In 2003, Golan Levin and Zach Lieberman developed a project called Messa di Voce, which translates to "placing the voice." Oddly enough, it took almost six years for the Ars Electronica-awarded project to find a place in North America. Tonight at NYU's Frederick Loewe Theater, master vocalists Joan La Barbara and Jaap Blonk will be on hand to help demonstrate Levin and Lieberman's classic computer vision work. The project responds visually to vocal input, so that sound becomes an instrument for drawing and animation. The vocalist's guttural and glottal improvisations will generate a tension between speech acts and speechless performance that's not to be missed. It's the first of three live concerts presented this week by the Electronic Music Foundation, in a series called "The Human Voice in a New World." Each event highlights the richness and diverse uses to which this earliest of instruments can be put. On the 27th, British vocalist Trevor Wishart will appear at Judson Church with the NY premieres of Vocalise and Globalalia. The seminal works explore, respectively, the potential of the voice "when in a tight corner," and the universality of the human tongue. Globalalia processes the syllables of 26 different languages sampled from international radio and TV broadcasts to formulate a sort of vocal dance. And on the 28th, Berlin-based virtuoso David Moss will premiere the English version of his Voice Box Spectra. The Sydney Morning Herald has described the piece as "somewhere between scatting and scary. Think Jim Carey doing an impression of Ella Fitzgerald while being eaten by the creature from Alien 2." Exploring FTL ("faster than logic") communication, the work combines sound, text, and personal electronics in a grouping of new songs. All in all ...
Responding to the unease and restlessness of late 1970s Britain, The Fall wrote a song in 1979 declaring the emergence of a "2nd Dark Age." For the two-minute duration of the song, Mark E. Smith rails against the omnipresent political and social inertia of the time, and the lyrics take specific aim at the short sightedness and staleness of hippie politics and spiritualism, which were so ineffective in the face of rising conservatism: "And the commune crapheads sit and whine, While the commons near my birthplace is now a police college"
Fast forward thirty years, and Ben Jones, in his latest exhibition at Deitch, announces another Dark Age, the "New Dark Age." Building off his solo show "Celebrate the New Dark Age" at AMP in Athens, Greece this past Fall, the galleries at Deitch could equally pass as a playground, meditation chamber or rec room. The pervasive feeling that Jones is merely replicating the same stock themes and imagery as if by rote, however, depletes the exhibition of the organic sense of leisure or contemplation often associated with these spaces. In the main room, a gigantic neon Transformer salutes the visitor, Gumby meditates in the center of three televisions, a video projection of the mesmerizing focal point of Space Wars loops incessantly in a far corner, and, in the front room, ladders reminiscent of Chutes and Ladders abound, clownishly oversized neon versions scale the walls or incessantly repeat in eye-popping wallpaper. The ambiance feels much like a commercial window display comprised of motifs from Jones's 1980s childhood.
Indeed, if there is anything "dark" about ...
Silver (2006) - Takeshi Murata
(Murata used this same pixel bleeding effect in his 2005 piece Monster Movie)
umbrella zombie datamosh mistake (2007) - Paper Rad & Paul B. Davis
These Murata and Paper Rad/Davis videos are two early examples of manipulating digital compression to produce pixel bleeding for artistic effect. In the last week, two mainstream music videos have been released by Chairlift and Kanye West that use this effect, and it has come to be known as "datamoshing." Heralded as a brand new innovation by some, the near simultaneous release of these two music videos have fans of each musical act crying foul. But, as the two videos above indicate, these techniques have been in circulation for a number of years now. It seems an argument concerning the origin of "datamoshing" is unnecessary, given that almost everything is built upon something else.
When the independent curator, publisher, writer and art dealer Willoughby Sharp died this past December at the age of 72, the art world lost an iconic figure. Active internationally in the art world since the early 60s, Sharp's name is most often associated with his role as the publisher and co-founder (with Liza Bear) of Avalanche magazine (1970-1976) and for his curation of the seminal art exhibition Earth Art (1969). Avalanche has become something of a cult classic in the art world. Consisting mostly of idiosyncratic editorials by Sharp and Bear and interviews with figures such as Joseph Beuys, Yvonne Rainer, Bruce Nauman, Lawrence Weiner and Vito Acconci, Avalanche helped define the art of an era while also redefining the role of the art magazine. The editors viewed Avalanche as an open space for artists and art, and this vision dictated the overall direction of the magazine. Sharp's seminal Earth Art, held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1969, was the first major exhibition of land-based sculptural work, and it included artists such as Walter de Maria, Robert Smithson, Hans Haacke, Robert Morris, Richard Long and Dennis Oppenheim (among others). It has also become somewhat mythologized as the exhibition where the young Gordon Matta-Clark, who lived in Ithaca, was hired by Sharp as an assistant and, thus, met the vanguard of the international art scene for the first time.
However, it should be noted that Sharp, himself, was also a performance artist, video artist, satellite artist and computer artist. In fact, his work at the nexus of art and technology is one of the most passionate chapters in his career, but has largely gone unnoticed. The art historian Frank Popper (who met and befriended Sharp in 1968) has offered one of the few accounts of this work in his book From Technological to Virtual Art. According to Popper, the introduction of television to American culture in the late 1940's had a tremendous effect on Sharp. "Almost instantly after DuMont television sets began to dominate living rooms and lives in 1948, television took control of Sharp, and he was transformed from just watching "Uncle Miltie" to being him," writes Popper.
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