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.

Lights Out



Just when the New York art world was poised for another no-fun, sales-oriented fair season, the irreverent crew of Milwaukee International has rolled out a seriously intriguing counter-proposition at Swiss Institute. "Dark Fair," opening the evening of March 28th and running through the weekend, aims to occur entirely without reliance on natural or electric light, though candlelight, flashlight and glow-in-the-dark are all acceptable means of display. This parameter is very much in keeping with the International's larger social program, which previously found gallerists setting up rough-and-ready booths in Milwaukee's Polish Falcons Beer Hall for its 2006 art fair, where affable chatter - more than commerce - seemed to be the order of the day. "Dark Fair" invites us into a similarly outlying environment, promising an impressive list of exhibitors (New York's CANADA, Los Angeles' China Art Objects and Oslo's Willy Wonka Inc feature among the thirty) alongside "shadowy bar booths," social happenings, performances by Harrell Fletcher, Clara Jo and Brian Belott, a Pinball Arcade by Ara Peterson, and a glow-in-the-dark basketball court from Sara Clendening. As to the other secrets and creative gems lurking in this "cavernous underworld of exchange," well, it rests upon the endeavoring visitor to discover them. - Tyler Coburn

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Image: out_4_pizza, the fixtures of fate, 2008

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Disruptive Media



Wisconsin-based media artist Sabine Gruffat is kicking up quite a storm at Deadtech with her current installation, 24 Hour Riot, running through Tuesday, April 15th - an impressive fact, given the Chicago gallery's reputation for boundary-pushing fare. Gruffat has outfitted the space with a responsive array of electronic noise machines and televised riot scenes, such that a viewer's movement randomly triggers disturbances in the video and soundtrack. The effect is one of total dislocation, as our arbitrary influence on these broadcasts generates a palpable awareness of the existing gaps between politics, mass-media, and spectatorship. On this level, 24 Hour Riot continues Gruffat's extensive look at the various, mobile units of the culture industry and provisionally asks the question of how the reality of our contemporary, mediatized lifestyle may actually provide a groundwork for new modes of political engagement. As with Head Lines: Hybrid Film Trilogy (2007), in which the artist ran New York Times articles through semi-automated, recombinatory processes to produce skittery, 16mm animations, 24 Hour Riot suggests that any program of change must first arise from a greater understanding of the normativized codes of information dispersal, and of the means by which said codes may be subverted, erased, or reassembled. - Tyler Coburn

Sabine Gruffat, 24 Hour Riot, 2008

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Express Yourself



If virtual commerce were ever in need of a critical makeover, we might look no further than Kevin Bewersdorf and Paul Slocum to offer some solutions. As key instigators of a new type of objecthood, Bewersdorf and Slocum's individual and collective practices treat the internet as a launching pad for self-expression, where a motley crowd of Google searches and "spirit surfing" can be reinvested with the "ephemeral-imperfect" qualities of everyday items, courtesy of Walgreens.com Photo Center and other online manufacturers. What ensues are amusing products - pillowcases emblazoned with search result images of "Titanic" and "Woodstock"; mouse pads covered with pictures of "Pain" - made all the more bewildering by their stringent adherence to the terms of gallery exhibition: pristine white pedestals et. al. Bewersdorf and Slocum's reapportionment thus extends beyond the realm of clever shopping and into that of conceptual art, offering methods of traversing the routes of internet-based consumption towards highlighting a dominant commercial paradigm, yet ultimately sequestering its products in the realm of aesthetic display, within which their uncanny qualities may be brought into sharp relief. "Spirit Surfers," opening this weekend at VertexList, promises to find the artists delving deeper into this inquiry, and also marks the debut of their brand new web-based surfing club of the same name. - Tyler Coburn

Image: "Maximum Sorrow Throw Blanket #2", Kevin Bewersdorf, 2008

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Resonating Image



The overlaps and incongruities between visual and aural engagement are the focus of "Finding Pictures in Search of Sounds," sound artist Stephen Vitiello's second solo exhibition with Museum 52, in London. For Boxed Gray (2008), Vitiello has applied a thick coat of silver paint to the walls of the gallery's front room and immersed it with a rapidly paced soundtrack of field recordings and electronics. Subtle Blue Gray (2008), in the back room, forms a conversational counterpoint: three blue lightbulbs flicker and pulse, enveloping the space in nocturnal hues, as four speakers embedded in the gallery walls generate faint, scratching sounds. Collectively, the two works find Vitiello continuing to develop visual analogues to his sound pieces, an inquiry that previously included him mining the sculptural properties of speakers and making graphite, ink and pigment drawings from LFO speaker vibrations. For "Night Chatter", his 2006 show with Museum 52, Vitiello even interwove Virginian ivy with speakers playing a recording of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush, processed to a point where the politicians' voices sounded like electronic bells (Hedera B,B,B (2006)). Considering Virginia's military significance for the United States government, Vitiello's piece had the strange effect of turning an element of the state's natural bounty into an agent for the cause: a position from which to surveille. In contrast, Boxed Gray and Blue Gray number among Vitiello's more abstract experiments, forgoing explicit critique for diffuser modes of engagement. Yet by focusing on the expressive and meditative registers of aesthetic experience, Vitiello's sophisticated understanding of the conditions of reception comes to the fore. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Stephen Vitiello, Blue Gray, 2008

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Mapping Darfur



Since Sudanese government soldiers and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed, commenced assaults on rebel forces and civilians of similar ethnic descent, in 2003, the crisis in Darfur has been at the forefront of international discussion and the subject of extensive political, humanitarian, and journalistic work. "Museum Mapping Initiative," a unique collaboration between Google and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, makes the history and details of the crisis available to a virtual community, allowing Google Earth users to navigate a map of the region amended with data provided by the U.S. State department, including locations of damaged and destroyed villages, internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee camps in Darfur and Chad, respectively, and zones accessible and inaccessible to humanitarian relief workers. Users navigating the terrain can read testimonies of civilians affected by the conflict, recorded by Amnesty researchers, and view photographs depicting aspects of regional life. Taking advantage of Google Earth's architecture, "Museum Mapping Initiative" also allows users to insert their own placemarks on locations in Darfur and Chad towards constructing specific tours, presentations and readings of the crisis. Through this intersection of interactive technology and progressive historiography, the events and stories surrounding this modern-day atrocity can finally be brought to greater light. - Tyler Coburn

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