Posts for November 2007

Status Update

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Heath Bunting's Status Project is an online database that tracks and maps the manners through which corporate, institutional, and governmental entities compile and compare our personal information. Bunting, one of the original net.artists, has since his earliest projects concerned himself with transgressing boundaries--using the internet's potential as a boundary-less, liminal space. From his earliest work, like 'Kings Cross Phone In' (in which he arranged, via the web, a massive call-in to pay phones in and around London's Kings Cross Station) to his later work 'BorderXing' (consisting mostly of documentation of his travels across international borders without the intrusion any immigration or customs officials), Bunting has been exploring virtual and actual lines of power and our relationship to them. 'The Status Project,' developed with Kayle Brandon (and previously included in Rhizome's ArtBase 101 exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art), gives users access to 'an expert system for identity mutation.' On November 29th a new phase the project will be launched and presented as part of Trampoline's Radiator Festival for New Technology Art in Nottingham, UK. The new phase will include five detailed maps of the systems that control and share our online identities, as well as a new 'Status Manual,' a how-to-guide for your own personal data manipulation and 'dataflage' (like camouflage). He will also be conducting a 'Psychogeographic Walk' through the streets of central Nottingham, physically illustrating the relationships and connections explored in the Status Project. Railing against dominant power structures can be a trying experience, so if you are lucky enough join them, heed the press release's warning: 'Warm clothes and comfortable footwear advisable.' - Caitlin Jones

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Cucumberophonology

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Although it has evaded status as an area of critical study for a long time, food sits at the intersection of all personal, political, and socio-cultural fields. How it gets to us and how we consume it is immensely telling of our larger cultural milieus. And let's not forget that it can be immensely enjoyable. Within this spirit, the 2007 Cut and Splice festival "explores the social, political and cultural aesthetics of food," primarily in the field of sound art. A collaboration between the UK's Sonic Arts Network and BBC Radio 3, this year's festival is being held on Saturday, November 24th. With an ensemble of instruments that includes carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, leek-zucchini-vibrators, cucumberophones, and celery bongos, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra will be conjuring a sonic miasma as healthy as it is compelling. On the more prurient end of the spectrum, noise artist R.H.Y. Yau's performance will be similar to a palate-cleansing habenero pepper. Pieces by John Cage and Alvin Lucier will also be performed in this day of culinary and sonic vibrations.


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JODI Strikes Again!

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Few media artists do documentation better than JODI.org (of course depending on who you talk to, few artists do performance or new media artwork better than JODI.org), and sometime in the past few months the legendary duo of Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans uploaded a sublime example of their documentary gifts. Composite Club, an installation which was shown recently at both VertextList in Brooklyn and And/Or Gallery in Dallas, can now be viewed online as a series of video files. By using Playstation's Eye Toy camera (which maps the user's movements into the game), a few games, and some cinematic classics (and then recording the outcome), JODI has created a series of funny and characteristically disconcerting single-channel videos. The movements of Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren become triggers for a workout video, characters from Tron play 'Monkey Mania,' and Harrison Ford's Blade Runner character conducts an orchestra and captains a cheerleading squad (I suppose this is much easier than hunting down replicants). Composite Club, in both its installed and online versions, gives us the ultimate in mediated experience--movies playing video games.

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Transvestite-Glitter-Fairie-Theatre

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Dear Cockettes: an exhibition for and about the legendary acid queens The Cockettes just recently opened at UKS (the Young Artists Society) in Oslo, Norway. The Cockettes, who emerged from San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury community, performed "transvestite-glitter-fairie-theatre masques"--elaborate performances which even to the contemporary eye seem remarkably avant garde. "Gender fuck" is a term often associated with the group, as their signature beards, glitter, and transsexual costumes, according to Allen Ginsberg, enforced a "gay contribution to the realization that we're not a hundred percent masculine or feminine, but a mixture of hormones." The exhibition, which opened last week with a number of performances including one by London's 'House of Egypt' includes original vintage posters, photographic prints, scripts, newspaper articles, and other paraphernalia. The exhibition will include screenings of a number of rare films as well as the eponymous documentary feature by David Wiessman and Bill Webber (amazing clips and photos of which can be seen on the film's website). 'Dear Cockettes' should be seen as an important historical exhibition--one that looks beyond the usual conceptual and minimalist art history of the 1960s and 70s to cast a wider net of social relevance and cultural influence. The Cockettes can be seen not only as a precedent to glam rock era stars David Bowie and Elton John, but also contemporary performers like Devendra Banhart.



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Space Is the Place

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The pursuit of utopia is all too often dismissed. While finding it may be impossible, that doesn't mean the desire to do so isn't directing a great deal of our actions. Architect Tomas Saraceno is rather succinct on this manner when he says, "Utopia exists until it is created... The idea of utopia is in constant mutation and changes according to the era." Continuing the tradition of radical architecture practiced by Archigram and SuperStudio, Tomas Saraceno's projects embody utopic architectonics to fantastical degrees. Tomas Saraceno: Microscale, Macroscale, and Beyond: Large-Scale Implications of Small-Scale Experiments, open at the UC Berkeley Art Museum from this month through February 2008, is the first US museum exhibition of the Argentine-born, Germany-based visionary architect. The exhibition will feature portions of Air-Port-City, his ongoing project that envisions rhizomatic livable structures that float in the air, and subsequently are "capable of embodying more elastic and dynamic rules related to political, geographical, and cultural borders." The new social relations created in such a project are nomadic mutations not bound by traditional national and economic boundaries. Similarly, the project Flying Garden features floating structures that house species of Spanish Moss that are 'air-sufficient,' meaning that they derive their necessary nutrition from the atmosphere. As a whole, this is a poetic metaphor for very real political imperatives, namely autonomy and mobility. While many contemporary artists harbor a desire for new political space, Saraceno is actually creating that polydimensional zone of relationality.


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MAXXIng out in Rome: Net Art!

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MAXXI, Rome's museum of XXI century arts, has been developing 'Netspace: Journey into Net Art,' a series of exhibitions devoted to new media art that aims to expand knowledge about this field in Italy. The latest of these shows, recently on view on the museum's temporary premises while the Zaha Hadid design is being built, was 'Electronic Landscapes.' This project brought together works that examined the expanded notion of landscape in contemporary visual practices, 'from the creation of a landscape where pictorial tradition and new technologies co-exist, to the construction of architectural utopias and the exploration of the urban landscape through an electronic eye,' as curator Elena Giulia Rossi has put it. For example, Brazilian artist Vera Bighetti's 2005 'Stereoscopy Space' is made by the piece's viewers, who place objects in the space and then immerse themselves in it using 3D glasses. However, it was Mexican artist Ernesto Rios's 2006 'D. F. Maze' that most caught the attention of the visitors due to its intellectual affiliation and political engagement. In this installation, Rios deals with Mexico City’s imagery through three interactive journeys that evoke psychogeography, a practice which discussed the effect of the environment on individual psyche popular among the Letterists and Situationists during the 1940s and the 1960s. Presenting the recent trends that have developed around this topic, 'Electronic Landscapes' therefore contributed to the public awareness of the importance that a genre as classic as landscape still has in current artistic production. Slated to open in early December, the next installment of this series of exhibitions is a show that will investigate bodily metamorphosis in cyberspace. MAXXI is thus positioning itself as one of the main venues for new media art in Europe. ‐ Miguel Amado

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Waiting and Giving

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As some readers may well know, tomorrow (November 22nd), marks the yearly American tradition of Thanksgiving. While many myths surround the holiday, its first celebration was believed to be a time for the colonists to "thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World." At times, presidents have altered the holiday's meaning slightly by focusing on the pressing matters of the time in their yearly Thanksgiving proclamations. In 2005, without making specific mention of 'New Orleans' or 'Hurricane Katrina' president George W. Bush briefly mentioned those "affected by the destruction of natural disasters." While anthropologist Neil Smith has deftly critiqued the myth of natural disasters and many debate whether Katrina should be categorized as a genocide, the contemporary art community has been less reticent than the commander-in-chief to address New Orleans today. Digital artist Paul Chan recently completed his two-week production, Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Organized by Creative Time and curated by Nato Thompson, the project was deeply embedded within the local community from start to finish. Former New Museum Curator Dan Cameron has also recently launched Prospect.1 New Orleans, the largest contemporary art biennial in the US, wich will be held throughout the city and will be open until January 18, 2008. The project is intended "to help reinvigorate New Orleans following the human, civic, and economic devastation left by Katrina." In the wake of such a disaster, a harsh winter is a negligible if not antiquated crisis to survive.

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New Luddites

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In a commercial culture in which new technologies are constantly being pushed out onto the market, it's not surprising that a renewed interest in older, obsolete, even forgotten technologies should emerge. Nintendo NES Systems, Atari, the Commodore 64--these are the kinds of technologies that seem dinky to the gearheads, gamers, and Apple poster-children of today. And, yet, a growing number of artists and musicians are drawn to this hardware and the aesthetic possibilities their limited bits can yield. Fittingly, this frenzy of hacking, repurposing, and tweaking falls under the headline of 8-Bit, a movement that has swung back and forth between Europe and the U.S. since the 90s and will be celebrated in New York with a four-day festival from November 29-December 2, 2007. Co-organized by Manhattan art space The Tank and artist collective 8bitpeoples, the Blip Fest will present contemporary engagements with what the organizers describe as "primitive video game and home computer technology" through nightly concerts and daytime workshops that will democratize engineering skills for all who attend. The festival will be complemented by the coyly titled, packed group exhibition BITMAP: as good as new at Brooklyn's Vertexlist gallery. Organized by artist, gallerist, filmmaker, and 8-Bit chronicler Marcin Ramocki, BITMAP reflects on the history of the digital image, focusing on early computing and video-game consoles. The exhibition features artists working across the spectrum of 8-Bit practice, including Dragan Espenschied, Olia Lialina, Tom Moody, Nullsleep, and Paul Slocum. Their works allow us to glimpse at the historical moments in which these early technologies were made and demonstrate that the history of technology is often best told through its mistakes: technical failures, glitches, and unintended functions. At the same time, they ask us to reflect on whether the availability of more options, in an electronic system, enhances ...

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Review of Vernacular Web 2

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“The ‘World Wide Web’ has an omnipresent ring to it, but when it first began, it didn’t carry with it the weighty significance, the reigning long-term quality of royal blood, that it now holds in all its ubiquitous glory. We don’t question its appearance and critique it with the quick-to-judge enthusiasm we once did. These days, in a somewhat arrogant fashion, we feel enough distance from the primitive web world that first embarked in the early 1990s when it underwent its awkward years, reflected in its uncertain design and organization, and limited navigation.

It was a time when the web design profession hadn’t quite taken shape. Creation was a free-for-all of experimentation and trial and error by amateur experimenters. But through all of this unsupervised exploration emerged patterns and forces of habit. Standards slowly took shape and grew, transforming into what we now understand as web vernacular, or language, and professional designers emerged from this early breed of web creators. Filled with nostalgia for an earlier era of web identity and exploration, Olia Lialina brings light to these very first elements of discovery in Vernacular Web 2, a project that serves as an archive and ode to a time when one wasn’t able to fully grasp the potential of the medium but experimented with the freedom that only infancy can provide, and our current state of separation between ‘professional’ web design and ‘amateur’.” Continue reading Review of Vernacular Web 2 by Natasha Chuk, Furtherfield.

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Originally posted on networked_performance by jo


[Jeff Baij]

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the great line-up (2007) by Jeff Baij.

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Originally posted on VVORK by Rhizome