“Cybernetic Guerrilla Warfare Revisited: From Klein Worms to Relational Circuits” In an interview by Felicity D. Scott and Mark Wasiuta for the Summer 2011 issue of GreyRoom, artist and writer Paul Ryan talks about the time he spent working with Marshall McLuhan, the early days of video art, and his work.
“At that moment  I thought of myself as a writer. I was holed up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with my typewriter, trying to write, and I heard McLuhan on the raso saying, ‘of course, in this electronic age of computers, satellites, radio, and television, the writer is no longer somebody holed up in his garret pounding a typewriter!’ It stopped me cold. I had to find out what this guy was about.”
Ryan gives a fascinating account of video art in the 1960s, from the Howard Wise Gallery, to securing money from the New York State Council for the Arts for video art at a time when no such funding was readily available, and tells the story of meeting the heir to the IBM fortune who admired McLuhan and wanted to give him two Sony Portapaks that both ended in Ryan’s hands to “experiment” with.
Ryan wrote extensively about video art, cybernetics, and technology; his work was then featured in some seminal exhibitions, such as “TV as a Creative Medium” at the Howard Wise Gallery (1969) and “Primitivism in Twentieth Century Art” at MoMA (1984). (Here's a 1969 letter by Ryan to Howard Wise.)
“I would avoid the term visual to describe video. You can see a bottle of perfume, but sight is not the sense it really affects. You can see video images but their effect is primarily kinesthetic or proprioceptive when you see yourself. Video is about perceiving events with the nervous system, not visualizing in a pictorial way.”
16 x 16 Candles, screenshot, (2006)
Transformer Fire (2008) originated online and was then translated to the gallery space for a show at artMovingProjects in Brooklyn. It generated a lot of interest in a past Rhizome blog post. Can you discuss this process of transforming a net art piece into the gallery space?
The Transformer Fire videos were originally posted on a group blog called Spirit Surfers, and the format of the blog limits the size, presentation, and bandwidth. So when I was preparing the video for the show, I optimized it for the screen that Aron would be using, rendering the videos in higher quality and in portrait orientation for a sideways monitor to better fit the vertically oriented stack of 5 videos, and I matched the resolution of the video to the monitor so I could control exactly how things were scaled. The presentation was a bit cleaner and clearer than on the blog.
Your interest in making music led you to design an iPhone music sampler app, and then an app that is an artwork and a musical instrument. Do you follow the development of art apps? Do you think it could become a new distribution channel for art?
I've looked at some art apps, but personally I think games are the best art in the App Store. I think Cookie Dozer Thanksgiving is more visually and mechanically interesting than any art app I've seen. Maybe I'm missing the best art apps because I don't know how to find them. I think that I would be more inclined to say that apps could become a new medium for art rather than a channel. I can't think of a lot of existing art that could be distributed and viewed properly with an iPhone ...
The sixth edition of the New York Art Book Fair is approaching, taking place at MoMA PS1 between September 30 and October 2. At a time when the idea of publishing and the production of print media are constantly discussed, the New York Art Book Fair allows us a yearly survey of efforts in the field of art publishing, as well as the ability to reevaluate and reconsider publishing houses and projects that interest us on a regular basis, and a variety of events, from book signings to lectures and screenings.
The Fair features more than two hundred exhibitors: publishers, magazines, independent artists, art institutions, and distributors. In order to facilitate wandering through this expansive event, we rounded up a selection of publishing initiatives, highlighting those that survey new media art, have a strong online presence, or use technology in interesting ways.
Piracy Project / AND Publishing. Based in London, the Piracy Project is a publishing and exhibition project that organizes workshops, lectures, and open calls for pirated book projects, all directed at creating a platform from which to think about ideas of copying, re-editing, paraphrasing, and so forth.
Badlands Unlimited. Founded by artist Paul Chan, Badlands Unlimited publishes both e-books and physical artists' books. The e-books are interactive and unlike many other art e-books, take full advantage of what the technology offers by including text, images, and films. See Sarah Hromack's interview with Paul Chan here.
Half Letter Press. Initiated by Chicago-based collective Temporary Services, Half Letter Press has an online reading room with some of the best links on the internet, and they publish and distribute books on art and theory.
Eikon is a bilingual German-English journal published in Vienna that focuses on photography and new media art.
Fillip, published in Vancouver, cover critical writing and thinking about ...