to the spaces we inhabit?
Keller Easterling (Yale University, Architecture)
Extrastatecraft: Global Infrastructure and Political Arts
Repeatable formulas and spatial products make most of the space in the world. Now, not only buildings but also entire cities have become spatial products that typically reproduce free zone world cities like Shenzhen or Dubai. Space has become a mobile, monetized, almost infrastructural, technology, where infrastructure is not only the urban substructure, but also the urban structure itself. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather in the language of this matrix space. Massive global infrastructure systems, administered by mixtures of public and private cohorts and driven by profound irrationalities, generate de facto, undeclared forms of polity faster than any even quasi-official forms of governance can legislate them—a wilder mongrel than any storied Leviathan for which we have studied political response. Infrastructure space is one crucible within which multiple fields of analysis encounter ample complexity, and it tutors special approaches to both form making and political arts.
Keller Easterling is is an architect, urbanist, writer, and Professor of Architecture at Yale University. Her latest project is titled Extrastatecraft.
Erica Robles (New York University, MCC)
Mediated Congregation: The Crystal Cathedral and God’s Place in a Networked WorldThis talk focuses on an often-overlooked institution that has helped produce and legitimate transformations in 20th century social life: the church. Through an analysis of the Crystal Cathedral Robles situates Protestant spatial production within a broader project of cultural re-formation whereby collective life became conducted via increasingly mediated, mobile, and distributed arrangements. For more than half a century, this influential Southern California ministry helped reshape the style and material conditions for worship. At its height, the Crystal Cathedral was perhaps the most visible Protestant church in the world.
Robles will render three distinctive and successive portraits of the church as a drive-in theater (1955-1957), an indoor-outdoor/television church (1962-1970), and then a globally-broadcast, glass and steel cathedral (1980 – 2012). Each site was a re-imagining of the socio-technical conditions for communion. Together, these portraits will trace a trajectory from the post-war to the present whereby the church helped determine technological and architectural meanings. By designing for mediated congregation, ministries like the Crystal Cathedral inscribed the production of broadcast and then networked geographies with spiritual significance. In so doing, they also translated Christian cosmology into a new technological regime.
Erica Robles is an Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.
Upcoming 2012-2013 PROGRAM events
Media Archaeology with Matthew Kirschenbaum and Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, March 1st, 2013
Values in Technological Design with Geoffrey Bowker and Sara Hendren, April 12th, 2013
The series is sponsored by NYU's Information Futures, the Humanities Initiative, and the Departments of Media Culture, and Communication, English, and Comparative Literature.
Friday, December 10th 2010 / 3:00 - 7:00pm
Myles Jackson (History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, NYU): “The Role of Physicists in Measuring and Defining Nineteenth-Century Musical Aesthetics”
Kevin Bell (English, SUNY Albany): “Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City: Sound as Break in Christopher Harris’s “Still/Here"”
Ana María Ochoa (Music, Columbia University): “Orality and Orthography in Nineteenth-Century Colombia”"
Gary Tomlinson (Music, University of Pennsylvania): “Paleolithic Formalism”
Reception to follow
New York University / Silver Center for Arts and Science / 100 Washington Square East / Department of Music, Rm 220, 2nd floor
Sponsored by the departments of Music and Comparative Literature; with support from the NYU Humanities Initiative
Music, Language, Thought” is an interdisciplinary event series organized by graduate students within New York University’s Music and Comparative Literature Departments. Broadly speaking, the series focuses on the relationship between music and language, and our speakers will examine its theoretical ramifications for politics, aesthetics and historiography. The project stems from ongoing conversation and collaboration between graduate students within these two departments, and will continue on an annual basis.
Rhizome is a leading arts organization dedicated to the creation,
presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic
practices that engage technology. Through open platforms for exchange
and collaboration, our website serves to encourage and expand the
communities around these practices. Our programs, many of which happen
online, include commissions, exhibitions, events, discussion, archives
and portfolios. Rhizome is an affiliate of the New Museum of
Contemporary Art. For more information about Rhizome, visit:
Rhizome seeks a Curatorial Fellow from February through June 2011. The
Fellow will support the curatorial and editorial departments at
Rhizome through research, writing and administration. This position is
a unique opportunity for a person interested in pursuing a career in
contemporary art to further their engagement with the field and hone
their professional skills.
The Curatorial Fellow must be based in New York and must be able to
commit to 16 hours of work per week, for 5 months, beginning in Spring 2011. This position is unpaid, but academic credit may be arranged. The Curatorial Fellow will work directly with artists and be overseen by the Executive Director and Senior Editor.
The Fellow's primary responsibilities include:
* Coordination and development of the Rhizome ArtBase, including
managing submissions and reaching out to artists
*Researching topics for editorial coverage and writing articles for Rhizome's
blog and publications
* Administrative support of programs, such as Rhizome's monthly New
Silent Series at the New Museum
*General support of the organization
QUALIFICATIONS: Candidates should have a high level of familiarity
with contemporary art and particularly new media and its history.
Education or advanced experience beyond the undergraduate level is
preferred. At a minimum, the candidate should have very strong
writing, editing, and analytical skills, and very high internet
literacy. Knowledge of Microsoft Office software is also required and
basic Photoshop skills are preferred.
TO APPLY: Please email a cover letter, resume or c.v., three
references, and three writing samples (url's or attachments) to Ceci Moss editor(at)rhizome.org. Review of applications will begin
immediately. Starting date is February 15, 2011
DEADLINE: February 3, 2011
The New Museum, New York’s only museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art, seeks an Associate Development Director, Grants to oversee and manage the institution’s $2 million grants portfolio. This position works closely with the Director of Development to cultivate, expand, and steward foundation, corporate, and government donors. S/He will oversee all aspects of institutional grants: prospecting and researching; writing proposals and letters of inquiry and final reports; and developing financials in accordance with each grant-making institution’s guidelines. Candidates should possess outstanding expository and persuasive writing skills, a high level of initiative, and an ability to work independently and as part of a team, as the situation requires. Candidates must have a proven track record and demonstrated success with institutional donors including municipal, state, and federal funding agencies. An interest in contemporary art and knowledge of the New York arts funding community is highly preferred.
The Associate Development Director, Grants also serves as the Development Manager for Rhizome, the New Museum’s affiliate new media arts organization who contracts the NM for development services (1 day a week). S/he reports to the Director of Development at the New Museum and the Director of Rhizome.
Primary Responsibilities for New Museum and Rhizome
* Manage and implement foundation, corporate, and government institutional giving initiatives
* Work with Director of Development, Director’s Office, and Director of Rhizome to cultivate, expand, and steward institutional donor relationships
* Timely and quality production of grant submissions and reporting, and other proposals as needed
* Manage an active grants calendar in Raiser’s Edge and update stewardship and cultivation actions as needed
* Facilitate donor communications for and be a primary steward to foundations, corporations, and government agencies
* Strategize on how best to present the New Museum to potential and current funders
* Liaise with other Museum Departments for Development purposes; coordinate inter-Departmental Development meetings and projects to ensure prompt and accurate grant compliance
* Implementation of grant, sponsorship, and major gift contracts including recognition, reporting, and added events and programs
* Maintain familiarity with the New Museum and Rhizome’s range of programs and accurately portrays organizational activities in verbal and written communications
* Assist in the development of annual grants budgets for New Museum; lead development of annual grants budget for Rhizome
* Work closely with the Rhizome Director on board, major donor, and community campaign communications
* Provide support for select fundraising events including: museum VIP openings and spring gala, and Rhizome fundraising events
MA in Art History, Arts Administration, Museum Studies, English, or equivalent preferred. A minimum of three years experience writing mid to high level grants for cultural institutions, excellent communication skills, experience in tracking grants and relationships in Raiser’s Edge, keen attention to detail, superior copy editing skills, strong follow through, and ability to interact with and anticipate funder benefits/needs are required. Excellent time management and ability to meet deadlines; requires flexibility to assume a workload that frequently necessitates an adjustment of priorities. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and its associated applications is required.
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and two grant writing samples which demonstrate their range of writing skill to: devjobs[AT]newmuseum.org.