Yes, No, Maybe So

New York-based artists MRiver and TWhid (together, they are MTAA) began their collaboration as painters, but quickly moved into the world of new media. They were among the earliest internet artists and are at the forefront of a small handful who are still in practice from that first generation. Their work continues to push the boundaries of the genre, but is consistently informed by the history of conceptual art and performance. They very often contemplate the notion of "translation" between natural and computer languages, and in the form of "updating" works (their own or others') from the platform of one media epoch to another. While their newest piece, YES & NO (2008), grows very clearly out of this trajectory, it is refreshingly different. Like their One Year Performance Video (2004) and Karaoke DeathMatch 100 (2007), it uses software to string together pre-existing video clips of the two artists, but in a seemingly more random way than before. Always fans of language games, MTAA took turns taking sides in the binary of YES vs NO. They each recorded themselves saying these respective words sixty times and the computer randomly selects the order of each clip, so that the artists can disagree with each other in a myriad of chance combinations. Despite the randomness of these face-offs, they read as intentional, and like any good montage, meaning seems to emerge organically from the juxtaposition of the discrete units. The two-channel work looks quite a bit like the duo's Infinite Smile (2005), while perhaps illustrating that a sense of humor and the occasional agreement to disagree are the cornerstones to any happy artistic relationship. - Marisa Olson

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