"Artificial World," a two-week exhibition on view at New York's Mountain Fold, assembles works by six Japanese and American artists that explore "ideas of made-up, artificial, or simulated worlds." Visually, the show could not be more eclectic -- shelves of compact discs, knit objects, sprawling fabric paintings and gelatinous sculptures populate the small gallery. Common to many of the works, however, is an interest in the social and creative parameters of virtual space. Ben Fino-Radin, for example, has struck upon a neat, if somewhat twee, techno-meets-craft aesthetic vocabulary. In wall installations like Potience Module (2008), discreet, knit objects (largely depicting computer iconography, including code, mouse icons and the much-reviled hourglass) aggregate in symmetrical, totemic structures. Strips of black tape become disciplinary intermediaries in Aki Goto's big, energetic wall piece (Untitled, 2008), linking fabric and canvas paintings of cats with small, exquisite drawings in graphite and pen. The strongest of the latter presents a humorous take on virtual communities, equally steeped in the visual language of early-80s arcade games and the urban-abstraction of Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-3), as small, smiling heads form points within webs of overlapping lines. While these and most of the exhibition's other works settle on shallow inquiry - at times to their benefit - Masaru Aikawa's My 25 CDs (2008) strikes a deeper chord. Citing an interest in Benjamin and Warhol and a concern for the status of the artwork in the digital era, Aikawa has "passionately and respectfully duplicated," a cappella, twenty-five of his CDs. Aikawa's heartfelt vocal imitation of the ambient electronics of Kraftwerk's Autobahn provides the most hysterical treat. On a broader level, Aikawa makes a serious comment on twenty-first century virtual consumption, by means of his self-portrait as strange, irreverent fan. - Tyler CoburnImage: Ben Fino-Radin, Process NG ...
(In collaboration with BFFA3AE)
Available this month, "Videos and Vodka," the second DVD anthology from J&L Video, comprises selections from a video salon artist Jacob Dyrenforth and curator Eva Respini ran out of their Brooklyn loft from 2004-2006. A strong sense of community binds the works, owing in part to the fact that Dyrenforth received his MFA from Columbia alongside many of the featured artists, including Ohad Meromi, Guy Ben-Ner and Lisi Raskin, as well as to the number of emerging, New York-based artists in the program. In an essay accompanying the anthology, Dyrenforth and Respini foreground these facts, describing their decision to create Video Salon as arising, in part, from a need to provide their friends and the broader public with "non-traditional viewing spaces," in the style of the "collectives, collaboratives and artist-run spaces" established in New York in the 1970s. While the 1990s saw the rise of high-production films, videos and moving-image installations from artists like Matthew Barney, Doug Aitken and Jane and Louise Wilson, many younger artists, the curators claim, "are reconnecting to a history that pre-dates the black-boxed multi-channel universe." Several of the works, for example, build whimsical or fantastical scenarios from patently everyday materials and circumstances, like Untitled, Air Guitar (2005), in which Robin Rhode plays and destroys a guitar drawn, sequentially, on a wall; or Ben-Ner's Berkeley's Island (2000) where the artist/father's desire for solitude manifests itself as a Crusoe-esque life on a desert island, comically set in the center of his kitchen. Others present intensively personal or shared narratives, from the deconstructed footage and text of Lisa Oppenheim's Dioptric (2003) - taken from an imaginary scrapbook - to the three-way telephone conversation in John Pilson's Sunday Scenario (2005), where the back-and-forth between baseball aficionados becomes a language unto itself. - Tyler Coburn
The face of the American landscape has been forever changed by the invention of the "big box." These giant, typically nondescript retail meccas exemplified by Wal-Mart not only lead to the mowing-over of existing terrain, they also shift the cultural ecology of a space and bring with them more roads, more cars, and more garbage. But what happens when companies abandon these spaces in favor of paired-down, web-based operations? This is the question that artist Julia Christensen asks in her project Big Box Reuse. She's spent the last five years touring these renounced superstores, photographing them, collecting local residents' stories about the community impacts of the big boxes, and writing a forthcoming book. Documentation of these efforts are being exhibited through November 23rd at Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Gallery in an show curated by Astria Suparak, entitled "Your Town, Inc." Meanwhile, Turbulence has commissioned a forthcoming wiki on which the artist will invite people from across the country to upload their own stories, photos, and videos. Among the project's most poignant ironies is the question of what happens when the retailers that trade in over-packaged, often not-recyclable goods fail to successfully repurpose the structures in which they once perpetuated disposable culture. - Marisa OlsonImage: Julia Christensen, the Snowy Range Academy (Renovated Wal-Mart located in Laramie, WY) from Big Box Reuse, 2006
"The notion of creating art works through the medium of machines may seem a little strange. Most people who have heard about the experimental use of digital computers in creative endeavors have probably shrugged them off as being of no consequence. On the one hand, creativity has universally been regarded as the personal and somewhat mysterious domain of man; and, on the one hand, as every engineer knows, the computer can only do what it has been programmed to do - which hardly anyone would be generous enough to call creative. Nonetheless, artists have usually been responsive to experimenting with and even adopting certain concepts and devices resulting from new scientific and technological developments. Computers are no exception."
In this interview, conducted by Rhizome Editorial Fellow Gene McHugh, artist Kevin Bewersdorf discusses his philosophy toward surfing the web, the spiritual dimension of his work and his upcoming show "Monuments to the INFOspirit" at the New York gallery V&A.