The USB-harddrive hanging on the wall contains a collection of illegally downloaded files, all of which contain the words "Steal This..." within their titles. The accompanying text-file catalogues all of that media and illustrates the files' locations on my computer's harddrive.
-- STATEMENT FROM THE ARTIST
Originally founded in 1979 by Richard Fielding, Andrew Wright and Tom Ellard, Severed Heads was an electronic group based in Sydney. They used synthesizers, tape loops, and an array of electronics to yield a distinctive sound, one which could most easily be described as industrial music, which later developed into abstract pop. While the lineup changed over the years, Tom Ellard has been the main continuing force in the group, up until his announcement of its end in 2008. In 1983, Severed Heads began integrating live video in their performances, which became a mainstay in their work. This post collects videos of the group, the majority of which date from the early 1980s, and many of which document their use of video synthesizers. For more information about everything Severed Heads, check Ellard's official site.
1. Glowing Rectangles
For all the diversity of the contemporary media ecology - network, broadcast, games, mobile - one technical form is entirely dominant. Screens are everywhere, at every scale, in every context. As well as the archetypal "big" and "small" screens of cinema and television we are now familiar with pocket- and book-sized screens, public screens as advertising or signage, urban screens at architectural scales. As satirical news site The Onion observes, we "spend the vast majority of each day staring at, interacting with, and deriving satisfaction from glowing rectangles."
Formally and technically these screens vary - in size and aspect ratio, display technology, spatiotemporal limits, and so on. They are united however in two basic attributes, which are something like the contract of the screen. First, the screen operates as a mediating substrate for its content - the screen itself recedes in favor of its hosted image. The screen is self-effacing (though never of course absent or invisible). This tendency is clearly evident in screen design and technology; we prize screens that are slight and bright - those that best make themselves disappear. Apple's "Retina" display technology claims to have passed an important perceptual threshold of self-effacement, attaining a spatial density so high that individual pixels are indistinguishable to the naked eye (below - image Bryan Jones).
The second key attribute of contemporary digital screens is their tendency to generality. The self-effacing substrate of the screen is increasingly a general-purpose substrate - unlinked to any specific content type; equally capable of displaying anything - text, image, web site, video, or word-processor. This attribute is coupled of course to the generality of networked computing; since the era of multimedia the computer screen has led the way in modeling itself as a container for anything (just as the computer models itself a "machine for anything"). The past decade has simply seen this general-purpose container proliferate across scales and contexts, ushering us into the era of glowing rectangles.
However over the past decade in design and the media arts, a wave of practice has appeared which as this paper will argue, resists the dominance of the glowing rectangle. Given the near-total cultural saturation of the screen, this is unsurprising, given the ongoing cultural dance of fringe and mainstream in which this practice participates. This is not simply a story of resistance however. In proposing and describing two particular strains of "post-screen" practice, this paper aims firstly to outline the shared terms of their relationship with the screen, and in the process develop a more detailed sense of these conceptual devices of generality, outlined above, and its opposite, specificity. Secondly, and more briefly, it outlines a theorisation of this practice, invoking transmateriality, an account of the paradoxical materiality of (especially digital) media, and Gumbrecht's notion of presence.
-- EXCERPT FROM "AFTER THE SCREEN: ARRAY AESTHETICS AND TRANSMATERIALITY" BY MITCHELL WHITELAW
[Note: Whitelaw explored some of the ideas in this paper previously in his "Right Here, Right Now - HC Gilje's Networks of Specificity" republished in Rhizome News on December 20, 2009]
United States of America
Commissioned by YBCA, Gordon’s new installation—part of her solo exhibition It Only Happens All of the Time—is an immersive sonic experience that emphasizes the primacy of the embodied experience; one that encourages the visitor to navigate the space through a mode of listening that is both felt and heard. Gordon explores sound’s ability to establish different levels of intimacy, and the exhibition’s title points towards the ubiquitous presence of sound in that process, whether it exists at the periphery or center of our awareness. The installation’s sound-absorbing walls reference the design of anechoic chambers found in military and scientific testing facilities, which insulate and absorb sound reflections. In contrast to the walls of the installation, which gestures towards a calculated experience, the sculpture Love Seat situated within this contained environment suggests another, more emancipated, arrangement. Surrounded by a multichannel speaker system distributed throughout the gallery, Love Seat encourages visitors to sit and share in a listening experience with others, while maintaining a physical separation. Fostering an exchange between visitors that wavers between proximity and distance, Love Seat parallels how we listen together.
Gordon’s other works for the exhibition echo a similar concept—sound as experienced within the body becomes a way to feel with others, and to experience the mechanisms of built space through non-visual means. Her film Everyone Will Be Here Now But Me documents a site-specific sound environment created within the empty offices of the Los Angeles Food Center. It follows visitors as they explore sound installations distributed throughout the building, with the option to listen through binaural microphones that captured the 3D stereo sound of the space. The suspended figures in Gordon’s new series of drawings and watercolors Filter Resonance B more subtly signal the body; wire-like lines protrude and drift through these organ-like forms, a reference to the potential for connectivity. Gordon imagines that the drawings represent actual filters, which isolate information, and their presentation is meant to evoke the interfaces of audio filters in music software, which allow the user to directly regulate reverb, equalization, and so on by manipulating graphic elements. Much like the show itself, these strange configurations invite reflection on the many ways the body is instrumentalized through technology.
About Control: Technology in Culture
Control: Technology in Culture, curated by Ceci Moss, Assistant Curator of Visual Arts, is YBCA’s new series of exhibitions showcasing work by emerging and mid-career artists who examine the social, cultural, and experiential implications of technology. The series seeks to prompt timely questions about the profound and far-reaching influence of technology in our daily lives by focusing on artists whose work spans a multitude of disciplines and relates to a diverse set of issues, including architecture, acoustics, psychology, labor, consumerism, the environment, and the military.
The term “control” refers to philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s theory that, as a result of the ever-increasing role of information technology, Michel Foucault’s “disciplinary society” of the 20th century has given way to a “control society” in the 21st century. In contrast to discipline, which molds the individual through confinement in factories, prisons, and schools, control is diffuse, adaptable, and ubiquitous, modulating rather than molding the individual.
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