Tyler Coburn
Since 2007
Works in Los Angeles, California United States of America

BIO
Tyler Coburn is an artist and writer based in New York.

Sean Dack at Daniel Reich


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"Ghost Hardware," Sean Dack's latest exhibition at New York's Daniel Reich Gallery, builds a visual language, in photography and sculpture, from the limits of technological legibility. Over a series of unique c-prints, thoughtfully hung throughout the gallery, Dack coats a panoply of sourced images with thick layers of digital interference: glitches that "tangle and halt the flow of information," but in so doing also provide the precondition for the exhibited art-objects. Formally, these images are beautiful, their striated lines of pixels at times staining underlying images in cyan and magenta; at others, reducing them to wholly abstract geometries. These techniques prove most effective when echoing the sourced images, as when Dack's pixels form postmodern building block analogues to the structural units of the unfinished, contemporary skyscrapers in Building (Hotel, Pyongyang) (2008) and CCTV #2 (2007). Yet on a broader level, Dack's choice of images risks belaboring his conceptual inquiry. Shots of isolated women, an airborne helicopter, unmarked CIA airplane and a missile test quickly move the exhibition into well-trodden, conspiracy theory terrain. One wonders whether Dack's Pop sensibility - most explicitly manifest in his rubber encasings of obsolete tape decks and CD changers, also on display - extends into the realm of his photographs' subject-matter and thus justifies the indulgence. Whether or not this is the case, the artist's formal investigation of the psychic life of digital technology would be far more interesting without its narrative props. - Tyler Coburn


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Casting Shadows



In Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's practice, technologies all but synonymous with top-down monitoring and control (surveillance cameras, tracking systems, pattern-recognition software) transform into the base-units of interactive installations. "RECORDERS," the artist's current solo exhibition at The Edith Russ Site for Media Art, in Germany, emphasizes the individual and collective aspects of spectatorship, building an art-going public, in part, through archives of the visual and physical traces of past viewers. Close-up, for example, comprises a monitor divided into 800 small videos, which together respond to the physical presence of a spectator by mimicking the form of his or her shadow. These small videos are but fragments of a constantly updating reserve of 10,000 recordings, all of spectators who have previously viewed the work. For Pulse Room, Lozano-Hemmer has wired an array of 100 suspended lightbulbs to a metal handle. When a visitor grasps the handle, his or her pulse causes the first bulb in the array to flicker in unison; the introduction of another visitor's pulse causes the first flicker to move to the next bulb, and so on. Eventually, all of the lightbulbs hold a record of a given visitor - a fact all the more poetic considering that Lozano-Hemmer's inspiration came from listening to the heartbeats of his twins during his wife's pregnancy. Pulse Room is but one of many variations of this project: Pulse Front graced Toronto's Harbourfront last June, and Madison Square Park, in New York City, will host Pulse Park this coming fall. As with the best of Lozano-Hemmer's work, this evocative and technologically sophisticated installation finds its unique footing at the intersection of art, location and community. - Tyler Coburn


Image: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Close-up, 2006

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Sounds from Old New York



In the seventy years since it last served as a major terminal for Brooklyn-bound ferries, the Battery Maritime Building has existed in relative disuse, accumulating signs of rust and decay common to the structures and sites of older eras of New York City. But with Playing the Building, a Creative Time-sponsored installation by David Byrne that opened this past weekend in the Great Hall, the building once again comes alive in clamorous sonority, producing a rendition of its own material history played upon its very body. Developing upon a project proposal for Färgfabriken, in Stockholm, Byrne has retrofitted a vintage Weaver pump organ with a bundle of relays and wires, which rise from its backside and spread, like a snaky canopy, over the 9,000 square-foot room. Each note of the organ triggers a particular event and sound in the space: lower keys power motors that vibrate the hall's girders, causing muffled rumbles; middle tones generate flute-like sounds from heating pipes; and higher notes cause spring-loaded solenoids to bang and clang on columns and radiators. The installation thus produces a strangely phenomenal field, all the more surprising given the absence of microphones, amplification and electronics in supplementing the building's performance. Even more importantly, it activates the audience by allowing members to take turns playing the organ. As Byrne remarked, in an interview with Playing the Building curator Anne Pasternak, "It became a kind of social apparatus as well as being an installation. It became a shared communal experience." -- Tyler Coburn


Image: David Byrne, Playing the Building, 2008

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Into the Void



Loss, reduction, vacancy and dissolution: all topical buzzwords the New York art world has come to expect from the emergent generation of European artists. After the Vincent Honoré-curated "From a Distance," at Wallspace in 2007, and artist Matt Saunders' group enterprise, Out Riding Fast, this past winter at Harris Lieberman -- both of which tipped the scales towards the Old World -- Foxy Production's current exhibition of seven continental practitioners feels a bit superfluous. Curated by English artist Dick Evans, "Nul" muddles through the post-historical morass, with many of its participants masquerading vintage modes of object- and image-making to little effect. Anders Clausen builds wooden pedestals and sculptural busts, in the fashion of Jacob Epstein, that lack the verve and ingenuity of similar works by contemporaries Steve Claydon and Matthew Monahan. Salvatore Arancio's photo-etchings rehash the type of psychically-fraught Gothic imagery that made its rounds on the market a few years past. More promising is the work of Lars Laumann (here only partially represented by a screen-print, entitled Hatful of Cocteau, of a posthumous article on Jean Cocteau), whose videos about Morrissey, Princess Diana and Eija Riitta Berliner-Mauer drew buzz at White Columns, in 2007, and most recently at this year's Berlin Biennial. Simone Gilges' installation also excites, with its oblique mix of photography and sculpture. Attempting to draw connections between her hanging curtain, framed piece of black silk and ornately framed photograph of a cupid statuette makes for the most interesting -- and irresolvable -- experience in the show. - Tyler Coburn


Image Credit: Simone Gilges, MATERIALPROBE II (SEIDE), 2008

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Cine City: Mark Leckey's "Cinema in the Round"



Artworlders turned out in droves at the Guggenheim this past Wednesday for Mark Leckey's performance-cum-lecture, "Cinema in the Round," the penultimate event in Creative Time's Hey Hey Glossolalia series. Pairing a handsome suit with his blonde, surfer shag, Leckey looked every bit the irreverent orator as he assumed the lectern in the museum auditorium and delivered a refreshingly unorthodox reading of art and cinema history. Of particular importance was the question of how something cinematic may move from a state of "pure horizontality" to that of "pure verticality," which, for Leckey, was analogous to asking how a cinematic image may become an object, sculpture, monument or "beast." James Cameron's Titanic was one of many exemplars of this process, described by Leckey as a "time-travel film" that compressed "the bookends of the 20th century" (the materiality of early industrial manufacturing, the immateriality of late software production and 3D design) and torqued this resulting hybrid around one deceptively small iceberg. At other moments, Leckey's interest in exploring the sculptural and material language of cinema led to his relating Philip Guston's "ham-fisted, meat-and-potatoes" paintings and Georg Baselitz's still-lives of severed feet to skitterish, early Felix the Cat animations and the mass-agglutination aesthetics of music video production company Encylopedia Pictura. Such eclectic sampling would seem haphazard in other hands, but Leckey's familiarity with his source material bolstered its expressive content, and the narrational pliancy he brought to the lecture's structure proved thoughtful and engaging. - Tyler Coburn


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