Marisa Olson
Since the beginning
Works in New York, New York United States of America

PORTFOLIO (10)
BIO
Marisa Olson is an artist, writer, and media theorist. Her interdisciplinary work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate(s) Modern + Liverpool, the Nam June Paik Art Center, British Film Institute, Sundance Film Festival, PERFORMA Biennial, and has been commissioned and collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122. This work's been reviewed in Artforum, Art21, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere. New York Magazine has called Marisa one of the Top Five video artists working online, Wired has called her both funny and humorous, the New York Times once called her "anything but stupid," and the Wall Street Journal considers her their "Walkman Historian" of choice.

Marisa actively contributes to the field, writing for many major art publications, ranging from magazines & exhibition catalogs to academic journals and chapters in books on the history and theory of media art. She has served as Editor & Curator at Rhizome, the inaugural curator at Zero1, and Associate Director at SF Camerawork, whose Journal she edited. In 2013 LINK Editions will publish a retrospective anthology of over a decade of her writings on contemporary art which have helped establish a vocabulary for the criticism of new media. Meanwhile, Marisa has also curated programs at the Guggenheim, New Museum, SFMOMA, White Columns, and Artists Space. She has served on Advisory Boards for Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ISEA, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, Creative Capital, EYEBEAM, the Getty Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Marisa studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, and Rhetoric & Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She has recently been a visiting artist at Yale, Oberlin, VCU, UC-Boulder's Brakhage Symposium, Penn State, Visiting Faculty at Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, and Visiting Faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Ox-Bow program. She previously taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' new media graduate program and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase's School of Film & Media Studies. She is currently Visiting Critic at Brown University.

Continually Redefining Game Art


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No longer mere distractions cooked-up by programmers as a form of light relief in the early days of computers, video games have evolved into a variety of forms and have had a wide impact on multiple generations. To some extent, the same can now be said of art that addresses video games, the visual complexity and conceptual richness of which has grown with the medium. An exhibition guest-curated by artists Marcin Ramocki and Paul Slocum at Arthouse explores "the history, control mechanisms, political and art-historical implications of electronic games" by surveying both better-known and more emerging practitioners of game-related art, including Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, Mike Beradino, Brody Condon, Alex Galloway, JODI, Guthrie Lonergan, Kristin Lucas, Joe McKay, Michael Smith, Eddo Stern, and Keita Takahashi. RESET/PLAY is up through November 2nd and is accompanied by a series of public events that includes a night of video game competitions and a performance by New York-based sound artists Loud Objects. - Marisa Olson

Image: Brody Condon, Judgment Modification (After Memling), 2008 (Courtesy of the artist and Virgil de Voldère Gallery, New York, NY)

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Interactive Crowd Sourcing


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While the term "crowd sourcing" generally refers to a large group of people (i.e. internet users) contributing to the realization of a project, it might also apply in interesting ways to the newest installation by Jody Zellen. In "The Blackest Spot," at LA's Fringe gallery, she culls footage of crowds and corrals them into content categories which are in turn activated by visitors to the exhibition. While the crowd is usually theorized as a single entity or herd, Zellen's selections exemplify the many different means and reasons for which people choose to assemble in a single spot. When viewers step on censor-marked spots on the floor of the gallery, they trigger audio responses linked to the gatherings, ranging from quietude to cacophony. As a result, Zellen's audience is compelled to consider their own identification with those portrayed in the collected images. - Marisa Olson

Image: Jody Zellen, The Blackest Spot, 2008

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Sounding the Alarms



Jane Philbrick's "PULL" installation, at New York's Location One gallery, is definitively interactive. Not only does it require viewer participation to really make the work happen, but it invites reflection on the agency, authority, and influence of the viewer. Flanked by walls of 502 beautifully symmetrical, gridded, illuminated fire alarms, strobes, smoke detectors, siren horns, and control panels, the installation relies on (or questions) the human impulse to pull the trigger. Once a viewer does pull on an alarm handle, loud noises, flashing lights, and loud words bombard the participant's eyes and ears in a simultaneously beautiful and overwhelming cascade. The project is intended to reflect on questions of fear and control, as well as the seductive versus destructive nature of power. Philbrick's collaboration with Honeywell Labs instigates commentary on the ways in which these issues have trickled down into architectural, industrial, and consumer devices, while upping the volume on her ongoing investigations into the subjective dimensions of language and the voice. - Marisa Olson


Image: Jane Philbrick, PULL, 2008

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Taking it to the Tavern



Red76 is an artist collective who employ a variety of media, including the internet, video, photography, printed matter, and social interaction. In fact, their use of materials is more a matter of calling up the right tools for the right job, but their projects are always infused with a kind of critical repositioning of default installation techniques and didactics. When exhibiting in a museum, they are likely to eschew wall text in favor of a giant arrow directing your attention to what you are really meant to see. In part, this bravery to bend the rules gets to the heart of their work: a persistent effort to create and critique public spaces. While Portland-based artist Sam Gould founded Red76, its membership constantly rotates, and the group privileges its open source ideals over attributed authorship. In this vein, many of their projects take the shape of "how-to" instructions, such as How to... Protest Song Karaoke, in which participants are encouraged to preface public karaoke performances with comments about the supposedly unknown political content of otherwise sappy mainstream pop hits. News Blackout was a successful example of that celebrated artists' trick known as the one-liner. The piece is a video in which someone strategically blacks out newspaper text with a black marker in order to make a statement about what often gets left out of the news. Their latest project The Battery Republic, which begins this weekend, also positions itself as an intervention. The weeklong series takes the form of a mobile tavern, which will occupy a room at the Park Avenue Armory as part of Creative Time's Democracy In America exhibition, as well as various other locations around the city. The collective will use this politicized space as a site for a variety of activities, ranging from conversations with visitors ...

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Kind of Blue



The cyanotype, in some ways, fuses multiple modern impulses towards empirical knowledge. In this once novel medium, originally used to study the footprints of organic specimens and still common in kids' at-home science kits, objects are left on the surface of photosensitive paper to create a sort of blue and white negative of the item. But the image format also links itself to the study of architectural structures at the site of the blueprint and to the avant-garde's embrace of the color blue to study perception and the psychic effects of color. (Think Yves Klein.) So Christian Marclay's marriage of the cyanotype and the increasingly defunct magnetic cassette medium is just as philosophically rich as it is beautiful. And indeed, the artist's prints are extremely beautiful. On view through October 11th at New York's Paula Cooper Gallery is a solo exhibition of the artist's work. One of the pieces included, Allover, looks like an ocean of castaway cassettes and tape ribbons doing a sort of dead man's float, while the title reads as a double entendre--the image is a time-based collage (blurring representational epochs and the time it takes for the picture to seep into the paper) in which the tapes are "all over" the page and the title also signals the fact that the tapes' heyday is "all over." On the contrary, Marclay's heyday is still roaring, as the artist continues to find new ways to intertwine concepts of visual and sonic composition and to turn what might otherwise amount to commodity fetishism into poignant commentary on the evolution of technology and the narrative forms we've generated to record-keep our romance with it. - Marisa Olson


Image: Christian Marclay, Untitled (Madonna, Thy Word and Sonic Youth), 2008

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