Evelin Stermitz
Since 2005
es@mur.at
Works in Austria

PORTFOLIO (2)
BIO
Evelin Stermitz is working on media and new media art projects by using different media like photography, video and net, including installations and conceptual works.
The focus of art work is on gender based female and socio-cultural topics. The issues of projects are about gender, role models and the gap between man and woman referring to the theory of Jacques Lacan in terms of "the Other" and the performativity of the body by Judith Butler. An important task is the female body and the outgoing connection to created symbolic meanings of gender in history and nowadays. A main emphasis is on performative works.
In media theory the main interest is on the representation and approach of the female body in everyday media and media art encouraged by Barbara Kruger's work "Your body is a battleground."
Completed the study of Media Communication at the University Klagenfurt, Austria, with a master's degree in Philosophy on the thesis "Imagoes of Dancing Women in Film" in the year 1999.
Received a scholarship for the postgraduate study of Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, (Prof. Milan Pajk - photography, Prof. Srečo Dragan - video and new media) in the year 2004 and graduated with a Master of Arts degree on the thesis "The Female Body in Context of Media Art" in the year 2007.

Grants:
2004 - 2007 Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Postgraduate study of Visual Communication (Photography, Video and New Media).
2006 International Summer Art School of the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. New Media Workshop 2D Mutant Zombies (Low-Key Low-Tech Identity Mapping) by Dejan Grba.
2006 International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria. Media works: Dream, dreams / things imagined, Sigmund Freud's 150th birthday, Media class by VALIE EXPORT.

Selected Exhibitions:
2010 FORCE: on the Culture of Rape, Current Gallery, Baltimore, USA / Mediations Biennale, Erased Walls, ConcentArt, Berlin, Germany / All My Independent Women, Casa da Esquina, Coimbra, Portugal / Indomitable Women, CCDFB Centre Cultura de Dones Francesca Bonnemaison, Barcelona, Spain / RED: The Gendered Color in Frames, Photon Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia / NapoliDanza, 17th International Festival of Videodance, Il Coreografo Elettronico, PAN Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples, Italy / IX Festival Internacional de la Imagen, VI Muestra Monográfica de Media Art, CCC Centro Cultural y de Convenciones Teatro los Fundadores, Manizales, Colombia / Magmart | Video under Volcano, CAM Casoria Contemporary Art Museum and PAN Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples, Italy / 2009 Videomedeja, Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia / BAC! 10.0, Pandora’s B., Festival International de Arte Contemporáneo en Barcelona and Indomitable Women, Fundació Joan Miró and CCCB Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain / 2008 "Femmes, femmes, femmes", MAC/VAL Musée d'Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine, France / Plus 3 Ferris Wheels, Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University / Center for the Arts, University at Buffalo, New York / Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University / Alfred University, New York, USA / 2007 chico.art.net v.4, The Electronic Arts Program, California State University, USA / 1.3 Festival of Video and New Media Art, Mestna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia / IMAGINING OURSELVES, International Museum of Women, San Francisco, USA / Video Art in the Age of the Internet, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, USA / cyber feminism past forward, Austrian Association of Women Artists, Vienna, Austria / FILE Rio / 2006 FILE São Paulo, Brazil / 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 FSPACE, Paris International Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival, Trianon, Paris, France / 2006 Cyberfem. Feminisms on the electronic landscape., EACC Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castelló, Castelló, Spain / Stop Violence Against Women, C2C Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic / 2006 and 2008 Rdeče Zore - Red Dawns, International Feminist and Queer festival, Galerija Alkatraz, Metelkova mesto, Ljubljana, Slovenia

More about her works can be seen at her personal website http://evelinstermitz.net
Discussions (19) Opportunities (4) Events (13) Jobs (0)
EVENT

ArtFem.TV


Dates:
Wed Jul 01, 2009 00:00 - Wed Jul 01, 2009

ArtFem.TV is an online television programming presenting Art and Feminism.
The aim of ArtFem.TV is to foster Women in the Arts, their art works and projects, to create an international online television screen for the creativity, images and voices of Women.
ArtFem.TV is a non-profit artist run ITV and media art portal about Art and Feminism.
URL http://artfem.tv
For inquiries please contact foundress, curator and editor Evelin Stermitz [es@mur.at].


EVENT

VIDEO VORTEX 4


Dates:
Thu May 21, 2009 00:00 - Tue May 19, 2009

Location:
Croatia

VIDEO VORTEX 4

International Conference in Split, Croatia, May 21 - 23, 2009

Organized by the Department of Film and Video at the Academy of Arts University of Split
and Platforma 9.81, in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam.
Director of the conference program: Dan Oki. Organization commitee: Toni Mestrovic,
Dan Oki, Dinko Peracic, Sandra Sterle and Miranda Veljacic.

http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/weblog/2009/05/13/video-vortex-split-program-updated/

VIDEO VORTEX 4 International Conference includes contributions by:
Perry Bard, Natalie Bookchin, Maarten Brinkerink, Vito Campanelli, David Clark, Dagan Cohen,
Cym and the Aethernauts, Alejandro Duque, Albert Figurt, Stefan Heidenreich, Jasmina Kallay,
Sarah Kessene, Lev Manovich, Dalibor Martinis, Gabriel Menotti, Ana Peraica, Valentina Rao,
Shelly Silver, Jan Simons, Amir Soltani, Antanas Stancius, Evelin Stermitz, David Teh, Vera Tollmann,
Andreas Treske, Sasa Vojkovic, Nenad Vukusic Sebastijan, Linda Wallace, Paul Wiersbinski,
Kuros Yalpani, and Emile Zile.

Detailed program schedule is available here:
http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/videovortex/video-vortex-split/program


EVENT

SPECULUM ARTIUM 09


Dates:
Tue May 12, 2009 00:00 - Thu May 14, 2009

Location:
Slovenia

SPECULUM ARTIUM 09
Festival of Inter-Media Art
May 12 - 15, 2009
Delavski dom Trbovlje, Trbovlje, Slovenia

Organized by: Delavski dom Trbovlje / Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia / Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia / ArtNetLab Society for Connecting Art and Science.

http://black.fri.uni-lj.si/2009/index.php?option=com\_artnetlab&EventID=32

This year's edition of the festival of inter-media art SPECULUM ARTIUM 09 is a continuation of a cultural dialogue between two European academies and one from Asia. It places the chosen works of students right beside a selection of works of three recognised new-media artists chosen by the artist, theoretician and professor Peter Weibl from ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe).

Three student works have been chosen from the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology. Similarly, the selection was made by professor Christa Sommerer and assistant Michaela Ortner at the University of Art and Design in Linz and three student works have been chosen by professor Sreco Dragan, Chair of Video and New Media studies at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and Design.

The students' works are contextual, interactive, conceptual and performative. They function as a subversive intermediary between art, technology and society. They are shown not only to enable a critical reflexion, but also to guide the visitor in the process of gaining new techno experiences.

The focus is on recognizing specific training techniques (modules) developed by the three academies and on the discovery of new strategies on the basis of connecting differences.
In this context the historical background of the Japanese society in which the traditional culture is still present, to this day, as an important part of their contemporary art and technology, has an exceptional meaning for the western digital society as a society inclined to exclude. On the other hand, it is interesting to observe what the development and placement of mobile and performative interactive projects in a public place mean to the students of Linz academy, where the yearly festival Ars Electronica is their natural social environment.

In this triangle of differences, we contribute the experience of connecting the chair of Video and New Media at the Ljubljana art academy to the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences with common projects as a form of connecting an art concept to a scientific idea. It is a unique and successful netting of sociology and scientific sphere. At the same time we are constantly looking for places in which these experimental settings are shown. Not only are they shown in festivals, but also in research laboratories, vee-jay clubs, university classes, on the internet and through mobile technology companies. In a perpetual motion of finding the right spot and the most suitable partners to help us achieve our goals we have chosen this year the Delavski dom Trbovlje and the City Art Museum in Ljubljana.

TRBOVLJE - THE NEW MEDIA SETTING is the slogan of this town that counts on the chance to be able to write its name on the world map of active new media art happenings. This is the town that launched the group LAIBACH and Iztok Kovac with his ballet group EN KNAP.

The extended parallel program SPECULUM ARTIUM includes also: “Video Match 09” - a selection of student video works from the La Esmeralda academy from Mexico City curated by Neli Ružić and video works from ALUO Ljubljana chosen by assistant professor Dusan Bucar, “BREAKING THE SPACE” - a selection of Cyberfeminist Activist Net Art curated by Evelin Stermitz from Austria, an opening musical spectacle by Laibach, a workshop “Video Zone Trbovlje” that will enable the spectator to enter in private houses through a techno-performance as a link between the artist-performer and the public and a theoretical debate about current modules of university media studies.

Prof. Sreco Dragan
Chair Principal, Department of Video and New Media
Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


DISCUSSION

Crossings and Currents: An Interview with Margot Lovejoy


Crossings and Currents: An Interview with Margot Lovejoy
by Evelin Stermitz, May 2009

Margot Lovejoy is a multi-disciplinary artist, born in Canada, studied in France and England, moved to New York with her husband and three children in the late sixties and completed her studies at the Pratt Institute. She is now Professor Emerita, Visual Arts at SUNY Purchase and author of “Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age” (Routledge 2004). She has received many grants over time including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Gregory Millard Fellowship and an Arts International Grant as well as several NYSCA awards. Her work has been shown in New York at MoMA and the Whitney Biennial, as well as internationally at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany and the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain, amongst others. The installation aspect of her new website and installation project CONFESS is currently exhibited at the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY) until the end of July 2009.
http://margotlovejoy.com

Evelin Stermitz: In your recent web based installation you are inviting the audience to confess! Could you describe your project of secrets?

Margot Lovejoy: The CONFESS art project is a participatory on-line group therapy project as well as an archive of personal narratives. You submit your story anonymously either online or speaking by phone via a voice filtered system. You are able to hear confessions of others and explore them through different filters such as themes, age, gender, key words, and comments. The text based narratives are translated into sound using TTS software.
As an installation, it’s a dramatic circular whispering space of hanging audio sculptures. Participants pull down these confess shapes and listen to the narratives. They can then go to the confess kiosk to where they can submit their own confessions anonymously either by phone or online and explore a database of others’ confessions sorted by the seven themes: secrets, temptation, failures, betrayal, hate, violence, extremes. http://confess-it.com

E.S: Is there a personal inducement behind this work? What was your inspiration for CONFESS?

M.L: It’s the underside of my earlier 2002 web and installation project TURNS (http://myturningpoint.com) about submitting the narrative of a major turning point that changed your life. In relation to this work, I wanted to explore the part of your life you don’t tend to talk about.
On another level, I see the personal as political. As a result, much of my work has to do with using new communication potential as a means for reaching out to find ways of understanding the personal, through sharing, and tackling awareness of the major problems we all face. For example, domestic violence is a hidden world-wide human rights violation. We have laws to prevent it, but it is still perpetrated all the way from Afghanistan to families near you or even to local Catholic priests. After years of abuse, we have recently broken the silence in some regards. Some aspects of my work, whether it’s an installation, an interactive project, or an artist book, may touch on these kinds of issues in different ways. Examples are ANAMNESIA, the return of memory (1993); SALVAGE, seeking the lost (1998); and THE BOOK OF PLAGUES (1994), dealing with current panic, blame, indifference to each new pandemic such as AIDS.

E.S: Your interest in digital means for creating art works has been part of your practice for many years - since the early 1980’s. How did you become engaged in the use of Digital Media?

M.L.: I've always been interested in research and experimentation. My development as a digital artist grew out of conceptual mixed media work in printmaking, photography and artist’s books in the seventies. Printmaking attracted me more than other traditional media at the time because the process allowed me to think about different forms of representation from many points of view. I was also involved with the fluidity of photography. I began to project drawings and high contrast photographic imagery used in separating levels of color in my prints. This led to my first installation in 1985. From then on, I moved from the print medium to the challenging area of projection installations.
I bought my first computer in 1982. Soon after, I received my first grant from Siggraph for a project which included programmed slide projections and sound. In time, I became more and more involved with art and technology issues in my work and wrote my first book -- "Postmodern Currents: Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media" (UMI Press, 1989). Over several years, the research and writing of this text about the impact of technology on art became a major influence on my own development as an artist.

E.S.: How do theory and technology come together in your works?

M.L.: I explored the major shift in representation which took place when photography’s tonal structure was superseded by digital means with its potential for total image manipulation and control. This shift opened up a vital new area of investigation that brought my work into connection with the visual language of film, and included sound, movement, multiple images, text and aspects of sculpture.
Influenced by film theory, I began to use montage as a major principle in my work. Film-maker Sergei Eisenstein had described montage as a theory of visual relationships wherein vital missing information (significance or meaning that could not be contained in an actual single picture) is hidden in the relational space between two or more contrasting images. Here I found a kind of structural tension which generates thinking and questioning, resulting in a dynamic form of communication because the spectator must participate in discovering meaning by lining up split screens to gauge the gap between the images. This fascination with audience interaction and communication has stayed with me since then and became fundamental to my contemporary work in digital media. Today, I see my work as a developmental continuum crossing over in using media as a medium to where I am now -- creating digitally-based works which rely fundamentally on participation and communication. However, I also continue to use the digital as a tool to experiment in creating artists books and photographs.

E.S.: Socio-cultural aspects and feminist issues are formalized in your media installations and other digital works. Which of these are your main concerns and how do you approach their artistic articulation?

M.L.: The content of my work expanded dramatically from the mid eighties. This time period created an environment that allowed for sharing and researching and became a way of gaining insight about deeply felt social issues I wished to interpret and dramatize for others. These thematic issues now moved me from formal issues about representation which had defined my earlier work’s content and led me to influences from mythology, anthropology, history, feminist and postmodern theory.
An example from this period is my LABYRINTH project (1988), a multimedia projection in three rooms that explores the power of the media to create false consciousness by controlling cultural identity. As a gender related work, it asked questions about the roles of the observer and the observed and the power relations between them. It deals with the way we are perceived by others, and how cultural constructs and stereotypes control our feelings about ourselves. Surveillance cameras followed viewers through a labyrinthian structure to the main viewing area, which contained five contrasting screens with moving images and sound. This project also resulted in my artist’s book of the same title. Over time, I’ve created other projects based on issues such as STORM FROM PARADISE (1999), on the issue of the wounds of time, then BLACK BOX (1992), on the agenda of the environment, and PARTHENIA (1995), on the theme of domestic violence.

E.S.: Could you tell more about your work PARTHENIA. What impact did it have? What responses did you get on this critical theme?

M.L.: With the support of the Queens Museum, I received the 1994 Arts International grant to India. As part of the grant requirements, I worked with Sakhi, a domestic violence group established by the Indian diaspora operating in New York. We discussed issues and focussed on the requirements needed for the exhibition and workshops in the Queens Museum when I returned from Madras three months later. There I travelled and met with several active domestic violence groups in India, went to courts, studied the culture and gathered imagery and ideas. I worked with a dance group there, creating the choreography and directing the dancers. I videotaped the dance imagery needed to create the two channel video projections for the final project. I felt the work should be a memorial to the victims of domestic violence. I chose the title “Parthenia” which relates to “She who alone generates herself and the universe”.
On my return, I again met with Sakhi. We discussed workshops to be held during the exhibition and how we could find participants. The first idea we had was to draw slogans and images on walls within the city (as was being done in Bangalore, India). But this was too difficult to organize -- so, with the museum’s help, I created a mail-in brochure with a space for participatory drawings and writings that were sent out around the country. More than a hundred arrived and were fastened to the walls of the memorial. The exhibition attracted a large audience. Workshops and lectures augmented interest as well as did many reviews in local newspapers.
Because I wanted very much to reach a wider audience and to bring the memorial to the attention of the UN Women’s Conference taking place in Bejing at that time, I began to create my first website with the simple HTML tools available. The website could not only help break the silence to a larger audience, but it could also provide statistics and resources for abuse victims -- a means not available within the structure of the installation. The site continues to be in service. http://parthenia.com

E.S.: How did the internet shape your works and what are your main considerations using the web as an artistic media and as part of larger projects?

M.L: I was immediately interested in the community based potential of the web as a participatory medium rather than just a tool. I thought of a website as a means to connect with a wide audience and allow interaction of participants to share knowledge and ideas. Sharing something of themselves in the project, participants become collaborators. While I continued to create projection installations such as the complex interactive multi-user installation SALVAGE 1999 (which made use of new software and programming techniques), I was not satisfied with the level of participation, response, and meaningfulness to be derived from these works. It was not until I began to produce TURNS, beginning in 2001, when web technology had become far more advanced, that we were able to fully develop a comprehensive system for word filtering and for uploading images, a means of engaging contributors to more dynamically evolve and respond through submitting their own narratives or drawings. http://myturningpoint.com

E.S: How would you describe the involved influence or reciprocity in articulating and realizing your artistic interrogation?

M.L: Using digital media as a medium signals a willingness to relinquish the traditions of authorship. For example, when I started to design TURNS as a fully participatory experience - one that privileges the experience of the audience over the artist’s intentions, I was essentially becoming more of an ethnographer creating a “frame” of context. I realized this kind of community based system could utilize processes of exchange, learning, and adaptation. I understood they are built on the premise that meaning in a work of art is dependent on communication between individuals and groups. These systems provide a context for participants to reflect on their personal understandings about their own social and political contexts and to share these with others.

E.S.: Do you think of your work as public art? Do you regard art as part of life as did John Cage and the Fluxus Movement in the 70’s?

M.L.: Yes, I regard my media work as a form of public art because, on the whole, it has become not only participatory but accessible to a wide audience in powerful new ways. Whereas the only way participation takes place in experiencing traditional art objects such as a painting or sculpture has been simply to interpret the artwork on the level of an individual understanding.
The Fluxus movement in the seventies played with the social role of art and pulled people away from galleries and theatre environments to familiar alternative locations more related to their own lifestyles using simple found materials for creating artworks and events. John Cage also redirected audiences to be aware of participation in the creative process.
Today there is no doubt that technological advances are opening the potential for creative action to everyone with a computer. Access to creative tools for all users leads us to think of Joseph Beuys’ concept of “Social Sculpture” -- that any person can become creatively active. By stating his provocative and often misunderstood statement that each person is an artist, he did not mean that everyone is a painter or a sculptor. Rather, he expressed the belief that every individual possesses a form of creative power.

E.S.: What do you think about New Media Art in a theoretical context and current frame?

M.L.: I have been very influenced by the essays of Water Benjamin regarding technological change. In his essay “The Author as Producer” (1934), he described the major recasting of artistic forms and authorial roles that were being challenged. He emphasized the social function of art. He urged artists to be aware of the potential of new technologies and to position themselves not only in terms of their responsibility to a wide public but also with regard to their power to create meaningful work that could reverberate within society. In this essay, he asked: What is the relation of a work to the modes of production of its time? What is its position in them? Does it merely supply a system that already exists without changing or transforming it? Benjamin asked those using new technologies to choose a production medium that could induce others to participate: “An apparatus is better the more consumers it is able to turn into producers, that is … spectators into collaborators”. Other theorists have made us think further. Bakhtin discusses the dialogic imagination; Bourriaud, relational aesthetics; Deleuz leads us to think of issues which are focused less on what art is and more on what it can do.
Within this very time frame, we are experiencing the community based net systems famously as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace plus Blogs that are, in many ways, transforming social and cultural life with the current new means of communication.
There is a greater need for art than ever before. New forms of artwork such as environmental, biological, and community projects are being developed due to the continuing advances in technology. Art is taking on new forms and aesthetic characteristics as a result of database potential to make powerful new works such as those of Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Jenny Holzer.

E.S: What about the possibility of creating a new different hyper space on the net with its digital tools? Or has it already commonly failed, because of its origin?

M.L.: The internet has already become a parallel world to an amazing degree, with similar aspects of rights and wrongs we experience in the real world -- It’s capable of both public manipulation as well as being a provider of public knowledge and development. We often hear mention that we are only in the earliest stages of its development. However, the incredible speed of development we are dealing with at the moment is overwhelming us - destroying such media as television, newspapers and magazine, and forcing the end of many traditional media. Yet it’s proof that we have entered territory of amazing potential and hope for global progress in the long run. Questions arise about censorship and commerce. So far, there has been resistance to censorship of the internet except for some countries such as China… It is, however, becoming ever more commercialized and there is pressure to pay for access to it.
Basically, we need to remember that only a fraction of the world population has access to computers. It is still difficult to predict how we will develop globally in terms of the existing political and economic conditions (and the endless threat of nuclear war). Due to the economic crisis of the moment, will we ever plan to travel again to the moon or go to Mars? Seen in this context, Hyper Space may loose some of its appeal for a time…

E.S.: More women are involved in Media and New Media Art nowadays, how do you view this gendered ratio?

M.L.: Within our context, at this time, research shows that many North American and European women have made enormous advances in society since the 1970’s, and have now challenged men’s abilities in gaining the highest degrees at universities. At the same time, digital use has helped to transform process in every discipline from science to the humanities. Of course, women have been extremely interested in the potential of new technologies such as the Internet. However, in general, their interest in developing technological art works tend to be different from wide-spread male fascination with gaming and the development of (sometimes) violent video projects. On the whole, women tend to be more interested in content such as environmental issues, community, identity and social issues. -- They tend, like pioneer artist Lynn Hershman, to explore new technologies so as to imagine and create new data based original art works and films, while using the same new technological developments as their male counterparts.

\_

DISCUSSION

Man With A Movie Camera: The Global Remake - Interview with Perry Bard


Man With A Movie Camera: The Global Remake
Interview with Perry Bard, by Evelin Stermitz, November 2008

Interview with artist Perry Bard on her recent participatory global remake of Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera. Perry Bard works with electronic media and lives in New York. Aside from site-specific public works she has exhibited videos and installations at museums such as MoMA, P.S.1., the Reina Sofia, amongst others. The global remake of Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera has been screened internationally: on public LED displays in the UK and Australia, at the Las Palmas International Film Festival, at Joyce Yahouda Gallery in Montreal, Ueno Town Art Museum Tokyo, the National Center for Contemporary Art Ekaterinburg and Moscow, Ars Electronica 2008 and more.

http://dziga.perrybard.net
http://perrybard.net

Evelin Stermitz: In which aspects did your former works influence your recent Vertov remake and how did you decide to create such an intense global project?

Perry Bard: One of my persistent concerns is the question of access, the digital divide, who is included, who is left out. I’m particularly interested in public space as a venue.
In 2000 I set up a screen in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal Building in New York to present The Terminal Salon, a portrait of the community done in collaboration with local residents of a government funded apartment complex who shot all the video. When we were testing the projection passersby asked how they could be on the screen and I had no way to do that. The experience of installing the piece gave me the idea to work with a database.
While I was working on The Terminal Salon I was invited to participate in VideoArchaeology in Sofia. My Staten Island project was taking so long (a year), I had to go to Sofia with a plan and I decided to reshoot four minutes of Man With A Movie Camera in collaboration with Bulgarian artist, Boyan Dobrev, who wanted to learn about video. Vertov was an influence on my work, Sofia in 1999 was in transition and I thought the parallel could be interesting. Putting those two experiences together led to Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake.

ES: How did you investigate the basis of the project in accordance with your primary idea?

PB: The primary idea was to use global input via the internet to generate multiple versions of one film to be screened in public space and on the web.
That meant two sets of files - lo rez for the web and hi rez for large scale projection - and a lot of technical details that have to do with trying to make something global for video when there isn’t one video standard, trying to make something for the internet when people have different kinds and levels of access, and trying to make something that is cross platform (unless you upload via cellphone) - which is still something many media sophisticated people haven’t ever addressed, infinite software details which my programmer John Weir could elaborate.
And - the whole world doesn’t speak English.
The investigation is the work that led me to this project. Further investigation is hit and run. Try something if it works, go, if not move on.
Vertov’s 1929 film is a great point of departure for the internet because it has so many dimensions from the documentary to the performative to the effects along with its use of an archive which translates to a database and it’s a film within a film. It was shot in three different cities, going global was obvious and the rhythm is very contemporary, there’s no shot in the film longer than twenty seconds. It seemed like a perfect vehicle for global input and in keeping with Vertov’s intentions as a filmmaker.

ES: Did you have any funding for the project and a specific time frame?

PB: The piece was a Bigger Picture Commission (http://www.biggerpictureuk.net) via Cornerhouse Manchester in collaboration with the Arts Council of England and the BBC. It was destined for four public LED displays in the UK.
I had six months between receiving the commission and the premiere i.e. next to no time. When I received the commission I was asked not to tell anyone until the formal announcement was released so I busied myself by logging the entire film shot by shot. In Sofia I had used 4 minutes of the film and I was originally thinking I would do 15 minutes in the UK - but how do you excerpt 15 minutes from a multi-layered masterpiece? I immediately decided I would have to look at this as a longer term project - I was really interested in what the remake could/might become if it were global and if I invited interpretation - and I knew in six months we’d have just scratched the surface.

ES: What were the difficulties and what were the points of new insights of this vast project?

PB: There were a lot of ideas that I dismissed for one reason or another. For instance I thought if I had the same shots from many different parts of the world viewers should be able to select their screenings geographically. But six months was too short to make that an option. I was toying with the idea of letting viewers shuffle the order of the scenes and shots but I decided it was more interesting to revisit Vertov. I divided the film into one-minute scenes which has nothing to do with Vertov’s structure: I did it to facilitate browsing and uploads. I thought people should be able to upload one-minute scenes - we tried but we couldn’t handle that.
One of the greatest challenges in a participatory work is creating the network and getting the participation. This has turned into my fulltime job. I made one great decision from the start: because email lists that I’m on are so Western and I was determined to have global input I decided to commission foreign correspondents from parts of the world my email lists don’t reach. I have people in Korea, China, Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Israel, Lebanon, Russia, Serbia, Pakistan. Their role is to organize through their mailing lists, blogs, facebook, the upload of one minute of video. OK, one person in each of those countries and so many countries - even continents - missing, isn’t enough. That’s still on my to do list.
Language is another issue. Even though I have foreign correspondents they can‘t be sitting next to everyone in their country who browses the site. I now have the site in Spanish, French and Chinese and I’d like more translations.
The biggest issue is server space. We can’t stream the remake right now for lack of space. The software builds a new film (a daily remake) each day based on the most recent uploads. Shot 441 for example has seven uploads which means there are at least seven versions of the film as the shots rotate with each screening. The ideal scenario is that the daily remake streams on the website. Right now the website has a November 2007 version and I’ve uploaded an October 2008 version to youtube. SO IF ANYONE READING THIS HAS SERVER SPACE TO DONATE PLEASE CONTACT ME.
New Insights: Well, this isn’t a new insight but it’s something to keep remembering.
All is not equal on the global network. I don’t think I need to elaborate.

ES: The project has been screened internationally, could you tell more about the different screenings, presentations and exhibitions and your experiences with them in a global context?

PB: The piece is meant for multiple venues and the biggest difference in the screenings has to do with the venue. It works differently and people view it differently whether it’s on a public LED display, in a museum or gallery, at a film festival. At the premiere in Manchester UK which was in a park where there was seating people hung out and watched a good portion of it. At the UK screening in Norwich where the screen was on top of a truck in a plaza that had an ice rink, a book-signing, a robot handing out flyers, no one even noticed it. In Montreal where it was an installation (projection of remake plus website on monitor) at Joyce Yahouda Gallery the gallery reported to me that people sat an average of 25 minutes and many sat through the entire 67 minute remake. I was surprised as I estimate gallery viewing time at 6 minutes max.

In Sheffield, Tokyo, Beijing I did workshops where locals uploaded footage to the remake before it was projected. One is happening in Rio now - this is really ideal in terms of linking the virtual and physical experiences of the piece - the people who upload get to see their uploads projected - and we all know bigger is better.
Ultimately I’m really interested in using media as a catalyst for change. In the Ferry Terminal Building the screen stimulated an active social space because people gathered there for at least five minutes before each boat (their only other option was to eat Dunkin Donuts).

ES: Some of your other projects also include public art and installations. Do you see your Vertov project in this context and what are your experiences with public art projects, what is your approach?

PB: When artists first began using video as a medium there was the utopian notion these works would be programmed on broadcast television - in the U.S. prime time is reserved for entertainment and embedded journalism. To combat this, I’ve done a number of site-specific works where I’ve installed a “local channel” - public screens displaying community based video. I’m also interested in the fact that public LED displays are fast becoming the new real estate. There should be a Percent for Art for electronic billboards.
The Vertov project is somewhat different from my other public video installations in that one of the partners is the BBC. They’ve installed public screens for non-commercial use in the Northeast of England with more screens in the works. So my struggle here has more to do with the internet aspect of the piece and that’s a very different mediascape: youtube invites you to broadcast yourself, there are blogs from Baghdad, many alternative news sources.
It’s easy for me to look at a public projection and see how it does or doesn’t work. With this piece I’ve learned to let go of all expectations and definitions. When someone from Bogota uploads next to someone from Beirut the montage has nothing to do with Vertov’s aesthetics. Maybe the most challenging and exciting aspect of this project is that I’m still not sure what it is.

ES: How did the real space presentations affect the net art project since net art projects could also exist as a concept solely in cyber space?

PB: The two exist in relation to each other. From the outset I was interested in using public LED displays to interrupt the status quo. The website is an amazing tool for organizing global input. The link between virtual and real space is most effective when locals see their participation projected where they live. It’s a form of empowerment. And, we don’t live only in cyberspace. I’m curious about the connection between these spaces.
One great gift to me through this project is conversations I’ve had with people who have contacted me online, or people I’ve met after they participated in the project. This is a dimension I never imagined. When I was logging the film shot by shot there were some mysterious shots, #381 for example, that I couldn’t identify. I found a reference in a bibliography to Seth Feldman’s book Vertov, A Guide To References and Resources which describes the film shot by shot. Early on in the project he found the website and emailed me. He mentioned that in one of Vertov’s Kino-Pravda newsreels there’s footage of Vertov projecting a film onto a sheet thrown across power lines in a public square. I made an appointment to view that newsreel at MoMA’s (NY) screening room. That was one of the most elite viewing experiences I’ve had, me alone with Vertov in a plush theatre that seats 60 and the film which had been shipped from the storage vault in Pennsylvania, projected at sound speed!
My first upload was from someone in Israel who sent me an email “here’s something I did”. There was a bare-chested guy wearing a sports jacket lipsyncing with Scene 23 in the background. I freaked out thinking I’d launched youtube - in fact I was interviewed by spout.com and they described this project as “opening up the creation to the youtube generation”. When I thought about it, if Vertov’s mission was “decoding life as it is” then youtube is a dead center. I met the guy, Doron Golan, when he came to New York six months later.

ES: It seems that your contemporary version of Vertov’s male-gazed Man with a Movie Camera is from your approach rather non-gendered, how did feminist thinking influence your art work and creative process?

PB: My work has always dealt with power structures, social relations. Man With A Movie Camera: The Global Remake is open to everyone and since I’m interested in making it inclusive I’ve spent a year and a half networking, doing workshops to try to get communities participating who might not otherwise know how or have the opportunity. Creating community, this is how I define feminism in relation to the Vertov project.

ES: What do you think about the gap between public art and museum’s art and how do you see the future of new media art, since it is still difficult for this art form to enter galleries and museums?

PB: Give new media art another 30 years. People need to understand something before they can embrace it. It took video that long to make it into the marketplace.
Anything can happen in museum space with the approval of the corporation. In public space, what’s left of it, anything can happen.

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