Posts for 2007

Film 101

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The language of the cinema not only pervades the way we view the world around us, but also how we view our own lives. Our experiences are increasingly mediated--to the point that one can imagine their existence as a series of narrative arcs, character types, and tracking shots. As such, it is of the essence that we continually renegotiate and critically assess our relationship to cinema--both as producers and viewers. This coming weekend in Oslo, the Office of Contemporary Art Norway, through the symposium Film as Critical Practice, proposes to do just this. Artists and theorists such as Harun Farocki, Kristin Ross, and Hito Steyerl, will assess and debate what the notion of 'critical' means in contemporary cinema. Laura Mulvey, who in her 1973 essay 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' forever altered the field of film studies through her articulation of the male gaze, will unpack how this gaze changes when, enabled by technology, spectators of either gender can pause, fast forward, slow down, and repeat key sequences and frames of a film. A supplemental film program 'Material Critical Poetics' curated by Ian White from the Whitechapel Gallery includes films by Anthony McCall. Peter Gidal and Emily Wardill and will examine, in White's words, 'what constitutes 'critical film' or what 'film as a critical practice' might be, in the context of contemporary visual art and a particular historical legacy.' - Caitlin Jones

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Now Hear This

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Electra, the brainchild of Lina Dzuverovic and Anne Hilde Neset, has for the past four years commissioned, exhibited, and found institutional support for contemporary art in the UK. Although they focus on the intersection of contemporary mediums, music and sonic art form the backbone of their productive efforts. Christian Marclay, Tony Oursler, and Kim Gordon are only a few of the artists they've worked with and the Her Noise curatorial project has traveled widely and been critically lauded. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the magazine The Wire (of which Neset is now a Deputy Editor) the two are teaming up again for a series of performances, film screenings, and new commissions. Infamous performer Lydia Lunch will premiere (in the UK) her autobiographical 'Video Hysteries;' a series of short films from the LUX archives forms a history lesson on the longstanding relationship between avant garde music and film; and Christian Marclay will perform his music/video/performance piece 'Screen Play.' By bringing fully-formed exhibitions and programs to the table, Electra addresses head-on lingering institutional reticence to get involved with sound art and the simultaneous prevalence of it. Performances run throughout London from October 26th-November 22nd 2007.


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Signature Networks

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Americans, legal, illegal, and undefined alike, in the greater New York City area may want to pay close attention to the upcoming exhibition The Dotted Line at Brooklyn's Rotunda Gallery, which will open December 7th. Curated by Cabinet Magazine managing editor Colby Chamberlain, the participating artists use identification material and bureaucratic paperwork of all sorts to address what has been called the 'Security-Industrial Complex.' Many of them engage in "post-studio practices that emphasize processes and social relations." In itself the show looks engaging and intelligent, however, it is particularly urgent as the press release comes shortly after NY Governor Elliot Spitzer has proposed that New York be one of the first states to adopt Bush's Real ID act. The act was slipped through Congress in May 2005 in a 'must pass' Iraq War/Tsunami relief bill. Although each state still has to enact a costly bureaucratic machine to see it through, it will essentially turn state drivers licenses into federal IDs, and create one national identity database, thus tightening government surveillance and furthering loss of privacy. At the cost of our vanishing civil liberties, the administration's hope is to crack down on illegal immigration, and of course 'evil-doers.' This timely group show reminds us that signing the dotted line is a performative act often reaffirming insidious technologies of power.

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Assume Vivid Cathedral Psychedelia

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An architectonic conduit between the world below and the heavens above, the cathedral has been a spiritual beacon for Christians since the early Middle Ages. Tapping into this mystical energy, Haque Design + Research's 'Evoke' is one of the more stimulating projects in the 2007 Illuminating York, a luminous festival of site specific artworks and performances in the English city. Usman Haque, who is responsible for some of the most innovative projects within interactive architecture, has projected a massive 80,000-lumen animation onto the York Minster Cathedral. Comparing the magical effect to a Psilocybin-induced experience would be understandable, though also reductive as the work is much more than a light show. Created and affected by the viewers, the patterns of the animation are 'generated in realtime by the words, sounds, music, and noises produced collectively by the public, determined by their particular voice characteristics.' Individuals with different vocal rhythms and tones will 'evoke' different transcendental visions. In this outwardly humble project, Haque has ultimately fulfilled the best promises of both the psychedelic era and religion by assembling a collective vision that cherishes the infinite differences of those involved. - David Michael Perez

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Music Videos are the new Video Art

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Beck has been commissioning artists to create his music videos for years and legendary music video director Michel Gondry just had a gallery show in New York City. These are just two instances the are evidence of the blurring between what we think of as video art and the art of the music video. This trend (if we can call it that) is the subject of Playback, an exhibition at the Musee d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. With a large roster and multiple venues, the show illustrates the history and diversity of the art/music video genre. Works by Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, and Rodney Graham sit alongside newer works by Michael Bell-Smith, Paper Rad, and YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. With numerous screenings throughout the city, the best place for those not in Paris to see the show is on the Playback myspace page, which links to a number of videos in the show. Notable highlights include Jill Miller's I am Making art Too, a witty, playful, and pointed update of John Baldessari's I am Making Art, and art world darlings Los Super Elegantes' telenovela Dieciseis/Sixteen, directed by Miguel Calderon. In a time when most video art has become multi-screen installation, Playback makes a strong case that single channel video, in the form of the music video, is alive and well, with an audience and a distribution network to rival single channel video's heyday.

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Fractals After Pollock

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As certain factions of the contemporary art world celebrate the triumph of painting, triumphs of old seem to find new ways to mystify--in particular the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock. Long before fractals were popularized by internet artists, a still-ongoing debate began churning among the scientific community as to whether or not fractals are present within Pollock's compositions and if they can be used to determine authenticity. Defined as "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole," a fractal exists in nature in everything from snowflakes to mountain ranges. Within a painting, this basically means that there are repeating smaller patterns within the drip compositions. The Pollock-Krasner Estate actually hired physicist Richard Taylor, who first stated eight years ago that some Pollock paintings contain fractals, to help determine if alleged Pollock works were authentic. In a paper submitted to a major physics journal, physicists Katherine Jones-Smith and Harsh Mathur again counter that Taylor's conclusions are highly questionable if not absurd. Of course if Taylor is correct, it gives new weight to Pollock's infamous, statement "I am nature." As the debate persists, snowflakes maintain a value well below $140 million.

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The Mobile Handbag of the Future

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While hover cars and teleportation devices are still tragically nowhere near coming to fruition, 2008 will give the world's most populated metropolises the first haute couture Mobile Art Container designed by a Starchitect. A collaboration between Chanel artistic director Karl Lagerfeld and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the Mobile Art Container is a traveling pavilion that will premiere in Hong Kong before traveling for two years to locales such as Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, and London. Lagerfeld asked 20 artists to create works for the container that take the iconic quilted Chanel handbag, created by Coco Chanel in 1955, as their inspiration. The structure, itself not unlike a Chanel handbag, displays the usual Hadidian innovation and architectural fabulation. A continuously arching design, the pavilion breaks down into seven-foot-wide pieces that transport easily. While the two larger than life personalities behind the project take a great deal of the attention, the impressive artists included are Yoko Ono, Lee Bul, Stephen Shore, Wim Delvoye, and Sophie Calle to name but a few. Comparatively, the Koolhaas-Prada communion seems rather quaint.

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Career Collaborator

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"A guy at work emailed me a picture of him and his wife, but over the wife's face is a picture of mine! Is that cute or creepy?" So begins the song "Cute or Creepy?" by Japanese artist Takuji Kogo. Under the auspices of Candy Factory (the name of the gallery Kogo operated from 1998 to 2000 and the body through which he still mounts online projects), Cute or Creepy is also the title of Kojo's new collaborative project for this year's Kitakyushu Biennial 07--exploring the potentially cute and creepy terrain of surveillance and appropriation. Collaboration is the core of Kojo's practice and Candy Factory's flexible iterations allow him to easily work with an international group of artists. For this project, Kojo collaborates with Jon Miller, Sean Snyder, Hiroyuki Hanada, and Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries, among others, creating a series of websites and songs reflecting *Candy Factory's aesthetic of animated photographs, overlaid text, and computer-generated audio. Fitting within this general framework, the personal style each participating artist brings to the formula resonates loudly, explicitly recognizing and celebrating influence and collaboration in the artistic process. Nothing creepy about that.

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Tagging as Curating

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The TAGallery is a project developed by the Vienna-based collective CONT3XT.NET. More than a virtual gallery, TAGallery is a curatorial experiment. Earlier this year, both CONT3XT.NET and TAGallery were formed as a del.icio.us account. Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking manager that relies on a non-hierarchical keyword categorization system where users can tag each of their bookmarks with a number of freely-chosen keywords, allowing the visualization of bookmarks added by similar-minded users. So, according to the CONT3XT.NET statement, 'the main premise for using a Del.icio.us account for curating is the concept of the 'tagged exhibition,' which transfers the imagery and work methods of non-commercial exhibition spaces into a discursive electronic data space.' The TAGallery is, therefore, an online platform for the exploration of tagging as a curatorial tool, in which different types of users--artists, curators, and writers--become 'taggers.' 'dead.art(-missing!)LINKreSources,' which examined the link as a primary medium for networking, was TAGallery's first show; recently launched, '001010a.live-art(LINKreSource)' reflects the experience of the project, recognizing that 'the most basic method of generating a freely accessible, modular network of personal associations on the World Wide Web is to create a link and thereby forge a relationship between two or more contents.' Ranging from thematic groupings to discussions on curating as tagging, the initial TAGallery shows are as diverse as the taggers themselves, which demonstrates the innovative character of the new media field, always pushing the boundaries of the contemporary art world. - Miguel Amado

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Re-Emerging Fragments

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Spain's LABoral Centro de Arte will soon be opening EMERGENTES, a traveling exhibition and publication that consists of 10 Latin American artists using science and technology to enact a "new socio-cultural interaction." Ranging from net-based projects to robotic installations, and including artists such as Santiago Ortiz, Mariano Sardon, and Mariela Yeregui, the exhibition presents a varied conceptual and formal experience. Focusing on artists who find themselves "defragmented, whether on the level of media or geography," the wider concerns seem to be reconceptualizing cultural participation vis-a-vis advanced technology. Indeed, given that several of the artists work outside of Latin America fully or at least partially, one of the exhibition's underlying investigations is how new technologies reconfigure geography and cultural identification. Of course all of these issues have no clear or definitive answer, so it seems appropriate that a number of the projects be works in progress. Accompanying the exhibitions will be a number of workshops and lectures, including 'Biocollage' and the poetically titled 'You Arrived with the Breeze.' While technology, and the internet in particular, tend to collapse geographical distance, such an exhibition rooted in cultural geography offers some productive tensions.

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