Founded by Daniel Langlois in 1997, the Montreal-based Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology has been at the forefront of supporting projects that merge art and technology for over a decade. It now boasts a specific initiative devoted to developing new conservation methods to meet the needs of frequently immaterial media work, and the foundation's Web site serves as open storage for many watershed projects in the history of electronic and digital art. To celebrate a decade of the DLF's accomplishments, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is presenting Communicating Vessels: New Technologies and Contemporary Art from September 20th to December 9th. The exhibition only scratches the surface of the vast number of works the foundation has supported in its history, but it gathers a fairly representative selection of important projects by Eduardo Kac, Jim Campbell, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Jessica Field, and a long list of other notable artists. The title 'Communicating Vessels' refers to objects that facilitate a transfer between two worlds--be it material to code or robotics to biology--but one of the most interesting transitions undertaken by the show will no doubt be how the curators overcome the installation challenges presented by bringing tech-heavy work into the museum's traditional galleries.
Beginning in the early days of sound art and continuing through our era, when every group show seems to include a token video work, one of the biggest challenges facing curators of noise-generating objects is how to deal with their ability to interfere in each other's sonic footprint. For a long time, exhibition spaces were partitioned into muffling isolation booths, confining each work to its own miniature gallery, but more and more curators have taken to embracing the audio bleed that inevitably occurs between works, using overlapping sounds to create new experiences of individual objects. One of the most ambitious examples to date is 'Ensemble,' at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art through December 16th. Visiting curator Christian Marclay has taken on the role of composer, filling the ICA's galleries with sound-emanating work by well-known artists, including Terry Adkins, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, and Yoko Ono, and allowing the noises that they generate to flow into one another, turning the entire exhibition into a large soundscape--with the 30-foot ceiling of the main gallery acting as an amplifier.
Two very different but complementary musings on death make up a well-curated double feature in the video lounge at Philadelphia's Vox Populi gallery--one of that city's many distinguished artist-run collectives--through September 29. Virgina-based Lydia Moyer contributes 'Paradise,' a study of a headline-making 2006 shooting in a secluded Amish community in Pennsylvania, in which a man from the neighboring community broke into a one-room schoolhouse and took the girls in the class as hostages before executing them. The families of the victims responded by consoling the gunman's relatives in what Moyer's work paints as an extraordinary act of forgiveness. In contrast to the violence setting Moyer's video in motion, Tennessee -based Hope Tucker's half of the program shows comparatively meditative work from her roughly 15-part 'Obituary Project.' Like a newspaper recounting the high points of a deceased person's life, Tucker's video series offers selective portraits of people, places, and objects in the process of fading out of existence. While they seem worlds apart in both style and subject, each work makes reference to video's history as a medium of both documentary and personal memory.
While scientists calculate the long-term prognostics for the health of the planet, artists continue to take the natural world--and its fate--as both a medium and a subject in their work. The Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environment Programme have gathered a group of 79 such examples in the volume Art in Action: Nature, Creativity, and Our Collective Future. Representative projects range from the crowd-pleasing site-specific work of Christo and Jeanne Claude to Olafur Eliasson's immersive provocations--just in time for a recently-opened mid-career survey of his work at SFMOMA--and the book is separated into sections that track artists rendering nature as everything from a fantasy Eden to a fallen wasteland of unchecked human development. The title makes the book's overall purpose clear. As much as it documents individual projects that engage with and manipulate ecology, the intent is a cumulative attempt to draw awareness to the ever-more fragile state of the planet.
Complex parts of an impressive whole, each 'electro-mechanical installation' by Texas duo Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher produces a different component in an atmospheric installation. On view through October 6 in the exhibition 'Reel to Reel,' at Manhattan's Clementine gallery, some of the predominantly wall-mounted installations produce sound using automated instruments, such as a modified turntable and vinyl records. Others generate live video sequences using small mechanized surveillance cameras than pan and zoom over tiny automated sets resembling moving Hollywood miniatures hidden within masses of audio-visual equipment. While the audio emitted by some pieces is channeled to speakers and fills the gallery, the video feeds to a screening room at the center of the space. Watching the complete package and trying to trace each bit of sound and video to the element from which it originated is rewarding on its own, but a more subtle success of Shore and Fisher's work is the way that it treats the component cables in each of the installations. Rather than conventional bundles of cord or nests of cable, the wires powering the mechanical elements and carrying the feeds are spread out on the walls in measured, drawing-like abstractions.