Condensation, distillation, and repetition are just some of temporal strategies that the 11 artists in the small but striking show of video work Digital Political Time Lapse at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University employ to represent the last few years in global media history. Understandably, the United States' war in Iraq as well as the paranoid catastrophe of recent homefront politics looms large for many of them. Inside the fishtank-like gallery in the lobby of the university's Kumble Theater, William Stone's 2004 work 'Plural Nounsss' edits one of George Bush's State of the Union address down to a series of elemental words, such as "benefits," "terrorism," and "firefighters," while Adam Simon presents a 'Video Portrait' from 2002 of photographer Moyra Davey softly decrying the post-September 11th directive to go shopping in the name of safety, and Aunrico Gatson presents a single-channel video slpit into a three-monitor, machine gun-paced slideshow of war images culled from the Internet. But in addition to time-based ruminations on war and security, several works, such as Jillian Mcdonald's animation derived from Webcam footage of the 2006 bloom of a "corpse flower" at Brooklyn's own botanic gardens, veer into the many different Web-enabled images that have found their way into the political melange. Among them are several that insert the personal into the news-driven mix. Marcin Ramocki, for example, creates pixilated portraits, using the composition tool of an ancient Macintosh sound-editing application, that create a spazz-core cacophony when played. The exhibition comes full circle when, on a table opposite the entrance, a surveillance camera and attached monitor capture video of visitors, who can then rewind from their own real-time moment all the way back to the exhibition opening to watch others encounter themselves on screen.
If anyone in London for the Frieze fair is still tempted to write off the manipulated electronics of the Beige programming ensemble or the kinetic graphic work of the group Paper Rad as interesting but merely stylish nostalgia, the exhibition Tha Click, which opens at E:vent Gallery on October 6th and runs through November 4th, should prove that over the last 10 or so years, both ensembles have made a remarkably substantive and genre-shaping contribution to electronic media-inspired art. The exhibition charts the development of both groups with a mix of older work and more recent offerings. Representing the Beige collective, Paul B. Davis, Cory Arcangel, and Joe Beuckman contribute work ranging from the early hacked Nintendo cartridges that first brought them attention to recent projected work by Davis that manipulates video at the code level to produce an altered image. Jessica Ciocci, Jacob Ciocci, and Ben Jones of Paper Rad, meanwhile, contribute a new series of large-scale color prints, which demonstrate the latest incarnation of their kaleidascope aesthetic that has previously been manifested in everything from books, comics, and zines to video--all of which make an appearance in the exhibition. Taken as a whole, the show demonstrates how the playful, do-it-yourself impulse guiding both collectives' practices have gone from a novel approach to images cast-off by the forward progression of pop-culture to a defining current in contemporary media-based work. Both groups will also participate in a post-Frieze event celebrating the exhibition on October 11th, providing music and visuals for an evening titled 'Tha Click Rave On.'
Former Whitney Museum of American Art Curator and current dean of the California College of the Arts, Lawrence Rinder has organized a small, three-artist show of television-influenced video work at San Francisco's Silverman Gallery. Taking the narrative conceits of the medium as a common thread, TV Honey connects work from two generations of artists by playing up their similar engagements with the desiring mechanics of viewing. A wonderfully bizarre and infrequently screened 1974 work by Lynda Benglis, 'The Amazing Bow Wow,' tells the story of a human-size hermaphroditic dog, who becomes the main attraction in both a traveling freak show and ultimately a violent Oedipal romance. The "can't look away" factor in her work is complemented by Joan Jonas's 'Vertical Roll.' Made in 1972, the artist plays two self-consciously alluring characters in a video that persistently short-circuits the viewer's engagement with the TV drama as the video frame continually "rolls" vertically off the screen in visual hiccups that recall an ancient television set with the v-hold knob turned slightly. Representing the contemporary progeny of these foundational television-focused video works, the show also features Oakland artist Desiree Holman's 2006-07 video 'The Magic Window.' The three-channel projection--exhibited here with a group of related drawings--emulates the sitcom trope of a family watching television together, but like Jonas' work in which the artifice disrupts the viewer's typical relationship to the narrative, the familiarity of the scene is interrupted by strange masks worn by the characters. Opening October 11th, the most striking similarity to emerge between the decade-crossing works, however, may be the shared sense of D.I.Y. chaos that runs through each of them--all three contain dance sequences that could prove to be particularly hilarious viewed side by side.
Art and mass culture have had an explicit and productive back-and-forth relationship for at least half a century, but as the methods and aesthetics dominant in both areas evolve over the years, it inevitably alters the shape of the exchange between art and popular media. In conjunction with this year's installment of the Frieze art fair in London, a panel discussion, titled The Expanded Gallery--Mass Forms for Private Consumption, addresses the contemporary state of that relationship on October 11th. Speaking to the implications of mass-produced aesthetics in fine art for both collectors and lay viewers, the panel will no doubt focus on graphic and industrial design creeping into the gallery. International Herald Tribune design critic Alice Rawsthorn moderates a group that includes design historian Emily King with Marc Newson--known for creating biomorphic furniture, which is sculptural to the degree that the designer is represented by Gagosian Gallery in New York--and Peter Saville of Factory Records fame. Rather than sticking exclusively with design, however, the panel also features noted Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli, who takes up cinematic media and the mechanisms of celebrity in his work. Having riffed on everything from American election campaign ads to Hollywood blockbuster film trailers, Vezzoli is well positioned to offer comment on forms taken from contemporary entertainment spectacles--as opposed to the more demure styles of furniture and graphic design--currently making their way into the gallery.
Five projected works by Belgian artist David Claerbout come to Paris' Centre Pompidou on October 2nd. Known for his process that creates moving digital images from analog still photography, he works from architectural photos of modern urban and suburban buildings, using carefully-paced pixilation and other types of manipulation to allow multiple senses of each space to slowly unfold over the course of the work. He describes the slowness with which his places take shape as a resistance to the immediacy of digital production, saying, 'In a mode of production where photographic reality is increasingly preconceived, filmic duration seems to be the last man standing from an 'analogue' past.' With that motivation in mind, his more recent work has become increasingly narrative, including one of the exhibition's highlights, the 2004 project 'Bordeaux Piece.' Shot in a villa outside the French city, the disjointed revelation of the structure through images framed around two figures evokes both the temporality of spatial experience and the manipulative potential of cinema. On view through January 7th, the exhibition travels to the MIT List Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in Spring 2008 as a part of a two-year international tour.