Posts for 2008

The Check-Up



With the economic crisis weighing heavily on everyone's mind, Wayne Clements' corps_checker, a new commission by project.arnolfini, is sure to boost anxiety. corps_checker continuously pings the servers of corporate sponsors of the arts, listed on the UK Art & Business web site, to see if they are still active. The logic is that, by verifying the presence of these businesses online activity, Clements is also keeping tabs on their vital signs. One might assume that the artist is hoping this economic decline might usher in a new system of labor relations given the work is accompanied by a reading section packed with Marxist texts by the man himself and also Trotsky, and Luxemburg.

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Guys and Dolls



Image: Annika Larsson, Dolls, 2008 (Stills)

Swedish artist Annika Larsson has a way of keeping her subjects in check. The slow, close, eroticized way in which she hovers around the male characters in her videos susses out innuendo, narrative, and meaning from a space absent of dialogue. She'll often stage and shoot a very simple gesture or group activity and wring every drop of suggestion out of it as she can. Her use of the camera--and very frequently her positioning of her viewers before a large-scale, almost cinematic screen--instigates a reflection on the power relationships inherent in looking, showing, camera-wielding, and screen-gazing. The dom/sub shifts revolving around the photographic lens may by now be the stuff of art school mythologies, but Larsson always finds new ways to turn the tables on one's presuppositions about such things; adding to the conversation a discourse on form and perspectivalism--another old-fashioned notion worth reconsidering. Her new 47-minute video, Dolls, on view now at Paris' Cosmic Galerie, takes her signature style to an even more self-reflexive level by once again exploring men in their supposed territory and calling on the viewer to examine the layers of mediation at play in both the male actor's performance of his masculinity and their own deciphering of the scene. Taking place in a white cube-cum-sports court, the action revolves around men interpreting the futurist symbols painted on the walls and floor, which are meant to evoke not only a Fortunato Depero-inspired Peter Saville New Order cover (a pop art relic of paternal inheritance, the Freudians might say), but also the basic visual designs used to teach humanoid robots how to serve their masters. In this case, the five men in Dolls become servants to their master's whims, be it the serving of coffee ...


inbetween (2003) - Soo Yeun Ahn




Miami Time


Image: Jim Campbell, Home Movies, 2008

According to Art Fag City, the pace this year at the Miami art fairs is a bit slower than usual. But there are still a few projects relevant to the art and technology field, see below.

  • Home Movies by Jim Campbell at the Aqua Art Miami

    This piece, Home Movies, was exhibited earlier this year at the Berkeley Art Museum, in honor of their acquisition of the work. For Aqua Art Miami, Hosfelt Gallery presents this floor-to-ceiling wall of LEDs, whose flickering lights derive from Campbell's own personal collection of home movies, processed to single bytes of information.

  • ULTRA environment at Art Basel Miami Beach's Art Positions

    First, there's beach. Then there's ULTRA beach. ULTRA environment, the lounge for Art Basel's annual project "Art Positions" on Miami Beach, will be transformed into "undulating waves, extrusions, and futuristic furniture all awash in a bed of soothing psychedelic sound, light, and video." This immersive environment, co-produced by Art Radio, contains video projections, live radio broadcasts, and a surround-sound audio system embedded into the architecture of the lounge itself (designed by Federico Diaz and E-Area). Sounds like a seriously next level lounge experience to me!

    The lounge will also host a series of performances, one of which will be Christian Jankowski's Above All I'm an Artlover. Scheduled for tomorrow evening at 8pm, it will expand upon his Art Market TV, which was essentially a QVC-style shopping network for selling art. Translating this format to stage, the performance promises to consider "both the art fair context and America's love of shopping to create a play on the spectacle of commerce."

  • "The Prisoner's Dilemma: How Artists Respond to the Exercise of Power in Contemporary Life at the Cisneros ...

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    Putting Faith in the Internet



    Depending upon the utopian or dystopian narratives to which you might subscribe, the internet is a bit like heaven or hell--with the pearly gates of cyberspace welcoming you to a world where you want for nothing or a fiery apocalyptic dungeon big enough to house all your nightmares. Either vision is intense and exactly the sort of stuff that religious iconography was once made of; yet the wide distribution of devotional messages broadcast on the web seems only to have cast a dim shadow upon the net art community. More recently, spiritualities new age and old school have been forceful fodder in contemporary art, while glossing over a true connection to the divine. Italian curator Domenico Quaranta suggests, "take Martin Kippenberger's crucified frog, for instance, or the cross submerged in the urine of Andres Serrano, or Maurizio Cattelan's Nona ora, or the Virgin Mary blackened with elephant dung by Chris Ofili, or Vanessa Beecroft's recent Madonnas. All of these works are undoubtedly imbued with their own form of 'sacredness,' yet they would hardly be hung in a church." Quaranta's exhibition, "For God's Sake," installed now at Nova Gorica, Solevenia's 9th annual Pixxelpoint festival, looks at the simultaneous increase in religion-themed work and the ever wider distribution of mass-mediated sermons and religious messages, through new technologies. The question is whether this amounts to an increase in religious devotion, or rather a diluted or muddied conflation of spiritual values in a time of mixed forms and mixed messages arriving in convergent media. As with ZKM's "Medium Religion" show, which we covered last week, Quaranta's show (and in particular his poignant curatorial statement), look at attitudinal shifts parallel to media developments. The long list of international media artists he's selected present us with mostly ...

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    Death Animations (2008) - Brody Condon



    Image: Stills from "Death Animations" video

    Performance, 3 hours
    Machine Project, Los Angeles

    Statement: Inspired by Bruce Nauman's 1973 work "Tony Sinking into the Floor, Face Up and Face Down", 9 dancers outfitted in fantasy armour recreated his performance in slow motion combined with movements based on computer game death animations, this piece was accompanied by a high volume binaural beats reputed to induce out of body experiences. Closely linked to his past process of modification of existing computer games, as well as performative events with medieval re-enactment and fantasy live action role playing subcultures, Death Animations is a re-interpretation of the Nauman work through the lens of "New Age" ideas of astral projection and out of body experience, computer games, and recent foreign conflict.

    View video of the performance

    More work by Brody Condon

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    My House is a Videogame (2007) - Nate Hitchcock


    More work by Nate Hitchcock

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    Interview with JooYoun Paek


    JooYoun Paek builds small, object-based responses to urban life, transforming the aches and pains we customarily suffer, at the hands of the metropolis, into novel sites of reflection, social courtesy, and rest. The artist's humorous, insightful approach bespeaks her familiarity with her subject; she was raised in Seoul, Korea, and moved to New York in 2005 to attend NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Fresh from her recent participation in "Untethered," at Eyebeam, and "Design and the Elastic Mind," at MoMA, JooYoun caught up with me at her LMCC Workspace Residency studio, on the twenty-ninth floor of the Equitable Building in Manhattan's Financial District. - Tyler Coburn

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    Let It Bleed (Left) Let It Be (Right), The Stones And The Beatles Getting Tweaked At The Same Time (2008) - Yoshi Sodeoka


    Let It Bleed (Left) Let It Be (Right), The Stones And The Beatles Getting Tweaked At The Same Time, 2008 from yoshi sodeoka on Vimeo.

    More work by Yoshi Sodeoka

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    Thoughts on "New Media Artists vs Artists With Computers"


    New Media vs Artists with Computers

    In his post "New Media vs Artists With Computers", artist and blogger Tom Moody sees the distinction between conceptual photography and art photography made in the 1970s as a correlate to that between new media artists (i.e. those who exact a high level of mastery over hardware and software) and artists working with computers now (i.e. those who use computers and digital technologies in their art practice, often towards a conceptual end and in a more amateur fashion.) Citing Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Lee Friedlander as an example, "art photography" was a practice valuing the artist's command over the medium, whereas for "conceptual photography" (e.g. Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons...) the emphasis was not on one's mastery over the tool, but rather the tool as a means to express an idea. In applying this contrast to artists working with computers today, Moody astutely observes a similar ethos between conceptual photography and "artist's with computers." In my opinion, one weakness to the post is Moody's stark polarization between his constructed categories, stating, "New media suggests a respect for hardware & software and belief in their newness, something artists with computers don't care about. New media involves a finicky devotion to programming and process, whereas artists with computers are bulls in the Apple Shop." The opposition he presents between "new media" vs. "artists with computers" in this instance is clunky and not entirely accurate -- there are artists working with software who don't buy into a "belief in...newness" (like Joan Leandre) while there are "artists with computers" who are attuned to programming (like Paul Slocum). The primary difference between these two camps -- if you want to follow Moody's distinction -- is the type of questions artists ...

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