Los Angeles-based artist Eddo Stern--who famously logged 2000 hours playing World of Warcraft for one of his projects--has found more than a parallel virtual community in massively multiplayer online roleplaying games like WoW. Drawing on fantasy's ability to lay bare the ambitions and anxieties of everyday life, his most recent body of work uses elements taken from games such as Everquest and Warcraft to examine the overlap between desires and social relationships expressed in the online world and those of our own. The artist's solo exhibition at New York's Postmasters gallery through October 13th charts notable points at which these two universes illuminate and influence one another. The kinetic sculpture Man, Woman, Dragon draws on the visual tropes of Warcraft to distill the fabrication of masculinity online into three simple poles that parody the real-world systems of desire from which they emerge. Other pieces such as Best Flame War Ever (King of Bards vs. Squire Rex, June 2004) and Level sounds like Devil (BabyInChrist vs. His Father, May 2006) document actual exchanges in online communities that betray the participants' earnest and impassioned concerns, which have been shaped equally by the logic of gaming and life outside. An entire gallery is given over to a projected series of found 3D animations that show tunnels, wormholes, voids, and other fantasies of transcendence drawn from computer games. Every work uses a similar and more-often-than-not humorous mix of visual style and documentary material to articulate moments of overlap between roleplaying and real life, deftly latching on to what it is that captivates about online gaming.
The artist residency program at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center has hosted ambitious projects by Nari Ward, Julie Mehretu, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and other notable artists over the years. Most recently Catherine Sullivan completed the multi-channel video project, Triangle of Need (2007), in conjunction with the museum, where it is currently on view through November 18th. Trained as an actor, Sullivan is known for incorporating elements of theater and performance in her work. For 'Triangle' she worked with Minneapolis choreographer Dylan Skybrook among other collaborators to create her most cinematic piece to date, which features two parallel narratives, one set in an archetypal American city, the other in the Gilded-age mansion at Maimi's Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Constructed in 1910 by industrialist James Deering, the Florida estate was designed to replicate successive eras in architectural history--from the Rennaisance to the Neo-Classical--in a single building that reflects the historical fantasies of its creator. Similar riffs on different evolutionary moments coexisting in the present run through the project, and the video itself can be seen to flatten the development of performance media, combining elements of theater, dance, and cinema in a work that frequently resembles a made-for-television historical drama.
Power lines break through treetops, orange railings surround blue nuclear cooling tanks, and dormant equipment sits inside sterile science facilities. For a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, American-born photographer Lewis Baltz, who a decade or two earlier had been a key player in what has been termed a 'New Topographic' style of photography, turned from taking images of industrial parks and other development-shaped landscapes to impossibly cold interiors molded around the needs of technology. His 89-91 Sites of Technology series employed both traditional photography and images pulled from surveillance cameras to capture such places as the Japanese Space Agency, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the French National Centre for Meteorological Research as crisp, airless centers of power filled with unnatural color and razor sharp lines. The Galleria Civica di Modena, in Italy, is hosting an exhibition of large-scale prints of the work through November 18th, and the entire series has also been collected in a book for the first time. Published by Steidl Verlag, the catalogue could not only revel the series' influence on approaches to technology in the photography of the 1990s, but also rekindle Baltz's influence on a younger generation of architectural photographers.
Turn those dusty works in progress into fast cash! 'No gallery necessary' promises the latest project from New York's E-Flux (Electronic Flux Corporation). In what could end up being a parody of a faltering art market this fall, the online information service for visual arts institutions known for its widely-read email announcements is poised to open a storefront pawnshop to buy and sell art on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Beginning October 1st, the E-Flux PAWNSHOP will pay cash for works purchased from the public, and then on November 1st, the wares selected will go on sale alongside a reserve of work by internationally-known artists, including Francois Bucher, Aleksandra Mir, Lawrence Weiner, and Andrea Zittel. In true pawnshop fashion, the storefront will also offer faxes, xerox copies, internet access, phonecards, check cashing, and passport photos. Thanks to their portability, painting and other traditional media will most likely represent the majority of hawked possessions crossing the counter, but consider that a challenge to present work made in electronic or digital media for scrutiny and possibly a quick wad of cash.
Video and performance work intersected early in their respective histories as artists used the increasingly inexpensive alternative to film to document events. But in 1972, one of the foundational convergences between the two media was also one of the most radical for both. Rather than using it as a documentary medium, Joan Jonas's work, Organic Honey's Visual Telepathy, was among the first to incorporate video into a live performance, pairing a group of closed-circuit displays with a series of mirrors. The combination had a doubling effect in the performance, famously creating an alter ego for the artist, but it also marked the first of many times that Jonas would use video to define the space in which her performances were enacted, a watershed move that did much to pave the way for the contemporary video installation. The first Spanish retrospective of Jonas's work, at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona from September 20th through January 7th, brings together films, single-channel videos, drawings, and photographs that track her output from the 1960s to the present, but the show is focused around a series of four large-scale video installations that simultaneously evoke different stages in her career. They chart her contributions in thematic and formal threads rather than strict chronology, an appropriately hybrid presentation for an artist who routinely crosses media and has helped to forge at least one new one.